The President, The Whistleblower, And Ukraine

The latest allegations about exactly what the President may have been trying to do in a phone call with a foreign leader that caught the attention of a whistleblower are becoming more serious by the day.

The mystery and innuendo surrounding a whistleblower complaint from inside the intelligence community and the refusal of the White House, the Justice Department, and the Acting Director of National Intelligence to make that complaint available to the House or Senate Intelligence communities continues to grow. Yesterday, the Inspector General for the intelligence community, who first reported the complaint to the DNI appeared behind closed doors and while we don’t know exactly what he testified to, we do know that he was unable to discuss the contents of the complaint or the identity of the whistleblower based on instructions from the Justice Department and the White House. Despite that, though, some details about what appears to be going on are leaking out, and they’re only leading to more questions and mounting pressure on the Administration from Congress.

First of all The New York Times reports that the complaint involves a conversation between the President and a foreign leader, that it involves the President promising to do something in exchange for unspecified action on the part of the foreign leader, and that it at least appears to in part to involve Ukraine:

WASHINGTON — A potentially explosive complaint by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community said to involve President Trump emerged on Thursday as the latest front in a continuing oversight dispute between administration officials and House Democrats.

While the allegation remains shrouded in mystery, it involves at least one instance of Mr. Trump making an unspecified commitment to a foreign leader and includes other actions, according to interviews. At least part of the allegation deals with Ukraine, two people familiar with it said.

The complaint, submitted by a member of the intelligence community to its inspector general, renewed questions about how the president handles delicate matters. Mr. Trump defended his actions, and allies described his style with foreign leaders as more freewheeling than typical high-level diplomacy. “I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Though it is not clear how Ukraine fits into the allegation, questions have already emerged about Mr. Trump’s dealings with its government. In late July, he told the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, that Ukraine could improve its reputation and its “interaction” with the United States by investigating corruption, according to a Ukrainian government summary of the call. Some of Mr. Trump’s close allies were also urging the Ukrainian government to investigate matters that could hurt the president’s political rivals, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family.

As previous reporting has indicated, while the whistleblower’s complaint had been received by the Inspector General several weeks ago, the current controversy began earlier this week when the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee revealed that such a complaint had been made and also stated that the Acting Director of National Intelligence had declined to share a copy with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as required by law. This apparently happened due to the fact that the Acting DNI, Joseph McGuire, had been instructed not to share the complaint with the Justice Department and White House. This quite obviously set off clashes between the relevant committees and the Administration and led, in part, to yesterday’s hearing featuring the intelligence community’s Inspector General.

According to reports yesterday, the President had conversations with five foreign leaders during the time period at issue in the complaint. These include Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, and the leaders of two unnamed allied countries. The apparent alarm of the whistleblower would appear to rule out the allies, so that leaves the leaders of Russia, China, and Ukraine.

A subsequent report in The Washington Post confirms that the conversation in question involved Ukraine, which has led to speculation that it may be related to recent efforts by people close to the President and Fox News Channel to tie one of the President’s potential Democratic opponents to an alleged scandal involving that nation:

A whistleblower complaint about President Trump made by an intelligence official centers on Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter, which has set off a struggle between Congress and the executive branch.

The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that Trump made, which was so alarming that a U.S. intelligence official who had worked at the White House went to the inspector general of the intelligence community, two former U.S. officials said.

Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May.

That call is already under investigation by House Democrats who are examining whether Trump and his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping Trump’s reelection campaign. Lawmakers have demanded a full transcript and a list of participants on the call.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

The Democrats’ investigation was launched earlier this month, before revelations that an intelligence official had lodged a complaint with the inspector general. The Washington Post first reported on Wednesday that the complaint had to do with a “promise” that Trump made when communicating with a foreign leader.

On Thursday, the inspector general testified behind closed doors to members of the House Intelligence Committee about the whistleblower’s complaint.

Over the course of three hours, Michael Atkinson repeatedly declined to discuss with members the content of the complaint, saying he was not authorized to do so.

He and the members spent much of their time discussing the process Atkinson followed, the statute governing his investigation of the complaint and the nature of an “urgent concern” that he believed it represented, according to a person familiar with the briefing, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“He was being excruciatingly careful about the language he used,” the person said.

Atkinson made clear that he disagreed with a lawyer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, who had contradicted the inspector general and found that the whistleblower complaint did not meet the statutory definition of an urgent concern because it involved a matter not under the DNI’s jurisdiction.

Atkinson told lawmakers that he disagreed with that analysis — meaning he felt the matter was under the DNI’s purview — and also that it was urgent “in the common understanding of the word,” the person said.

Atkinson told the committee that the complaint did not stem from just one conversation, according to two people familiar with his testimony.

Following the meeting, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the committee, warned of legal action if intelligence officials did not share the whistleblower complaint.

Schiff described acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire’s refusal to share the complaint with Congress as “unprecedented” and said he understood the Justice Department was involved in that decision.

“We cannot get an answer to the question about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress,” Schiff said, adding: “We’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is to make sure that the national security is protected.”

Someone, Schiff said, “is trying to manipulate the system to keep information about an urgent matter from the Congress … There certainly are a lot of indications that it was someone at a higher pay grade than the director of national intelligence.”

There aren’t many people of a higher pay grade than the Director of National Intelligence, who reports directly to the President and/or the Acting White House Chief of Staff, so the number of people who could be involved in making this call is small to say the least. This is one of the reasons that the speculation that the pressure to keep the whistleblower report secret rather than turn it over to Congress as the law requires directly involves the President.

As for the substance of the call, as the Post notes it may be related to efforts by supporters of President Trump to get the Ukranian government to investigate a matter involving Hunter Biden, the youngest son of former Vice-President Joe Biden, and Hunter’s involvement with an alleged scandal tied to the Ukranian government:

In letters to the White House and State Department, top Democrats earlier this month demanded records related to what they say are Trump and Giuliani’s efforts “to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity” — one to help Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is in prison for illegal lobbying and financial fraud, and a second to target the son of former vice president Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump.

