Sunday, September 29, 2019
this image somewhere recently, and was reminded that I had used it every
Weekend Roundup for several months early in the Trump regnum. While I
eventually put the image aside, I have in fact done this every weekend
since the reign of terror started, so figured I'm entitled to resurrect
the image. You can find it in the notebook starting on
February 5, 2017, and scroll
up from there (the entries are last-in/first-out).
Last week's "whistleblower" story has, like a tropical depression
growing into a hurricane entering warm Carribbean waters, mushroomed
into this week's (and the rest of this year's, and most of 2020's)
Many links follow:
The impeachment probe should include all of Trump's crimes: I'm
sympathetic to this point of view, thinking it important to recognize
and challenge all of Trump's crimes and misdeeds, but that's a tall
order -- a lot of effort where you only need one conviction to send
the miscreant packing. Others, below, argue for keeping it simple
and moving fast, and I can't say they're wrong. On the other hand,
you could do that, advancing the most universally agreed upon charge,
then follow that up with additional articles of impeachment. Also
should be possible to identify additional targets (e.g., Pence,
Barr, Mnuchin). Related to Atkins, see Peter Certo:
The case for impeachment goes way beyond Ukraine. A bigger list,
still far from complete.
Julian E Barnes/Michael S Schmidt/Adam Goldman/Katie Benner:
White House knew of whistleblower's allegations soon after Trump's call
with Ukraine leader: "The whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer detailed
to the White House at one point, first expressed his concerns anonymously
to the agency's top lawyer."
The whistleblower memo details Trump's systematic attack on American
Hunter Biden's perfectly legal, socially acceptable corruption:
"Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense, but prominent Americans
also shouldn't be leveraging their names for payoffs from shady clients
abroad." Why not add "or from shady clients at home"? Eugene Scalia is
a pretty good example of the latter. On Biden, see: Michael Birnbaum/David
L Stern/Natalie Gryvynak:
Former Ukraine prosecutor says Hunter Biden 'did not violate anything'.
"This is about Trump": 2020 GOP primary challengers endorse impeachment
in their first debate.
Gabriel Debenedetti/Benjamin Hart:
How bad might impeachment be for Joe Biden's prospects?
Daniel W Drezner:
The strategic case for impeaching President Trump.
So why impeach Trump? Because he will obsess about it. The moment it
becomes a live option, the moment a trial in the Senate seems conceivable,
he will talk about nothing else. He will rant to his staff and bore foreign
leaders about it. He loves a fight. And every moment Trump thinks about
impeachment is a moment he is not thinking about doing even more reckless
Eleanor Eagan/Jeff Hauser:
House Dems must ramp up other oversight: "House Democrats' oversight
of President Trump has not been vigorous enough, and now is their opportunity
to hold the entire administration accountable."
A special counsel must investigate Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr:
Safe to say, that isn't going to happen.
Susan B Glasser:
"Do us a favor": The forty-eight hours that sealed Trump's impeachment.
Stop comparing Trump's impeachment case to Johnson's . . . or Nixon's . . .
John F Harris:
Trump killed the seriousness of impeachment: "Impeachment proceedings
used to be news of unquestionable gravity. The week showed it's just
more fodder for the ideological and culture wars." Actually, by this
logic, it was the Clinton impeachment that led us to see the process
as nothing more than partisan treachery. I could argue that the charges
this time are graver and more urgent, and that the risks of letting
those charges slide unchallenged are greater, but probably not enough
to convince Republicans to disown their leader.
Shane Harris/Josh Dawsey/Ellen Nakashima:
Trump told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn't concerned about Moscow's
interference in US election.
Turns out that impeachment might not scare voters after all.
6 key takeaways from the Ukraine whistleblower complaint.
Top takeaways from the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint.
