Sunday, February 2, 2020

Excellent Excoriating Excerpts

David Fitzsimmons (Daily Star cartoonist and columnist) asks When revolutions die and monarchs return where will we stand?

"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” My devoted mom made me type that sentence over and over and over on our typewriter in hopes that I would learn how to type.

Fifty-years later I hunt and peck and the phrase, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country” looms over my heart.

On Friday the Senate at the United States of America abandoned any pretense of truth-seeking, by rejecting eyewitness testimony, by agreeing to cover up the President’s corruption and by granting him immunity from oversight — thus unleashing a gloating tyrant.

Now read the rest of Fitz’s editorial.

NY Times Editorial Board describes A Dishonorable Senate. Republican legislators abdicated their duty by refusing to seek the truth.

Make no mistake: The Senate may acquit Mr. Trump, but it will not, it cannot, exonerate him. Mr. Trump is the most corrupt president in modern times, a reality Americans will continue to be reminded of — by continuing investigations by the House, which should immediately issue a subpoena to Mr. Bolton; by a trio of cases in the Supreme Court that seek to reveal Mr. Trump’s shady finances; and, of course, by the behavior of the man himself.

(Tnx to Roving Reporter Sherry.)

Paul Krugman (NY Times) asks Dems to chill and unite. Does It Matter Who the Democrats Choose? In terms of actual policy, probably not very much.

At this point, the Democratic presidential nomination is very much up in the air. Not only is it unclear who will be the nominee; it’s unclear whether the nominee will be a centrist like Joe Biden or Amy Klobuchar, or a representative of the party’s left like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Whoever wins, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the other side.

So I’d like to offer an opinion that will probably anger everyone: In terms of actual policy, it probably doesn’t matter much who the Democrats nominate — as long as he or she wins, and Democrats take the Senate too.

… in terms of policy, here’s what I think would happen if Sanders wins: we’ll get a significant but not gigantic expansion of the social safety net, paid for by significant new taxes on the rich.

On the other hand, if Biden wins, we’ll get a significant but not gigantic expansion of the social safety net, paid for by significant new taxes on the rich.

One implication, if I’m right, is that electability should play a very important role in your current preferences. It matters hugely whether a Democrat wins, it matters much less which Democrat wins.

But my main point is that Democrats should unify, enthusiastically, behind whoever gets the nomination. Any moderate tempted to become a Never Bernie type should realize that even if you find Sanders too radical, his actual policies would be far more tempered. Any Sanders enthusiast tempted to become a Bernie or Bust type should realize that these days even centrist Dems are pretty progressive, and that there’s a huge gap between them and Trump’s G.O.P.

Oh, and all the Democrats believe in democracy and rule of law, which is kind of important these days.

(Tnx to Roving Reporter Sherry.)

Steve Benen (MaddowBlog) reports Despite Trump’s odd boasts, farm bankruptcy rates soar. But the farmers will vote for him anyway.

Donald Trump’s timing could’ve been better. On the campaign trail in Des Moines last night, the president told supporters, “We’re going to win the great state of Iowa and it’s going to be a historic landslide. And if we don’t win, your farms are going to hell.”

Two years ago, Trump spoke at the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention, where the Republican strutted like a man who assumed he was among adoring fans. “Oh, are you happy you voted for me,” the president said, straying from the prepared text. “You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.”

But how will his blatant autocracy play with the farmers?

Trump’s rhetoric coincided with the latest data on farm bankruptcy rates, which made his rhetoric look quite a bit worse. Reuters reported:

U.S. farm bankruptcy rates jumped 20% in 2019 – to an eight-year high – as financial woes in the U.S. agricultural economy continued in spite of massive federal bail-out funding, according to federal court data.

But if Trump assumes the industry will back him, despite farmers’ difficulties, he may very well be correct. The Washington Post reported a few months ago on “farm-state fury” over the White House’s agenda and its effects on the agricultural industry, which noted, “Many of those grumbling about Trump today concede they are unlikely to vote for a Democratic presidential candidate next year.”

