Sunday, January 31, 2021

Censure of Trump instead of conviction: a slap with a limp noodle by the weak-kneed

The ruse being used to deflect GOP Senators from voting for conviction is to have censure instead of Trump's role in inciting the January 6 insurrection.  If the reason behind this is to signal displeasure instead of punishing him by keeping him from running for federal office later, that is a weak-kneed way out.. Ask yourself if it has been tried before and if the results were any better than a failed slap on the hand with a limp noodle. Did you even know only four times in our history have there been resolutions attempted to censure a president and the results were useless?: Either the resolution failed or it was later expunged (Andrew Jackson). The rest failed. Others targeted were James Buchanan,. Abraham Lincoln, and William Howard Taft. where the resolutions were watered down to an admonishment of practices or the presidents were not named per se.  In this second impeachment trial of Trump, the alternative of censure would be another wet noodle slap because Trump is already out of office and he could continue to bedevil the GOP as a candidate. The serious attention he would get as a candidate in 2024 would be more significant than just being a loud venomous voice on media.

Trump's impeachment trial attorneys, all five of them, just quit.
It is not clear why Trump's attorneys quit, but given Trump's modus operandi in the past to require those loyal to him to lie on his behalf, the most likely suspect is that Trump wanted to base his defense on the lie that the January 6 mob believed: Trump won the election so they had to stop the steal. Over 50 court cases and 80 judges of all stripes and even those Trump appointed listened to the evidence of a steal or never heard the evidence because Trump's attorneys did not have the evidence of widespread fraud. Attorneys could lose their licenses if they appeared in court and tried to make a case without evidence or flat out lied. Perhaps these 5 attorneys wanted to keep practicing law. What lends credibility to the suspicion that Trump demanded his impeachment trial attorneys lie on his behalf is that he tried to get Georgia elections officials to lie about the vote count, and the president of Ukraine to lie about findings of Hunter Biden's alleged corruption. It all becomes a loyalty test to him. However, the Georgia incident is part of the current articles of impeachment. A similar attempt was made to get the Arizona governor to violate election laws. Both the Georgia and Arizona governors were members of Trump's GOP. In the Georgia case, Trump also threatened them with action. The Ukraine incident was the cause for the first one. Since Trump relied on partisan votes to escape conviction in the impeachment trials, and it will happen again in the current one, he seems to think he can always get away with lies. The victims in this are those who swallowed his lies and ended up charged with crimes for the January 6 insurgency or Trumpists who try to win national or swing district general elections. In the Ukraine case, our national defense interests to stop Russian aggression was involved. The needed military assistance to fight the Russians was threatened to be withheld as "inducement" to lie. when Trump asked the Ukraine president to "Do me a favor, though".



Friday, January 29, 2021

What are we going to label those who participated, abetted, approved January 6? Domestic terrorists

 We have had a contest in our family to label those who are supporters of QAnon and those who aided. approved, conspired, and abetted the Jan 6 insurrection. The rules of the game: something that is printable in public media and descriptive and even embraced by their fellow travelers and party critics. The GOP has called a group of four women of color with left ideologies, the Squad. and tried to paint the entire Democratic party with them. We know what they mean. This contest could come up with a label that applies to those in and out of Congress. Off-limits are fascists (racists and anti-democracy, pro-dictatorships) or even Joe Scarborough's Trump Terrorists. Those are deserved slams, but unnecessarily inflammatory for a variety of reasons. My nomination: SIXXERS . (ok, I can see some spins on this one, too, like six- crazed and they should be deep sixxed). One family member came up with the Cell., a secret group of far right extremists and domestic terrorists.

Debate resolved by FBI Director Wray...Domestic terrorism

FBI Director Christopher Wray says Capitol attack was "domestic terrorism" - CBS News

Report: Hate groups in decline, migrate to online networks (msn.com)

Feds now say right-wing extremists responsible for majority of deadly terrorist attacks last year (yahoo.com)

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

"Unity" has become a weapon in the war of words revised Feb. 28, 2021.

