Friday, May 24, 2019

This Shit Is Getting Real

The press is the enemy of the people and can be prosecuted for espionage if they publish leaked national security information.  Federal law enforcement officials are traitors who can be tried for treason for investigating a foreign power's efforts to interfere with U.S. elections if it leads to all (or some) of the president's men.  Moreover, the president's de facto personal attorney, formerly known as the Attorney General of the United States, has been given sweeping powers to declassify any intelligence from any agency regarding the impetus of that investigation and, as his prior conduct suggests, will selectively provide that information to the public in a way that favors the president and undermines the investigation.

Meanwhile, the president has instructed his staff -- past and present -- to ignore Congressional subpoenas and has refused to cooperate with any attempts at legitimate oversight by the Democratic-led House of Representatives.  Instead, he is relying on incendiary rhetoric and court challenges.  As to the latter, perhaps not fast enough to serve his purposes, he is stocking the federal judiciary at an unprecedented rate -- already over 100 judges and two Supreme Court justices  -- in the hope that this will provide a bulwark against challenges to his authoritarianism.  

This shit is getting real.

The Democrats in Congress sound the alarm on the one hand, but go back to business as usual on the other.  They rail about Trump's authoritarianism, corruption and unfitness for office, but believe it is more important to pass poll-tested bills in the House that the Senate will not even take up.  As Democrats act calmly, rationally and reasonably in the face of rampant abuses of power, they not only betray weakness and political calculation, but are nevertheless tarred as partisan enemies of the people.  

The cautious, disjointed response by the Democratic leadership since the Mueller Report was released that focuses on process, not substance, has allowed Trump, AG Barr and the GOP to create a false narrative that exonerates the president.  Sure it is outrageous that Barr is withholding the unredacted report and the administration is refusing to honor subpoenas -- and this must be challenged -- but we can't lose sight of the fact that there is already plenty in the redacted version, in the public record, and in Trump's continued authoritarian moves that warrant an impeachment inquiry -- an inquiry that could more easily obtain this information.

Democrats' avoidance of the "I" word signals that they don't believe there is enough to go forward.  If there isn't enough now -- if there isn't at least a prima facie case of high crimes and misdemeanors --what would it take, FFS?  Does Trump really have to stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone?  Shall we take another poll to find out if it would be worth it then?

While Democrats dither, Trump's latest move of aggressively investigating the investigation will now put Democrats on the defensive, where holding impeachment hearings would have the opposite effect.

Once an impeachment inquiry is launched, a committee would subpoena documents and call witnesses (with heightened powers to compel) and weigh the evidence before proposing specific articles of impeachment to be considered by the House. If the House votes to impeach, then the proceedings would move to the Senate where, after a trial, it would take two-thirds of the Senate to remove him.  While it is virtually impossible at this point to envision the Senate Republicans putting country over party, they should be required to stand up in the face of what is sure to be overwhelming evidence and explain to the American people why they continue to support this palpably unfit miscreant.  And even if the Senate fails to convict, the process itself will impede Trump's ability to pursue his destructive agenda as well as cause him deep and lasting political damage.

Michelle Goldberg concludes in her recent New York Times op-ed:
The point of impeachment is not to remove Trump before the 2020 election. It is to make clear, in the starkest possible way, why Democrats believe he should be removed. The remainder of his term should be consumed by a formal, televised presentation of all the ways he’s disgraced his office. It’s true that were Trump to be re-elected after such a reckoning, he might be even further unleashed. But were Trump to be re-elected in the absence of impeachment, it would still be seen as a vindication for him, and would leave Democrats humiliated by their excess of caution.

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