Haunting Halloween ReadsPosted: October 31, 2019 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics 26 Comments
Washington DC is an exciting place these days. Last night the Washington Nationals won the World Series and this morning the House of Representatives is debating a resolution on impeachment of the fake “president.”
CNN and MSNBC showed the House deliberations live and, as I write this, votes are being counted. And the resolution has now passed.
The New York Times Editorial Board on the Democrats’ impeachment resolution: The Rules of Impeachment. Democrats get serious about the next phase of inquiry.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on whether to erect a series of guardrails of its own, for the possible impeachment of the president. The resolution now before Congress avoids past missteps by allowing extended questioning of witnesses by staff lawyers before preening lawmakers take the stage, and it sets fair rules that respect precedent.
Such rules are needed because the stakes are so high and the charges against Mr. Trump so serious. The latest bombshell landed Tuesday, when Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army officer who serves as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified that he was on the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, and that he heard Mr. Trump ask Mr. Zelensky to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. More concerning, Colonel Vindman shared that the White House’s reconstructed transcript of the call left out some key details — and that administration officials refused his repeated efforts to correct the record before it was released to the public, according to an account in The Times.
With such revelations piling up, the White House and its backers have opted for a defense strategy that avoids addressing the president’s actions and focuses instead on discrediting the impeachment process as illegitimate and unfair. They have criticized House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for not holding a formal authorization vote, for conducting closed-door depositions and for denying the president the due process afforded in formal criminal proceedings.
None of these objections hold up. Even so, Democrats aim to address them with the provisions of the resolution they will consider on Thursday.
Central to the resolution’s ambitions are ensuring order, transparency and fairness as the inquiry moves to the public stage. Rules are being set for conducting public hearings (including who gets to question whom and for how long), publicly disclosing depositions and issuing subpoenas. Guidelines have been established for the participation of Mr. Trump and his lawyers and the transfer of evidence from other committees to the Judiciary Committee, where any articles of impeachment would be considered. The rules providing for the minority party to call its own witnesses are basically the same as those set by Republicans during the Clinton impeachment.
Virginia Heffernan at The Los Angeles Times: Column: Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment deliberateness has been maddening, but it’s finally paying off.
It’s all disturbing. Very disturbing. Or rather, as Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) put it after sitting through Tuesday’s impeachment inquiry testimony, “extremely, extremely, extremely disturbing.”
So, triple-X disturbing. If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is conducting an orchestra with this probe, she’s left the quiet early movements far behind.
With each witness, the maestra and her House of Representatives colleagues are building intensity. It’s getting hot and loud in the nation’s capital — and, sure, it’s disturbing. But it’s also galvanizing.
For fully half of Americans, the ones who now favor the president’s removal from office, there’s finally hope that Trump might — at long last — be held responsible for the grave injuries he’s done to this country.
Read the rest at the link.
Ronald Brownstein at The Atlantic: Nancy Pelosi’s Predictions for Impeachment.
Nancy Pelosi wants you to know that the House Democratic leadership has not committed to impeaching President Donald Trump—notwithstanding the muscle she’s thrown behind the inquiry, or tomorrow’s vote on how its next stage will proceed.
“We have not made any decision to impeach,” the House speaker insisted during a meeting with a small group of columnists earlier this week.
But Pelosi nevertheless left little doubt that’s where the process is headed. She said flatly that she believes the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation has already accumulated enough evidence about Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to justify such a decision. “I do think we have enough,” she said. “We’ve had enough for a very long time … but as long as there is corroboration, we might as well get some more. And then we’ll see.” She was equally unequivocal that the core charges against Trump—that he withheld congressionally appropriated military aid to try to force Ukraine to investigate a political opponent—reach the standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors” required for impeachment.
“If this president were to get away with this, forget about it all,” she said, sitting in a conference room in her suite of offices in the Capitol. “We might as well not even run for office. You don’t need this branch of government if he’s going to overturn the power of the purse, if he is going to overturn all of the other checks and balances, the power of inquiry.”
Read the rest at The Atlantic.