“As the 2020 election draws closer, President Trump and his personal attorney appear to have increased pressure on the Ukrainian government and its justice system in service of President Trump’s reelection campaign, and the White House and the State Department may be abetting this scheme,” the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees wrote, citing media reports that Trump had threatened to withhold $250 million in aid to help Ukraine in its ongoing struggle against Russian-backed separatists.
Lawmakers also became aware in August that the Trump administration may be trying to stop the aid from reaching Ukraine, according to a congressional official.

Giuliani dismissed the reports of the whistle blower and Trump’s “promise” to a foreign leader.

“I’m not even aware of the fact that he had such a phone call,” Giuliani said Thursday. “If I’m not worried about it, he’s not worried about it.

Finally, just last night in an appearance on CNN, Giuliani admitted that he had lobbied the Ukrainian government to open an investigation:

Rudy Giuliani acknowledged on Thursday that he had asked top Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, an admission that comes as Capitol Hill Democrats investigate whether President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer are pressuring Ukraine’s government to dig up dirt on a 2020 election rival.

“So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Giuliani in an interview on Thursday evening.

“Of course I did,” Giuliani shot back.

His comments come amid House Democrats’ intensifying look at allegations that Giuliani and Trump were squeezing Ukraine’s recently elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to reopen an investigation of a company connected to Biden’s son. The chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees wrote to White House counsel Pat Cipollone last week demanding all documents that reference the allegations against Biden’s son, as well as the transcript of a July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky.

Ukrainian readout of the call indicates that Trump indicated Ukraine could improve its image in part by completing the “investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”

(…)

Giuliani has for months encouraged Ukrainians to advance investigations into whether Biden’s diplomatic work with Ukraine intersected with his son’s role in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. He has also sought an investigation into whether Ukrainian officials worked to harm Trump’s 2016 election bid.

“In the course of investigating that, I found out this incredible story about Joe Biden, that he bribed the president of the Ukraine in order to fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son,” Giuliani said on CNN on Thursday. “That is an astounding scandal of major proportions which all of you have covered up for about five or six months.”

Democrats have noted that within days of Trump’s call to Zelensky, Giuliani met one of the Ukrainian president’s aides in Spain, a meeting that the State Department later said had been facilitated by the American ambassador to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. Around the same time, POLITICO reported that Trump held up a $250 million package of military aid to Ukraine, meant to shore up the country’s defenses against neighboring Russia.

“If the President is trying to pressure Ukraine into choosing between defending itself from Russian aggression without U.S. assistance or leveraging its judicial system to serve the ends of the Trump campaign, this would represent a staggering abuse of power, a boon to Moscow, and a betrayal of the public trust,” the three committee chairmen, Reps. Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel, wrote.

After Giuliani’s interview, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) recounted a recent meeting with Zelensky in which he characterized the Ukrainian leader as very attuned to Giuliani’s demands and Trump’s handling of Ukraine’s military aid.

“I told him it was best to ignore requests from Trump’s campaign operatives. He agreed,” Murphy said on Twitter

Here’s the full video of Giuliani on CNN last night:

And here’s the relevant part of the interview where Cuomo got Giuliani to admit that he was pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden:

While we cannot know for sure without actually seeing the whistleblower’s complaint, speculation at the moment revolves around some fairly serious charges Specifically, it’s being alleged that Trump may have agreed to release arms sales to Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine opening an investigation into the Hunter Biden affair and any possible connection to the former Vice-President. If that’s true then it’s a fairly serious allegation that basically would involve the President of the United States using his position to get a foreign nation to investigate a political rival. This is purely speculation at this point, of course, but it appears to be the only logical explanation for why a conversation with the leader of Ukraine would have aroused serious concern for the whistleblower, the Inspector General, and the Director of National Intelligence, and it would explain why the White House would want to keep the matter secret.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Congress, Donald Trump, Intelligence, National Security, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    I wonder how the sycophants will try to spin this one away…

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  2. Argon says:

    GOP politicians are furiously calculating whether being complicit in traitorous acts will affect their reelection chances and determining that ‘no, it’s the party of Trump’. So, I expect it’s going to be business as usual: Stonewalling of any investigation will proceed.

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  3. Steve says:

    Hate to ask this, but if the allegations are correct, is this illegal, is, what law was broken? Certainly would be sleazy and unethical but if a specific law was not broken this will just pass, if it turns out to be true.

    Steve

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  4. Kit says:

    Absolutely everyone involved in cover-ups and obstruction of justice must be prosecuted once Trump is out of office. Nothing of any value can be accomplished as long as politicians and government employees feel free to break the law with impunity.

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  5. Teve says:

    Seth Masket
    @smotus
    ·
    9h
    On the one hand you have a whistleblower saying Trump pressured Ukraine to interfere in the US election but on the other hand you have Trump’s lawyer saying Trump pressured Ukraine to interfere in the US election and I don’t know who to believe.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Specifically, it’s being alleged that Trump may have agreed to release arms sales to Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine opening an investigation into the Hunter Biden affair and any possible connection to the former Vice-President.

    In other words, asking a foreign govt to interfere in a US election in order to benefit a specific individual. Not like that has ever happened before.

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  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Jim Sciutto is reporting that the Ukrainian readout of the phone call says Trump explicitly tied the investigations to improved relations between the countries.
    I betcha Adam Schiff is going to write an really angry letter, now…..

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  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Is it just me? Or does it seem like our system isn’t really designed to address a National Security threat from inside the Oval Office.

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  9. Jen says:

    @Steve: A few campaign finance laws come to mind, one, asking for campaign help from a non-US citizen (this is illegal, whether monetary or in-kind donations); two, using taxpayer resources to conduct campaign activity.

    I think the abuse of power demonstrated by this is more egregious than campaign finance laws being broken, though.

    ETA: and, of course, covering up illegal activity is a no-no. I have little doubt that Congressional Republicans will look the other way, and Congressional Democrats will try and do the right thing but flail about because they are locked in to process rather than messaging.

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  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Kit:

    Absolutely everyone involved in cover-ups and obstruction of justice must be prosecuted once Trump is out of office. Nothing of any value can be accomplished as long as politicians and government employees feel free to break the law with impunity.

