i really don’t care, do u?

This particular long national nightmare started five years ago today, when Comrade Trump stepped onto the escalator in Trump Tower. The United States has been going downhill ever since. It’s been a long, strange, ugly trip from that escalator to the ramp at West Point.

Let him take the escalator. This is fine.

A lot has been made of Trump’s awkward, hesitant trek down that ramp. It was the source for a lot of speculation about his physical health, a lot of long-distance diagnosing, a lot of unpleasant wishful thinking that his health was rapidly declining. Whole histories have been written about Trump’s strange inability to drink water with one hand and his lubberly relationship with any sort of inclined exit.

I don’t care if he’s bathmophobic.

To borrow a phrase from Melania’s closet, I really don’t care, do u? Seriously, I would completely overlook Trump’s inability to drink water with one hand, I’d absolutely ignore his apparent fear of stairs and ramps if he was otherwise fit to occupy the office of POTUS. I’d disregard those things even if I disagreed with his policies if he was otherwise fit to occupy the office of POTUS. I don’t really need a president to be in prime physical condition (though it would be nice); I don’t really need a president to agree with me politically (though, again, it would be nice).

I DO need a president who is reasonably honest, who hires competent advisers and listens to them, who isn’t easily manipulated, who is willing to learn, who makes an effort to understand the workings of the government they lead, who isn’t a total narcissist, who is willing to admit making a mistake, who will put the good of the nation before their own personal interests.

I don’t care if needs assistance to drink water.

Give me a competent, honest, thoughtful president in a wheelchair. Give me a president who is intelligent and interested in the world and has cystic fibrosis. Give me a capable, curious, well-read president with a cleft palate and who suffers from a morbid fear of heights. I don’t care if the president needs a seeing-eye dog so long as they are otherwise fit to occupy the office of POTUS.

There are SO MANY reasons Comrade Trump is NOT fit for office. His apprehension when faced with stairs or a ramp is irrelevant, his ineptitude at drinking water in public is totally immaterial. What matters is he’s willfully ignorant, he’s compulsively dishonest, he’s unwilling or unable to put aside his own self-interests, he’s lazy and impulsive, he has no core values, he’s an authoritarian racist who has no regard for the Constitution or representative democracy. Those are all valid reasons to remove him from office. We don’t need any other reasons.

in which I respond to billy’s questions

The fact that we’re in the early stages of a pandemic makes re-litigating Comrade Trump’s impeachment seem like a waste of time and energy. But I made a promise to respond to comments made in the preceding post.

It was a promise made to a guy who disagrees with almost everything I believe in, whose views are almost universally the opposite of my own, and who has over the years repeatedly challenged the stuff I write. But here’s the thing: this guy has absolutely no reason to read this blog — yet he does. Not consistently; there have been long stretches in which I haven’t heard from him. But I respect the fact that he occasionally reads stuff he dislikes and disagrees with, because getting out of the bubble of agreement is always important — for everybody, conservative and liberal alike.  Since he made the effort to read and disagree with me, I feel an obligation to make the effort to respond. So here we go.

1. Where is the law that says it is illegal to ask another nation to investigate someone you think it corrupt and possibly doing something illegal in said nation?

It’s not illegal. In fact, it’s fairly routine when done through official channels. If there’s information that a US citizen is or has been engaged in a crime in another nation, the Department of Justice contacts that nation’s law enforcement agency and they conduct a joint investigation. It’s treated as a matter of law and it’s handled by law professional prosecutors and policing agencies.

But that isn’t what happened. Trump personally called Zelensky and in the course of their conversation asked him to launch an investigation of the son of a political opponent as a favor. He also suggested Ukraine to coordinate that investigation with his own personal private attorney. That’s wildly inappropriate. Making that request in the same phone call that included Zelensky’s plea for promised military support from the US only emphasizes how inappropriate it was.

2. No again, not a single aide who “expressed concern” had first hand knowledge of the call, not a single one.Each and every one was at best 2nd hand knowledge or even 3rd. Plus the call transcript was released and there was nothing there even close to something that looked like a crime.

