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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#14661 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-January-27, 13:28

View Postkenberg, on 2020-January-27, 07:17, said:

The only defense they have was summed up by Melania Trump in 2018: "I really don't care, do you".

That's it, that's their defense, there is nothing else.

So far it appears to be working, With some, at least.

Mike Pompeo used a similar strategy to downplay the seriousness of Trump's Ukraine ploy.

William Taylor explains why we should care.

Quote

As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in Kyiv later this week, he has reportedly asked, “Do Americans care about Ukraine?”

Here’s why the answer should be yes: Ukraine is defending itself and the West against Russian attack. If Ukraine succeeds, we succeed. The relationship between the United States and Ukraine is key to our national security, and Americans should care about Ukraine.

Russia is fighting a hybrid war against Ukraine, Europe and the United States. This war has many components: armed military aggression, energy supply, cyber attacks, disinformation and election interference. On each of these battlegrounds, Ukraine is the front line.

For the last seven months, I represented the United States in Ukraine and regularly visited the front line of the military conflict. After its occupation of Crimea, Russia sent its army, security forces, undercover agents, weapons, funding and political instruction into Ukraine’s southeastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, a region known as the Donbas. The 280-mile line of contact between Russian-led forces and Ukrainian forces has stabilized but has not gone quiet.

To the contrary, the front line in the Donbas region marks the only shooting war in Europe. Every week Russian-led forces kill Ukrainian soldiers — and take casualties in return. During the 12 hours of my last visit, in November, a Ukrainian soldier was killed and another wounded. Since the Russians invaded in 2014, 14,000 Ukrainians have died in this war.

The United States and our allies support Ukraine in this war by providing the Ukrainian armed forces with weapons, training and support. American security assistance to Ukraine regularly receives broad, bipartisan support in Congress; the importance of that assistance to Ukraine — and to U.S. national security — is not at issue.

On the energy battlefield, the Kremlin is trying to bypass Ukraine and increase German and European dependence on Russia by spending billions on an unnecessary underwater natural gas pipeline, a political project without economic justification. In another show of bipartisan political support for Ukraine, Congress late last year passed sanctions on companies attempting to complete the pipeline, forcing a significant delay in the project.

Russia’s hybrid war is also an information war. Starting at home, Russian media is dominated by the state, leading its citizens to believe they are under threat from a hostile West and convincing them that President Vladimir Putin protects them from corrupt enemies. Russia’s trolls and internet hackers target Ukrainian, European and American political and social fault lines, exaggerating differences and fomenting dissension. They seek to weaken Western alliances, undermine confidence in democratic institutions, and turn citizens against citizens. We and other NATO allies are working with Ukraine to counter this malign influence.

The Russians interfered in our elections in 2016 — but not before interfering in Ukraine’s elections in 2014, and Britain’s Brexit referendum earlier in 2016. Because Ukraine is the front line, we assisted the Ukrainian central election commission in its preparations for their 2019 elections to defend against further Russian interference. Their efforts, with our assistance, successfully frustrated Russian attacks.

But the Russian challenge is even broader than hybrid warfare. The Kremlin is attacking the rules that have guided relations among nations since World War II, rules that kept the peace among major European powers for 70 years. With their invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Mr. Putin trashed those rules, spurned international consensus, violated the treaties and principles that even previous Russian and Soviet leaders had respected — even in the breach.

Mr. Putin seems to want to return to the law of the jungle that characterized relations among nations for centuries before 1945, where powerful nations dominated and invaded less powerful nations, where nations established spheres of influence that oppressed neighbors, leading to war and suffering. That was how the Russian Empire and Soviet Union conducted international relations — dominate, control and absorb neighboring lands. A return to jungle rules threatens not just Ukraine and the United States, but global stability itself.

Until Russia withdraws from Ukraine — both Donbas and Crimea — and recognizes that Ukraine is an independent, sovereign nation, other nations cannot be secure. Until Russia recommits to a rules-based international order, Western nations are in jeopardy. Ukraine is the front line.

In an even broader sense, Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the West is an attack on democracy. The question of how nations govern themselves — democracy versus autocracy — is being fought out among and within nations. Russia, China, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, the Philippines, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria — all are autocracies, all are unfree. In the contest between democracies and autocracies, the contest between freedom and unfreedom, Ukraine is the front line.

To support Ukraine means to support a young democracy, fighting to regain sovereignty over its internationally recognized borders. It is to support a nation that has broken from its troubled past to embrace European and Western values and that seeks to join European and North Atlantic institutions, to defeat post-Soviet corruption, and to give its citizens the chance to prosper in a normal country.