    I saw a few days ago Eric Holder (FFS Eric) said Trump should not be prosecuted after he leaves office. The usual Ford did the right thing and unspecified potential harm to the nation. We didn’t prosecute Nixon, the results are before us. Let’s do the experiment, let’s make an example of Trump and take our chances with the warnings of vague harm.

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  11. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Is it just me? Or does it seem like our system isn’t really designed to address a National Security threat from inside the Oval Office.

    It’s not just you. I wrote two posts yesterday trying to make this case. There are institutional safeguards but they only work if senior administration officials and Members of Congress put their loyalty to the country above their loyalty to their party or their own re-election interests.

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  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @gVOR08:
    I agreed with Obama not prosecuting Bush and Cheney for war crimes.
    But what is happening now is far more egregious.
    He needs to do time so that others don’t see this as a possible manner of governance.

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  13. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Partly.

    The other part is that the system is not set up to deal with the level of partisanship we see today. While Trump’s base means electoral life and death for all GOP politicos, don’t expect any of them to place country ahead of party. Even if he loses support, that won’t be enough. You’d need to have his base turn against him, and I don’t see that happening short of Trump doing something absolutely impossible, like behaving in a civilized fashion.

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  14. michael reynolds says:

    @An Interested Party:
    We’ll know just as soon as Hannity – the David Miscavige of #Cult45 – tells them what to think.

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  15. Chip Daniels says:

    Every Senator up for re-election (e.g. Moscow Mitch)needs to be forced to address this, over and over relentlessly; Do you support the lawlessness and reckless threat to our national security?

    No of course it won’t sway the 40% but it can persuade the narrow middle voter, or boost turnout for the progressive side.

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  16. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Yes, but your response was basically, “we’ll just have to learn to live with presidential treason because it’s not like we can change the rules or anything”, which was a hugely disappointing copout.

    I mean, I’ve been disappointed by your “well, those are the rules and we must follow the rules even if they’re horrifying because absolutely nothing is more important than following the rules” attitude before, but I don’t think I ever realized just how far you’re willing to sink in the name of blind obedience.

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  17. Kit says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I agreed with Obama not prosecuting Bush and Cheney for war crimes

    I didn’t, and feel that our current situation can be partly traced back to the idea that the President can do as he pleases. Is committing war crimes better or worse than having the power to prosecute war crimes, but instead sending the signal that we don’t care? I think Obama dreadfully miscalculated on that score.

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  18. dennis says:

    @Kit:

    Tea Partiers and other right-wing crackpots would’ve marched on the White House with pitchforks and torches to drag the Obamas out of “their” house before the ink was dry on that EO. I think sometimes y’all have no idea that white America allows this “all men are created equal” shyt to go only so far before they burn the entire thing to the ground and kill damn-near everyone in the process.

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  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kit:
    I don’t strongly disagree…surely arguments can be made in either direction.
    At the very least I believe Bush was acting in what he felt were the best interests of the nation during a serious crisis.
    Trump is acting purely in his own self-interest.

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  20. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Applause!

    Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. The constitution, as has been said many times, is not supposed to be a suicide pact.

    It is absurd to insist that rules be followed when it is clear the enemy – and yes, I mean that word – has the power to simply ignore and subvert the rules. Rules are tools we use to establish some stability and fairness. Well, that system of rules has clearly failed us. The holes in the constitution are becoming clear. We face an existential threat to American democracy, we literally have a traitor in the White House, and ‘gotta follow the rules, even when we’re the only ones doing so,’ is a vacuous and unserious response.

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  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We face an existential threat to American democracy

    Please…Clownsbury says it is not, you pants-wetting git.
    ;0)
    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/top-democrats-throw-cold-water-on-idea-of-impeaching-kavanaugh/#comment-2449588

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  22. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kit:

    Absolutely everyone involved in cover-ups and obstruction of justice must be prosecuted once Trump is out of office.

    Do Baghdad Barr, first.

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  23. Mister Bluster says:

    I think sometimes y’all have no idea that white America allows this “all men are created equal” shyt to go only so far before they burn the entire thing to the ground and kill damn-near everyone in the process.

    Even though I was 16 and in High School at the time, Freedom Summer of 1964 does not seem like it was all that long ago.

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  24. Kit says:

    @dennis: @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I’m sure Obama found himself in a tricky situation. At the very least, he should have made a very public effort to rollback the abuses such that future administrations would have serious trouble backtracking. And closing Guantanamo would have sent a strong signal. I hope whoever follows Trump is giving serious thought to these matters.

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  25. Andy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So we have to burn the village to save it.

    There aren’t holes in our system – there are mechanisms to reign-in executive overreach, they just aren’t being used. We’ve had the same system for a very long time and it’s served us well until recently. If there’s a deficiency in our system it’s that it was not designed to handle extreme factionalism.

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  26. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “There are institutional safeguards but they only work if senior administration officials and Members of Congress put their loyalty to the country above their loyalty to their party or their own re-election interests.”

    This is what Franklin meant when he said “A Republic, if you can keep it.” And unfortunately, it seems that a significant portion of our governing class do not care whether or not we keep it, and are paying no price for it.

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  27. mattbernius says:

    @Andy:

    We’ve had the same system for a very long time and it’s served us well until recently. If there’s a deficiency in our system it’s that it was not designed to handle extreme factionalism.

    I’d say this AND they are also not designed to handle someone who is so willing to violate traditional norms.

    Accepting that point, I don’t understand this:

    There aren’t holes in our system

    If the system isn’t designed to handle that, then that’s a major design flaw. In much the same way that not having a sprinkler system is a “hole” that you typically regret when a fire breaks out.

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  28. Joe says:

    @Teve: We don’t need the whistle blower’s complaint. Within a week, Giuliani will have inadvertently explained the whole thing – along with the claim that it was all entirely legal, and perhaps even heroic.

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  29. drj says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I mean, I’ve been disappointed by your “well, those are the rules and we must follow the rules even if they’re horrifying because absolutely nothing is more important than following the rules” attitude before, but I don’t think I ever realized just how far you’re willing to sink in the name of blind obedience.

