People or Profits?

Trump wants people to go back to work, now.

Texas’ Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is willing to risk getting sick and dying for the sake of the economy…”for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren”.

Here’s what will happen if we end “shelter in place”:

https://covidactnow.org/state/CA?fbclid=IwAR2LsASB2Xn0WgnOrCFr9unH06zWn-ts1930gXahG6Rlw2ZQVFpVvCHXxIY

In Italy, where the healthcare system is already overwhelmed, people over 60 are taken off ventilators and left to die. California would hit that point in about 2 weeks if we end “shelter in place.” With a projected infection rate of >70%, within 2 months the population of citizens over age 60 could virtually disappear. Some 70 million U.S. citizens. Dead. 70 million. Sacrificed. To keep the wheels of commerce turning. To further the economic interests of some 120,000 – the richest 1/10th of 1%.

On the other hand, the economic shutdown due to the coronavirus is just what the planet needs to prevent catastrophic climate change that could lead to the extinction of all humans.

The choice is clear. The math undeniable.

People, or profits?

ICYMI: Yeah, We’re Fucked

First and foremost, I hope that none of our Critters and Zoosters, especially those of you in California and the Northwest, are in imminent danger of contracting the “novel coronavirus”, aka “COVID-19.”

New York state’s main COVID-19 epicenter of New Rochelle, previously only known for being the home of fictional Rob and Laura Petrie, is maybe 35-40 miles south of us.  The illness is cropping up in other NY counties besides Westchester and NYC’s 5 Boroughs, so I’m going to assume that its spread northward is inevitable.

I checked in on our pregnant(!!!) niece Emily and her husband Michael, who live near Boston, which is having its own outbreak subsequent to a recent Biogen conference.  One of the companies which had had a presence at the conference is Michael’s employer; and, even though no one from his particular office was an attendee, the company instructed all employees who could to work from home through May 31st.  Both of them are fine, which relieved me greatly.

I was going to compile some of the many lies that trump has told since COVID-19 arrived on our shores; however, since starting this post, the progression of both the disease and the lies have made that idea pretty much pointless.

So I’ll just include a couple of items along those lines.

First this, from March 7th at Salon, regarding trump’s awful presser at the CDC.   Here’s the video – sorry it’s posted twice, but it’s from the original on the twitter feed of @ddiamond:

And this: after trump finished his recent “presidential address” about the pandemic, apparently he got caught on C-SPAN showing just how seriously he takes this:

In case you no longer trust the info from the CDC, here’s a site that is keeping track worldwide.  You can refresh it throughout the day for updates.

I won’t inflict any more trumpness on you, so I’ll end on a high note.  Crank the music to 11  🙂

Feel better?

OPEN THREAD – DO WHAT YOU WANT

Are You Ready for IMPEACHMENT?

US-POLITICS-INVESTIGATION-WOMEN-RUSSIA

With the Senate’s Impeachment Trial of “donald john trump” beginning tomorrow, here’s some light reading to prepare yourselves regarding each team’s basic arguments, should you wish.

Okay, it’s not really “light reading” – well, the trump team’s “Answer” to the House impeachment managers’ “Trial Memorandum” was “light reading” as far as substance and credibility go. It’s also literally light in weight: at a mere six pages, maybe an ounce?, vs the weightier (in all aspects) 110-page House Trial Memorandum.

Since I haven’t actually read the House’s tome, let’s start with the trump team’s “Answer.”

“Ridiculous” is the best way to describe it, starting with its heading:

IN PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE UNITED STATES SENATE

ANSWER OF PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP

Seriously, they won’t even use the word “impeachment” in the heading, as if not saying it means it didn’t happen.

The opening paragraph repeats the tired arguments that the Dems have been trying to impeach trump since his inauguration, and trying to “overturn” his election:

The Articles of Impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous on the right of the American people to freely choose their President.  This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election – now just months away.  The highly partisan and reckless obsession with impeaching the President began the day he was inaugurated, and continues to this day.

It has already been argued by smarter people than me that, if an election were to be “overturned” (and the second paragraph also mentions “nullifying an election”), then the candidate who lost would become the winner, and all of the current president’s actions would automatically be null and void.  This idea is just as impossible as it sounds, and no one except an idiot would believe it.  Therefore, trump’s minions all subscribe to this notion.

