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Monday, October 21, 2019

President Trump's conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and others reinforced his perception of Ukraine as a hopelessly corrupt country - one that Trump now also appears to believe sought to undermine him in the 2016 U.S. election, the officials said. read more


Facebook on Monday said it removed a network of Russian-backed accounts that posed as locals weighing in on political issues in swing states, praising President Trump and attacking former vice president Joe Biden " illustrating that the familiar threat of Russian interference looms over the next U.S. presidential race. read more


The president has pretty much ceased being president. Enter Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is not the president, obviously, but increasingly is acting almost like a prime minister. Over the weekend, she led a congressional delegation on an unannounced trip to reassure U.S. allies in Jordan and Afghanistan. read more


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Ari Melber: Donald Trump's statements and actions with regard to Ukraine appear to fit one of the few offenses the Constitution specifically lists as impeachable: Bribery. The legal case would be that Trump offered a bribe. He encouraged Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky "to do us a favor" and look into, among other things, the Biden family. read more


Donald Trump has given his daughter and son-in-law prominent White House jobs, steers lobbyists and political groups seeking his favor toward using his Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, and even successfully pushed the U.S. government to host the next G-7 meeting at his own golf resort, which will put tens of millions of American tax dollars into his own cash registers next June. read more


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Facebook said the network bears the hallmark of the same Kremlin-backed group that interfered in the 2016 election by sowing social discord, seeking to boost Trump and attacking Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The new disinformation campaign appears to follow the same playbook.

This time, a coordinated group of Russian accounts that appears to show some links to the Internet Research Agency largely took to Facebook's photo-sharing app, Instagram, to post content this year about U.S. politics and memes targeting Democratic presidential contenders.

The operation demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the schisms within the Democratic Party as it labors to choose a nominee to face Trump in 2020. One Russian account, which portrayed itself as a black voter in Michigan, used the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to hammer Biden for gaffes about racial issues. Some of the accounts boosted one of his rivals on the left, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

"We are seeing again that the aim of the Russians is not exclusively to favor one candidate over another but to create divisiveness within the electorate overall," said Paul M. Barrett, deputy director of New York University's Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. "The reason that networks of phony accounts are drawn to Instagram is because disinformation is increasingly visual in nature, and that's what Instagram specializes in."

Here we go again, and now the story is being told in real time. Voters are being manipulated by a foreign government again and this President simply cheers them on and mimics every debasing thing they say.

No wonder Trump wants to get to another election, and one of the few very important reasons he must be impeached and exposed as unfit for his office.

Hamilton pushed for impeachment powers. Trump is what he had in mind.

There seems little doubt, given his writings on the presidency, that Alexander Hamilton would have been aghast at Trump's behavior and appalled by his invitation to foreign actors to meddle in our elections. As a result, he would most certainly have endorsed the current impeachment inquiry. It's not an exaggeration to say that Trump embodies Hamilton's worst fears about the kind of person who might someday head the government.

Among our founders, Hamilton's views count heavily because he was the foremost proponent of a robust presidency, yet he also harbored an abiding fear that a brazen demagogue could seize the office. That worry helps to explain why he analyzed impeachment in such detail: He viewed it as a crucial instrument to curb possible abuses arising from the enlarged powers he otherwise championed.

Unlike Thomas Jefferson, with his sunny faith in the common sense of the people, Hamilton emphasized their "turbulent and changing" nature and worried about a "restless" and "daring usurper" who would excite the "jealousies and apprehensions" of his followers. He thought the country should be governed by wise and illustrious figures who would counter the fickle views of the electorate with reasoned judgments. He hoped that members of the electoral college, then expected to exercise independent judgment, would select "characters preeminent for ability and virtue."

From the outset, Hamilton feared an unholy trinity of traits in a future president " ambition, avarice and vanity. "When avarice takes the lead in a State, it is commonly the forerunner of its fall," he wrote as early as the Revolutionary War. He dreaded most the advent of a populist demagogue who would profess friendship for the people and pander to their prejudices while secretly betraying them. Such a false prophet would foment political frenzy and try to feed off the confusion.

Hamilton pretty much foresaw someone like Trump gaining the immense power of the presidency and using it for their own gain against the nation's expressed interests. And he rightly feared how such a person might destroy our government from within, and he was right to anticipate such.

My favorite sad, lonesome, but beautiful songs.

I want this played at my funeral. Kinda says it all about life and loneliness. Just a woman and her piano.

Beautiful Things

Crazy thing is that this song is better known as an EDM/Trance hit, mixed by Tiesto.

Some of the deeper lyrics are found in music that seemingly doesn't fit them,... or so it seems.

(Trump) decreed Thursday that next year's Group of Seven gathering of world leaders must be at the Doral resort he owns in a clear quid pro cash flow for the Trump Organization. His funneling of government business to Mar-a-Lago has been a quid pro chateau. Having the U.S. military patronize his Scotland property is a quid pro Glasgow, and Vice President Pence's hawking of Trump's Ireland property is a blatant quid pro brogue. Trump's Washington hotel rakes in lobbyists' and foreign governments' cash in a quid pro dough, and government funds paid to his New York and New Jersey properties complete the quid pro portfolio.

Donald Trump Jr.'s protests about Biden family nepotism this week, while ignoring his own, can only be termed a quid pro bozo. Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, last week, floated a quid pro whistleblow: He's clearing out career professionals (prospective whistleblowers) by slashing the NSC staff. The administration also tried to block cooperation with the inquiry, in a quid pro Pompeo. And then there's Trump's decision to let Rudy Giuliani take over U.S. foreign policy: a quid pro schmoe.