    Actually, it’s worse.

    James Joyner’s response was basically “We can’t follow the rules, because we must defer to the executive.”

    The actual rules say that, in cases like this, Congress must be informed.

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  30. Andy says:

    @mattbernius:

    If the system isn’t designed to handle that, then that’s a major design flaw. In much the same way that not having a sprinkler system is a “hole” that you typically regret when a fire breaks out.

    I think the unfortunate reality that that political systems generally have difficulty with extreme factionalism. Federalism and devolving political authority are two of the few non-violent methods, but it’s often the case that unresolvable political conflicts end up in violence and civil war.

    Regardless, there’s no ability to change our system now except through extraconstitutional means which is a cure that is much worse than the disease. We should, therefore, focus efforts on reestablishing norms (or at least preventing further slide) and utilizing the tools we already have to enforce them – but that would require that people subsume their factional interests in the name of good governance and comity. My reading is that very few are currently willing to do that.

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  31. Kit says:

    @mattbernius:

    If the system isn’t designed to handle that, then that’s a major design flaw.

    Once a critical mass is reached, no system can constrain men who don’t wish to play within its rules. Yes, a better system would certainly help right now, but the bigger problem is the significant proportion of the population who no longer care for democracy.

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  32. wr says:

    @Andy: ” We’ve had the same system for a very long time and it’s served us well until recently.”

    Absolutely true. It was right when Czar Nicholas said it in 1916 and it’s just as right today.

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  33. Andy says:

    @wr:

    Absolutely true. It was right when Czar Nicholas said it in 1916 and it’s just as right today.

    Heh. How well do you know your Russian history? I don’t think the comparison holds.

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  34. An Interested Party says:

    …but that would require that people subsume their factional interests in the name of good governance and comity.

    Indeed…it’s a shame that Republicans won’t acknowledge how corrupt the leader of their party is and work with Democrats to impeach and remove him from office…

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  35. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    It is quite clearly untrue that we have mechanisms to rein in a president who is serving only himself, breaking laws left and right. He is not restrained. So long as the Senate remains servile, he will not be restrained.

    The constitution works unless you elect a criminal and his party is happy with that. The emoluments clause is obviously too weak. The pardon power is obviously too broad. The penalties for defying separation of powers are non-existent. So no, the system does not work. Trump’s corruption is doing serious, long-term damage to this country.

    When the Senate is corrupt, and the POTUS is corrupt, and 40% of voters are willingly gobbling up the lies fed to them by the media propagandists of the right, then no, the system does not have a way to deal with that. Right now Trump could bomb Los Angeles and there is not a single damned thing to stop him short of military rebellion. Then he could pardon all involved.

    And if he decides to ‘invalidate’ the next election and stay in office, just what part of the system do you think will take care of that? At that point it will be riots in the streets, a national strike that will destroy the economy and quite possibly an American Bastille storming, and the system will have done precisely nothing to forestall this.

    That’s your system: a lawless executive in the employ of foreign powers, damaging this country, destroying our alliances, annihilating our prestige and soft power, serving our enemies for a buck and the precious system is manifestly unable to cope.

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  36. Barry says:

    @Andy: “We’ve had the same system for a very long time and it’s served us well until recently. If there’s a deficiency in our system it’s that it was not designed to handle extreme factionalism.”

    At this point ‘until recently’ means ‘until decades ago’.
    Nixon’s administration showed that a massive scandal (along with deliberately botching a war) would only have a couple of years’ effect on the GOP, and was probably a long-term benefit.

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  37. Barry says:

    @Andy: “Regardless, there’s no ability to change our system now except through extraconstitutional means which is a cure that is much worse than the disease. We should, therefore, focus efforts on reestablishing norms (or at least preventing further slide) and utilizing the tools we already have to enforce them – but that would require that people subsume their factional interests in the name of good governance and comity. My reading is that very few are currently willing to do that.”

    This is a falsehood. For the past few decades, it’s been clear that the Democratic Party is (by and large) constrained, and that the GOP is almost always pushing until physically stopped.

    Do you remember that the Dubya administration was shocking, until topped by the Trump administration?

    Do you not remember the Obama administration?

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  38. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:
    And let’s be very clear…Trump asked for foreign assistance to help him win one election; it worked and he got away with it.
    Why in the world would he not do it again? Especially with a toady in the DOJ to protect him. which he didn’t have the first time?

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  39. Teve says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We’ll know just as soon as Hannity – the David Miscavige of #Cult45 – tells them what to think.

    Post of the Week

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  40. Modulo Myself says:

    This just shows how programmed Trump is into the RW media feedback circuit. It’s not like he needs actual dirt from the Ukrainian government to smear Biden. You just have a hack for the Federalist or Washington Examiner invent something and then have that hack go on Fox to repeat the lie and then Trump can tweet it and then the Examiner and Federalist will start reporting on it. The real takeaway is that Trump is so unwell he’s forgotten how he came to power. It wasn’t based on facts or evidence.

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  41. DrDaveT says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I wonder how the sycophants will try to spin this one away…

    My guess is immediate whataboutist deflection involving an alleged parallel between “Obama using the IRS to attack his political enemies”* and Trump bribing Ukraina to attack his political enemies.

    *Yes, I know Obama did no such thing, but 80% of Republicans don’t, and the other 20% find it useful for the 80% to think that.

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  42. Andy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You’re a very good writer, befitting your success, and you’ve perfectly captured the language, tone, and intent of a revolutionary. However, after about 15 years of sharing many of the same forums with you, I wonder if you actually are one.

    Regardless, your revolutionary framing does not appear to leave any room for a political solution short of the complete capitulation of Republicans and the 40% of America you consider enemies. If this represents your actual conviction, what is your endgame?

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  43. Moosebreath says:

    @Andy:

    Your proposed solution to the current situation is to try to convince Republicans to return to norms they have been regularly violating for the past generation with no consequences. What is your endgame to get there, and will you be heard over their laughter when you propose it?