That’s just not accurate. We only know the names of seven officials who listened in on the call between Trump and Zelensky, although there are probably at least half a dozen other aides who were on the call. Of those seven, we know that three voiced concerns about Trump’s request: Col. Vindman, Jennifer Williams, and Charles Kupperman.  Vindman and Williams testified after being issued a subpoena — despite being told NOT to cooperate by the White House; Kupperman asked a federal court to determine which order (the subpoena or the president’s) he should follow.

Was there anything ‘even close to something that looked like a crime’? Yes. This is directly from the transcript:

Zelensky: “We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps, specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”
Trump: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.”

Trump responded to Zelensky’s comment about buying Javelin missiles with a request for a ‘favor’. That makes it sound like the sale of the missiles was dependent on the favor. Since those missiles were authorized by Congress (the legislative branch), it would be illegal for POTUS (the executive branch) to withhold them — for ANY reason, let alone in exchange for a personal favor.

3. This impeachment was most certainly a coup attempt and was done in secret. Do you know remember the secret meetings that republicans were not allowed to attend? Do you now remember how this imaginary whistleblower’s name was not allowed to be told to anyone and how Schiff lied that he never met the man? Now you are just bending yourself into a pretzel to defend this farce.

There were no ‘secret meetings’ that excluded Republicans. There were classified meetings held in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Only members of the House Intelligence Committee were allowed to attend because the material discussed was classified. But GOP members of the committee did, in fact, attend. Republicans (and Democrats) who were NOT on the committee were NOT allowed to attend.

The whistleblower remained anonymous because that’s the law — the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, a law which was passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate, and signed into law by President George Bush, a Republican. It’s designed to protect employees who become aware of possible improprieties in gov’t agencies, but fear for their jobs if they speak out.

Schiff wouldn’t have met the whistleblower, because that violates the Act. There’s a process that takes place: the whistleblower files a complaint with the appropriate Inspector General (in this case, the Intelligence Community IG), who determines if the complaint is credible. If it is, the IG notifies the chair of the appropriate Congressional committee. The chair (Schiff, in this case) assigns a staff member to communicate with the whistleblower in order to protect his/her identity. So somebody on Schiff’s staff knows the identity of the whistleblower, but that person would be prohibited by law from telling Schiff.

4.Bloodless coup not ring a bell to you at all? Not all coups need to be grounded in violence. A violent coup would almost never take place in this nation in this day and age, it would have to be a bloodless coup like the one attempted by the dems. I already told you that Pense most certainly would be next to be impeached if Trump was removed because of course Pense was privy to this call and also defended the president so he would not be fit to serve and would be removed in favor of teh Speak of the House, thus a full removal of the party in power.

You don’t get to change the definition of coup d’état because it’s inconvenient. By definition, a coup d’état is an illegal and violent attempt to overthrow an existing government. Impeachment, on the other hand, is a legal process outlined in the US Constitution. It doesn’t overthrow the government; it’s a process by which a high ranking official can, after a public trial, be removed from office IF CONVICTED by two-thirds of the Senate. A public multi-day trial that’s resolved by open voting isn’t anything like a coup.

Speculating that Vice President Pence would also be impeached in the event Trump was removed is just that — speculation. But even if Congress DID decide to impeach Pence as well, it would still involve a slow, public, legal, Constitutional process in which at least two-thirds of the Senate would have to vote to convict him.

Dude, that’s just not a coup.

5.Threats of violence only by supporters of the president… oh that is rich and lovely re-write of history.

During the impeachment process, credible threats of violence were made against the Democratic staff and against the witnesses who testified against the president. They had to be assigned protective services. To my knowledge, no such threats were made toward Republican staff or witnesses who testified for the president.

6. Why was biden’s quid pro quo not illegal?

I assume you’re talking about then-Vice President Biden warning Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that if he didn’t fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, the Obama administration would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees. That wasn’t illegal because it was official public US policy made with the support of Congress.

Viktor Shokin was universally seen as a corrupt official. As Prosecutor General, Shokin blocked investigations into other corrupt officials and corrupt organizations. He also blocked prosecutions against police officers accused of shooting civilian protesters. The European Union, a number of international financial institutions, and the citizenry of Ukraine (there were street protests against Shokin) all agreed that Shokin should be removed from office.