I won’t publish the name here, but Republicans have publicly identified a man they claim is the whistleblower who brought attention to the Ukraine scandal. They’re exulting because he is a Democrat, but it doesn’t matter one whit, because the allegations in the whistleblower complaint have now been corroborated by multiple witnesses. Here’s the latest:
This morning, Tim Morrison, who resigned from the White House yesterday, is testifying to the impeachment inquiry.
The Washington Post: White House official expected to confirm diplomat’s account that Trump appeared to seek quid pro quo.
Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Trump’s National Security Council, is expected to corroborate the testimony of a senior U.S. diplomat who last week offered to House impeachment investigators the most detailed account to date for how Trump tried to use his office to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden, said a person familiar with the matter.
Morrison is expected to tell impeachment investigators on Thursday that the account offered by Ambassador William B. Taylor Jr., is accurate, particularly that Morrison alerted him to the president’s and his deputies’ push to withhold security aid and a meeting with the Ukrainian president until Ukraine announced an investigation of the Bidens and 2016 election interference, the person said on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive discussions
Morrison will also say that he did not necessarily view the president’s demands as improper or illegal, but rather problematic for U.S. policy in supporting an ally in the region, the person said.
Morrison’s testimony comes a day after he told colleagues he plans to leave the Trump administration. His testimony was sought due to his proximity to critical White House decisions and recurring presence in testimony from previous U.S. officials.
Also at the Washington Post, Josh Rogin writes that Morrison is not the Democrat’s friend: National Security Council aide Tim Morrison will not be part of the Resistance.
National Security Council official Tim Morrison is a lot of things: a Trump administration political appointee, a John Bolton acolyte, a naval reserve intelligence officer, a lawyer and a Russia hawk, to name a few. But Democrats might not want to pin their impeachment hopes on his testimony Thursday, because there are three things Morrison is not: a whistleblower, a Never Trumper or a potential member of the Resistance.
Each administration witness in the House’s impeachment inquiry is approaching his or her testimony differently. Kurt Volker resigned as Ukraine envoy and handed over all his documents. Acting ambassador William B. Taylor didn’t resign, delivered blistering testimony accusing President Trump of abusing his power, then returned to his post in Kyiv and received a hero’s welcome. Morrison’s former supervisor, Charles Kupperman, is declining to be deposed at all and is appealing to the courts.
Read more at the link.
Last night, the name of the lawyer who ordered Trump’s Ukraine phone call transcript hidden was revealed. The Washington Post: White House lawyer moved transcript of Trump call to classified server after Ukraine adviser raised alarms.
Moments after President Trump ended his phone call with Ukraine’s president on July 25, an unsettled national security aide rushed to the office of White House lawyer John Eisenberg.
Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine adviser at the White House, had been listening to the call and was disturbed by the pressure Trump had applied to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals, according to people familiar with Vindman’s testimony to lawmakers this week.
Vindman told Eisenberg, the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues, that what the president did was wrong, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
Scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad, Eisenberg proposed a step that other officials have said is at odds with long-standing White House protocol: moving a transcript of the call to a highly classified server and restricting access to it, according to two people familiar with Vindman’s account.
The details of how the White House clamped down on information about the controversial call comes as the House impeachment inquiry turns its focus to the role of Eisenberg, who has served as deputy White House counsel since the start of Trump’s administration. House impeachment investigators on Wednesday evening announced they have asked Eisenberg and a fellow White House lawyer, Mike Ellis, to testify Monday.
It’s getting real for Trump, and Mitch McConnell has told him to stop attacking GOP Senators who will be jurors in an impeachment trial. Politico: After McConnell advice, Trump lays off GOP senators on impeachment.
Sitting inside the White House, Mitch McConnell gave Donald Trump some straightforward advice: Stop attacking senators — including Mitt Romney — who likely will soon judge your fate in an impeachment trial.
The one-on-one meeting last week between the Senate majority leader and the president covered several weighty issues including Syria, according to two people familiar with the conversation. But like everything these days when it comes to Trump, impeachment was high on the president’s mind.
And in this case, Trump appears to have listened to the man in the Senate who controls the future of his presidency.