To support Ukraine is to support a rules-based international order that enabled major powers in Europe to avoid war for seven decades. It is to support democracy over autocracy. It is to support freedom over unfreedom. Most Americans do.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14662 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-January-27, 15:57

View Posty66, on 2020-January-27, 13:28, said:

Mike Pompeo used a similar strategy to downplay the seriousness of Trump's Ukraine ploy.

William Taylor explains why we should care.

Speaking of Pompeo, if he has major disagreements with Ukrainian leaders on his upcoming Ukraine trip, is he going to curse them out and challenge them to find Ukraine on a world map?

Reporter says Mike Pompeo cursed and demanded she find Ukraine on a map after interview
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#14663 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-January-27, 17:44

Does this:

Quote

Support for impeachment had grown slowly over the course of 1974, but there still wasn’t an overwhelming public consensus behind it until right before Nixon left office in early August. And Republican support for Nixon had remained mostly strong, even in the face of a scandal that consumed his second term. As the truth about the scope of Nixon’s misconduct emerged, though, impeachment became increasingly popular and the president lost even his most fervent defenders in Congress.


rhyme with this?

Quote

Mitt Romney told reporters Monday morning that he thinks new revelations from former Trump national security adviser John Bolton will increase the number of Republican senators who will vote in favor of calling at least Bolton to testify in the Senate impeachment trial.

"I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton. Whether there are other witnesses and documents, that’s another matter,” Romney, a Republican senator from Utah, said in the Capitol.

Romney, asked if he was making this comment based on conversations with other senators, said he had “spoken with others who have opined on this as well.”

"I think the story that came out yesterday, it’s increasingly apparent that it would be important to hear from John Bolton,” Romney said.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14664 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-January-28, 14:50

View Postjohnu, on 2020-January-27, 15:57, said:

Speaking of Pompeo, if he has major disagreements with Ukrainian leaders on his upcoming Ukraine trip, is he going to curse them out and challenge them to find Ukraine on a world map?

Reporter says Mike Pompeo cursed and demanded she find Ukraine on a map after interview


The part of the cited story that I especially appreciated was:


Quote



In response, NPR stood by its reporting.


"Mary Louise Kelly has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report," Nancy Barnes, NPR's senior vice president of news, said in a statement.



It is very good to see someone speaking of a person displaying utmost integrity without everyone else collapsing in derisive laughter. A vote of thanks to NPR and Ms. Kelly. We are in need of this.
Ken
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#14665 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-January-29, 09:04

The interesting thing is that if Pompeo hadn't gotten so upset about this, the interview might never even have seen air. It took place while NPR was broadcasting the impeachment trial, so All Things Considered was being preempted. They aired it instead the next morning on Morning Edition, but the big story was Pompeo's explosion at the end.

#14666 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-January-29, 09:45

From The Ugliest Part of Trump’s Impeachment Defense by Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:

Quote

President Donald Trump’s legal team wrapped up its three-day defense presentation in the Senate impeachment trial on Tuesday. The president’s lawyers wound up taking up less than half of their allotted time, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything — after all, the House managers who played the prosecutorial role took up all 24 hours in part by making many of their points multiple times. Keeping the defense short might be thought of as a strategy, rather than an indication of a lack of anything useful to say.

In this case, however? It’s really astonishing how unimpressive their overall case turned out to be.

It might have been different if persuasion had really been required, but there simply aren’t 20 Republican senators who might even consider voting to remove Trump from office (so that along with all 47 Democrats they could reach the required two-thirds), let alone the 30 or more who realistically are needed to provide cover for each other. And of the 53 Republicans, few seem to feel the need for strong reasons to stick with the president.

In part, the problem is that the defense lawyers’ attempt to knock down the factual case against Trump just didn’t work to begin with. And to the extent that a case against the House’s accusations might have been viable — the first article of impeachment says that Trump withheld congressionally approved security assistance and a presidential White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to announce two investigations, one of some fantastical Ukrainian scheme to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the other of a top Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son — it was fatally undermined by the news of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s confirmation of Trump’s direct participation in the plot in his upcoming book.

In fact, that track was so unsuccessful that by Tuesday night, some Republican Senators were willing to abandon it and accept that, yes, Trump did what he obviously did.

This gets us to what remains of the president’s defense: the claim on Monday night by defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense. As a serious position, it falls flat. Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin recapped the argument on Tuesday, and it boiled down to two preposterous assertions. One is that by eliminating “maladministration” from the constitutional grounds for impeachment, the framers were also removing “abuse of power,” even though — and I’ll admit I’m not a scholar of 18th-century legal terms, but neither are they — “maladministration” means something completely different. The framers removed it because they didn’t want a president impeached for incompetence; that is, for bad administration of the government. Rightly so: President Jimmy Carter should not have been impeached and removed for being bad at presidenting. For that matter, Trump should not be impeached and removed for being bad at presidenting. What that has to do with abuse of power, I couldn’t guess.