The trump team’s arguments continue by stating that Article 1 of the Impeachment doesn’t indicate any “crime or violation of law whatsoever”, and claims that “At all times, the President has faithfully and effectively executed the duties of his Office on behalf of the American people.” At this point, they go into the so-called “perfect call” to Zelenskyy, trying to push that the call was about corruption and about other countries “not carrying their fair share.”

Here’s the fun part (and from this and other details included in trump team’s arguments, you can see why many say that trump had direct input or wrote some of this himself):

…the transcripts of the April 21 call and the July 25 call disprove what the Article alleges.  When the House Democrats realized this, Mr. Schiff created a fraudulent version of the July 25 call and read it to the American people at a congressional hearing, without disclosing that he was simply making it all up.”

Anyone who watched the first impeachment hearing knows that Chairman Schiff both preceded and followed his ‘mob’ parody of trump’s call with a disclaimer stating that he was paraphrasing.  Conservatives simply don’t get ‘irony’, ‘sarcasm’ or ‘satire’.

In trump team’s argument against Article 2 of the Impeachment, regarding obstruction of Congress, they state, in part:

…the notion that President Trump obstructed Congress is absurd.  President trump acted with extraordinary and unprecedented transparency by declassifying and releasing the transcript of the July 25 call that is at the heart of this matter. [emphasis theirs]

This is an out-and-out lie.  The actual “transcript” is still hidden in the ultra-secret server (gee, I can’t imagine why) and all we have seen is the call memo, which is damning enough.

Here’s one part that I really don’t get:

Following the President’s disclosure of the July 25 call transcript[sic], House Democrats issued a series of unconstitutional subpoenas for documents and testimony.  They issued their subpoenas without a congressional vote, and, therefore, without constitutional authority.

Huh?  AFAIK, a congressional committee doesn’t need a full vote of the House in order to issue subpoenas.  I have no idea whose ass this came out of, but it smells pretty bad to me.

You can read the rest of the trump team’s arguments and see for yourself how pathetic and, indeed, ignorant they sound.

Now the House’s “Trial Memorandum”: as I said, I haven’t read it yet, but here’s a brief synopsis from Raw Story.:

The document divides the argument by the House of Representatives into three points.

“The Senate should convict President Trump of abuse of power,” is the first section.

“The Senate should convict President Trump of obstruction of Congress,” is the second section.

“The Senate should immediately remove President Trump from office to prevent further abuses,” is the third section.

Raw Story also includes the outlines for the House’s arguments regarding each point.  If you’re like me, and watched or otherwise kept up with the impeachment hearings, their arguments should be familiar to you.

I’ll stop here in order for there to be time to read more of the details.

And while I was finishing up this thread, the House Impeachment Managers issued their own response to the trump team’s “Answer.” I should have waited a little longer!

Edit:  For reference, here’s White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s “fuck you” letter to Gerry Nadler.  I think he used trump’s Sharpie to sign it:

THIS IS AN OPEN THREAD – FEEL FREE TO COMMENT THROUGHOUT THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL.

GUEST ARTICLE: The First American Dictator

The First American Dictator

by

Kenneth R. Mackie

            The people of the United States of America, the first democratic republic the modern world has ever known, have ceded rule to a dictator for the first time in its 200+ year history.

            A dictator is “one holding complete autocratic control: a person with unlimited governmental power” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary); “a person exercising absolute power, especially a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession” (Dictionary.com).

            A dictatorship is, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, a

form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations. The term dictatorship comes from the Latin title dictator, which in the Roman Republic designated a temporary magistrate who was granted extraordinary powers in order to deal with state crises. Modern dictators, however, resemble ancient tyrants rather than ancient dictators. … Dictators usually resort to force or fraud to gain despotic political power, which they maintain through the use of intimidation, terror, and the suppression of basic civil liberties. They may also employ techniques of mass propaganda in order to sustain their public support.

            No one becomes a dictator without help. A cadre of loyalists is essential to grab and keep power. And support amongst a sizeable portion of the populace, even a sizable minority, can propel a would-be demagogue into power.

THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE

            Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, is attributed with saying, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” This has been taken to heart by Republicans since the days of the “Christian Coalition”, who found that they only needed to fool enough of the people at the proper times (elections). And faith-based voters belong to the ‘some of the people all of the time’ group. The conservative “Evangelical Christian” block can be counted on to vote Republican for the foreseeable future. Throughout 2109, Republicans approval of the First American Dictator ranges in the upper 80s to low 90s percent[i]. The approval rating among highly religious, white and Protestant Republicans is 92% over the past two years[ii]. This translates into millions of faith-based voters who support the First American Dictator.

            Among these is a growing cadre of white nationalists, encouraged to take up arms against all enemies of the current Administration. When “God’s Chosen[iii]” encourages violence, it is a statistical certainty that some will take up arms. Hence the mass murders of Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, etc.

            The First American Dictator enjoyed sufficient support among a mobilized and armed minority to be propelled into power.

THE POWER OF LOYALISTS IN GOVERNMENT

            In the unique structure of the United States government, all one party needs is 51 Senators to control the Senate (or just 50 Senators, plus the Vice President as a tie-breaker), hence the entire legislative branch, and give carte blanche to a dictator to ignore the Constitution. A bare majority of Senators allows a party to block all legislation, or ram-rod bills through regardless of any opposition. Even a minority of only 41 Senators is all it takes to prevent an override of a presidential veto.

            While the Constitution was designed to establish a legislative branch with the power to check a renegade President, it was not drafted to prevent a political party from obtaining enough power to allow the Constitution to be ignored.

            The First American Dictator enjoys the support of a majority in the Senate. As a result, the legislative branch is incapable of forcing him to act within the powers granted to him by the Constitution.

THE POWER OF LOYALTY OATHS

            It has been widely reported that Trump demands a “loyalty oath”[iv] from subordinates[v].

            The 25th Amendment provides that the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet can declare the President unfit for office, at which time the Vice President becomes the Acting President. A “loyalty oath” to Trump, and not to uphold the Constitution, ensures that Trump is protected by loyalists to him. Trump has surrounded himself with loyalists that put loyalty to a dictator above loyalty to the Constitution, or to the country. The First American Dictator enjoys the support of an inner circle of loyalists.

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

            Fox News and the network’s opinion shows are widely seen as the propaganda arm of the Trump administration[vi]. One Fox newscaster in particular, Sean Hannity, is seen as an unofficial advisor to Trump[vii]. While Trump lambasts CNN as “fake news”[viii] it is Fox which has the worst track record for making false or misleading statements, whereas CNN ranks the best[ix].

            A majority of Republicans for whom Fox News is their primary news source solidly support the First American Dictator and there is nothing he could do that would make them lose their approval[x].

            When it comes to faith-based voters, nearly all who identify as white evangelical Protestants for whom Fox News is their primary news source oppose Trump being impeached and removed from office[xi].

            The First American Dictator has a propaganda machine spouting falsehoods to help keep him in power.

UNCHECKED POWER

THE POWER TO PROFIT FROM HIS OFFICE

            Trump has the unchecked power to profit from his office, in disregard of the Constitution.

THE POWER TO PROFIT AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE

“The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased (sic) nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.[xii]

            Any profit arising from the possession of a public office is an emolument.[xiii] Trump profits off his office in many ways. He still owns numerous hotels and resort properties. He has taken numerous trips to his resorts, billing taxpayers millions of dollars[xiv]. He has directed members of the armed forces to stay at his property in Scotland, at taxpayers’ expense[xv]. His Vice President and members of his administration stay at his properties[xvi], again lining Trump’s pockets.

In using taxpayer funds to pay for golfing trips and hotel lodging at his properties, Trump is causing the United States to pay him over and above his compensation as set for his office by Congress.

THE POWER TO PROFIT FROM FOREIGN STATES

No person “holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.[xvii]” Foreign governments that make use of Trump’s properties are putting their money into Trump’s pockets. In addition, China has granted Trump or his companies about 40 trademarks since he became President. Congress has not given its consent to foreign money flowing to Trump either directly or through his corporations’ profits. Members of Congress filed a lawsuit in June of 2017 seeking an injunction to bar Trump from further accepting emoluments from foreign governments without first seeking Congress’ approval[xviii]. Trump is currently appealing the finding that members of Congress have standing to seek a court order compelling Trump to comply with the Constitution. Meanwhile Trump does not have to produce any documents showing which foreign governments have paid to stay at which of Trump’s properties, nor how much they paid, nor how much of that has gone into Trump’s pockets while he is in office.

