Fresh Hell Friday Reads: How long can this lawlessness go on?

Image result for georgia okeeffe paintings sunsets

Sunset, Long Island by Georgia O’Keeffe

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I went to a meeting last night with neighbors and the mayor who is introducing a number of initiatives to breathe life back into New Orleans Neighborhoods. I came home rather hopeful at the ideas but somewhat skeptical that all of it will be seen to fruition given what usually comes out of City Hall. Maybe our energetic and bright Mayor LaToya will get it done and my skepticism will be misplaced but the City Hall is a slow working bureaucracy and it’s going to take a lot of energy and push to get it moving.

I decided to switch on the TV thinking I’d catch up with some of the Climate Conference presenters including an interview with Al Gore who we haven’t heard on the subject for awhile. I didn’t have long since I was lecturing too. I basically turned the TV on to the story that must wake the Republican party up to reality.

The whistle blower story first reported in the Washington Post is as bad as we thought it would be. I would hope the Republican party finally comes around to seeing that this regime of lawlessness and that its unconstitutional acts cannot go on any longer.

If–as Republican RIck Wilson says–“Everything Trump Touches dies” then Rudy Guilliani is definitely in some state of Zombiehood. I’m not sure why he decided to go do interviews last night but he definitely poured gasoline on the fire that threatens the rule of law in this country. This is from WAPO. “Giuliani admits to asking Ukraine about Joe Biden after denying it 30 seconds earlier”. Chris Cuomo is never on my must see TV watch list but I watched this clip just to see the dawn of realization hit Guilliani’s face that he is seriously and truly fucked. The byline goes to Coby Itkowitz

Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, contradicted himself when asked whether he personally asked Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, ranted about media bias and defended Trump amid new reports about an intelligence official’s whistleblower complaint, during a chaotic and fiery CNN interview Thursday night.

Immediately after anchor Chris Cuomo introduced him and summarized the latest news out of the whistleblower story, which had only broken about an hour prior, Giuliani went into attack mode.

“I’m glad I’m on tonight, because what you just said is totally erroneous,” Giuliani said. “Every single thing you just said is completely spun in the same direction you’ve been doing for two years!”

Giuliani spent the first half of the interview repeating the claim that Biden in 2016 pressured Ukraine to drop its top prosecutor, which at the time was also investigating a natural gas company where Biden’s son Hunter was on the board. World leaders, including the United States, reportedly wanted the prosecutor gone because he was ineffective at rooting out corruption. Biden threatened to withhold loan money from the country over it. There’s been no evidence found that Biden was trying to help out his son.

So, the whistleblower was disturbed about Trump’s conversations with Ukraine that was supposed to be getting a ton of military support from us but which was being withheld by the Trump administration in order to coerce them into doing a politically motivated investigation of what is perceived as the main threat to the Trump Rule of Lawlessness.

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The Cliff, Etretat, Sunset, Claude Monet

It’s at these times I wish I had actually followed through with going to law school. Thankfully, there are plenty of lawyers in the chattering class. As I read these things I can’t help but wonder how many laws and clauses of the US Constitution Trump has breached. Some one needs to keep a list. Some one, like say, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Anna Nemtsova writes this for The Daily Beast:”Ukrainian Official: Trump is Looking for Dirt ‘To Discredit Biden’. Ukraine officials see no indication Biden or his son broke their laws. If Trump wants them investigated in Kyiv, his government will need to say why and what for.”

Ukraine is ready to investigate the connections Joe Biden’s son Hunter had with the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings, according to Anton Geraschenko, a senior adviser to the country’s interior minister who would oversee such an inquiry.

Geraschenko told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview that “as soon as there is an official request” Ukraine will look into the case, but “currently there is no open investigation.”

“Clearly,” said Geraschenko, “Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort, who is serving seven years in prison.” Among the counts on which Manafort was convicted: tax evasion. “We do not investigate Biden in Ukraine, since we have not received a single official request to do so,” said Geraschenko.

His remarks last week came amid widespread speculation that U.S. President Donald Trump had made vital U.S. military aid for Ukraine contingent on such an inquiry, but had tried to do so informally through unofficial representatives, including his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani’s adviser on Ukraine, Sam Kislin.

But Geraschenko spoke before the appearance of a Washington Post story on Thursday that implied that an intelligence-community whistleblower may have reported the untoward quid pro quo was put forth directly by Trump in a phone call with Ukraine’s recently elected president last July.

Geraschenko reconfirmed his statements in a phone call on Friday.

Willows at Sunset 1888

Vincent van Gogh – Willows at Sunset 1888

Jared Bernstein reminds us in Bloomberg of just how enabling and complicit the entire Republican Party has been during the Trumpist Rule of Lawlessness. The courts are full trying to deal with it all. My assumption is they’ve bought and paid for several Justices on the Supreme Court and it should eventually pay off for them I suppose. However, most every one I know is pretty horrified by this unless they are completely ignorant of our rule of law and how our government is supposed to work. But,this implies that we have a lot more engaged and well educated people in the country than we currently have. Take Alabama, please.