 A version this was published in the March 5, 2021 Winter Park Times

Unity in politics is an illusion in search of a definition, but it is a concept that has been weaponized in a verbal war of word bombs hurled by both parties recently.   What may look like unity in one sense can be disunity in another. By any measure, the Republicans in Congress are playing a unified partisan effort that has put them out of step with public opinion. That kind of disunity is not an ultimate winner in the larger picture of who gets the most votes in the next election.  The GOP's recent strategy is to paint the new president, Joe Biden, as a person who talked bipartisanship and promised to unify the nation but is a failure because he cannot achieve it.  To make sure they succeed in stopping Biden from succeeding, they have set out to beat down every Democrat proposal, whether it is COVID relief or a guilty vote in the impeachment process and trial.   They see unity only as it applies to the Senate and the House.  In reality, the voters and public opinion are the ones who come closest to being unified in support of what Biden wants to achieve.  

So out of step with public sentiment is the GOP, their narrow vision confined to the halls of Congress will likely come to haunt them in the midterms in 2022. Democrats in Congress control both houses by either narrow margins in the House or an even split in the Senate. However, the public is much more unified in its wide support of Biden and his immediate goals. A recent PEW poll gave Biden a 61%job approval rating and over 70% approval for specific parts of the Biden COVID stimulus plan. Trump's approval in his best days was never above 50% and as he left office, it was in the high 30's. Polls showing public support for a guilty finding in the impeachment trial varies from high to mid-'50s.    Actually, per these polls,  public opinion is about as unified in favor of the direction Biden is taking as we have seen in the modern era. .  The public thinks in terms of their every day struggles to make ends meet in the COVID disasters, while many in Congress are trying to avoid being primaried in a party structure still controlled by Trumpsters dedicated to kneecapping Biden. 

 As a reality-check to temper great expectations followed by disillusion, I came up with my definition of unity and this yardstick for determining success and failure. This is based on what I observed in sixty years of being active in politics. Unity will never be 100% in this diverse nation and it never has been. Regardless of whoever is in office, any poll with approval in the upper 50%s is a mandate, and over 60% is a landslide. On many public policy issues, a minimum of 30% will often oppose it no matter which side favors it or what the substance of the issue concerns. Looking at unity with that perspective, Joe Biden's first weeks in office is a mandate for him and a landslide for his agenda. Why? Voters are more interested in getting their kitchen table financial and health issues addressed than they are in a political strategy of "just say no."

Update: March 6, 2021

This is an excellent summary of the Covid relief package, and every GOP Senator
and House member will have a lot of explaining to do to their constituents when the
next election comes around. Polls show even 60% of Republicans support the provisions. and over 70% of voters, do too.
We should never forget this...and remind them of this. The GOP members of Congress hope you forget.

The other disunity game in politics is taking pleasure in the other side’s split among their ranks.  The left points to many traditional conservatives leaving the GOP and re-registering as independents.  

Polls of those still maintaining their partisan affiliation show overwhelming support for the Trumpists, but it is a percentage of a smaller-sized pie resulting in reduced total numbers of registered affiliated voters.   Per Colorado Public Radio analysis, shortly after the Capitol riots in January, 4600 Republicans in Colorado changed their affiliation from Republican mostly to independent. That is happening elsewhere per CPR." News outlets documented about 6,000 defections from the party in North Carolina, 10,000 in Pennsylvania, and 5,000 in Arizona."  In close elections, that could make a  significant difference statewide or in some Congressional election races. Registered Republicans Ditch Party After Capitol Riot : NPR

  The right end of the political spectrum is taking delight in what they see as a deepening schism in the Democratic party with the issue of the  $15 minimum wage that exposed a difference in strategy and priorities between moderates and progressives.  Biden is still pledged to get the $15 enacted someway, somehow, though his priority is clearly getting his COVID legislation passed before mid-March and temporary benefits run out. His administration and his allies in Congress are examining a variety of options since the Senate parliamentarian ruled the $15 minimum wage could not be included in the COVID package. Stay tuned. The fat lady has not sung on that one. 