As he juggles legislative priorities like funding the government and passing a new North American trade deal, Trump can’t get his mind off Democrats’ efforts to oust him from the White House. He’s been courting his congressional allies with golf, a World Series game and frequent phone calls — all to develop an echo chamber of support from his allies in Congress.
But the White House is largely leaving the prickly task of managing the Senate Republican Conference to McConnell. Though much of the pair’s contact is concealed even from aides, people familiar with the conversations say they speak all the time — and there’s been an uptick in recent weeks as the impeachment threat grows more serious.
Can Trump resist attacking his critics? I seriously doubt it, but we’ll see.
Happy Halloween, Sky Dancers!!
Wednesday Reads: tRump MasksPosted: October 30, 2019 Filed under: just because 7 Comments
This is…an open thread.
Tuesday Reads: Climate Change Action and Impeachment Inquiry NewsPosted: October 29, 2019 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Alexander S. Vindman, Blackrock, Climate change, Derek Harvey, Devin Nunes, Donald Trump, impeachment inquiry, Larry Fink, Mothers Out Front, Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, Whistleblower 52 Comments
Action on Climate Change
Before I get started on the latest news, I want to share some information about a climate action that is taking place today in several U.S. cities, including Boston. My sister-in-law is a leader in her local chapter of Mothers Out Front, an organization that fights climate change. The group has been working to call attention to Blackrock, a huge asset management corporation whose CEO Larry Fink has tried to position himself as pro-environment, while leading the company that contributes more than any other to the problem of global warming.
My brother made this video to publicize today’s actions.
The Guardian, May 21, 2019: World’s biggest investor accused of dragging feet on climate crisis.
[Blackrock CEO Larry] Fink, who was paid $24m (£18.8m) in 2018, began BlackRock as part of Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity group, and spun it out in 1995. Since then, New York-based BlackRock has risen to become an investing behemoth, controlling $6.5tn in assets – a value more than twice the annual output of the UK economy.
That staggering size has placed BlackRock at the heart of the global fossil fuel industry: it is the largest investor in coal worldwide, according to InfluenceMap, an environmental campaign group, and has by far the highest density of coal holdings of the world’s 10 largest investors. BlackRock effectively owns 2.1bn tonnes of thermal coal reserves, based on the size of its stakes in major miners.
BlackRock is counted among the top three shareholders in every oil “supermajor” bar France’s Total, and is among the top 10 shareholders in seven of the 10 biggest coal producers, according to Guardian analysis of data from financial information firm S&P.
Yet Fink, 66, who moves in US Democrat political circles, argues it is not his company’s duty to fight the climate emergency. In the real version of his annual letter to shareholders, published in January, Fink said that his overriding duty is to make customers money.
“Our firm is built to protect and grow the value of our clients’ assets,” Fink wrote. “We often get approached by special interest groups who advocate for BlackRock to vote with them on a cause. In many cases, I or other senior managers might agree with that same cause – or we might strongly disagree – but our personal views on environmental or social issues don’t matter here. Our decisions are driven solely by our fiduciary duty to our clients.”
Also from The Guardian, September 17, 2019: Wall Street investment giants voting against key climate resolutions.
Some of Wall Street’s largest asset management companies are failing to live up to commitments to use their voting power to fight the climate crisis, according to a new report.
The report, published on Tuesday by the Washington DC-based Majority Action and the Climate Majority Project, claims that BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager with more than $6tn under management, and Vanguard, with assets of $5.2tn, have voted overwhelmingly against the key climate resolutions at energy companies, including a resolution at ExxonMobil’s annual shareholder meeting, and at Duke Energy.
Had BlackRock and Vanguard not torpedoed these investor efforts, at least 16 climate-critical shareholder resolutions at S&P 500 companies would have received majority support in 2019, representing a significant corporate shift on climate, the report claims….
“The climate crisis is well upon us, and leading investors are stepping up to press fossil-fuel-dependent companies to align their strategies to the goals of the Paris agreement but some of the largest US investment companies are severely lagging,” said Majority Action’s Eli Kasargod-Staub.
“Blackrock and Vanguard have been using their shareholder voting power to undermine, rather than support, investor action on climate, including opposing every one of the resolutions proposed by the $34tn Climate Action 100+ coalition, calling for significant board room reform in response to its failure to act on climate change,” Kasargod-Staub added.
