Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: The 10,000 impeachment counts of Mr. Trump

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Quinta Jurecic has a list … a list of impeachable offenses.
The Atlantic

Democrats reluctant to impeach on the basis of the Mueller report alone should consider that the report only added to a preexisting pile of potential “high crimes and misdemeanors.” A large majority of scholars agree that impeachable offenses are not limited by the criminal code; the best definition of impeachable offense comes from the legal scholar Charles Black, who argued in 1974 that the president may be impeached for “offenses (1) which are extremely serious, (2) which in some way corrupt or subvert the political and governmental process, and (3) which are plainly wrong in themselves to a person of honor, or to a good citizen, regardless of words on the statute books.”

And of course there was that notable legal scholar Lindsey Graham, who in 1998 informed everyone that you didn’t need any crimes at all, because impeachment was about “cleansing” the office. Graham didn’t just vote to impeach Bill Clinton for a single instance of lying about an affair, he was one of the case managers in Clinton’s impeachment on a charge of, oh yeah, obstruction.

Even setting that aside, the Mueller report sets out substantial evidence that Trump criminally obstructed justice in at least some instances. The former Justice Department and FBI official Chuck Rosenberg has said that, in the absence of the Justice Department guidelines against the indictment of a sitting president, as a prosecutor, he would have brought an obstruction case against Trump. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates have made similar arguments. …

But any discussion of impeachment that focuses on the Mueller report alone, much less the possible criminal conduct detailed in the report, risks leaving out the obvious. The potentially impeachable offenses committed by the president go far, far beyond the scope of what Mueller investigated. Any impeachment inquiry should consider that conduct as well.

Jurecic has a fine list of impeachment charges. And when you consider that just one lie was enough to have Republicans signing on to impeach Clinton, Trump should be impeached about 10,000 times … right?

Come on in, more pundits inside.

Dana Milbank digs into history for another impeachment example.
Washington Post

In 1868, the House impeached President Andrew Johnson because of his firing of Edwin Stanton as secretary of war and, at root, Johnson’s thwarting of Reconstruction. But Article X against Johnson (the Senate eventually acquitted him of all charges) seems written for the current moment:

Johnson, “unmindful of the high duties of his high office and the dignity and proprieties thereof,” it said, sought “to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States.” On several occasions, it added, Johnson declared “with a loud voice certain intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues, and did therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces” against Congress and U.S. laws “amid the cries, jeers and laughter of the multitudes then assembled.”

The article concluded that “said utterances, declarations, threats, and harangues . . . are peculiarly indecent and unbecoming in the Chief Magistrate of the United States,” and have brought the presidency “into contempt, ridicule, and disgrace, to the great scandal of all good citizens.” Johnson was therefore guilty of a “high misdemeanor in office.”

Loud threats and bitter menaces in front of jeering crowds? Intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues?

This sort of “misdemeanor” — in the original meaning of misbehavior, not the modern sense of a minor crime — defines Trump’s presidency.

Let’s see … how many thousands of charges are allowed on an impeachment document? Do you have to stop if the tome can’t be carried by a single person?

Jonathan Chait on yet another miserable Trump nominee having to be withdrawn.
New York Magazine

This morning, Stephen Moore told reporters his nomination for the Federal Reserve Board would not be pulled. “I’m all in,” he told Bloomberg News. “My biggest ally is the president. He’s full speed ahead.” Like most Moore predictions, this quickly proved to be completely wrong. By lunchtime, Moore was out.

Moore’s nomination came about when Trump-administration economist Lawrence Kudlow recommended Moore, his co-author, close friend, and partner in extreme voodoo-economics wrongness. Trump impulsively announced the pick.

Just pointing out that the term “voodoo economics” was invented by Republicans who realized that the trickle-down, Laffer curve crap being put forward by Ronald Reagan was exactly that. But once they saw that ordinary Americans really could be convinced to give everything to the wealthy, and keep doing it for forty years … they forgot that there’s no real theory, much less facts, behind the smoke.

Moore’s total lack of relevant expertise — he has admitted, “I’m not an expert in monetary policy,” which is like applying for a job at an auto plant by boasting you’re bad at assembling cars — did not doom his nomination. Nor did his record of dogmatic and comically misguided economic claims. Rather, his nomination was deep-sixed by a combination of misogynistic writings and behaviors.

Honestly, it’s amazing this wasn’t exactly the factor that made Trump dig in. After all, the Republicans Senate has definitely demonstrated this isn’t  a problem for them.