________________________________________________________________

"In the most recent Post-ABC News poll, at his departure from office, disapproval of the job Trump is doing has matched the high set in mid-2018, with 60 percent of Americans viewing his job performance negatively. Only 38 percent of Americans approve of the job he’s doing, near the low of 36 percent recorded multiple times over his presidency.

More than half of Americans strongly disapprove of Trump’s job performance. Only about a quarter strongly approve of it."

This poll also indicates that independents and Democrats should be the winning coalition and it is important that Biden should keep his moderate direction and keep his priorities that are popular with the most voters.  The article below is a good roadmap.


An excellent summary of Biden's executive orders with polling numbers of popular approval

Monday, January 25, 2021

What truths could be laid bare to the public by the impeachment trial?

  What truths could be laid bare to the otherwise unaware public by a Senate trial? Such truths could be a part of a kind of truth and reconciliation commission..  

As the impeachment trial process begins today, where does public opinion stand on whether Trump was responsible for inciting the insurrection of January 6? The most comprehensive analysis of a variety of polling is below. What is clear, 57% blame Trump and that includes 20% of registered Republicans per the ABC poll.. That GOP Senators seem to be falling in line for acquittal is probably due to their acknowledgment that 80% of GOP voters are still supportive of Trump. It will be interesting to see how that changes at the end of the impeachment trial when Trump's culpability and defense are aired more fully.
Disapproval of Trump soars in wake of insurrection attempt - The Washington Post

:

 What truths could be laid bare to the otherwise unaware public by a Senate trial? A recounting of the failed efforts to prove there was widespread fraud in the elections. and the chances Trump supporters were given to provide proof and evidence. Included in that would be failed attempts of Trump to cajole George election officials to lie about the state vote totals and to get the DOJ to do likewise. Bill Barr's assessment and resignation is part of that., too 

 https://www.kctv5.com/wall-street-journal-trump-pressured-doj-to-file-case-with-supreme-court-to-overturn-election/article_cbba8e6d-9d01-5521-8981-972352ab4a7d.html   Trump weighed firing of acting AG Rosen to pursue vote fraud claims (usatoday.com)

A tracking of Trump's incitement to violence in the past fours was  heavily visited on this blog and the links to these appear to the right of this blog 

Aside from evidence Trump knew the nature of those he inspired and what their purposes were, here is what could be brought to the attention of the public itself that might not have been covered by Fox and Murdoch friends:

Strange bedfellows: There is a segment of Trump supporters who cheered on the insurrection on TV at the time. No doubt many who did so were sincere, swallowing the lie that the vote was stolen by fraud so it was justified in taking the vote back by violence. They may not have thought they were supporting some racists and cop killers, but they were. The cast of awful characters who were in the forefront of the mob action was documented by journalists who snapped pictures of identifying shirt patches of those leading the mob and then did a snapshot paragraph about each one of the groups. I have cited this frequently, but it may be worth your time to get a grasp of what bedfellows some were cheering. It is horrifying.
Far-right symbols seen at the U.S. Capitol riot: What they mean and where they come from - Washington Post
Report: Hate groups in decline, migrate to online networks (msn.com): Article carries tally of affiliation of those arrested for violent acts Jan 6. QAnon leads.
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Sunday, January 24, 2021

The impeachment trial can serve as our own Truth and Reconciliation Commission

 At the end of apartheid in South Africa,  a court-like commission was established to bring peace and greater unity to that country. There was no reconciliation without exposing the truth as an inherent part of the process and truth could be told without retribution. We have nothing like that in the US, but the impeachment trial of Donald Trump may serve that purpose, whether or not he is acquitted of inciting the insurrection of January 6 and attempting to force state officials to lie about the presidential vote tally.  Reconciliation would have been useless without both sides of the conflict in South Africa having a chance to air their version of the truth and the truth was aired in a courtroom setting where the public could hear the parties present their cases.   Not all minds were changed or was reconciliation total, but it was still effective enough for the country to heal sufficiently and to move on.  The lesson learned: without the truth being exposed in a trial-like setting where both sides were fairly heard, a critical degree of reconciliation would not have happened. The impeachment trial in the Senate will give us that same opportunity

 It probably is a good thing the trial is delayed until early February for several reasons: It will give a chance for the Biden administration to get its cabinet in place through the Senate process (avoiding the "acting" appointee practice Trump favored. The Consitution had given the Senate the power of advice and consent in cabinet appointments,). It will give time for more evidence on either side to come forward. The evidence will be presented under oath and in sworn testimony.  It will give a sense of fairness, permitting Trump forces to plan and mount their defense.  If there is no fairness in the proceedings, its value would be virtually useless in shaping public perception of what the truth is. 