Republicans only pretend to be patriots: One aspect of this particular
line of impeachment that I'm not looking for is how many Democrats will
try to frame themselves as the true defenders of American security, while
casting Trump and his Republican cronies not just as crass opportunists
and hypocrites only really concerned with their own power and money, but
as fools indebted to foreign powers:
The irony is that in the past few years this paranoid fantasy, in which
a major U.S. political party is de facto allied with an international
movement hostile to American values, has actually become true. But the
party in question is the G.O.P., which under Trump has effectively become
part of a cross-national coalition of authoritarian white nationalists.
Republicans were never the patriots they pretended to be, but at this
point they've pretty much crossed the line into being foreign agents. . . .
What an impeachment process would do now is get the truth about who
really cares about defending America and its values -- and who doesn't --
out into the open. By forcing Republicans to explicitly condone behavior
they would have called treason if a Democrat did it, Nancy Pelosi and
her colleagues can finally put an end to the G.O.P.'s long pretense of
being more patriotic than its opponents.
It's easy (often downright demagogic) to smear Russia and Saudi Arabia
for their associations with old enemies of America, but the real reason
Trump does their bidding is because they represent the global oligarchy,
a class that Trump belongs to and does regular business with.
The winners and losers of the latest Trump scandal.
Impeaching Trump is good for the economy: "It will slow down the
administration's war on competence."
'If he's not in a fight, he looks for one.': "Trump's Ukraine scandal
reflects his lifelong craving for a fresh enemy." Coincidence that the
Ukraine phone call occurred a mere 24 hours after Mueller's Congressional
testimony brought his special investigation story to a supposed close?
Steve M. comments
Trump Want to Be Impeached?):
Kruse's story has its share of macho quotes:
"Trump is a predator," Republican strategist Alex Castellanos asserted
last spring. "When something enters his world, he either eats it, kills
it or mates with it."
But although Kruse doesn't emphasize this point, a pattern emerges:
Trump fights until he loses. Then he moves on to another arena
and resumes fighting, until he loses again.
The problem for Trump is that now he can't move to a more important
arena. He's in the championship match. If he loses now -- if he has a
compulsion to fight until he loses -- then he has nowhere to go but down.
Health permitting, I'm sure he sees lots of money-raking opportunities
after his presidency ends, even by impeachment (and none beneath his
dignity). As a commenter notes:
I'm not convinced Trump sees his current job as the pinnacle of possible
jobs. First off, it requires a shit ton more work (and travel) than he
wants to give. Second, although he is certainly using it for some nice
grifting, there are way too many required activities that he can't
monetize. I can see him being happy to capitalize on 'having been president'
to sell his usual lines of crap (and charge directly for those rallies he
will keep doing, without having to funnel bits of that cash stream through
annoying campaign rules). Plus he'd like a big figure cash deal to call in
to whatever show/podcast, something he can do from his golden toilet.
GOP divided over how enthusiastically to cover for Trump's corruption
How a whistleblower accomplished what Mueller could not.
The Trump-Ukraine scandal just got its Watergate-tapes moment.
The 4 possible crimes in the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower scandal,
explained: Seems to me like a stretch to make a case that Trump
violated the letter of these laws, although he has certainly run
afoul of the ethical norms these laws are intended to embody. In
particular, I cannot disagree that the transcript
"reads more like a mafia shakedown".
- Did Trump or his associates violate campaign finance law?
- Does Trump's act constitute bribery?
- Did he commit extortion?
- Did he obstruct justice?
Ella Nilsen/Li Zhou/Matthew Yglesias:
9 things everyone should know about the impeachment process.
Generally Useful primer, but I have one bone to pick: When asking
"how many presidents have been impeached?" they answer: "The House
has initiated an impeachment inquiry for three presidents, through
it has only charged two with articles of impeachment." They're right
that the House only voted to impeach two presidents: Andrew Johnson
and Bill Clinton, with neither ultimately removed from office by the
Senate ("convicted" seems to be the favored term, but I'd say you're
not impeached until the Senate does so). But while remembering Nixon,
who dodged impeachment by resigning, and avoided jail by having his
successor pardon him, they forgot another prominent impeachment target.