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  44. Andy says:

    @Barry:

    This is a falsehood. For the past few decades, it’s been clear that the Democratic Party is (by and large) constrained, and that the GOP is almost always pushing until physically stopped.

    Do you remember that the Dubya administration was shocking, until topped by the Trump administration?

    Do you not remember the Obama administration?

    Well, against my better judgment I suppose I’ll respond to this.

    In this or another recent thread, there’s been a discussion of the possibility of Trump killing Americans with impunity (nuking San Francisco).

    Do I remember the Obama administration?

    Well yeah. One thing I remember is that President Obama is the only President I know of in my lifetime that’s actually ordered the deliberate assassination of an American citizen.

    I also remember when Democrats howled about Bush’s “criminal” and “illegal” war for oil (many after voting for it) then stand silently by when President Obama toppled the Libyan government without either Congressional or UN authorization. It wasn’t a war, you see, it was a “time-limited, scope-limited military action.” (That’s a quote from Obama’s press secretary, BTW, explaining why it wasn’t a war)

    And that turned out so well, didn’t it?

    So, once again I’m here in the OTB comments section arguing with Democratic partisans against their motion that all the bad precedents were made by Republicans. And once again, I’ll argue that, based on the historical evidence, that motion is without merit… up until the Trump administration.

    So if you want to start history at the Trump administration, then I would fully agree that he (and by extension th GoP) pushed that envelope much further than anyone and his power grabs and abuse of authority should be opposed. And if the initial reports about IG complaint are accurate, and that Trump, in fact, used weapons shipments to Ukraine as leverage to get a foreign power to damage a US political candidate, then I think he should be impeached immediately. Full Stop.

    But the fact is that Democrats have had a major hand in laying the foundation of governance that Trump is now exploiting. Those of us who hold limits on executive power and federalism as first principles have been warning about this for a long time, yet Democrats and Republicans both have welcomed and championed the expansion of Executive power when it suited them and done next to nothing to reign it in when they had the chance. And Democrats, in particular, have fairly consistently promoted the centralization of authority and power of the federal government as a means to implement their agenda without realizing or caring about the downsides, which are now in evidence and should have always been obvious.

    Michael Reynolds and some others on the fringe have gone further than that and advocated the abolishment of the US State as a political entity – why? Because they are too obstructionist to federal power and thus stand in the way of their views on progress. Imagine how much worse Trump would be if states like California didn’t exist to oppose him and there was no federalism.

    And it seems to me nothing has really changed. Democrats want to oppose Trump but still want future Democratic Presidents and the federal government to have broad authority to enact Democratic priorities. Democrats want to make the federal government even more powerful, seemingly obvious to the consequences of what Trump or someone worse would do with that authority. That Democrats are suddenly interested in federalism when it comes to immigration enforcement, but only when it comes to opposing Trump’s policies, just proves the point.

    You can’t have it both ways. Trump should be a cautionary tale about the dangers of concentrated power, but, instead, it’s just being used as an excuse to pre-justify the next escalatory move.

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  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: But isn’t the important thing to remember is that Trump is entitled to the deference of everyone because he’s the President and can run foreign policy however he wants to because we’ll want Presidents we support to receive the same deference? It seems that’s what Dr. Joyner and the GDNYT’s (0r is that FTFNYT–I get the two confused) OpEd writer were arguing.

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  46. Andy says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Ultimately you have to change people’s minds and nominate and elect people who are actually representative of the People, not representatives of a minority faction inside a weak and decrepit political party. To do that you need a coherent movement and strategy along the lines of the Temperence or Civil Rights movements.

    There is no movement nor real interest in building one or changing minds. Every week in the OTB comments section I read people who state that Republicans are essentially irredeemable. And frankly, I think the Democrats are missing a huge opportunity. If they widened their base they could become a force like they were for a good chunk of the last century – instead, they are following the GoP down the rabbit hole of ideological purity.

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  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @dennis: Damn! You’re downright scary sometimes. I used to have black students in my English Comp classes who said and wrote about similar ideas. I used to think of them as the children of Malcolm as opposed to the children of Martin that were part of my past life.

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  48. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I can’t say I agreed. I understood. Obama had enough on his hands with W’s economic collapse. And it was really gutsy go for healthcare too. Not to mention he was Black, so he felt a lot of pressure to not be seen as radical. And the country was only beginning to recognize how badly W screwed up in Iraq. In Obama’s position, I’d have probably done the same. Nonetheless, we’re sheltering war criminals.

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  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @michael Reynolds and @Andy: Whether we don’t have mechanisms or have mechanisms that we cannot activate is the road down which one travels to get to the vacuum in which that discussion takes place. I won’t be joining you on that trip, but I will note that either way the dysfunction in system you guys are looking at is only a symptom of a broken society. How badly broken and/or irreparable the society is I don’t know, but it seems that Henry Clay made a pertinent comment that I can’t remember to quote but is something along the lines of asking how far a wire can be stretched before it breaks.

    Hopefully, we are all misjudging the severity of the situation in our hyperbole of the too-long election season. At least we can hope.

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  50. Andy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Well said and I share your concerns.

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  51. Teve says:

    Matthew Yglesias
    @mattyglesias

    In Trump’s defense this sounds a lot more like extortion than collusion.
    4:40 PM · Sep 20, 2019

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  52. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    Michael Reynolds and some others on the fringe have gone further than that and advocated the abolishment of the US State as a political entity – why? Because they are too obstructionist to federal power and thus stand in the way of their views on progress. Imagine how much worse Trump would be if states like California didn’t exist to oppose him and there was no federalism.

    I advocate abolishing states in much the same way that I advocate for an atmosphere on Mars and a calorie-free pie. It falls into the area of impotent bitching about something that ain’t gonna happen. And it’s not about pushing any radical policy but democracy. I have this crazy idea that I should have just as much representation as a resident of Wyoming, but I don’t, do I?

    The problem with pointing to California’s resistance is that the only reason it’s necessary is because we have a system that allows pig farmers in empty states to have disproportionate power. In a democratic system California voters would not have to waste tax money suing the federal government for malicious acts like Trump’s air quality move. It’s not an example of the genius of the founders, it’s evidence of the failure of the constitution to adapt. In a democratic country Hillary Clinton would be president and we would not be a banana republic in thrall to Trump’s financiers.

