The Senate Trial of Donald Trump

Senate Impeachment Trial Of President Donald Trump Begins
Chief Justice John Roberts.  Ten years ago, he gave us Citizens United.

W.J. Astore

The Senate trial of Donald Trump is a colossal waste of time and energy.  Why?  The result is a foregone conclusion: Trump is not going to be removed from office.  Nevertheless, the mainstream media is obsessed with gavel-to-gavel coverage of what is mostly a non-event.

As my wife said to me yesterday, where is all this energy and outrage from Congress and the media about homeless people living in the streets?  So many of whom are suffering from mental and physical illnesses of various sorts?  Where is the attention to people who can’t afford to pay for their prescription drugs?  What about all the veterans committing suicide?  What about all the corruption that is systemic and endemic across Congress and the Executive branches?  Where’s the attention to that?

The presence of Chief Justice John Roberts in the Senate provides a salutary reminder that a decade ago, the Supreme Court issued its “Citizens United” decision that declared corporations are citizens and that their “speech” in the form of money in politics is protected.

That decision is yet another example of America’s legalized system of political corruption.  Why can’t we get Congress to change that?  Where’s the media coverage of electoral corruption?  The outrage about corporate money in politics?  There isn’t any, since the mainstream media is complicit in the corruption.

To repeat myself: Ten years ago this week, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are citizens.  Except for a few ultra-rich “citizens” like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, that meant corporations had (and have) superhero-like powers, but with none of the humility of Peter Parker (Spiderman), whose gentle Uncle Ben reminded him that, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Our superhero corporations just want the power, thank you very much, and our government and its three branches willingly bow down and serve them.

Where’s the trial for that offense against the republic?  Bang the gavel, John Roberts.

Bonus Lesson: Democrats!  Want to remove Trump from office?  Nominate a coherent and charismatic candidate for the presidency, have a compelling platform, and inspire people to get off their duffs and vote in November.

An Open Letter to Tulsi Gabbard on Voting “Present”

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Tulsi Gabbard misses the mark with her move to the “center” and her weak vote of “present”

W.J. Astore

On hearing that Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” on Trump’s impeachment, and after reading her statement about that vote, I sent the following note to her campaign:

Dear Tulsi:

I respect your vote of “present” on Trump’s impeachment, but I think it was the wrong choice. Here’s why:

1. Censure is too weak. Trump’s actions are deserving of impeachment.
2. Of course it’s a partisan process, but this is because Trump dominates the Republicans. They all fear a negative tweet from him. Much more than the Democrats, the Republicans are failing their oaths to the Constitution.
3. Your move to the “center” will please few people. Where is this “center”? Both parties are too far to the right, especially when it comes to the forever wars being waged in places like Afghanistan.

You have spoken eloquently about the need to end regime-change wars, and I support you for this reason. But your “present” vote on impeachment was poorly judged, in my opinion. Yes, the impeachment process was partisan and imperfect, but it has always been thus through our nation’s history.

With respect to Trump, I’d say the following: he is not a public servant. He never has been. Trump is a businessman who knows the art of the con. He conflates his own self-interest with that of the country. For Trump, service to self is the only service he understands. This may not be treason, but it is nonetheless dangerous in the extreme. It’s the attitude of a wannabe king, and we already fought a war against that back in the 18th century.

END OF LETTER

The choice now is obvious: Bernie Sanders.

Impeaching Trump the Cynical Way

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#NoResistance

W.J. Astore

Dare I say I haven’t been watching the impeachment proceedings against Trump?  That’s because the charges brought against Trump by the Democrats are weak.  They are basically for Trump acting like Trump.  The Donald is not, never has been, and never will be a public servant.  His existence as president revolves around rallies, golfing, watching Fox News, tweeting, and attending an occasional meeting, party, or other photo op.  If you want to impeach him, why not for not doing his job as chief executive?

What Trump did with Ukraine is what Trump has always done.  He pressured a guy to dig up dirt on another guy who could be a potential rival for his job.  For Trump, this isn’t a crime: it’s business as usual.  He has no grasp of his constitutional duties as president and no interest in learning.

Trump’s next crime has been to stonewall with lawyers and the like while going on the attack.  Again, this is par for the course for him.  He tells his underlings not to obey Congressional orders to testify.  He fights delaying actions.  He lies.  He’s used these and similar tactics his whole life and has lived to fight another day.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think Trump is unqualified to be president.  I’d like to see him gone.  But the charges the Democrats have brought are incredibly weak compared to the damage Trump has already wreaked.  That damage, however, is largely bipartisan, meaning if the Democrats (like Nancy Pelosi) were to call Trump to account for his real crimes against America, they’d implicate themselves as well.  And that’s not about to happen.

The analogy I’ve heard more than once for Trump’s impeachment is that it’s like going after Al Capone for income tax avoidance rather than his murderous reign as a gangster.  Even here, though, it seems more like we’re going after Capone for unpaid parking tickets or for playing Italian opera too loud.

We’ve been told impeachment is a political act, not, strictly speaking, a legal one, and that surely is the case here.  The cynic in me says this: Establishment democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, knew they had to do something against Trump, if only to appease activists within the party.  Yet they also know they can’t remove Trump, not only because the Senate is controlled by Republicans, but because they can’t charge him with real crimes without implicating themselves, e.g. continuing to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and supporting the House of Saud no matter what in the name of profit and the petrodollar, even if that means a genocide in Yemen.  (It’s a lot worse than cajoling Ukraine to issue a negative statement about the Bidens, right?)

The Democrats know impeachment will fail in the Senate, but they can at least say they took a stand, even if they’re up to their necks in the swamps of DC.  It’s all so sad and sordid, and so predictably the behavior of an opposition party that offers no real opposition.

Readers, what do you think?