Again, Trump was impeached because there was convincing evidence that he used the Office of the President of the United States to illegally and unethically pressure the president of Ukraine to initiate an investigation of a political opponent by suggesting monies and aid appropriated by Congress — and necessary in Ukraine’s war against Russia — might be dependent on Ukraine doing that investigation as a ‘favor’.

It’s true a LOT of us actively dislike Trump. It’s true a LOT of us would like to see him (and Pence) removed from office. Just as it was true that a LOT of conservatives would like to have seen President Obama (and Biden) removed from office. Just as it was true that a LOT of us would have liked to see George W. Bush (and yes yes yes Cheney) removed from office. The only difference is that Trump engaged in behavior that was egregious enough legally to warrant impeachment proceedings.

this is what scares me

I’m not particularly concerned that Trump will skate on this impeachment trial. I think we all expect he will. Senate Republicans, after all, are all gutless Quislings completely devoid of honor or integrity. So yeah, Trump will almost certainly walk. I don’t like it, but I expect it — and there it is.

What scares me is this: what comes next? If Comrade Trump gets away with this — if he’s acquitted in the Senate despite all the evidence against him — what will stop him from doing it again? What’s will prevent him from allowing — or flat out encouraging — a hostile nation to attack his Democratic opponent? And what could we do about it?

He’s capable of doing that. You know he is.

What’s going to stop him from doing something even worse? What if, say, he declares a national emergency — what if he announces there’s been a threat to certain polling districts and ‘for the safety of the citizens’ orders those polling places closed? What if he says the voters should go to different polling sites, sorry for the inconvenience? What could we do about it? 

Do you think Trump isn’t capable of doing that?

What if the 2020 election goes against him? What if he loses and claims the election was rigged/hacked/manipulated/fraudulent? What if he refuses to honor the result? What if he just refuses to relinquish power? What if he tells his followers to resist his removal from office? What if he tries to declare martial law? What then?

Do you think that’s impossible? It sounds crazy, doesn’t it. It sounds ridiculous. Because it IS crazy and ridiculous — or it would be if anybody else were president. But do you really think Trump wouldn’t try to pull something like that if he thought he might get away with it? What would stop him? Patriotism? Decency? Respect for the Constitution?

That’s what scares me. Not one more year of Trump, as horrible as that would be. What scares me is this: IF Trump gets away with it this time — and right now that seems a foregone conclusion — what’s going to stop him from thinking he can get away with it again? The answer scares me.

Nothing.

stinks

Just pointing out the obvious here, but Comrade Trump always does what he accuses other folks of doing. There’s this from this morning:

And there’s this from Friday in an interview (on FOX News, which is the only place Trump feels safe enough to give an interview) with Laura Ingraham:

“Here we are, split-second timing, executed like nobody’s seen in many, many years, on Soleimani? Can you imagine they want us to call out and speak to crooked corrupt politician Adam Schiff? ‘Oh, Adam, we have somebody that we’ve been trying to get for a long time. We have a shot at him right now. Could we meet so that we can get your approval, Adam Schiff?’ And he’d say, ‘Well, let’s do it in a couple of days.’ ‘Oh, OK, let’s wait a couple…’ It doesn’t work that way, number one. Number two, they leak. Anything we give will be leaked immediately.”

He accuses Schiff of ‘totally making up a conversation’ but does exactly that his ownself. Hell, he even did it during the interview with Ingraham.

“I think Nancy Pelosi and Schiff — you know, because he’s corrupt. I mean here’s the guy stands up at the United States Congress and repeats a conversation — except it was a fraud, he made up a conversation.”

This Trump guy, he’s a textbook case of psychological projection. Textfuckingbook. Seriously. Here: a defence mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.

Is that not Comrade Donald J. Trump? It so totally is. Even our old friend King James went on about this. “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Okay, somebody would probably have to explain to Trump what a ‘mote’ is, but still.

I am so tired of this guy. It’s going to take a long time to get rid of the stink of Trump. A long time.

we can’t

Y’all already know this, but I’m going to repeat it just so we’re clear. Comrade POTUS Donald Trump ordered the targeted killing of General Qasem Soleimani, a high-ranking military officer of Iran — a nation with whom the US is not at war — during the general’s public visit to Iraq, which offered no objection to his visit. The question we have to ask, of course, is this: why in the hell did Trump decide to have Soleimani assassinated?