Hamid Dabashi is less than impressed by a new volume collecting essays “new atheists.”
al-Jazeera

Dawkins’s, The God Delusion, Harris’s, The End of Faith, Dennett’s, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, and Hitchens’s, God Is Not Great – were all essentially written as a blind reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and all zoomed in on Islam and the Muslim world, demonstrating a remarkable ignorance of both.

That publishers have chosen to resurrect, today, this 12-year-old Islamophobic backslapping session advertised as a “landmark discussion about modern atheism” is indeed quite telling. With white supremacy currently flourishing in the US and elsewhere, a book on “new atheism” – a pseudo-intellectual movement that has heavily contributed to its rise – would surely sell.

Understand that Dabashi is making a distinction here about certain authors, and certain attitudes, not atheism in general.

Before proceeding any further, let us be clear: Atheism as such is a perfectly healthy proposition and the world, including the Muslim part of it, has never been devoid of atheists – all the power to them.

Across religions and cultures, there are decent and reasonable atheists, as there are equally decent and reasonable believers, who can and should openly engage in debate about religion and the belief in God without succumbing to hatred and convictions in one’s supremacy. Such open and honest conversations are indeed healthy for any community or nation and should be encouraged.

As often happens, for a lot of American readers, Dabashi can seem defensive and difficult to accept … which is kind of why he’s here. And while I’m at the limit of what I can reproduce from his article, I’d definitely encourage you to keep reading — specifically the section on “‘New Atheism’ and western imperialism”—to understand Dabashi’s perspective.

Paul Krugman on Republicans using their voodoo to hex the economy.
New York Times

Do you remember the great inflation scare of 2010-2011? The U.S. economy remained deeply depressed from the aftereffects of the burst housing bubble and the 2008 financial crisis. Unemployment was still above 9 percent; wage growth had slowed to a crawl, and measures of underlying inflation were well below the Federal Reserve’s targets. So the Fed was doing what it could to boost the economy — keeping short-term interest rates as low as possible, and buying long-term bonds in the hope of getting some extra traction.

But Republicans were up in arms, warning that the Fed’s policies would lead to runaway inflation. A Congressman named Mike Pence introduced a bill that would prohibit the Fed from even considering the state of the labor market in its actions. A who’s who of Republicans signed an open letter to Ben Bernanke demanding that he stop his monetary efforts, which they claimed would “risk currency debasement and inflation.”

And of course you could—and I very well might—construct a Venn diagram with Republicans who have since compared every time the Fed raised the rates a quarter point to a fiscal apocalypse.

What lay behind all these dire warnings about inflation? Well, they came at the same time that Republicans were warning about the terrible, horrible, no-good consequences of deficit spending.

And it was obvious even at the time that G.O.P. deficit posturing was hypocritical – obvious, that it, to everyone except the entire Beltway establishment. All you had to do was look at what was actually in Ryan’s budget proposals to realize that he wasn’t sincere, that he was using deficits as an excuse to bash social programs and hobble Obama. It was utterly predictable that Republicans would decide that deficits don’t matter as soon as they recaptured the White House.

They had not yet discovered the joy of routing money directly from the treasury to the wealthy in a system that helps the economic vacuum cleaner suck every harder.

Art Cullen doesn’t think this is one of Trump’s best weeks.
Storm Lake Times

It’s always about the economy, stupid. President Trump’s re-election depends on it. The stock market has been strong. Other leading indicators are ominous. Trump also must win the Midwest, including Wisconsin and Iowa, whose economies are similarly structured. This just in from the Iowa Department of Revenue’s monthly Iowa Leading Indicator’s Index, published on Wednesday:

“The negative annualized six-month ILII value and the six-month diffusion index at 25.0 suggest that signals of weakness in the Iowa economy are continuing and are broad-based. The goal of the ILII is to signal turning points in the Iowa economy as measured by employment. The employment growth in March was the slowest monthly increase since November 2017, a weakening that is consistent with the recent ILII signals. This report suggests that over the next three to six months, employment growth will remain weak and possibly stall.”

The White House and Republicans spent last week celebrating the “great” economic numbers. And maybe things will hold together long enough to give Trump the bragging rights he wants going into 2020. Or … maybe not.

And, the Department of Revenue calls our attention to the bond market, where long-term yields are down precipitously, a strong signal of bearishness going forward.

Congress is dragging its feet on flood disaster aid. Even with a China trade deal, it will take years for corn and soy markets to recover.

The tax break trumpeted by Trump is not enough to mask these economic factors in play right now in the Midwest. By some measures, Wisconsin may be worse off with a full-blown crisis in the dairy industry brought on by consolidation and over-production.