 What is at stake is not life and death or financial deprivation or prison for Donald Trump.  It is whether he can be a candidate for federal office again. That is as far as retribution goes.   If he is acquitted on a partisan vote ( 2/3 of the Senate is required for conviction), he would not lose that ability to be a candidate in 2024.  If he is convicted, a simple majority could vote on his eligibility to run again,, but he would have to be convicted in the trial first. He was already voted out of office through electoral college certification by each of the 50 states and the House, so removal is no longer an issue. The balance of power of the three branches would also not be affected.  This is the GOP's only chance to diminish his power over them in the future by reducing his bully pulpit advantage he could get as a candidate. It is a chance for Biden to convince more that he was elected in a free and fair election and to accept the legitimacy of his power to govern.    It is also a chance for all to hear from the Democrats:  how close we came to having a dictatorship, the rule of a person, instead of the rule of law,  and the end of democracy as we have known it.  The impeachment trial will shape the future of both the GOP and the Democratic party,   as well as to provide the truth element necessary for reconciliation.

Why is finding and exposing truth so important? It is because of our bifurcated media,  and social media platforms, that too often see themselves as an advocate, a vehicle to shape opinions, not an impartial reporting of the facts, all of them, good or warts and all. Half of the country hears only half of the news, and the half they want to hear reinforces their beliefs without contradiction. They will now be confronted with evidence to which they had not been exposed before by their preferred media. Both sides of our political divide will be forced to hear the inconvenient truths. about this one issue,  whether Trump tried to overturn an election by inciting an insurrection and threatening state officials to lie on his behalf.

More...___________________________________________________________________________

Of course, the coverage of the impeachment trial by Fox and Murdoch media depends upon their followers' version of the truth and hopefully, it will be 
fair and balanced...(their old slogan).   If you want to follow the impeachment trial unvarnished by any media pundits, follow it on C-Span.

Update 1/25/21 moved to new blog posting: what truths could be laid bare in an impeachment trial in the Senate. from my Facebook posting:follows_________________________________________________________________________________ 

Aside from the constitutional arguments, here are some practical impacts of why the impeachment trial has value even beyond a truth and reconciliation function. ..

Now that the GOP has lost the White House, tied and in effect lost the Senate, and failed to turn the House red, they are the ones calling for unity and saying the impeachment trial will make the country more divisive.  The answer is: exposing the truth in a fair court-like setting under oath with both sides having a chance to make their case...and where the results of conviction are not prison or losing office, it is still is necessary for reconciliation. Otherwise, the light shed on what really happened will be a slow leak from the anti-Trump forces...a political death by many cuts with tell-alls in books, and cable interviews over a long,  agonizing time. One bloodletting and then just move on has its values. It becomes ".just get over it" as the shock value of further evidence becomes "what else is new."  What if Trump is acquitted? He can make that point just as he did in the Ukrainian impeachment trial.  Unlike the Ukrainian impeachment,  voters and public knowledge of what was exposed will have a more profound impact on public opinion because the insurrection was so visual and frightening. The other objection? Why do this exercise when criminal prosecutions could do the job? Criminal action is not precluded; both criminal prosecution and impeachment can happen, but unlike an impeachment trial, the arguments and counter-arguments would most likely not get a full public airing.. Criminal prosecution will happen anyway but the proof needed for a conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt", not""" probable cause" as in a civil suit case,  and the guilty would face prison.  Impeachment standards for conviction do not need to be either of those.  It is a political judgment and the burden of proof in whatever each Senator thinks it is..  Usually, the penalty is removal from office, but voters already did that. The penalty is to keep Trump from being a candidate again.