And then Philbin argued that the framers went with “treason, bribery, and high crimes and misdemeanors” because they always chose precise terms, not vague ones, in drafting the Constitution. C’mon. That would obviously be news to anyone who has read the document, especially the incredibly vague Article II, the part that sets up the presidency. And of course the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the relevant passage here, doesn’t have any precise obvious meaning. What’s worse for the president’s case is that scholars who have studied the historical meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors” wind up with something that looks a lot like “abuse of power.” High crimes and misdemeanors are important ones against the nation, and ones that pertain specifically to the use — the misuse — of the president’s formal powers.

Dershowitz and Philbin are free to disagree, and Republican senators looking for any available lifeboat are free to clamber onto this one, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to take it seriously. Of course “abuse of power” is grounds, if anything is grounds, for removing a president through the impeachment and conviction process. Indeed, the notion of abuse of power is the powerful answer to those who complain about thwarting the will of the people by removing the duly elected president. After all, by electing a president, the nation confers on him or her certain constitutional and statutory powers, but only those powers. If the president misuses them, that’s a form of overstepping that grant of authority. It means the president is not governing as elected, but instead is governing unconstitutionally. Then, and especially then, it becomes necessary to do something about it, with impeachment and removal the ultimate way to ensure that a president is only doing what he or she is authorized to do.

And, yes, that abuse of power could take the form of doing things that would otherwise be allowed under the constitution but doing them improperly. That is what “abuse of power” means!

Dershowitz and others also made the case that many presidents have abused the powers of the office, and under that standard would have been subject to impeachment and removal. That’s correct. President Lyndon Johnson deceived the nation about a naval incident in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 to win congressional authorization for the Vietnam War; President Ronald Reagan sold arms to Iran despite a U.S. trade embargo and improperly funneled the money to Nicaraguan Contra rebels fighting that country’s communist government; President George W. Bush presided over the the decision to use interrogation techniques considered torture under international law and at least stretched the truth to justify the invasion of Iraq; fill in your own favorite. I’d guess that all 45 U.S. presidents have probably abused the power of the office in some way. But only three, or four if we count President Richard Nixon’s resignation before an impeachment trial could begin, have been impeached and only Nixon was forced out of office. That’s because impeachment and removal is a political standard, not a legal one, and Congress has correctly proven reluctant to wield it if there were good alternatives.

The classic example was the Iran-Contra affair. It may well have been impeachable. But Reagan took responsibility, rid his administration of several of those involved, accepted a new White House chief of staff foisted on him by Congress and changed his own behavior, all of which was sufficient to deflate any serious drive for impeachment. It’s not hard to imagine that had Trump taken similar steps, the House would have settled for oversight hearings and at most a censure resolution. Instead … well, this one turned out differently.

Fortunately, I doubt that many people outside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue take this argument seriously, including those who are going to hide behind it right now, because the idea that a president can abuse the powers of the office and there’s just nothing anyone can do about it (and remember, like all recent presidents, Trump maintains that he can’t be indicted while in office) is a scary one indeed. But it’s not healthy to have a political party making the claim. On the whole, I’d rather have Republicans pretend that the facts are not the facts than to pretend that they believe that the presidency is above the law.

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#14667 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-January-29, 17:13

It's looking increasingly unlikely that witnesses will be called. Now it's up to Dems and voters to do the right thing in November which includes taking back the Senate.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14668 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-January-30, 02:49

The Manchurian President's wall falls in an expression of sympathy for his collapsing and now on life support impeachment defense arguments.

Segment Of Trump’s Border Wall Falls Over Into Mexico Due To Wind

The lying, hypocritical Republican senators have already demonstrated that their oath of impartiality at the start of the impeachment trial was a total fraud and have pretty much agreed to avoid calling witnesses like Bolton after caving to Individual-1 and Moscow Mitch demands and threats. I initially thought that there was a possibility that close to 2/3 of the senate would vote for removal of the president, but the impeachment would fail. The chance that even a single Republican senator would vote to convict is probably 0% at this time. You know that every single Republican would have voted to convict Obama if he had done the same thing as the Manchurian President.
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#14669 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-January-30, 09:37

View Postjohnu, on 2020-January-30, 02:49, said:

The Manchurian President's wall falls in an expression of sympathy for his collapsing and now on life support impeachment defense arguments.