The attorney general, William Barr, has trashed his principles to give Trump a quid pro ego. Trump has been doing this sort of thing since a quid pro big toe kept him out of Vietnam. He abandoned gun-safety plans after meeting with the NRA, a quid pro ammo. His voter-suppression efforts are a quid pro Jim Crow. In a quid pro Kudlow, he convinced free-market conservatives to embrace a trade war. His tax cut, a quid pro CEO, ballooned the debt in a quid pro borrow. Evangelical Christians tolerate his immorality in exchange for his judicial nominees, a quid pro Roe . He paid hush money to Stormy Daniels, a quid pro lie low (or quid pro for a blow). Much of his presidency has been a quid pro Moscow.

He trades in false claims (quid pro Pinocchio) and plugs for friendly Fox News hosts (quid pro puppet show). And his requiring of constant flattery from underlings (quid pro braggadocio) has turned the West Wing into a quid pro freak show. Giving Giuliani responsibility for anything? A blatant quid pro asino (this for a fool). But that's pro forma for a president who sold his soul (quid pro animo) and made his office a quid pro mimo: this for a farce.

Possibly Dana Milbanks best work and definitely one of his funniest! Happy Friday night!

One means of preventing this type of tyranny was through impeachment. As James Madison noted, there needed to be a way to remove the president other than through a subsequent election, or else "[h]e might pervert his administration into a scheme of [embezzlement] or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers."

The founders bestowed the impeachment power on Congress, therefore, as a constitutionally approved method to remove presidents who proved disloyal to the country.

For the founders, "the possibility particularly of foreign influence in any of many potentially insidious forms was an essential reason to bestow the impeachment power on the U.S. Congress, to check the power of a president beholden to or actively working with foreign nations." Similarly, the founders believed that some forms of foreign-related corruption could violate the emoluments clause, which also could lead to impeachment. Edmund Randolph"governor of Virginia and first attorney general of the United States"said during the ratification debate, without reservation, that where a president becomes corrupted by receiving any present or emolument from foreign powers, "he may be impeached."

The founders could not have been clearer: There should be no undue foreign influence in the internal affairs of the United States, especially in elections. And certainly, no president should be inviting it, especially for his personal gain. Through the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and other writings and debates, the founders attempted to erect a solid framework"and a clear expectation"that would prevent this sort of corruption and abuse of power.

Sorry for the extended quotations, but when Republicans try to say that what Trump has done/is doing/is planning to do (as it regards G7) might be bad, but they don't rise to impeachable offenses, let the words of those who wrote the Constitution stand in defiance of such ignorance. Impeachment was designed for the very things that this President does. That is why it's so important to place what is going on today into the context of the Founders' intentions which couldn't be clearer.

Donald Trump must be impeached, convicted and removed from office for his transgressions against the US Constitution for that is what IT says must be his fate for the sake of the nation's sovereignty.

What did the founders say about the dangers of foreign involvement in American elections or a president who might solicit such corrupt involvement?

George Washington, in his farewell address at the end of his presidency, argued that one of the greatest dangers to the United States involved the "insidious wiles" of foreign powers and their multiple avenues to improperly influence our political system. Washington urged Americans "to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government."

Thomas Jefferson also sounded the alarm about "entanglements" between the United States and foreign governments, which he and other founders viewed with "perfect horror" due to the corruption that could result. Jefferson knew that a republic could not function if its chief executive would abuse his office"and the public trust"by soliciting personal political assistance from a foreign government.

John Adams had similar beliefs, writing to Jefferson in 1787 that he understood Jefferson's apprehension about "foreign Interference, Intrigue Influence." Adams, too, was concerned about corruption in the political system, leading him to assert that America should not conduct elections too often. "As often as Elections happen," Adams wrote, "the danger of foreign Influence recurs."

Alexander Hamilton warned specifically about a foreign power's ability to cultivate a president or another top official. In Federalist Paper Number 68, published in 1788, Hamilton wrote:

These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistry of the Union?

The founders set up our system of checks and balances among three branches of government, in part, to restrain potential presidential corruption. They knew:

... that if the checks and balances proved to be not strong enough to restrain the executive, or if the legislative and judicial branches, convinced by a crisis, yielded too much power to the executive"well, that way lay tyranny, because a president would then be able to do whatever he pleased, even if in the process he destroyed the republic.

Select quotations from Cumming's closing statement at Michael Cohen's hearing:

You know I've sat here, and I've listened to all this, and it's very painful. It's very painful. You made a lot of mistakes, Mr. Cohen " and you've admitted that. And, you know, one of the saddest parts of this whole thing is that some very innocent people are hurting too. And you acknowledged that. And, um, that's your family.

And, so you come here today, you ... deep in my heart ... when I practiced law I represented a lot of lawyers who got in trouble. And, you come saying I have made my mistakes, but now I want to change my life. And you know, if we ... as a nation did not give people an opportunity after they've made mistakes to change their lives, a whole lot of people would not do very well.

"I don't know why this is happening for you, but I hope a small part of this is for our country to be better," Cummings continued. "If I hear you correctly, you are crying out for getting back to normal. Sounds to me like you want to make sure our democracy stays intact."

"The one meeting I had with the president, I said, The greatest gift we can give to our children is making sure we give them a democracy better than the one we came upon.' "

"And I'm hoping all of us can get back to this democracy we want and we should be passing on to our children, so they can do better than we did," he said. "When we're dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?' "

www.baltimoresun.com

Now is your time to dance. Dance Elijah, dance in joy.

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