The steel industry … is not back. The coal industry … is not back. The auto industry … is not back. None of the industries that Trump promised to magically restore have been restored, and the flow of people and resources from rural to urban areas hasn’t slowed.  But if Fox News tells people they’re doing great often enough …

Michael Tomasky on what’s left of the GOP after the Barr hearing.
Daily Beast

May 1, 2019 will go down as one of the dark days in the history of this republic.

You think that’s overstated? Then tell me another time when an attorney general went before a committee of the United States Senate and lied like that to protect a lying president. The day after being caught in another whopping lie as we learned about the existence of Robert Mueller’s letter taking issue with the way Bill Barr had characterized the Mueller Report, which Barr had lied about to Congress previously.

And—tell me another time when the members of one political party participated in the protection racket quite like that. Why did Lindsey Graham think it was cute or cheeky to utter the word “fucking” at the beginning of this hearing? Fine, he had the excuse that he was quoting something. But that isn’t why he did it. He did it to de-dignify these proceedings. To signal to viewers that they didn’t need to take this hearing seriously. And, he did it for an audience of one. You think Orange Julius didn’t chuckle when he heard Graham go down in the gutter?

Again. Lindsey Graham was a case manager for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. He stood in front of the House and pleaded passionately that Clinton be impeached. For obstruction.

The Republican Party started life as a grand and admirable thing. Our anti-slavery party; our conscience. Its leader was assassinated, and in short order it became the party of Wall Street, and it remained that for a century, though it always contained within it conservatives, moderates, and even some liberals.

Then, starting in the 1980s, it lost the liberals. Then, in the 1990s, it started to lose most of the moderates, as right-wing issue and interest groups and Koch money began to define what constituted “conservatism,” pushing it ever-further rightward so that today it really isn’t even conservatism, but just a collection of grievances that they can use to piss off enough white people to stay in power.

They don’t just piss people off. They also keep them ignorant. And terrified. It’s a combo.

Aisha Sultan on the twisted lies about “murdering infants.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Anna Claire Schmidt felt slapped in the face.

She saw his words scrolling through Twitter. The video clip stopped her cold.

“The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

President Donald Trump uttered that unbelievable smear against mothers and doctors to crowds at a rally in Wisconsin last week.

Schmidt, a critical care nurse who worked for years in the neonatal intensive care unit, knew about wrapping babies in warm blankets. She’s spent those last agonizing moments with at least 15 to 20 parents. Their grief is imprinted on her heart.

She responded on social media with a message for the president.

“I have wrapped a lot of babies in blankets. Some, beautifully, like you mentioned. Some, I just did my best because when you weigh a scant 500 grams, there’s far more blanket than baby.

“I have stood next to my physician colleagues as we disconnected all the tubes, wires, pumps and equipment keeping these tiny people alive. Sometimes they live weeks, even months. Sometimes only hours. We spent the majority of that time keeping them alive with heroic measures, but the time would come transition from the frantic pace of critical care and to dim the lights, make them comfortable — and yes, wrap them in a blanket.

“I have taken footprints from people so small that they fit in the palm of my hand. I have cut curly, dark locks of hair from beautiful full-term babies. I have lifted them out of the only beds they have ever slept in, and handed them to their mothers for what was the very first and last time. I have given medication to ease any pain, and yes, I have wrapped them in a blanket.

Heartbreaking. Infuriating. And absolutely demanding to be read.

Nancy LeTourneau and the frustration of Mueller’s failure to simply declare obstruction.
Washington Monthly

One of the many ways that Attorney General William Barr misrepresented Mueller’s findings is his suggestion that the guideline from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) stipulating that a president can’t be indicted was not the basis on which the special counsel declined to make a decision with regards to obstruction of justice. That is not technically an outright lie, but only because the OLC memo was only part of Mueller’s decision.

Volume II of the special counsel’s report, which is dedicated to the question of obstruction, goes into great detail on why they reached no conclusion. Included are the following considerations:

  1. Based on the OLC memo, the president can’t be indicted.
  2. President’s don’t have immunity when they leave office, so they “conducted a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available.”
  3. Were they to have found that the president committed crimes, no charges would be brought and the president would be denied his day in court to defend himself.
  4. The evidence didn’t allow them to state that the president did not obstruct justice.

That exposes the problem with having a criminal investigation conducted by a special counsel who is required to report charges and declinations on a president who cannot be indicted. It is a classic catch-22, defined as “a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules or limitations.”

And it’s exactly why only Congress can take the necessary action.

Virginia Heffernan tries to throw Republicans one last lifeline.
Los Angeles Times

If this country is ever going to disentangle from the Trumpism that’s choking the life out of it, we’re going to need escape routes.

We’ve heard plenty from self-congratulatory Democrats, cerebral #NeverTrumpers and aloof European historians who warn about the perils of authoritarianism in our naive nation. What we need is advice from people who have been fully enchanted by President Trump’s racism, corruption and assault on the rule of law. People like Atty. Gen. William Barr, Trump’s latest fixer, though Barr seems prepared to go to his grave in Trump’s harness.

But really, we don’t have to wait for Barr’s white-light conversion. We have three extraordinary examples of figures who broke free of Trumpism and the man himself. Trumpism is such a totalizing belief system that the country is going to require a thorough, even spiritual, metamorphosis.

I might settle for a national shower. Maybe that’s what all those hurricanes and storms are trying to do.

The first heretic is Michael Cohen, Trump’s formerly slavish Guy Friday. The second is James Comey, the self-righteous former director of the FBI, who wrote an op-ed this week that probed Barr’s and former Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein’s appalling submission to Trump — as well as his own.

The third is Katie McHugh, a former avatar of the alt-right and suck-up to the Trump family. According to a riveting profile by Rosie Gray in BuzzFeed News, McHugh has renounced what she now sees, in a rigorous religious framework, as her sins.

If you haven’t visited Buzzfeed to read McHugh’s account of the white supremacist culture, and your stomach feels up to it, do so.

Charles Pierce wants to know how Trump’s call with Putin can possibly be okay.
Esquire

All “checking in with the home office” japery aside, the President* of the United States was on the line with the Russian president whose people ratfcked the 2016 presidential election and already may have started ratfcking the next one, and neither of those events even came up? This is like JFK’s getting on the teletype with Khrushchev in October of 1962 and discussing the weather in Havana.

Donald Trump won’t talk to Robert Mueller about Vladimir Putin. He will talk to Putin about Mueller. Also, he will still not say boo about the Russian interference in the election.

Explain to me how this entire presidency* isn’t a national-security crisis. Jesus, Lord, somebody throw the emergency brake, or hand out parachutes.

This has been your summary of all events from 2016 to date.

Anne Applebaum on the fastest growing party in Spain … and why you should be afraid.
Washington Post

It is dawn in the Spanish countryside. A man is walking, and then running, in slow motion. He climbs a fence. He crosses a field of wheat while brushing his hands, as in a Hollywood movie, across the tops of the sheaves. All the while, music is playing and a voice is speaking: “If you don’t laugh at honor because you don’t want to live among traitors . . . if you look toward new horizons without despising your old origins . . . if you can keep your honesty intact in times of corruption . . .”

The sun rises. The man climbs a steep path. He crosses a river. He is caught in a thunderstorm. “If you feel gratitude and pride for those in uniform who protect the wall. . . . If you love your fatherland like you love your parents . . .” The music climaxes, the man is on top of the mountain, the voice finishes: “. . . then you are making Spain great again!” A slogan appears on the screen: Hacer España Grande Otra Vez.

The slogan translates to “Make Spain Great Again.” The man is Santiago Abascal, and this, of course, is an advertisement for Vox. Vox is Spain’s fastest-growing political party, and Abascal is its leader.

Vox (no relation to the web site) has leveraged regional tensions in Spain to build a nationalist fervor. The use of Trump words and images is no accident.

Leonard Pitts argues there really is one race that should be scary for whites. Whites.
Miami Herald

This is a column about saving whiteness. It’s precipitated by an incident last Saturday at a bookstore in Washington.

Seems that author Jonathan M. Metzl was giving a presentation when a group of white nationalists barged in. They formed a phalanx between him and the audience, and one of them harangued the crowd with an electric bullhorn, something about the white working class being asked to “trade their homeland for handouts.” The group chanted “This land is our land.” They filed out, to a chorus of boos.

We will pass lightly over the irony of Woody Guthrie’s words of harmony and inclusion (“This land is your land, and this land is my land, from the California to the New York island …”) being repurposed as a white supremacist manifesto. Let’s deal instead with Metzl’s book, the one this group tried to shut down, thereby giving it greater visibility and increased sales.

It’s called “Dying of Whiteness” and it is a deep dive — lots of statistics, charts and graphs — into a provocative thesis: that white conservative voters, driven by fear of, and antipathy toward, black and brown “others,” support policies against their own self-interest, policies that diminish their lives and even kill them. Whiteness, argues Metzl, a white psychiatrist and physician, thus emerges as a risk factor for death not unlike smoking, depression or fast food.

Do I have to say this? It’s Leonard Pitts … go read the rest.

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Michael owens
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Michael owens

Talk, talk talk talk!!!… fk the thing in the WH out!! In the street