Segment Of Trump’s Border Wall Falls Over Into Mexico Due To Wind

The lying, hypocritical Republican senators have already demonstrated that their oath of impartiality at the start of the impeachment trial was a total fraud and have pretty much agreed to avoid calling witnesses like Bolton after caving to Individual-1 and Moscow Mitch demands and threats. I initially thought that there was a possibility that close to 2/3 of the senate would vote for removal of the president, but the impeachment would fail. The chance that even a single Republican senator would vote to convict is probably 0% at this time. You know that every single Republican would have voted to convict Obama if he had done the same thing as the Manchurian President.


But you know the really important question for the sake of the country moving forward is this: if Obama had done what Trump did, how many Democrats would vote to convict?
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14670 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-January-30, 09:54

I don't remember if I posted it here or in politics.stackexchange.com, but I suggested the same argument that Dershowitz came up with this week: POTUS considers their reelection to be good for the country, so doing something to support it is not just for personal or political gain, it's fulfilling their oath of office.

#14671 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-January-30, 10:12

View Postbarmar, on 2020-January-30, 09:54, said:


I don't remember if I posted it here or in politics.stackexchange.com, but I suggested the same argument that Dershowitz came up with this week: POTUS considers their reelection to be good for the country, so doing something to support it is not just for personal or political gain, it's fulfilling their oath of office.


I hadn't posted it, but when they first started speaking of multiple motives I said to Becky "Sure. Electing me is good, for the country, this will help elect me, so I am acting on behalf of the country"

It's hard to know what to say when a remark made in jest becomes an actual position of the defense. I would expect there to be some limit on what a person is willing to say. Apparently not.
Ken
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#14672 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-January-30, 10:47

View Postbarmar, on 2020-January-30, 09:54, said:

I don't remember if I posted it here or in politics.stackexchange.com, but I suggested the same argument that Dershowitz came up with this week: POTUS considers their reelection to be good for the country, so doing something to support it is not just for personal or political gain, it's fulfilling their oath of office.


The problem with that argument is that it applies only to roughly half the country's population; whether it is good for one person or even one political party does not make it good for the country as a whole.

To genuinely believe this argument (as Barr and other seem to) means that you view only your positions as "right", therefore, it is mandatory in order to protect "your" country to prevent - with any means - the other views from winning.

This is not democracy in action; this is warfare.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14673 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-January-30, 11:12

From Trump Signs Trade Deal With Canada and Mexico (Jan 29) by Ana Swanson and Emily Cochrane at NYT:

Quote

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed the revised North American Free Trade Agreement into law on Wednesday, fulfilling a key campaign promise and bringing more than two years of tumultuous negotiations over the continent’s trade rules to a close.

The trade deal, now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, updates the quarter-century-old NAFTA, with stronger protections for workers and the digital economy, expanded markets for American farmers and new rules to encourage auto manufacturing in North America.

“Today we are finally ending the NAFTA nightmare and signing into law the brand-new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” Mr. Trump said during a signing ceremony at the White House.

“For the first time in American history, we have replaced a disastrous trade deal that rewarded outsourcing with a truly fair and reciprocal trade deal that will keep jobs, wealth and growth right here in America,” he said.

The deal will restore certainty about the direction of the North American economy for the multitude of companies that depend on the rules to carry out their businesses. While the Trump administration reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico more than a year ago, it came after months of tense negotiations that included a threat by the president to leave Canada out of the deal completely.

And the agreement’s fate remained in question for most of the past year, given concerns among congressional Democrats, whose support was needed to approve the pact, that the new deal had not included strong enough provisions related to labor, the environment and access to pharmaceuticals.

* * *

The deal constitutes an important political victory for Mr. Trump and his second trade win of the month. The president signed an initial trade pact with China at the White House just two weeks ago, giving him crucial talking points as he heads into his re-election campaign. While his deals with China and other countries like Japan and South Korea are smaller than traditional trade agreements, Mr. Trump will be able to claim that he has renegotiated trade terms with countries responsible for more than half of American trade.

The president wasted little time in touting the new North American trade deal, calling it a “colossal victory” for farmers and factory workers and the “largest, fairest, most balanced and modern trade agreement ever achieved.”

Mr. Trump has long derided the original NAFTA, and he frequently threatened to rip it up entirely if Canada, Mexico or congressional Democrats would not agree to his new rules.

He came into office with an executive order drafted to begin the process of withdrawing from NAFTA and nearly signed it on several occasions. But more moderate advisers and business contacts repeatedly dissuaded the president from scrapping the deal.

The 26-year-old agreement, which was negotiated by the George Bush administration and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, has since become a political target, derided for encouraging American companies to move factories and jobs to Mexico.

Many economists have a more sanguine view of NAFTA’s legacy, saying the deal provided a positive, if small, benefit to American wages and employment. It allowed industries to reorganize their supply chains around North America and take advantage of the differing resources and strengths of the three countries. The deal helped to more than triple America’s trade with Canada and Mexico.