Trump has the unchecked power to profit from his office, billing taxpayers for his vacations at his resort and collecting payments from foreign governments for their rents of his properties.

THE POWER TO DIVERT FEDERAL FUNDING AT WILL

            Congress has the “power of the purse”, that is, to pass legislation to raise revenues, and to appropriate funding[xix]. Trump wanted money for a wall between the United States and Mexico. Congress considered, but did not fund Trump’s request. So the First American Dictator declared an “emergency” that didn’t exist, and diverted funds from congressionally approved projects to his border wall[xx]. Congress responded by passing a bill rejecting Trump’s emergency declaration, which Trump vetoed[xxi]. Thirty-six Republican Senators supported Trump and his veto was not overridden. Trump has the power to divert federal funds at will.

THE POWER TO IGNORE INTERNATIONAL LAW

            The First American Dictator inherited the power to ignore international law prohibiting torture, “secret rendition” aka kidnapping, holding prisoners in undisclosed prisons indefinitely without charges, and invading a country for the purpose of regime change.

            This power has been expanded to include separating children from their parents[xxii], and ignoring international law regarding refugees seeking asylum[xxiii].

THE POWER TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE

            The First American Dictator used the power of his office to obstruct investigations into allegations of misuse of power, first in the Mueller probe looking into potential collusion between his campaign for the office of President[xxiv], then by refusing to let former and present members of his administration testify before Congress as the House investigated possible acts giving rise to an impeachment proceeding[xxv].

            Acting under the First American Dictator’s orders, and without a claim of privilege, Trump’s present and former subordinates have refused to comply with a subpoena to testify before Congress[xxvi]. The First American Dictator has been seen to dangle a potential pardon to influence testimony[xxvii].

Trump’s messages on social media are seen as attempts to intimidate witnesses[xxviii]. He is so bold as to disparage a witness even as the witness testifies before Congress[xxix]. Likewise his administration uses an official social media account to disparage a witness while testifying[xxx].

            Ordering percipient witness to refuse to comply with a Congressional subpoena without a claim of privilege, dangling the possibility of a pardon for witnesses accused of providing false testimony, and disparaging witnesses while they are testifying all point to obstruction of justice.

THE POWER TO BRIBE JURORS

            Republican Senators will make up the majority of the jurors in an impeachment trial of the First American Dictator. “President Donald Trump—who is facing a formal impeachment inquiry in the House—has leveraged his fundraising network to boost the campaigns of struggling Republican senators who have signed a resolution condemning impeachment proceedings.” [xxxi]

            Thus members of the jury who have already come out in support of the First American Dictator are being rewarded with campaign cash to help them keep their jobs. The First American Dictator will not be facing an impartial jury in his impending impeachment trial.

THE POWER TO USE CONGRESSIONALLY APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR PERSONAL POLITICAL GAIN

            The First American Dictator leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to coerce a foreign government to announce an investigation against a political rival[xxxii]. The ramifications of this unchecked power cannot be understated. With foreign aid tied to political favors, foreign governments will be highly motivated to comply. Indeed, it does not take too much of an imagination to see federal dollars allocated to the various States withheld unless the State agrees to investigate political opponents. This power, the power to generate countless investigations into political opponents, combined with the power of the propaganda machine and the power of loyalists, is the power to destroy all opposition.

THE FIRST AMERICAN DICTATOR

            President Donald Trump is the First American Dictator. By all indications, he won’t be the last. If, and it appears likely, the Republicans in the Senate refuse to remove him from office, his successors will enjoy the same powers – as long as they have enough loyalists in the Senate[xxxiii]. The courts won’t be able to constrain these powers, as the courts have no power to enforce their rulings[xxxiv]. If Trump is allowed to remain in office because the Republican Senate acquits him of “high crimes and misdemeanors” the above enumerated powers will be ceded to the office of President. The crowning achievement of the Republican Party will be to turn a constitutional republic into a dictatorship, with them in control.

Trump will be known as the first of a long line of American Dictators.

Kenneth R. Mackie is a former educator turned attorney. He studied Constitutional Law under Professor John Cary Sims at University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and “Fundamental Rights in Europe and the United States” under Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Sionaidh Douglas-Scott at the Salzburg Institute in Salzburg, Austria.


