Tag Archives: Graham

Trump’s Presidency – the Real Game of Thrones

I have just read that the Trump administration has refused to sign an international agreement involving New Zealand, France and the top social media companies headquartered in the United State that would combat online extremism. The cited objection: the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. While mouthing its general agreement that online extremism is a serious problem, the Trump administration suddenly is concerned that policies designed to more aggressively strike at the use of online platforms to promote extremist and violent behavior will conflict with freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.

This comes from the same president who, in the wake of the white supremacist/neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville declared there were “good people on both sides.” The same president who has declined multiple opportunities to take aggressive positions against extremist right-wing activities. The same president who ignores the all-too-frequent episodes of white assassins slaughtering children in schools and Muslims in their churches while jumping at every chance to complain that an immigrant person of color was involved in some crime.

This from the same president who has, dozens, if not more, times described the media as the “enemy of the people.”

So much for Trump’s concerns about the First Amendment. The truth is that Donald Trump supports online extremism from the racist right-wing white male cohort that produces most of it and that supports him no matter what he says or does. Trump cares nothing about the First Amendment except for its utility as a whipping boy when members of the free press speak negatively about him.

In this, as in most other things, Trump is a lying traitor to the United States.

Think that’s too strong? I have also just read that Trump’s attorneys have argued in litigation challenging a subpoena from the House Oversight and Reform Committee for Trump financial records. Trump’s attorneys maintain that Congress may not investigate the president regarding violations of the law, but only about matters that have a “legitimate legislative purpose.” That position expressly bars Congress from looking into whether the president was personally financially involved in a conflict of interest arising out of a particular piece of legislation.

The ironies of these arguments are almost too glaring to comprehend. There is no question that Congress has the power to bring impeachment proceedings against a sitting president for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The president’s lawyers seem to argue that, despite the wording, the impeachment clause refers to something other than “law enforcement.” That position is not only contrary to the Constitutional language, the principle of separation of powers and plain common sense, it also sets up the president as a person who can, with impunity, violate the law, violate his oath of office, and, generally, act like a king, above reproach, immune to sanction, free to act as he wants without restraint.

There is one irreducible fact about the U.S. Constitution that no amount of legal legerdemain can overcome: the Framers of the Constitution intended to preclude the assumption of kingly powers by the future chief executive of the government under Article II. Trump’s lawyers appear to have forgotten the reasons the War of Independence was fought. It is also commonly called the Revolutionary War — it was a revolution against the tyranny of the English crown, the claimed right of the King of England to treat American colonists however he wanted, above reproach, immune to sanction, free to act as he wanted without restraint.

Trump is now also hinting that he may not respect the outcome of the election that will consider his replacement in 2020. It is only a short step from that position to a claim that he doesn’t actually have to stand for re-election at all, that he can simply suspend the “rigged” election and remain in office as long as he wants.

If that is where Trump and his enablers in the Republican Party are headed, I then suggest, in all seriousness, that we will have a second American Revolution that will remove him from office one way or the other way. If it comes to that, his promoters like Senator Lindsey Graham will face a similar fate. This is the same Senator Lindsey Graham who, in February 2016, stated in public that Donald Trump was a “kook” and “crazy“ and not fit for office,” among many similar statements. It’s all on video: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tomnamako/kook Now Graham is Trump’s most ardent supporter but he has nowhere to hide from his treachery. Nothing about Trump has changed for the better since Graham accurately described him in 2016. Graham, like Trump, is unprincipled and apparently willing to say and do anything to keep Trump, and himself, in power.

It is hard to imagine that the courts will sustain Trump’s argument that he is above the reach of law, but anything is possible. Everyone must pay close attention to what may seem like peripheral legal squabbling but is in truth laying the groundwork for a repudiation of the Constitution.

Final Thoughts on Kavanaugh Hearing

Dr. Ford was entirely credible. She had no reason to expose herself to this notoriety if she were lying. She, and she alone, was prepared to subject herself to an independent FBI investigation.

Kavanaugh’s refusal to say, simply, “yes, I want an FBI investigation” is definitively and finally condemnatory. He was playing the Republican-Trump songbook and not prepared to deviate, even when trapped in the corner where Senators Durbin and Harris put him.

Kavanaugh’s opening intemperate outrage and hostility and the attacks on the “left-wing” Democrats are, by themselves disqualifying because they demonstrate a person of questionable temperament. These attacks raise the serious question whether Kavanaugh can fairly decide any case in which there are left-right political implications. Will he not be faced with demands to recuse himself from every such case if he is affirmed for the Supreme Court?

The Republican majority continued their partisan march to affirming the nomination. Chairman Grassley repeatedly interjected himself into the process to challenge what he thought were threats by Democrats to the pure record he wanted to come out of the hearing at the end of the day. Without explaining it, Grassley abandoned the Republican strategy of having Rachel Mitchell conduct the witness examinations. He did this to give Senator Graham to gain the floor, during which Graham went berserk in attacking the Democrats, playing into the Kavanaugh theme that his character had been assassinated and his reputation and family “permanently destroyed.” Graham’s performance was Oscar-worthy; in my view it was designed to do two things: (1) disrupt the rhythm of the hearing, and (2) show Donald Trump that Graham is still totally and relentlessly loyal to him. On the second point, everyone should read Bob Woodward’s book, Fear, wherein Graham’s very close relationship as consigliere to Donald Trump is demonstrated beyond a doubt.

In my opinion, every move, including the tenor of Kavanaugh’s remarks and his disrespectful responses to several Democratic senators, was likely cleared by Kavanaugh with the Republican strategists managing his campaign for the Court seat. The anguish of the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee was largely feigned political showmanship.

At the end of the day, even if it is true that the Democrats have somehow orchestrated the alleged “attack” on Kavanaugh in an effort to prevent the filling of the Supreme Court seat until after the midterm elections, a sufficient question of character and temperament has been raised to warrant two steps: (1) ask the FBI to conduct an independent investigation of Dr. Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh, and (2) disclosure of all the withheld documents, including public disclosure of the “committee confidential” documents that do not contain national security or other serious private information. This should be done regardless of how long it may take.

 

Final Thoughts About the Judiciary Committee Hearing on Kavanaugh

On the verge of hearing Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony, which should be very brief (“I am not guilty; I didn’t do it; I didn’t go it), Sen. Lindsey Graham has, in perfect character, come out as Trump’s attack dog, threatening Democrats with the idea that “if this is the standard by which to judge a nominee, Democrats will pay in the future.” Graham claims Democrats are just playing political games to prevent a vote before the midterms. Maybe, but so what? Remember Merrick Garland? Couldn’t even get interviewed and a vote? Never had a chance in Republican controlled Senate. If this is just politics, and not a serious issue regarding the composition of the Supreme Court, it is just desserts for Republicans whose perfidy has come around to hit them in the head.

Graham’s display of anger at what he claims was an “ambush” by Democrats is misplaced but that is par for the Republican course. Did he really expect that Dr. Ford would come in and confess to something? The extent of Graham’s rage is a direct reflection of the reality that Dr. Ford carried the morning.

A final total speculation: Rachel Mitchell, the professional interrogator, actually believed Dr. Ford and was, perhaps involuntarily, hampered in her ability to get hard new information about Dr. Ford’s story. She had a tough job and with the regular interruptions to hear from Democratic senators and an emotional but credible witness, she probably could not succeed no matter what she did. Good.