But the opening of borders has come at a cost. Some Americans, particularly those with less education, lost out as factories moved to Mexico, taking jobs with them.

Gordon Hanson, an economist at the Harvard Kennedy School, said studies have found that average incomes rose in all three countries as a result of the trade deal, though by a small magnitude. But the deal’s benefits were very unevenly distributed around the United States.

“We can certainly find places where jobs are lost as a result of increased trade with Mexico, as well as places where jobs were gained as a result of increased trade with Mexico,” Mr. Hanson said.

The government programs that were designed to help workers adjust to these changes proved to be a Band-Aid for a deep wound that never healed. As China’s 2001 entry into the global economy accelerated the loss of American factory jobs, NAFTA became a potent symbol for labor unions, many Democrats and Mr. Trump of where American trade policy went wrong.

The Trump administration began its renegotiation of NAFTA in August 2017 with harsh words for Canada and Mexico, with the president’s top trade adviser saying the pact had “fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement.”

Talks were initially expected to wrap up by the end of 2017, but negotiations lingered well into the next year as officials from all three countries scrabbled over issues like dairy-market access, federal-government contracts and systems for settling trade disputes. Business groups were alarmed by several of Mr. Trump’s proposals, including the idea of injecting a “sunset provision” into the deal that could cause it to automatically expire.

* * *

Some Democrats were quick to point out that the deal being celebrated by Republicans at the White House was far more in line with Democratic priorities than with traditional conservative ones.

“It actually kind of puts a smile on my face,” said Representative Jimmy Gomez, Democrat of California, in an interview. “It’s ironic. They’re lauding the most progressive trade deal in the history of this country.”

“They should send her a box of chocolates,” Mr. Gomez said of Ms. Pelosi, who has a famous penchant for chocolate, particularly from California. “Dark. Ghirardelli.”

The new trade deal faces one final hurdle before it can go into effect: It still needs to be approved in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government’s first action when Parliament resumed after an extended break on Monday was introducing legislation to carry out the trade pact, which it calls the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement.

Because Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party does not hold a voting majority in the House of Commons, the bill will require opposition support to pass. All three major opposition parties have various complaints. But many local and provincial politicians, labor and business leaders are calling for quick approval, making the legislation’s defeat unlikely.

Chrystia Freeland, the deputy prime minister, urged the opposition parties to work with the government to pass the bill swiftly.

“This is a victory for all Canadians of every political persuasion and from all regions of our great country,” she said in a news conference.

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#14674 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-January-30, 16:34

Can you sing Day-O, Harry?

Pompe-o, Pompe-o
Pompeo come and he wan’ to please Trump
Pom, me say Pom, me say Pom, me say Pom
Me say Pom, me say Pompe-o
Pompe-o come and he wan’ please Trump
Duck Ukraine questions from NPR reporter
Pompe-o come and he wan’ to please Trump
Won’t protect ambassador when she’s has bad trouble
Pompe-o come and he wan’ to please Trump
Come mister Rudy G even though bananas
Pompe-o come and he wan’ to please Trump
Come mister Rudy G even though bananas
Pompe-o come and he wan’ to please Trump
6 servers, 7 servers, 8 on a hunch!
Pompe-o come and he wan’ to please Trump
Pom, me say Pompe-o
Pompeo come and he wan’ to please Trump
Pom, me say Pom, me say Pom, me say Pom,
Pompe-o time now for you to go home.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14675 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-January-30, 17:24

:)-o
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14676 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-January-30, 17:25

Peter Baker #peterbakernyt said:

Carter, who brokered Camp David accord, on Trump Middle East peace plan: "The new U.S. plan undercuts prospects for a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. If implemented, the plan will doom the only viable solution to this long-running conflict, the two-state solution."

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#14677 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-January-30, 18:31

View Postjohnu, on 2020-January-30, 02:49, said:

The Manchurian President's wall falls in an expression of sympathy for his collapsing and now on life support impeachment defense arguments.

Segment Of Trump’s Border Wall Falls Over Into Mexico Due To Wind

The lying, hypocritical Republican senators have already demonstrated that their oath of impartiality at the start of the impeachment trial was a total fraud and have pretty much agreed to avoid calling witnesses like Bolton after caving to Individual-1 and Moscow Mitch demands and threats. I initially thought that there was a possibility that close to 2/3 of the senate would vote for removal of the president, but the impeachment would fail. The chance that even a single Republican senator would vote to convict is probably 0% at this time. You know that every single Republican would have voted to convict Obama if he had done the same thing as the Manchurian President.