    Face reality. The constitution as is no longer works. The 2d amendment is a deadly absurdity, the EC makes us hostage to the most backward elements, the emoluments clause has been revealed as impotent, the presidential pardon power is being treated as a get out of jail free card byTrump’s crime family. And it seems that there is not a single damned thing this system can do if POTUS decides to launch a thousand nukes at France. I’d say that’s a system with way too many holes in it.

    A system that disenfranchises the residents of large states relative to tiny states is not sustainable, long term. But do I think we can do anything about it? No. I think we’re going to keep driving this smoke-billowing, jalopy with a blown muffler till it dies by the side of the road, because the system is built in such a way as to be self-paralyzing.

    We should thank Trump for that much at least. He’s shown that an elected thug can do as he likes. Mind you, we won’t fix it, but it’s nice to know just how a smarter Trump could effectively annihilate the rule of law in this country.

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  53. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I’m old enough to remember when Republicans wanted to impeach Obama because they (wrongly) thought he had used the IRS to go after political rivals.
    So surely, if this turns out to be true, they will want to impeach Trump for using US Government aid to bribe a foreign country into going after a political rival, right?

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  54. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    Every week in the OTB comments section I read people who state that Republicans are essentially irredeemable.

    The people who see what Trump is doing, and still support him, are irredeemable.

    That’s not all Republicans, of course, and it’s not even the 85% of Republicans who love them some Trump — the right wing news bubble often means they don’t see what Trump is doing — but it’s a lot of them.

    And, other than FEMA Re-Education Camps, I don’t see how we get past that.

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  55. wr says:

    @Andy: So your solution to the problem of a president who breaks laws and violates the Constitution with impunity, who has staffed the executive branch with sycophants who will do nothing to stop him, and who is supported by the members of his party who control the Senate is… to start a mass movement to bring civility back to politics.

    You go down to the border and you explain that to the parents of children who are suffering and dying in cages. You go and explain that to the people whose tax dollars Trump is stealing to line his wallet. You tell that to the citizens of California, who will be choking on smog like it’s 1965 all over again. You go tell all Trump’s victims that the only possible answer to his criminal regime is to start a political movement that might bear fruit in a decade or so. I’ll wait here for your return.

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  56. Teve says:

    Republicans across the country and in Washington DC are currently engaged in lawsuits designed to get ObamaCare eliminated and throw millions of people off their health insurance. I know a guy in Michigan with sarcoidosis who will die if that happens. I’ll be civil with Republicans once they stop trying to murder my friend.

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  57. Mikey says:

    @Teve: One of my best friends is a survivor of a rare and bad form of thyroid cancer. Republicans are trying to murder her, too. Fuck ’em. Irredeemable is too kind a word.

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  58. Andy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The liberal Democratic lock on California state politics insulates you from the unwashed in the rest of the country. If states ceased to exist, the rest of the country wouldn’t adopt California’s politics, you’d be forced to live with whatever the consensus is or – more likely – whatever faction happens to control the government.

    You derive much more benefit from your state government than you lose with whatever tiny advantage Wyoming has over domestic politics. Once you give up you lose all protection from the federal government and whoever happens to control it. Moreover, getting rid of states make the Federal government an even bigger prize than it already is. More lobbying, more corruption, much bigger stakes, etc.

    And, if it’s really Wyoming or the podunk states you’re worried about, then more federalism is a much better alternative for you. If you lessen the influence of the Federal government over California, then Wyoming doesn’t matter that much.

    @wr:

    You can survey the history of social and political change yourself, but I think what you’ll find is that successful and enduring change comes from mostly non-violent social and political movements or extreme violence (civil war) – and sometimes a mix of both. What do you prefer, or what’s your alternative?

    My opinion, which is influenced by firsthand experience and extensive research and study in my previous career, is that violence in the service of ideology should be avoided at all costs. I have young children and do not want to see them grow up to become fodder in service self-righteous zealots who choose power and violence and expediency.

    The alternative is much better. But it’s absent. If there is something remotely equivalent to the temperance movement, the civil rights movement, or the women’s rights movement (of the early 20th century) – all very successful examples of what I’m talking about, then I don’t see it. There’s no organization, no strategy, no leadership, only angry tweets and the intential destruction of our institutions.

    Building a movement takes a lot of actual work, and the zeitgeist today seems defined by donating money to advocacy groups and expressing outrage on keyboards while doing nothing else.

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  59. Teve says:

    I’m surprised that Republican senators haven’t already opened up an investigation into who the whistleblower is and how to charge him with a crime.

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  60. Jax says:

    @Teve: Give them a few days. Right now they’re waiting for President Hannity to give them their walking orders.

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  61. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    And, if it’s really Wyoming or the podunk states you’re worried about, then more federalism is a much better alternative for you. If you lessen the influence of the Federal government over California, then Wyoming doesn’t matter that much.

    The problem with this is that Democrats, unlike Republicans, actually care what happens to the people of Wyoming, and Oklahoma, and Kansas. Cutting them loose to drown in their own jingo doesn’t appeal. Besides, we’re all better off when everyone gets educated and has a chance to be productive and civilized.

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  62. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    My opinion, which is influenced by firsthand experience and extensive research and study in my previous career, is that violence in the service of ideology should be avoided at all costs.

    So what, exactly, do you think the coal miners of West Virginia should have done, back in the late teens and early 20s, instead of Matewan etc.? That seems like a reasonably analogous situation, with the government being run on behalf of the oppressors and not caring about legal niceties.

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  63. Barry says:

    @Andy: “Regardless, your revolutionary framing does not appear to leave any room for a political solution short of the complete capitulation of Republicans and the 40% of America you consider enemies. If this represents your actual conviction, what is your endgame?”

    Andy, you are making things up. The political solution is for the GOP to stop acting as a lawless, treasonous collection of con men.