See: Ronald G Shafer:
'He lies like a dog': The first effort to impeach a president was led
by his own party. Like Johnson, Tyler was given the VP nomination
by a party that wanted to broaden its appeal, was elevated after the
death of a popular president, and turned out to be anathema to that
party. If you know Tyler's name at all, it's probably via William
Henry Harrison's catchy campaign slogan, "Tippecanoe, and Tyler too."
On the other hand, see David Greenberg's argument above that historical
impeachment analogies aren't very useful. Still, they offer a typology:
Tyler and Johnson are cases where Congressional majorities tried to
impose their will on obstructionist presidents; Nixon was a cases where
a presidents overstepped his normal powers, with criminal contempt for
legal norms; Clinton was a case a thin House majority thought it would
be a good PR stunt to impeach with no chance of success. At this point,
impeaching Trump is like Nixon (if you're a Democrat) or like Clinton
(if you are a Republican).
Jonathan O'Connell/David A Farehthold:
Trump's other Ukraine problem: New concern about his business.
Here are the most damning parts of the whistleblower report against
President Donald Trump.
Nancy Pelosi: An extremely stable genius. Lousy title, but one a
weak mind might find hard to resist. There's an old Gandhi quote about
having to change his mind to stay aligned with his followers ("after
all, I am their leader"). Had Pelosi not flipped on impeachment, she
would have been lost as a leader. Now she's back in control of a much
more unified party.
The case for a fast, focused Trump impeachment.
Donald Trump's call with Ukrainian leader, one day after Robert Mueller's
Congressional testimony, shows the president is a brazen criminal.
The whistle-blower complaint is democracy at work, not the Deep State.
Steve Mnuchin's efforts to spin Trump's Ukraine scandal were a disaster.
Darren Samuelsohn/Quint Forgey:
How Mitch McConnell could give impeachment the Merrick Garland treatment.
8 takeaways from the whistle-blower complaint.
If this is Trump's best case, the Ukraine scandal is looking really bad
Mark Joseph Stern:
William Barr hit a new low in his crusade to bury the whistleblower
The moment of truth for Brexit and Trump: Far from my favorite pundit,
but it's worth pointing out that Brexit and Trump are allied projects,
built on self-delusion, and fated for disaster -- something some of us
recognized full well at the time, while many of those who bought into
the fantasies have only buried their heads further. Plus this:
But I bet Trump does not even understand the high crime he committed --
leveraging national-security policy to get a foreign government to smear
a political opponent. Trump admires mafiosi, and always has. He has done
his best to emulate them his entire life. Why would he not continue to
do so? And a narcissist of Trump's proportions is simply unable to act
in the interest of something other than himself, or see his personal
interests as different than or subordinate to his public duties. So his
psyche is stopping him from seeing what a big deal this is, while his
eyes and ears see potential catastrophe. This will not end well. And it
didn't help that Rudy Giuliani kept popping up on cable news, like a
whirling dervish in a skull mask, digging his client into a deeper and
deeper political grave.
Another writer who has noted this US-UK crisis alignment: Amy
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson: A tale of two crises.
Trump, the TV president, finally meets a media story he can't control.
Trump, Giuliani, and Manafort; The Ukrainian scheme.
How the security Democrats came around to impeachment.