At this point, my preferred outcome is that every single Republican votes against any witnesses or additional documents, and then vote to dismiss the impeachment charges without bothering to vote on removing the Manchurian President. That will be the best outcome possible for those hoping to flip the Senate in 2020 and 2022.
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#14678 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-January-31, 06:16

From Garry Kasparov at NY Review of Books:

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The party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan is now slavishly loyal to a corrupt reality-TV host whose only demonstrable allegiances are to his own image and Vladimir Putin. GOP legislators of the past pushed back against Richard Nixon, against Gerald Ford, and even against Reagan and George W. Bush. That someone of the high crimes and low character of Donald Trump now commands complete Republican fealty says more about the state of the GOP, and perhaps the country, than about Trump—and it says nothing good.

Worse, the GOP sees Trump not as an embarrassment to endure but as a working model to perpetuate. What Trump believes matters not at all; it only matters that he won and holds power. Worst of all, Trumpism looks set to outlast Trump himself—with whichever equally unqualified family member tries to succeed him in the finest autocratic tradition. Trump’s victory in the 2016 election validated his personal bombastic political style. There is still time to relegate it as a terrible mistake, a tragic fluke of tiny electoral college margins, an unpopular opponent, foreign intervention, and media gullibility. But Trump’s reelection in 2020 would validate his political methods and have a long-lasting impact on America and the world.

* * *
Demagogues and extremists draw the spotlight with hateful rhetoric or utopian promises—usually both. While we usually think of these movements as revolutionary, or counter-revolutionary, democracies are not immune to these timeworn techniques. Attention translates into media coverage, into campaign donations, and into votes.

Despite the romantic image of coups as sudden insurgencies, usually military in nature, the reality is usually more prosaic and insidious. Putin was originally elected, albeit with considerable irregularities. Quite a few other elected leaders have followed Putin’s model of assaulting and degrading the democratic institutions they are supposed to protect in order to move from mere president to president-for-life. The architecture of a republic is surprisingly easy to pull down from within: you never know when your vote will be the last meaningful one you cast.

Trump has even begun talking publicly about staying in office beyond 2024, one of the many menacing boasts he makes at rallies that the mainstream media desperately dismisses as jokes. (As Masha Gessen wrote in these pages, “Rule #1: Believe the autocrat.”) And while anything beyond the 2024 election would be much to ask of Trump’s diminishing capacities—and the Constitution—there is no prohibition against one of Trump’s family members claiming the mantle, and no sign that the GOP will resist formally becoming the Trump Party.

We learned this the hard way in Russia, where our constitution has been altered, evaded, and ignored by Putin for years. As the 2018 US midterm election demonstrated, American institutions have deeper roots and have proved more robust than have Russia’s, but many of them are untested and rusty. Decades of partisan Congresses’ ceding their authority to presidents of the same party have turned the first branch into a third-class institution full of second-class minds. Congress was ill-prepared to deal with someone like Trump, a man with no concept of public service or the national interest, or anyone’s welfare beyond his own.

After three years of his increasingly disgraceful behavior, Trump’s critics still seem to believe there are lines he will not cross in order to protect himself and his power. This is a common mistake, and a natural one. A disregard for anything but oneself is a type of evil superpower in politics (and business). It allows such people to constantly surprise their rivals by doing what others find unthinkable. Every time I hear someone say, “But Trump would never do x,” I recall all the times we were told by tut-tutting Western pundits that surely Putin would never jail his opposition, would never return to the presidency, would never invade Ukraine, etc. He would and he did.

Laws are only as strong as the character of the people charged with enforcing them. They cannot be applied selectively, or you soon find yourself in the cynical world encapsulated in the words of the Peruvian military leader and politician Óscar Benavides, “For my friends everything, for my enemies the law.” A few days after Trump’s inauguration, I said in an interview that Americans were about to find out how much their government was based on traditions and the honor system. What happens when a president ignores those things? What happens when the executive declines to hold press briefings, and simply doesn’t fill leading positions in the vital government departments, appointing yes-men as acting heads who are often untested and unvetted?

Unallocated power accrues upwards, reducing accountability and transparency. It’s a slow-motion coup of attrition, largely invisible, with unpredictable and far-reaching effects.

Typical officials and bureaucrats expand their dominions by adding subordinates and creating new departments and agencies. Autocrats require total loyalty, so the circle of confidants inevitably shrinks both in size and in quality. In the resulting vacuum, no one can hear the whistleblower’s whistle, assuming there’s anyone left to blow it.