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  64. Barry says:

    @Teve: “I’m surprised that Republican senators haven’t already opened up an investigation into who the whistleblower is and how to charge him with a crime.”

    Lindsey Graham is already saying that.

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  65. Andy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    The problem with this is that Democrats, unlike Republicans, actually care what happens to the people of Wyoming, and Oklahoma, and Kansas.

    That’s a very paternalistic viewpoint IMO.

    So what, exactly, do you think the coal miners of West Virginia should have done, back in the late teens and early 20s, instead of Matewan etc.? That seems like a reasonably analogous situation, with the government being run on behalf of the oppressors and not caring about legal niceties.

    So are you saying it’s time for violence? If so, are you willing to put skin in the game?

    @Barry:

    Andy, you are making things up. The political solution is for the GOP to stop acting as a lawless, treasonous collection of con men.

    Ok, what’s your strategy to make that happen?

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  66. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    That’s a very paternalistic viewpoint IMO.

    Perhaps. Also a compassionate one.

    So are you saying it’s time for violence?

    No, I’m asking you a question that you are dodging. Were the miners and union organizers of southern West Virginia justified in taking up arms illegally against the owners/law? If not, what should they have done instead? If so, where do you draw the line?

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  67. An Interested Party says:

    And frankly, I think the Democrats are missing a huge opportunity. If they widened their base they could become a force like they were for a good chunk of the last century – instead, they are following the GoP down the rabbit hole of ideological purity.

    Enough with the false equivalence…it’s like saying two guys, one with a head cold and the other with bubonic plague, are going to make everyone sick…as a political party, the GOP has done far more damage to this country in the past 40 years than anything the Democrats could even imagine doing…

    You derive much more benefit from your state government than you lose with whatever tiny advantage Wyoming has over domestic politics. Once you give up you lose all protection from the federal government and whoever happens to control it.

    Well, if we went to the system Michael prefers, and we were a true democracy, Michael wouldn’t lose any protection at all, as Californians would have far more say over the government than people in Wyoming would…

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  68. Kingdaddy says:
  69. Steve V says:

    @Andy: The two sides of political debate live in completely different realities. To the GOP diehards, Barack Obama along with James Clapper, John Brennan and a cast of thousands engineered a scheme to harm Trump in 2016 and any day now someone is going to come along and give them their comeuppance. It’s at the point where every time something negative is reported about Trump, it only confirms how evil his opponents are. All the lefties on Twitter thought Giuliani melted down last night; the righties (I assume) are applauding him for going after the real bad guys, Joe and Hunter Biden. I hear Rush et al. say more and more frequently, “don’t believe anything you hear anywhere else, only believe what you hear on my show.”

    They really are furious that everyone they hate is supposedly trying to launch a coup d’etat against Trump and hasn’t gotten caught for it yet, and they’re just becoming more and more militant. What can you do in the face of this?

    I mean, I’m not trying to make you answer for any of this. (You’re making this one of the best recent discussions on OTB imho.) Its just that you ask if we can really expect 40% of the country to just capitulate, and the answer is no of course not, but at the same time people have to come to at least some semblance of an agreement of what reality is. How is that going to happen?

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  70. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    It’s thanks to the Wyomings that we have a president elected by the nitwit 46% who is at present attacking California for not liking him. How is that a good thing again?

    Subtract states from the equation and we would never had had a Trump. And as a consequence of that catastrophically stupid decision by the relic electoral college system, we are degrading our environment, destroying alliances, destroying carefully built trade relationships, accelerating both the North Korean and the Iranian nuclear programs, and beclowning ourselves before the world. And what is my counterbalancing advantage, exactly?

    By the way, you don’t get it. The country is with us, not with the flyover states. Read the polls on issues. We are the mainstream on gay and trans rights, on gun regulation, on environment, on abortion, on trade, on science, on education, on health care. We have to drag the millstone of the confederacy and the Iowa pig farmers, the least educated, most racist, most narrow-minded dregs of American society.

    I’m sure it pisses you off me referring to those people as dregs. Well, we’re a little sick of goobers pretending they are the United States and we’re some bunch of coastal freaks. The freaks are the people in evangelical churches and at gun shows. We’re the people actually driving the economy, we’re the people defining the future. California is the fcking heartland of America.

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  71. Lounsbury says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: And you don’t despite your pants wetting rhetoric.

    Yes Trump is damaging, So long as he’s not reelected you have learned some valuable lessons in areas for reform, and had a nice bout of national embarrassment. In the 19th century you got through far worse corruption without your democracy ending.

    He must indeed be removed or indeed you will have longer term institutional damage, but do your election right, don’t go all idiot Labour Corbynist and you can fix this.

    And stop the pants wetting rhetoric, it is sad and pathetic.

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  72. drj says:

    @Lounsbury:

    In the 19th century you got through far worse corruption without your democracy ending.

    Your argument basically boils down to “We survived serious car crashes in the past, so no need to worry too much about this one.”

    This is naive (obviously). And a distinct logical fallacy to boot.

    You may want to reconsider that part about “pants-wetting rhetoric.”

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  73. wr says:

    @Andy: You act like it’s a choice between violent revolution and a mass social change. But I’m not calling for either.

    I’m calling for the government to enforce the fucking law.

    Sure, there are massive issues facing this country. But our existential crisis is that we have a mobster in the Oval Office. And the answer to that is for him to be impeached, tried and jailed.

    Once he’s gone, we can deal with the necessity or not of social change — to be fought out peacefully in the public square.

    Trump is not the first criminal to obtain public office. Look at the reign of Boss Tweed in New York. But it didn’t take the Civil Rights Movement to end his power — it took a prison sentence.

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  74. Barry says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “I mean, I’ve been disappointed by your “well, those are the rules and we must follow the rules even if they’re horrifying because absolutely nothing is more important than following the rules” attitude before,…”

    It’s not that. The whistleblower and the IG are following the rules which James claims to revere. The DNI is not.

    When it comes down to threatening the Divine Right of the President, James is agnostic on rules (‘more like suggestions, arrggghhh’).

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  75. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Your depiction of the “fly-over” state’s is objectively wrong. 40% to 49% of the residents agree with you. That they are not the majority is not their sin to carry.