So the farmers, bankrupt or not, are “putting their livelihoods on the line” for Trump. Go figure.

Hamilton vs. Trump
What the American people wanted
but didn't get

Amber Phillips (Washington Post) recaps The day that sealed things for President Trump’s impeachment. Trump scored acquittal, so it is expected on Wednesday afternoon – but not exoneration.

The Senate vote on whether to remove President Trump from office — the official end of impeachment proceedings — is scheduled to happen next Wednesday. But Friday will go down as the day the outcome was really sealed.

That’s when the vote to keep the trial going by having witnesses testify failed. Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, voted with all Democrats in favor of witnesses.

But. “Polls show that a majority of Americans support having witnesses.”

The Senate trial will end in the coming week, but the Ukraine controversy may not. When Bolton’s book does get published, how much more will the public learn about Trump and Ukraine? And could it shape public opinion to be even more opposed to what the Senate did Friday in deciding not to hear from witnesses in an impeachment trial? And what impact will this have on the November elections?

As part of the answer to that question, Kerry Eleveld (Daily Kos Staff) reports on a New Bolton revelation: ‘The kind of bombshell Mitch McConnell has been afraid of all along’.

Former national security adviser John Bolton’s new revelation about White House counsel Pat Cipollone being in on Trump’s Ukraine conspiracy as early as May 2019 is dropping like a bomb on Washington. “This is the kind of bombshell that Mitch McConnell has been afraid of all along,” reporter Kasie Hunt said on MSNBC.

… as Democrats, we can also feast on the political peril this represents for Republicans, who have now admitted that Trump did everything House managers said he did and that they just don’t care. As commentators on MSNBC absorbed the new Bolton bombshell, they almost unanimously declared it an electoral disaster in the making for Senate Republicans, especially given where public opinion has been on witnesses all along. [Scriber note:See graph above.]

“This makes that vote against witnesses political suicide,” former GOP operative Nicolle Wallace observed, adding, “I hope they take it.”

Even former Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill was bullish on the prospects for Democrats. “If these Republicans shut this trial down and say, No more,” she said, “it is a great gift to the Democrats in November.”

As Sen. Kamala Harris noted before the news dropped, “There can be no true exoneration if there’s not been a fair trial. Period.” Now more than ever, Senate Republicans are also on trial. At least some of them seem to know it.

John Cassidy (New Yorker) considers the implication of what went down in the Senate Friday in Trump’s inevitable acquittal and the threat to American democracy. In Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans have given him a pass on another wanton abuse of power.

On Thursday night, Adam Schiff, the leader of the House managers prosecuting the impeachment trial, reminded the assembled senators that Trump’s famous statement to the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky—“I would like you to do us a favor”—came just twenty-four hours after Mueller appeared before Congress and refused to point an accusatory finger at the U.S. President. “He got on the phone with Zelensky asking for this favor the day after Bob Mueller testifies,” Schiff said. “What do you think he will be capable of doing the day after he is acquitted here, the day after he feels: I have dodged another bullet. I really am beyond the reach of the law?”

Trump is capable of almost anything, and many Republican senators are well aware of this. In the past forty-eight hours, two of them—Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, and Rob Portman, of Ohio—have described Trump’s actions toward Ukraine as “inappropriate,” and a third, Marco Rubio, has suggested that they may have met the standards for impeachment. But it is actions, not words, that count. All three of these senators voted against witnesses, and they will all vote to acquit Trump. A toy poodle may issue the odd spirited yelp. It is still a toy poodle.

The House managers did all that could have been expected, and more, to make their case. Sadly, it was never going to be enough. The only thing that will get Trump out of the Oval Office, and perhaps alter the trajectory of the Republican Party, is a comprehensive defeat in November. The Presidential campaign starts for real on Monday, in Iowa. In the two hundred and thirty-two years since the Founders ratified the Constitution of a new republic, there has seldom, if ever, been a more consequential election. The conduct of the impeachment trial has demonstrated what is at stake.

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