We still have only limited information about the emerging whistleblower scandal. But we do know (from what Rudy Giuliani has bragged about) that the president’s lawyer has pressed another country to investigate a Democratic candidate for alleged corruption. That’s on top of the original Trump campaign’s dozens of contacts with a nation attacking U.S. democracy; several documented instances of the president obstructing the investigation of that attack; violations of the emoluments clauses of the Constitution and regular use of government resources to enrich the president’s businesses; and assertions of invented presidential privileges to prevent congressional oversight.

Republicans have been okay with all this, presumably because they’re getting what they want on policy. Or perhaps out of pure partisanship. Or maybe because they’re so deep in the conservative information-feedback loop that they’ve convinced themselves none of it is real. But they should be taking stock now of just how much lawlessness they’re willing to tolerate. At this point, it looks like the whistleblower’s story involves Trump attempting to offer U.S. policy favors to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
I’ve said all along that there’s a middle ground where the evidence may justify impeachment and removal of the president, but not demand it. Well, the evidence has long since established that impeachment is justified. Now we’re tiptoeing up to the line where it demands removal. At some point, we may wind up clearly over that line by any reasonable definition. If Republicans choose to stick with Trump then, he’ll correctly conclude that he’s above the law.
Democrats can’t do much about this by themselves. Sure, they can attempt to convince the public that Trump’s actions demonstrate that he’s unfit for office, and it’s reasonable to consider every method of doing so, including a partisan impeachment ending in a party-line acquittal in the Senate. They should also continue their investigations, even though much of the case against Trump has been public from the beginning.

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Sunset at Eragny Camille Pissaro

Aaron Balke of WAPO argues that “Ukraine being the focus of Trump’s whistleblower complaint is particularly ominous.”. We knew Trump felt that asking other nations for help with his political aspirations was something he was still willing to do. He trusts other spy agencies over our own. He outright announced it in an interview for ABC back in June. Well, instead of putting himself in debt to some one like Putin, he’s blackmailing a struggling democracy into doing it like you would assume a Mafioso Don would do.

That phone call took place July 25, and for a host of reasons — and depending on the substance of the complaint — it could spell real trouble for Trump and his supporters.

The main reason is because we already knew about demonstrated and very public interest from the Trump team in what Ukraine could provide them when it comes to Trump’s reelection effort. Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani has publicly urged the Ukrainians to pursue investigations that he has admitted would benefit Trump, and one in particular that could damage what appears to be Trump’s most threatening potential 2020 Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.

In May, Giuliani canceled a controversial planned trip to Ukraine that he had admitted was intended to apply pressure on its government to investigate Biden’s son Hunter Biden and his work for a Ukrainian gas company that had previously been of interest to investigators in the country.

Giuliani even acknowledged before the planned trip that it was intended to help Trump and that Giuliani was “meddling” in foreign affairs to that end.

“We’re not meddling in an election; we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Giuliani told the New York Times’s Kenneth P. Vogel. Giuliani added: “There’s nothing illegal about it. Somebody could say it’s improper. . . . I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

It was a remarkable admission at the time — particularly that it could be “very, very helpful to my client” and separating that from the idea that it might also happen to benefit the U.S. government. And it’s even more remarkable in this moment.

When Giuliani canceled the trip, he blamed the Ukrainian government and suggested Democrats had overblown the situation.

So, the military aid package was just okayed by the Trump administration. The UK’s Independent had this information yesterday: “Zelensky defends relationship with US after Trump accused of pushing Ukraine to meddle in 2020 election. Ukraine’s new president insists that relations are ‘very good’ with the US and that there will be a meeting ‘soon’” All I can say at this point is meeting? MEETING?

Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky was fulsome in expressing his gratitude to Donald Trump for the military aid package.

The former professional comedian insisted his relationship with the former reality TV star was “very good” and that he was “sure we will have a meeting in the White House”.

But the $250m (£280m) of arms for Ukrainian forces, which are confronting Russian backed separatists, has been enmeshed in a bitter battle between the US president and his opponents over accusations that he has tried to manipulate it for underhand political reasons.

The Trump administration had in fact suspended the “Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative”, only agreeing to unblock it after rising bipartisan clamour from congress.

The ostensible reason for the hold-up was to ensure that it tallied with US interests.

The real reason, claim critics, was to pressure the Ukrainian government to target Joe Biden – the possible Democrat candidate for next year’s election – through an investigation into corruption allegations against his son.

Members of the Trump administration have claimed that Mr Biden, then Barack Obama’s vice president, had pressured the Ukrainian authorities to drop an investigation into Burisma, an energy company operating in the country, on which his son Hunter was a board member.

The claims against Mr Biden have been denied to a number of news organisations, including The Independent, by Ukrainian and western European officials.

Three Democrat-controlled house committees – Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Government Reform – have announced that they would investigate whether a host of ethical and legal rules have been violated

Sunset, Paul Klee

So, yet another hearing that the Trump Rule of Lawlessness will sputter along while the public will likely not view it. We thought it was likely being held up after Congress appropriated because it was to help Ukraine confront Russia and of course Trump’s still Putin’s fuckboi. But, it was even more venal than that and typical of what the head of a mobster family would do. Please, take care of this little problem first and then we’ll be glad to fund your little struggle against invasion dear ally.