Trump initially said Soleimani had to be killed because “he was planning new attacks on American targets.” Attacks, plural. He repeated this claim, and got more specific, at his campaign rally in Ohio last night. Comrade Trump said this:

“Soleimani was actively planning new attacks and he was looking very seriously at our embassies and not just the embassy in Baghdad, but we stopped him and we stopped him quickly and we stopped him cold. So at my direction, the United States military eliminated Qasem Soleimani and ended his rampage through not only that part of the world but much bigger parts of the world he was all over.”

Multiple attacks on more than one embassy. Members of Congress (in both political parties) who were eventually briefed on the assassination have said there was no mention of any plans by Soleimani to attack any embassy. Still, Trump is making the claim — and the claim makes him look decisive and determined and concerned about the welfare of US embassy staff. It’s almost certainly a lie.

Another take on the assassination is buried deep in a Wall Street Journal article. It offers some uglier insight into Comrade Trump’s decision-making process:

Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said.

This makes Trump’s decision to have Soleimani assassinated sound like nothing more than an attempt to shore up support in his coming impeachment trial. It’s probably true.

It’s barely making the news. This is the United States we live in now. We have a president who almost certainly had a foreign military leader assassinated in order to strengthen his political situation in Congress, and because Trump is who he is and because Republicans have protected him for so very long, it’s just another day. We were this close to a shooting war…and Republicans just shrug it off.

The United States used to be a fairly decent country. Those days are gone, and sometimes it seems like we’ll never get them back. It makes you want to sit in a dark room and mope. But, of course, we can’t.

Well, we can. But no, we can’t. We can’t. We really can’t.

doesn’t make sense

Somebody explain this to me. On 27 December, a rocket attack on a base in or near Kirkuk killed an American — a contractor for the Department of Defense — and wounded a bunch of US troops. The US responded with air strikes against Iranian-sponsored militias, which killed 25 people. That pissed off Iranian sympathizers in Baghdad, who proceeded to partially overrun the American embassy. And that is apparently what led Comrade Trump to blow the shit out of Qasem Soleimani.

Iranian militants

Okay, that’s all stupid in itself. But that isn’t what I want explained. THIS is what I want explained to me. On 5 January, an attack by al-Shabaab on a base in Kenya (on the border with Somalia) killed three Americans — two DOD contractors and a member of the US military — and destroyed about US$500 million worth of aircraft and high-tech surveillance equipment. The US responded with a strongly-worded commitment “to pursue the perpetrators of the attack.” In other words, the US basically said they’d just continue to do their job.

al-Shabaab militants.

That’s what I want explained. Why one attack by Islamic militants (which resulted in a single US death) sparked such massive retaliation while a similar attack by Islamic militants (which resulted in more deaths and more destruction) resulted in nothing more than a further commitment to fulfilling the mission.

I know the Trump trump administration won’t truthfully explain anything to anybody. It’s silly of me to expect them to explain this. If an explanation exists, I suspect it’s stupid. Like, say, Trump wants headlines; the news media pays attention to Iraq and Iran; nobody really cares who gets killed in Africa; Trump wants/needs/demands more and bigger headlines.

I want this to make sense. I know it won’t make sense. But I still want it to.

what we were afraid of

This is exactly what we knew would happen, what we were afraid of. We knew there’d come a time when Trump would step into a pile of his own shit, and we were afraid he’d ignore any sensible advice from experts and make uninformed and impulsive decisions that would make matters worse.

But Jesus suffering fuck. We actually believed there would BE experts around him to offer that sensible advice. It never occurred to most of us that Trump would scrape away every upper level career professional from almost every federal agency. The ones he hasn’t fired have resigned.

And you guys, they’re still resigning. These are folks who most of us have never heard of, folks who’ve spent their careers doing the hard, unrecognized work of gaining expertise in fields we don’t even know exist, and doing it in order to insure the US makes sound policy decisions. Folks like Tina Kaidanow, a career Foreign Service member who is an expert in Russian and Eurasian affairs. She resigned last week, the fifth senior official to leave in the last seven days. Randall Schriver, a big hat in Asia policy — gone. Jimmy Stewart (yeah, that his actual name), the top guy in charge of personnel and readiness — gone. Steven Walker, a leader in DARPA — gone. Kari Bingen, the Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, the second-highest ranking civilian intelligence expert — gone. That’s just in the last week.