Unfortunately, it’s raining in Boston today. I expect the mothers will still show up for the demonstration though. I’ll report back if I hear anything about how it went.
UPDATES from the Boston BlackRock protest
Impeachment Inquiry News
Today a White House insider who heard Trump’s call to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky will testify in the impeachment inquiry.
The New York Times: Army Officer Who Heard Trump’s Ukraine Call Reported Concerns.
A White House national security official who is a decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior.
Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how Mr. Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, out of what he called a “sense of duty,” he plans to tell the inquiry, according to a draft of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times.
He will be the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25 telephone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, in which Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Colonel Vindman said in his statement. “I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.”
Monday in my Bubble ReadPosted: October 28, 2019 Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton: Her Campaign for All of Us | Tags: Chelsea Clinton, Melba's, New Orleans, Octavia books, The Book of Gutsy Women 26 Comments
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I went to the other timeline for a very brief moment on Saturday and I’m trying to stay in the good timeline for awhile. Today, we can stay in our bubble. I’m giving myself permission to believe that most of us that live in this country have just about had enough of the last few years. I personally have endured enough. Join me in a bubble with “Gutsy Women” and the book tour that came to New Orleans with its authors Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsean Clinton. It’s a delightful book and I had a delightful time including getting to sing happy birthday to Hillary and handing her my Krewe of Hillary Campaign button while telling her that all her New Orleans Volunteers wore them proudly. I will always be with her. Fellow Hillary Volunteer Sharon Normand caught the moment on the photo at the top here. Yup, that’s my hand!
But Clinton received a rapturous response Saturday when she and her daughter Chelsea spoke at a sold-out event at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans about “The Book of Gutsy Women — Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience.”
The 450-page book by both mother and daughter profiles more than 100 women, in politics (Shirley Chisholm and Ann Richards), athletics (Abby Wambach and Venus and Serena Williams), medicine (Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton) and other fields, including Ruby Bridges, who integrated an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960.
The 900 people who filled the Uptown church heard stories about famous and little-known women for $45, which included a copy of the book from Octavia Books, which sponsored the event.
“I’ve been a fan of hers for my entire life,” said Jennifer Greene, a New Orleans attorney originally from Little Rock. “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
Neither Clinton mentioned President Donald Trump by name.
The closest came when Chelsea answered a question about the rise of bullying in the United States.
“The bullies are often quoting the president, particularly when girls are being bullied,” Chelsea said. “It’s just so painful to me that his demeaning treatment of women broadly but specifically with my mom and Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and others is clearly being watched by kids across the country and often has given further motivation to the meanness already there.”
It really was just a conversation about how Chelsea and Hillary had picked the women for the book. Chelsea told us that that it had been significantly downsized given the original number of essays they had written. Some of the women were historical and some still lived or had lived recently so there some quite personal stories too. It was nice to be around nice people talking primarily about nice things. I long for the days when we could discuss things more politely and civilly.
Here is an excerpt of the Book from CBS “Sunday Morning”. It’s Hillary’s essay on Margaret Chase Smith.
When I was a little girl, my family subscribed to Life magazine, which came to our house every week on Friday. When I came home from school, I’d eagerly grab it and lie down on the floor in our living room to read it before I had to set the table for dinner. It was in those pages that I first encountered Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who was the first example I ever remember seeing of a woman elected official. Following her career—from the campaigns that led to her becoming the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress to her history-making candidacy for president of the United States in 1964—shaped my understanding of politics and public service. She embodied the thrill of breaking barriers—and the challenges that come with being “the first.”
Born and raised in Maine, Margaret discovered a passion for politics when her husband, Clyde Harold Smith, was elected to Congress. She campaigned for him and, after he was elected, joined him in Washington. During his first term, he became gravely ill, and Margaret stepped in to fill as many of his obligations as she could. She traveled back and forth between Washington and Maine, appearing at events on behalf of her husband. With Margaret’s help, Clyde was reelected in 1938. His health, however, declined quickly. In the spring of 1940, he put out a statement urging his friends and supporters to stand behind Margaret if he could not run in the upcoming election. “I know of no one who has the full knowledge of my ideas and plans or is as well qualified as she is, to carry on these ideas and my unfinished work for my district.” He died the next day.