[i] https://news.gallup.com/poll/203198/presidential-approval-ratings-donald-trump.aspx

[ii] https://news.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/248384/highly-religious-white-protestants-firm-support-trump.aspx

[iii] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/25/why-evangelicals-like-rick-perry-believe-that-trump-is-gods-chosen-one/

[iv] https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-demands-loyalty-oath-from-job-seekers-who-criticized-him-during-election

[v] https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/donald-trumps-grip-on-the-republican-party-just-got-even-tighter

[vi] http://hillmanfoundation.org/sidney-awards/jane-mayer-wins-april-sidney-elucidating-how-fox-news-became-propaganda-arm-trump

[vii] https://political.com/is-sean-hannity-one-of-trumps-unofficial-advisor/

[viii] https://fortune.com/2018/06/09/donald-trump-cnn-fake-news-g7/

[ix] https://www.politifact.com/punditfact/article/2015/jan/27/msnbc-fox-cnn-move-needle-our-truth-o-meter-scorec/

[x] https://www.prri.org/research/fractured-nation-widening-partisan-polarization-and-key-issues-in-2020-presidential-elections/

[xi] https://www.prri.org/research/fractured-nation-widening-partisan-polarization-and-key-issues-in-2020-presidential-elections/

[xii] United States Constitution, Article 2, section 1.)

[xiii] https://thelawdictionary.org/emolument/

[xiv] https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2019/07/10/trumps-golf-trips-could-cost-taxpayers-over-340-million/

[xv] https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/18/military-trumps-scottish-resort-1501877

[xvi] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/9/3/20847247/mike-pence-ireland-doonbeg-trip-180-miles-away-trump-hotel

[xvii] United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 9.

[xviii] https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/trump-and-foreign-emoluments-clause/

[xix] https://history.house.gov/Institution/Origins-Development/Power-of-the-Purse/

[xx] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/09/04/trump-diverts-3-6-billion-military-projects-build-more-border-wall/2208166001/

[xxi] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-congress-emergency/trump-vetoes-measure-to-end-his-emergency-declaration-on-border-wall-idUSKBN1WV06P

[xxii] https://ilg2.org/2018/06/10/trump-administrations-family-separation-policy-violates-international-law/

[xxiii] https://time.com/5626498/trump-asylum-rule-international-law/

[xxiv] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/obstruction-of-justice-10-times-trump-may-have-obstructed-justice-mueller-report/

[xxv] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/12/impeachment-report-trump-obstruct/602938/

[xxvi] https://www.lawfareblog.com/revisiting-criminal-obstruction-justice-impeachment-inquiry

[xxvii] https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-pardon-paul-manafort-obstruction-justice-1237150

[xxviii] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/11/20/20970572/impeachment-hearing-judiciary-committee-trump-obstruction

[xxix] https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2019-11-15/trump-tweets-on-impeachment-witness-yovanovitch-during-testimony

[xxx] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/19/white-house-twitter-attacks-vindman-during-trump-impeachment-testimony.html

[xxxi] https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2019/10/31/trump-accused-of-bribery-after-urging-donors-to-support-senators-defending-him-against-impeachment/#21b769013eb5

[xxxii] https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-house-impeachment-report-highlights-trumps-ongoing-abuse-of-presidential-power

[xxxiii] https://origins.osu.edu/review/imperial-presidency-pushes-back

[xxxiv] https://sustainatlanta.com/2015/04/02/remembering-the-time-andrew-jackson-decided-to-ignore-the-supreme-court-in-the-name-of-georgias-right-to-cherokee-land/

Happy Birthday, RUCerious!

And many happy returns of the day!

So, what kind of birthday cake would you like?

One with your age on it?

bday cake 21
bday cake 30.jpg

One with fruit on it?

bday cake w raspberries

Or one in the shape of a fruit?

bday cake pineapple

Something simple?

bday cake simple

Or something amazingly elaborate?

bday cake elaborate

I know! How about one with frogs on it?

bday cake frogs

Or maybe not frogs – okay, lessee, R2D2?

bday cake r2d2

Something a tad more dignified?

bday cake wine

Now, I like this one ’cause it comes with matching cupcakes –

bday cake w cupcakes

Okay, I think I found the right one – it has my birthday wish to you on it ~

PEACE, MY FRIEND!

bday cake peace sign

~ OPEN THREAD ~