In their place, Trump has installed a cadre of evangelical yahoos eager for the Rapture and a bunch of ideological fuckwits who evaluate policy by how much it pisses off liberals. Republicans who ought to be guiding the president have abandoned calm, thoughtful, reasoned policy decisions. That leaves us with an emotionally unstable, willfully ignorant, recklessly impulsive, and easily manipulated president making rash decisions based apparently on a toxic combination of panicked self-interest and a desperate need to feel powerful and in control.

And you guys, I really hate to say this, but an emotionally unstable, willfully ignorant, recklessly impulsive, and easily manipulated president making rash decisions based apparently on a toxic combination of panicked self-interest and a desperate need to feel powerful and in control is the BEST CASE SCENARIO.

The worst case scenario? It sounds like a bad conspiracy novel, but it’s frighteningly possible. The worst case scenario is that Vladimir Putin has some sort of leverage over Trump and is using it to quietly reduce (or eliminate) US influence in the Middle East and Eurasia. That creates a socio-political power vacuum that Russia is happy to fill. That scenario sounds completely fucking paranoid, but the scary fact is that almost every policy Trump has implemented in the region has been detrimental to US interests and beneficial to Russia.

The really bad news? It’s all going to get worse. Maybe much worse. At some point Iran will respond violently to the assassination of Soleimani. The impeachment process is going to make Trump even more emotionally labile, as will the financial investigations into his sketchy business dealings. As will his general anxiety over the 2020 election.

In fact, I suspect by the time he appears before Congress to deliver the State of the Union speech, he’ll be so keyed up anything could happen. He might read a tightly rehearsed speech; he might get angry, go off-script, and deliver an obscenity-laden rant about how unfairly he’s treated; he might refuse to give the speech altogether; he might show up and bite the head off a live chicken.

These are weird, scary times. We expected weird scary times. We were afraid Trump would behave in weird, scary ways. This is exactly what we were afraid of.

you never know, do you.

It’s official. I’m not saying that wearing a ball cap with ITMFA made any measurable difference, but hey, you never know, right? The thing is, it’s official. We’re actually going to impeach the motherfucker already.

I wish I could be happy about this. But I can’t. I’m not happy for two reasons. First, impeachment is an awful thing. It’s an awful thing even if the president deserves it (and Comrade Trump truly deserves it). Impeaching the president is like agreeing to have a gangrenous foot amputated. You don’t really want to do it, but you know it’s necessary in order to survive.

The other reason I’m not happy is because it looks like there’ll only be two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They’ll focus entirely on the Ukraine mess. I understand this as a strategic decision; I get why Congressional Democrats have chosen this approach. I know it makes sense to streamline the process in order to limit the ways Republicans can fuck with it — because they will. The fewer the moving parts, the less that can go wrong. I get it.

But I’m not happy with it. I’d like to see more public hearings in the House — hearings on topics like criminal obstruction of justice, emoluments violations, or campaign fraud. I’d like to see some focus on Trump’s domestic crimes, which are just as troubling as his foreign fuck-ups. I think there’s also strategic value in that. I suspect there are a lot of voters who don’t much care what happens in Ukraine; it’s a long way off, in a place they’re never going to visit, and where they don’t know anybody. They may be sorry Ukrainians are fighting a war, but they don’t feel it’s got anything to do with them. On the other hand, a lot of those same voters would likely be pissed off if they felt Trump was using his office to pad his own pockets like a cheap crook.

I’d like to see an impeachment process built around the massive scope of Comrade Trump’s corrupt practices, but I’ll take what I can get. I’ll take it because I know how highly improbable it is that the Senate will fulfill their constitutional duties and convict. Still, impeachment is the right thing to do.

TMF who is going to be IA

And you never know, do you. I’m certain there are Republican senators who would like to see Trump gone, but have been too cowardly to do anything about it. Maybe one or two of them will find some courage. Maybe if one or two of them decide to vote to convict, others will take heart and step up. Maybe it’s actually possible that Trump will be tossed out of office.

It could happen. I wouldn’t bet my paycheck on it, but it could happen. So I’ll continue to wear my ITMFA cap, even if it doesn’t have any measurable effect. I mean, you never really know, do you.