Margaret easily won the special election to serve out her husband’s unexpired term. At the time, most of the few women who served in office had been elected or appointed to fill a seat vacated by a husband or father. It was so common it even had a name: “the widow’s mandate.” Though she had never planned on it, Margaret was now the state’s first woman member of Congress. (“Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington,” read one headline.)
Oh, and the Clintons stopped by Melba’s which is probably the most unique restaurant/literacy center/laundromat you’d ever want to see! And, did I mention the food? MMMMMMmmm …
On Saturday morning the Creole gumbo was simmering, the daiquiri machines were churning and the dryers were spinning at Melba’s and Wash World, the connected po-boy shop and laundry at Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans.
Then the sleek black SUVs pulled up and out stepped former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, former president Bill Clinton and their daughter Chelsea Clinton.
The political power family was not here to talk politics.
Instead, they were visiting the unique literacy program and family learning initiative that has taken root at Melba’s and Wash World with the support of their foundation. It’s a program they plan to bring nationwide in the months ahead.
Melba’s and Wash World together present a kaleidoscope of local art and New Orleans emblems around the business of doing some laundry and grabbing a quick bite.
Earlier this year, it also debuted its latest feature, the Family Read & Play Space. A colorful niche by the washers and dryers has kid-sized furniture, toys, coloring materials and a collection of books for a wide range of young readers. The aim is to turn the time families spend together on a laundry errand into an investment in a child’s future, strengthening early literacy and engaging their curiosity.
“We’re thrilled with what they’ve done here,” said Hillary Rodham Clinton.
But back to to the book event! They took two questions from the audience. Both were from little girls. One of the little girls just wrote you are my president. The other asked about bullying. Chelsea had some great stories and advice. She’s really a most articulate and impressive young woman.
The event’s most personal moment happened when a 9-year-old child in the audience asked the Clintons how they stand up to mean comments. Chelsea said she has gotten used to getting hate all her life because of who her parents were. People told her when she was 8 years old that they wished she had been aborted. When Bill Clinton was in the White House, everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Saturday Night Live made fun of teenage Chelsea’s appearance.
As painful as that experience was, she’s grateful because it’s left her better able to handle the abuse that many famous women have to deal with in the social media age. Today, she said, the most hateful comments come anti-abortion commenters, because of her pro-choice stance, and anti-vaccination activists, because she’s a professor of public health.
“I’m really thankful that that happened at a young age, because I think that has served me well, particularly in this moment we’re living through when there’s lots, sadly, of ugliness,” Chelsea Clinton said.
Hillary Clinton praised her daughter for always responding with politeness and “cheerful shade.” She said there will always be hate in society; what’s important is that “leaders in a democracy like ours are supposed to be trying to bring people together. They’re certainly not supposed to be fomenting bullying and hatred.”
She quoted what her husband Bill Clinton said in his recent eulogy for U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings: “Freedom cannot last if half of us are supposed to hate the other half about everything.”
Secretary Clinton never explicitly mentioned Donald Trump, the man she lost the 2016 election to, but he lingered as the elephant in the room.
At one point the moderator, Susan Larson, asked her to talk about “the role of anger as a motivating force for women.” Clinton gave a sighing, drawn-out, “OK …” and the entire room burst into laughter and applause.
“I think what’s important here is that the anger that you’re talking about is anger at injustice,” Clinton continued. “It’s anger at inequality… It’s that kind of anger that can motivate the movement into courage and into taking action.”
So, for me, today is a day where I just may continue to leave the TV off. Between watching the service for Elijah Cummings and listening to our last president’s words and then spending Saturday awash with tales of Gutsy Women by Gutsy Women I really want to stay in the bubble today and maybe for awhile longer.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Sunday Reads: Baghdadi?Posted: October 26, 2019 Filed under: just because, Middle East, morning reads 30 Comments
So…what can that be about?
Here are a few thoughts on the matter:
In other what the fuck news:
Another point to be made:
Did y’all see this?
Let’s end this…
…as an open thread.