So, I really did think I was going home last night to get information on today’s Climate Strike which is going on as planned.

I could go on about NY Mayor Bill DiBlasio who finally threw in the towel on his lifeless presidential campaign today. I did enjoy hearing him speak when I saw him in July but it took him this long to realize he was’t going anywhere.

But, I’ll end with a NYT op ed by the two Political Scientists who wrote the book “How Democracies Die”. It’s called “Why Republicans Play Dirty. They fear that if they stick to the rules, they will lose everything. Their behavior is a threat to democratic stability.”

The greatest threat to our democracy today is a Republican Party that plays dirty to win.

The party’s abandonment of fair play was showcased spectacularly in 2016, when the United States Senate refused to allow President Barack Obama to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February. While technically constitutional, the act — in effect, stealing a Court seat — hadn’t been tried since the 19th century. It would be bad enough on its own, but the Merrick Garland affair is part of a broader pattern.

Republicans across the country seem to have embraced an “any means necessary” strategy to preserve their power. After losing the governorship in North Carolina in 2016 and Wisconsin in 2018, Republicans used lame duck legislative sessions to push through a flurry of bills stripping power from incoming Democratic governors. Last year, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down a Republican gerrymandering initiative, conservative legislators attempted to impeach the justices. And back in North Carolina, Republican legislators used a surprise vote last week to ram through an override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget — while most Democrats were told no vote would be held and so attended a 9/11 commemoration. This is classic “constitutional hardball,” behavior that, while technically legal, uses the letter of the law to subvert its spirit.

Constitutional hardball has accelerated under the Trump administration. President Trump’s declaration of a “national emergency” to divert public money toward a border wall — openly flouting Congress, which voted against building a wall — is a clear example. And the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, manufactured by an earlier act of hardball, may uphold the constitutionality of the president’s autocratic behavior.

Constitutional hardball can damage and even destroy a democracy. Democratic institutions only function when power is exercised with restraint. When parties abandon the spirit of the law and seek to win “by any means necessary,” politics often descends into institutional warfare. Governments in Hungary and Turkey have used court packing and other “legal” maneuvers to lock in power and ensure that subsequent abuse is ruled “constitutional.” And when one party engages in constitutional hardball, its rivals often feel compelled to respond in a tit-for-tat fashion, triggering an escalating conflict that is difficult to undo. As the collapse of democracy in Germany and Spain in the 1930s and Chile in the 1970s makes clear, these escalating conflicts can end in tragedy.

Go read the rest. It’s worth your time.
So, I’m going to drink more coffee and try to figure out why about 1/3 of the US population has lost any sense of patriotism and loyalty to the Constitution. While Colin Kapernick kneeled during singing a song that not one Founding Father ever heard they got upset. While Donald Trump pisses away articles and clauses of the Constitution they wrote, this group of people acts like it’s no big deal.

I’m now at a loss for words.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

20 Comments on “Fresh Hell Friday Reads: How long can this lawlessness go on?”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Have a good day!!!!

    • Enheduanna says:

      Great post and beautiful paintings Dak. TGIF……………

      The Monarch butterflies are migrating south (did I read that here?) – lol – anyway my red lantana (a perennial variety called Miss Huff btw) and Cardinal vine are covered with them today. So beautiful!

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. dakinikat says:

    And Lindsay’s gone full Russian … or Saudi …. or choose your dictator

    • Enheduanna says:

      He’s got to be compromised by Russia as well. Rand Paul is for sure and McConnell.

      The IC needs to grow a spine and get on this. So far only ONE PERSON has come forward???

    • quixote says:

      “Snitching” on a “president” who’s committing high crimes and misdemeanors is actually part of an officeholder’s oath to uphold the Constitution, Lindsey.

      You’d think he’s old enough to know that?

    • NW Luna says:

      “This person” better have damn good security.

  6. dakinikat says:

    bye bye BIbi …. and no more immunity from prosecution!!!

  7. dakinikat says:

    Well, here’s another set of viewpoints …

    • Enheduanna says:

      Whoa – now that makes some sense. The whole Biden thing seemed like weak sauce – what exactly did Hunter Biden do even? Plus it’s been known for a while that Ghouliani was pushing Ukraine to investigate. And I don’t think the Biden angle would move Dump’s base – they think foreign meddling in our elections is tit-for-tat because “we do it too”.

      Someone needs to out Lindsay Graham for the phony he is – or find out his Russia connections. I hate that guy.

    • quixote says:

      There’s also the unexpected (at the time) pulling out of the INF treaty. That leaves Europe exposed to Russian nukes, plays into Putin’s hands, and also happened shortly after one of these supposedly purely goodwill calls with Putin.

      Getting the Ukraine to stop fighting in Donbas is all cut from the same cloth.

      And there were multiple calls the whistleblower was blowing the whistle about.

    • bostonboomer says:

      • Enheduanna says:

        This just all makes so much more sense now. And knowing Dump for the person he is – how could he NOT have stooped to something like this?

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. bostonboomer says: