Big Weekend Open Thread on Impeachment and Whatever! (commenting fixed!)


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“These are times that try men’s souls,” said Thomas Paine, accidentally channeling late 2019 — and an even more prescient Patrick Henry replied: “Kiev me Liberty or Kiev me Death!” Less dramatically, we’ll settle for your being able to comment again without manual approval.

History will show this to have been an historic week. We have a significant new national scandal, as yet unnamed. (I know that “Kiev Me Dirt on Biden” is not going to happen, but I welcome suggestions from others who are enamored of how the name of Ukraine’s capital sounds like Mr. Chekhov saying “Give.”) Rudy Giuliani will end up turning state’s evidence to save his own miserable hide. Trump will be impeached, but not removed from office — although several Senators dragging down by having to justify his actions likely will. And we’ll get to all that!

But none of that, none of it, is as historically important as the fact that OJ Blog’s commenting function has been fixed, meaning that conversations between regulars (and past-commenters generally) here can take place in something like real time, rather than once-a-day interchanges along the lines of communications with a satellite scoping out some passing satellite for traces of iridium — sweet, sweet iridium. Temporarily, at least, it’s a good time to be alive. “Our long bloggerial nightmare is over,” to paraphrase newly elevated what Vice President Gerald R. Ford got to say 45 years and 49 days ago, and Mike Pence may or yet be able to repeat (less convincingly) at some point. Your thoughts are welcome and — for those who have ever posted here and not been put on the Mod List — once again unmoderated!

This is the first Weekend Open Thread we’ve had in almost a month, so we’ll celebrate it by noting some good news from our local politicians.

OC Plays a Role in Fostering Impeachment!

Lookin’ a little smug for a good reason!

Gil Cisneros of AD-55 just strode into the history books, thanks to the wonder of alphabetization. Cisneros is as the (only technically, so far as I know, but still) lead author among the seven moderate, military-veteran, first-year Democratic Members of Congress who published a joint OpEd in the Washington Post that, seriously may have changed history.

Not a bad gig! Here’s the call-out that may makes the high school civics books:

The president of the United States may have used his position to pressure a foreign country into investigating a political opponent, and he sought to use U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage to do it. He allegedly sought to use the very security assistance dollars appropriated by Congress to create stability in the world, to help root out corruption and to protect our national security interests, for his own personal gain. These allegations are stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent.

Since Tuesday, when it came out, a few things have happened.

  1. Two alternative theories have arisen. First, that Trump was using foreign policy not only to convince Ukraine to Kiev (get it?) him dirt of Joe and Hunter Biden, but to get it to conclude that the entire “Russia investigation” was a Democratic plot hatched in Ukraine.
  2. That Trump was using the promise of a personal visit appearance with Ukraine’s President — whose first name is too close to “Voldemort” and last name is too close to “Lewinsky” for me to remember the actual thing and it doesn’t help things that he looks like Jeremy Renner, who played Hawkeye in the Avengers movies — rather than the promise to open the foreign aid tap to get them to serve his evil personal political ends.

Comic premise: Donald Trump accidentally tries to extort Hawkeye. Hilarity ensues. Damn, where’s Lorne’s mobile number?  [Note: work in Trump as Fat Thor.]

The second notion — which I mention because we’re going to get deluged with alternative theories on this scandal until we “get tired of winning” — seems pretty unlikely: Ukraine knew that the aid hadn’t shown up, and photo ops with Trump, enjoyable as they  might be, don’t shoot down invading Russian jets. (So far as I know.)  So while the first is clearly extortion (not “blackmail,” for the love of God!, because its demanding a thing of value by using a threat, not a threat to reveal secret facts about one’s target) the latter — which seems to be being put out by his defenders — might not be.

More importantly, the first notion doesn’t matter! You’re not supposed to use foreign policy to wring a favorable judgment from a foreign government’s intelligence services for any self-serving reason! (Note that this is not the same as not using foreign policy to promote one’s own political fortunes, as Richard Nixon did with visiting China and — in his twisted mind — bombing Cambodia.  That’s awful, but it’s not that uncommon.  What Trump has done is to try to enlist another government to come up with facts and findings that he could use in a campaign, which among other things leaves him way open to what would be the flavor of extortion that is blackmail.

I think that Trump, quite legitimately, does not know the legal difference between gaining political favor with the public by staging a favorable photo op (which Ukraine’s Voldemort Lewinsky may well have wanted to do), and twisting a country’s arm to have their intelligence or judicial agencies come up with an opinion exonerating oneself or incriminating someone else.  They’re both exercises of power, but only the latter involves perversion of truth and/or justice.  It’s like the difference between badgering Stormy Daniels until she’ll have sex with him and ordering a Secret Service agent to hold her down while he rapes her.  Power is power, right?  And lack of consequences means one may never learn the difference.

Donald Trump thinks that he’s a generally dapper, street-smart, and intelligently manipulative Mafia Don type like Tony Soprano.  He’s actually — and yes, I know this would be better presented as a meme — an ignorant and clumsy blowhard like Paulie Walnuts, who couldn’t do a small fraction of the time that Tony spent in jail paying for his crimes and went ape-shit (perhaps helping to arrange the final black-out hit on Tony) trying to get out.

“Hey, Tone! You think I’m smart enough to be President, right?”

The importance of what history (being lazy and not wanting to offer the textbook space to write out “Seven moderate veteran military freshman Democrats”) may record as “The Cisneros Letter” is that it gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi the ideological clearance she needed to come out for a real impeachment inquiry — one from which, unlike most normal Congressional inquiries, the President may have a hard time denying documentary evidence.  (Now with this Supreme Court, who knows?  Maybe it will overturn U.S. v. Nixon.  But I don’t think that Chief Justice John Roberts wants that as his legacy.)

Two things of beauty to note on this topic, before we move on to other fun things:

“Look, just because you leave the head of a guy’s dead horse in his bed doesn’t prove that you’re making some kind of threat!

  1. Rudy Giuliani, with his intemperate admissions, and his designation that he — the President’s personal attorney, rather than some combination of the Department of Justice and Department of State — was the one with whom Voldemort Hawkeye was supposed to deal when it came to hunting Hunter Biden — will have been the downfall of Donald Trump.  I don’t know that I could ask for anything better than that!
  2. Yesterday’s late news was that it was not just the original transcript of the Ukraine conversation — not the released summary of that transcript, which is dead certain to be less incriminating — has been locked up in a database with super secret “must know code to access” to keep it safe from whistle-blowers, leakers, journalists, and members of Congress.  No, it seems that it shares that lodging with at least several other records of Trump’s phone conversations (and God knows what else) that are hiding there.Do you realize what this means?  Trump is hiding his documents on an improperly privatized server!  Hillary Clinton should have a blast with that one!

All right, no time or space here to tell you about what’s been going on with Sharon Quirk-Silva (who has been having a very good month), Katie Porter (ditto), Bill Brough (definitely not), and so on — but now that we’re back in tune you can come back and look for it soon!

This is your Weekend Open Thread.  Talk about that, or whatever else you’d like, within reasonable bounds of discretion, decorum, decency, dignity, and documentation.  Welcome back, commenters!

P.S.  OK, OK: it’s “Volodymyr Zelensky.”


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)