* * *
The rise of populist nationalism that has been gaining from the zero-sum global decline in democracy doesn’t belong to any political ideology or side. The populist left in Venezuela, Greece, and Spain sounds much like the populist right in Hungary, Turkey, and France. The far left and far right in the United States are starting to sound more and more like each other. Not in the content of their unrealistic promises, but in the vengeful tone of their rhetoric, their cynicism about democratic norms and institutions, their hostility toward the free press, and their attitudes toward expanding state power. What’s needed today is a popular front against populism.

The increasingly marginalized majority must, by voice and by vote, support candidates and media outlets that refuse to sink to sensationalism and hyper-partisanship. The Republicans and Fox News have followed in Trump’s footsteps, but the reaction cannot be to match them lie for lie, outrage for outrage. America’s two-party system can give the appearance of a zero-sum, “with us or against us” struggle, but it wasn’t so long ago that both “conservative Democrats” and “moderate Republicans” strode the halls of Congress. We need leaders who can argue policy and priorities without believing in an alternate reality or treating their opponents like enemies of the state.

The latest warning comes from America’s closest transatlantic ally, the United Kingdom. The recent election proved that in Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party had succeeded in fielding perhaps the only politician in the UK more reviled than the Tory leader, Boris Johnson—quite an achievement, made possible by Corbyn’s particular combination of personal deficiencies and outdated socialist platform. By pulling Labour’s agenda to the far left and refusing to step aside for a less unpopular candidate, Corbyn dashed millions of his traditional voters’ hopes and interests in electoral defeat and for years to come.

Corbyn also attempted to sidestep the issue of Brexit, when the country was, for perfectly logical reasons, obsessed with it. This is another lesson for the Democrats in 2020, who currently seem more interested in arguing over the minutiae of their health care plans than focusing on Donald Trump’s open assault on American democracy. There is a real chance the Democrats will nominate a candidate who is far left enough to keep some anti-Trump voters home and drive Trump voters to the polls. There won’t be any Green New Deals, Medicare for All, or loan forgiveness programs if Trump is reelected. They won’t even get a proper burial. Instead, Trump will likely get to replace two more aging, liberal Supreme Court judges and entrench his assault on American institutions for a generation. Such an arch-conservative Court would be a fortress against any modernizing initiatives required in our rapidly changing times.

Perhaps it’s because I was born in a totalitarian country, but I always thought the objective of elections was to win. There’s no moral victory against an autocrat; you just get written out of the next editions of the history books. Democrats shouldn’t look at Trump’s low approval rating and assume that any of their candidates will beat him, and that therefore the real competition is to out-promise each other in the primary contest. The voters whom the Democrats most need to turn out are the ones most likely to be frightened off by controversy and radical ideas—from either side.

A popular front against Trump would mean keeping him and his many abuses in the spotlight, as well as targeting his defenders in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t want to host an impeachment trial with witnesses. What might voters make of that? Repeat the facts about the administration’s crimes and failures, from the trade war tariffs that hurt American producers and consumers to his reckless, Corleone-style foreign policy. Ask Americans if they think the president should be above the law. Campaign on a return to stability and sanity, instead of trying to out-Trump Trump with wild promises and wild-eyed rhetoric.

Around 100 million eligible voters didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential election, enough to have defeated both Trump and Hillary Clinton. For all the talk of voter suppression and the potential for more foreign interference or outright cheating in 2020, even a moderate uptick in turnout in the right places would overwhelm any subtle fraud. Still, it is important to make clear that the watchers are watching, and that any campaign law violations or foreign interference will be dealt with severely. This would be part of a platform of unity and integrity that keeps these matters and Trump’s own well-documented immorality and criminality in the foreground.

There are many traditional issues worthy of thorough debate, to be sure. Economic inequality, threats to the environment, a ballooning deficit and the need to re-fund the entitlement budget as the huge Boomer generation leaves the workforce. The extravagances of debt-fueled commerce have gone unchecked, opening the door for socialists who want to tear down the system that created unprecedented prosperity, instead of working together to fix it. Vital matters, pressing matters—none of which will be addressed if Trump is reelected.

* * *
The stakes are high not just for the US. Putin isn’t going away, unfortunately, and his influence looms large in nearly every global crisis point, from Ukraine to North Korea to Venezuela to Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The Kremlin has taken lately to trolling Poland with lies about the origins of World War II and making noise about old Russian claims on Belorussia, both efforts to aggressively reinterpret the past. These misinformation offensives aren’t just for domestic consumption anymore, and Trump’s dubious support for NATO is very much on the minds of Baltic leaders. Putin badly needs Trump to stay in the White House, keeping the US out of his plans.

Iran threatens to be the crisis everyone dreaded the moment Trump’s election was confirmed. Since Trump cares nothing about national security or human life, we are left to hope that his self-interest doesn’t violently clash with national and global interests. But his attempted extortion of Ukraine and the Republicans’ lack of interest in punishing him for it are poor omens.