As an intro to everything, see Vox's
The 10 biggest stories you missed while you were glued to the Trump
- A new report finds humans have caused irreversible changes to the
Earth's oceans and places
- The UK's Supreme Court thwarts Prime Minister Boris Johnson's
- The Trump administration slams the door on refugees
- The WeWork implosion is sending shockwaves across Silicon Valley
- The fight over Joker rages on -- before the movie has even
arrived in theaters
- GM workers strike for second week
- Protesters in Egypt rise up against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
- Greta Thunberg versus Trump and some right-wing trolls
- Hate speech online is apparently fine, so long as it's only from
- Spider-Man returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe
My own link picks on some of these stories (but adding a few more):
Jon Lee Anderson:
At the UN, Jair Bolsonaro presents a surreal defense of his Amazon
Netanyahu gets a dubious presidential mandate. What happens next? Four
Southern state energy officials celebrate fossil fuels as world raises
State Dept escalates investigation into Clinton emails amid Trump's Ukraine
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
Yemen's Houthis say they invaded Saudi Arabia, captured thousands of troops
in Najran. But they also said they blew up Saudi Arabia's oil depot,
something the US would rather blame Iran for. Beginning to look like the
Saudis are getting some blowback for their savage intervention in Yemen.
The very soul of the republic: "Equality's vexed meaning in Gilded
Age America." Review of Charles Postel's book, Equality: An American
Suzanne Gordon/Jasper Craven:
The Trump Administration is sabotaging veterans' access to health care:
"In its push toward privatization, the VA is actively thwarting Congressional
Honor student is struck in head by stray bullet while sitting at computer,
dies on her 12th birthday.
America's income inequality is reaching a tipping point.
How 2020 Democrats are a missing the message on the economy: "The
candidates have yet to tackle the growing problem of regional inequality."
When President Obama took office in 2008, Republican and Democratic
districts enjoyed roughly the same median household income: $55,000
and $54,000, respectively. . . .
Since then, median household income in Democratic districts soared
to $61,000 in 2018, according to Muro and Whiton, while incomes in
Republican districts fell to $53,000. The annual economic output of
Democratic districts likewise skyrocketed, from $35.7 billion to $48.5
billion on average per district, while the economies of Republican
districts shrank. The average Republican district's GDP is now just
two-thirds that of the average Democratic district's GDP.
Related: Claire Kelloway:
How to close the Democrats' rural gap: "Forget Trump's tariffs.
Big Ag is driving a new farm crisis."
The Green New Deal: A fight for our lives.
Edward Snowden and the rise of whistle-blower culture: A review
of Snowden's memoir, Permanent Record.
Senate again rebukes Trump on national emergency declaration.
More researh finds "stand your ground" laws lead to more homicides.
For the sake of life on Earth, we must put a limit on wealth.
America's abortion debate is being defind by Fox News.
The failed political promise of Silicon Valley. Reviews Margaret
O'Mara's book, The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America.
How many future terrorists did we create yesterday? "The United States
bombed 30 farm laborers sitting around a campfire Wednesday. They surely
have brothers and sons and friends who will not forget."
Scientists: humans are rapidly turning oceans into warm, acidifying basins
hostile to life: "A new UN report warns changes to the oceans this
century will be "unprecedented." Related: Brad Plumer:
The world's oceans are in danger, major climate change report warns.
"Liddle', not Liddle": Trump's latest tweets are among his most bizarre
yet. Reminiscent of the
snipe hunt my Boy Scout camp leaders roped us into, I tried looking
up the unrecognized word. All I found was
which (apostrophe or not) is probably not what Trump was thinking. More
serious is the one where he suggests that the whistleblower should be
drawn and quartered.
Robert J Shapiro:
Trump's economic program has left most Americans worse off.
David K Shipler:
Interpreting Joe Biden is more complicated than you think.
Wichita's mayor steered multi-million-dollar water plant contract to
friends. The mayor is Jeff Longwell, who's also responsible for a
shady deal to tear down Wichita's venerable minor league ballpark and
practically give away adjacent city land, including a stretch of river
front. Deep within Longwell's water plant scheme is a plan to privatize
operation of Wichita's water supply. We fought against the first step
a couple years ago, and were unable to stop funding of a company to
do initial planning. Longwell's corruption built on that.