    Btw, do you know difficult it is to be a profitable independent pig farmer in Iowa? It’s wicked hard and only the smart survive. They are not stupid.

    Rhetoric like yours confirms all that b.s. “coastal elite” guff. Knock it off.

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  76. michael reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    40 to 49% of people in flyover country do not agree with me, look at the polling of rural whites. They’re overwhelmingly pro-Trump.

    Who do you think I’m pissing off? Is there a single state out there in flyover country that’s not going to vote for Trump?

    As for the intelligence of pig farmers in Iowa, as it happens, my last year of formal education was in Iowa. I’ve attended the Iowa state fair twice. My father’s side of the family are Iowans – not pig farmers, though, dairymen. My grandfather was a foreman for Reliance Dairy in California for most of his life.

    And he was an idiot.

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  77. Andy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Perhaps. Also a compassionate one.

    My own view is that I’m a live-and-let-live kind of guy who doesn’t presume I know what’s best for those I’ve never even met. I also generally trust people to handle their own affairs.

    No, I’m asking you a question that you are dodging. Were the miners and union organizers of southern West Virginia justified in taking up arms illegally against the owners/law? If not, what should they have done instead? If so, where do you draw the line?

    Ok, two things. First is that I’m not going to answer your question. I don’t know enough about that particular incident and the historical context it occurred in to render any kind of intelligence judgment, especially in the specific context that you want an answer to.

    Secondly, your question is irrelevant. I stated my principles pretty clearly and I’m not really interested in playing a “let’s test his principles” quiz game. BTDT.

    Agree or disagree with me, state your own view or whatever, I stand by what I wrote.

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  78. Andy says:

    @Steve V:

    Thanks, you make a lot of great points in your comment.

    Its just that you ask if we can really expect 40% of the country to just capitulate, and the answer is no of course not, but at the same time people have to come to at least some semblance of an agreement of what reality is. How is that going to happen?

    Well, to begin with, I don’t think the 40% figure is accurate, that’s just the number Michael’s been throwing around recently, which I took for rhetorical effect. I think the base, unconvincable cohort is much smaller than that, similar to how the progressive, activist base on the left is a much smaller cohort than Democrats.

    Similarly, I’m pretty skeptical of a lot of the characterizations that get thrown around with a broad brush. I don’t accept the assertion that some 60 or 100 million people in this country are in thrall, one way or another, and guided either by malevolence or idiocy. People say that a lot online, but I just don’t see it in very much in the real world.

    I don’t’ share the certainty with which partisans express their supposed total knowledge about the motivations and character of political opponents. Have you ever tried to argue with them – Suggest to die-hard right-wingers, for example, that progressives are not bad people, they just have different priorities and values? I find it to be a pointless exercise – same with trying to convince many people on the left that conservatives/Republicans might be something other than malicious or stupid (these are the only two choices according to extreme partisans).

    Anyway, the bottom line is that I think people are more swayable than die-hard partisans believe and that it’s both dumb and destructive to retreat into a tribal mindset, throw stones at the “enemy” and claim convincing people is pointless.

    As for “How is that going to happen,” it’s going to happen the way it’s always happened – populations will adjust and politics will realign due to natural incrementalism, the actions of political movements, or harder forms power like coercion and violence. In my view, the latter strategy is the one we’re collectively running toward.

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  79. Andy says:

    @wr:

    You act like it’s a choice between violent revolution and a mass social change. But I’m not calling for either.

    Ok, what’s the alternative besides incrementalism?

    I’m calling for the government to enforce the fucking law.

    I have no bone to pick with that as long as that principle is applied consistently. The reality is that many people seem to want the law applied selectively, which indicates that “enforcing the law” isn’t actually the goal.

    Sure, there are massive issues facing this country. But our existential crisis is that we have a mobster in the Oval Office. And the answer to that is for him to be impeached, tried and jailed.

    Once he’s gone, we can deal with the necessity or not of social change — to be fought out peacefully in the public square.

    I think Trump is a symptom – if you manage to get rid of him, the root issues will remain. So I don’t agree with the analysis that Trump is a one-off aberration that, once removed, will return everything to normal.

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  80. wr says:

    @Andy: “I think Trump is a symptom – if you manage to get rid of him, the root issues will remain.”

    Al Capone was a symptom — the root issue was prohibition. And yet a lot of people were a lot better off with Capone gone. El Chapo is a symptom — the root issue there is (again) prohibition. Maybe you don’t think he should be imprisoned for the murders he ordered because he’s “only a symptom,” but I tend to disagree.

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  81. Kit says:

    @Andy:

    I don’t accept the assertion that some 60 or 100 million people in this country are in thrall, one way or another, and guided either by malevolence or idiocy.

    Well then how do you explain his rock-solid support despite the endless roundelay of scandal? Were his numbers bouncing around, I could accept that his supporters sometimes have doubts. But I don’t see it. And so I turn towards explainations that involve malevolence or idiocy.

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  82. Andy says:

    @Kit:

    Well then how do you explain his rock-solid support despite the endless roundelay of scandal? Were his numbers bouncing around, I could accept that his supporters sometimes have doubts. But I don’t see it. And so I turn towards explainations that involve malevolence or idiocy.

    Presidential job approval polls ask a binary question, some variant of “Do you approve or disapprove of the way the President is handling his job?” That doesn’t gauge the level or depth of support, particularly for low information voters who haven’t been paying attention or people who are trying to balance things they like with things they don’t.

    I haven’t looked at this recently, but polls that try to gauge the level of support also seem pretty consistent that about 25% of people “strongly support” him or his job performance. So, at a minimum, there is 75% of the country to work with. In the context of American politics, that is a lot.

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  83. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr:

    Maybe you don’t think he should be imprisoned for the murders he ordered because he’s “only a symptom,” but I tend to disagree.

    You seem to be wandering off into argumentum ad absurdum a lot these days. That’s too bad.

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  84. wr says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: “You seem to be wandering off into argumentum ad absurdum a lot these days.”

    We live in absurd times…

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