My past experience obliges me to give warnings, not predictions. As when I marched against Putin in 2005, raising the alarm about his turn toward despotism, I want to be proven wrong. I would like nothing better than to be called hysterical, a crank, a chessplayer who couldn’t see five moves ahead—if it meant that the American people had heeded the warning signs and acted in time to avoid a repeat of the painful recent history I witnessed.

Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate will send a message to the country and the world; the only question is what that message will be. No matter what Trump does, his GOP defenders will never abandon him if he looks politically invincible, and he will spawn more imitators, both at home and abroad. Back in 1974, Richard Nixon’s resignation in the face of impeachment proceedings so stunned Leonid Brezhnev and the Soviet leadership that they thought it might be an American ploy of some kind. I remember how it shocked my family in Baku in a very different way—because we saw it as evidence that in a democracy even the top man was not above the law. How could we not imagine what it would be like to live in such a blessed place ourselves?

But for Trump to stay in office, especially if he wins reelection in 2020, will inspire authoritarians and dishearten their subjects. It will set a negative example for both US political parties that there are no consequences for cheating and lying. The downward spiral will accelerate. The only remedy is to mobilize public opinion and for the American people to hold not only Trump accountable, but his defenders as well. And that will have to happen the old-fashioned way: at the ballot box in November.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14679 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-January-31, 06:55

From Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:

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With Senator Lamar Alexander's announcement Thursday night thathe would vote against calling witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, it appears that the Senate will wrap things up quickly. The last remaining question seems to be whether the final votes to acquit will come Friday evening or later in the night. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah say they are planning to vote for witnesses, and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska remains undecided as I write this. But without Tennessee’s Alexander there aren’t enough votes to force the trial to continue.

Alexander said he accepted that Trump was guilty of what he considered “inappropriate” actions, but that they didn’t rise to the level of removal and therefore there was no need to gather additional evidence. As such statements go, it could be worse. Alexander neither defied the obvious facts nor embraced some of the more extreme theories that the president’s lawyers embraced, theories that would in effect write impeachment and removal out of the U.S. Constitution. And his basic argument, that further evidence is unnecessary if he accepts the facts as laid out by the House managers prosecuting the case, is rational.

His statement wasn’t exactly consistent throughout. In particular, there’s no logic to his rejection of conviction on the grounds that it is backed only by one political party, since Alexander himself could make support for removal at least a little bipartisan. More to the point, there’s never any possibility of anything but a broad (and almost certainly bipartisan) majority for removing a president, since 67 votes would be required in the Senate. It would make some sense for a House majority to back away from an impeachment because it only has partisan support; it makes no sense for a senator from the president’s party to vote against removing that president if it’s otherwise merited on the grounds that it’s just a partisan effort.

That said, both the focus on witnesses and the focus on the four senators who have been the most likely to support calling them is misplaced. The real question is how senators will vote on removing the president from office, and the key senators haven’t been Alexander, Collins, Romney and Murkowski, or even the next-most-likely group of 10 or so. The key senators are the ones squarely in the middle of the Republican majority. They’re the ones who could have made removal a real possibility, and if some of them had taken Trump’s actions seriously then there’s little doubt that Alexander and the others would have joined them.

At the end, Alexander and the others were casting symbolic votes only. That’s not to say that those who believe removal was fully justified should excuse Alexander’s choice, and yes, there could be some effects from somewhat different totals on the final votes to acquit. But it’s the other Republicans, especially those who have made it clear over the last few years that they consider Trump to be unfit for the office he holds, who are the real failures here.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14680 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-January-31, 08:11

View Posty66, on 2020-January-31, 06:55, said:

From Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:




The Lamar Alexander argument had occurred to me as well. I will paraphrase, so without quotes but I believe accurately: There is no longer any doubt that Trump did what he is accused of doing, namely withhold funds from Ukraine in an attempt to get them to dig up dirt on the Bides. I accept that. I will not be voting to convict on the basis of that fact. Thus, having further witnesses to testify to what is already accepted fact is pointless.

There is some weird logic to it. Trump did as charged, , but again I quote Melania's jacket :"I don't really care, do you"

Well, yes, I do care.

The Ukraine issue is the one that converted me from opposing impeachment to finding it necessary. A president withholds substantial military aid that has been promised, authorized and badly needed , using this to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens. Alexander accepts that this is what happened. Alexander says this is "inappropriate" a word with such broad meaning that it has no meaning. Farting at the dinner table is inappropriate. And so is this, what Trump did?

So Alexander will vote to acquit. He doesn't really care. Got it. This is what the Republican position boils down to.

Ken
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