'The Enigma of Clarence Thomas' makes a strong case for its provocative
thesis. Review of Corey Robin's new book on Thomas. For an excerpt
from the book, see: Corey Robin:
Clarence Thomas's radical vision of race.
Income inequality in America is the highest it's been since Census
Bureau started tracking it, data shows.
Crash Course: How Boeing's managerial revolution created the 737 Max
disaster. I've been ranting about Boeing's management for decades
now. This cites a 2002 report, and before that the 1997 merger with
McDonnell-Douglas, and those indeed appear to be turning points. My
father, my brother, and many others I knew worked there, and what may
have passed as good jobs when I was young (I was never so sure) grew
steadily more troubled. One turning point was when Boeing moved their
headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, a city they had no presence in,
so management would never have to directly face the workers and the
communities they were screwing. Still, for a long time, they managed
to build planes that flew and landed safely. Then, even that changed:
And indeed, that would appear to be the real moral of this story: Airplane
manufacturing is no different from mortgage lending or insulin distribution
or make-believe blood analyzing software -- another cash cow for the one
percent, bound inexorably for the slaughterhouse. In the now infamous
debacle of the Boeing 737 MAX, the company produced a plane outfitted
with a half-assed bit of software programmed to override all pilot input
and nosedive when a little vane on the side of the fuselage told it the
nose was pitching up. The vane was also not terribly reliable, possibly
due to assembly line lapses reported by a whistle-blower, and when the
plane processed the bad data it received, it promptly dove into the sea.
The culmination of Republican decay: Review of Tim Alberta's book,
American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War
and the Rise of President Trump. Also see: Eric Alterman:
Making sense of Trump's rise, where he also reviews Alberta's book,
along with Brian Rosenwald: Talk Radio's America: How an Industry
Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States and
James Poniewozik: Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and
the Fracturing of America. I've been reading Alberta's book, finding
it a useful historical framework, although (as Wilentz points out) stuck
in a very narrow tunnel, where resistance to Trump never extends beyond
Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, and Paul Ryan (well, aside from quoting GW Bush's
"that was some weird shit" inauguration line). As such, he doesn't offer
any real insight into why many Republicans loved Trump before the election,
and still more embraced him since.
The Zelensky call also shines light on Trump's financial corruption.
The strange career of Rudy Giuliani, from US attorney to Trump bagman,
New claims that Trump failed to proect American journalists in Egypt
To beat Trump, try running an outsider: "A veteran like Joe Biden
risks letting Trump off the hook for corruption."
Let me be clear: If you are a single-issue "don't let the president's
son do shady stuff" voter, and the choice on Election Day comes down
to Donald Trump or Joe Biden, the correct choice is still Biden. . . .
Specifically with regard to Hunter Biden and Ukraine, Trump was not
conducting some kind of good government audit, he was holding core US
foreign policy objectives hostage to his narrow self-interest. And this
is something he does not just on extraordinary occasions but routinely.
From Israel to India to Venezuela and beyond, Trump seems utterly
incapable of viewing the public interest as having any standing or
independent weight beyond his narrow politics. He quite openly believes
that the entire Justice Department should serve his personal interests,
rather than the interests of impartial justice, and his continued
presence in office is a national scandal. . . .
But by the same token, there's something perverse about moderate
and allegedly electability-minded Democrats lining up behind a guy
who was first elected to the Senate in 1972.
If "experienced Washington hand" were the best formula for winning
elections, then Hillary Clinton would have won in 2016, and veteran
senators would outnumber young governors among successful presidential
candidates. Voters don't like "the system," and the baggage that comes
with it. The best way, by far, to make Trump own his corruption is to
pick someone from outside the swamp to run against him, rather than
letting him continue to position himself as the scourge of the
Democrats are stuck in a doom loop of premature polling.
Trump claims he wants to lower drug prices. He'll have to convince his
own party to do it. But he won't convince his party, because they'll
always defend moneyed interests against people, and because he won't
really try, because he does too. But talk about it? Sure, he'll talk