November 16, 2018

Crisis: Impeaching Trump, On Pelosi 1 & 2, Amazon's Riches, "The Intelligence Community"


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from November 16, 2018


This is a Nederlog of Friday, November 16, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from November 16, 2018:
1. Why the Democrats Can (and Should) Impeach Trump
2. Donald Trump and the Counterrevolutionary War
3. The ‘Pelosi Problem’ Runs Deep
4. Why Amazon Wants a Piece of Our Political and Financial Capitals
5. What happens when the intelligence community decides that Trump is
     too dangerous to be president?
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Why the Democrats Can (and Should) Impeach Trump

This article is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Impeaching President Donald Trump is a pipe dream, many say. Nancy Pelosi, who’s expected to be the new House speaker, isn’t keen on going for impeachment, nor is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — and a lot of people aren’t either because they’ve been misinformed and misled. Contrary to common perception, the president does not need to commit a crime in order to be impeached. Allegations of collusion aside, Trump is guilty of impeachable crimes and misdemeanors, such as the violating the emoluments clause and tax fraud. Just last week, right after the midterms, he fired his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and replaced him — perhaps unconstitutionally — with a crony. He denied White House access to a reporter he doesn’t like and tried to undermine the vote recounts in Florida and Georgia with false and unfounded claims about election fraud. The Democrats need to start making a public case for impeachment and preparing the ground for a trial in the Senate, even if it ends up being a trial they don’t or can’t win. Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman and author of the new book, “The Case For Impeaching Trump,” joins Mehdi Hasan this week to discuss the case for impeaching Donald Trump. She played a key role in the impeachment of Richard Nixon and believes that Donald Trump’s actions are “exactly the kind” that were declared impermissible in Nixon’s articles of impeachment.

Yes, and I have quoted the whole introduction in part to make clear what you missed if you only read the present review and in part because a this article is too long to make a decent excerpt.

Here is the first bit after the introduction:

Mehdi Hasan: Welcome to Deconstructed. I’m Mehdi Hasan.

Today on the show: impeaching Donald Trump. I know, I know, it’s too soon. There’s not enough evidence. There aren’t enough votes. It would be overreach by the new House Democratic majority. Yes, yes, I know all the liberal objections. But I’m gonna do some impeachment myth-busting today, and I’m also going to talk to the author of a new book on the case for impeaching Trump, an author who just happens to have also been a key player in the impeachment process against Richard Nixon.

EH: You would think that once the country had gone through Watergate, the president would learn the lesson but apparently not.

MH: That was former congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman who voted on the Articles of Impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee back in 1974, and who’s the author of a new book which came out on Monday called “The Case for Impeaching Trump.”

So this week on Deconstructed, let’s talk impeachment.
That is fine, and here is my opinion on Trump's impeachment preceded by a short summary of my - relevant - values:

I very strongly dislike and fear Trump, and do so especially because I am a psychologist, who agrees since nearly three years that Trump is insane, and besides that he is a neofascist. (You may disagree, but I fear I am on both subjects - psychology and (neo)fascism - a lot better informed than almost anyone who criticizes me. This does not mean that what I say is necessarily true, but it does mean it is informed.)

And the above means that I would be very strongly for impeaching Trump - except for several things:

First, few seem to agree with me that Trump is insane: it seems you must be a psychologist or a psychiatrist to agree more or less rationally that Trump is insane. And if you were to oppose me with saying that quite a few non-psychologists do agree that Trump is a narcissist, I more or less agree, but I do not think non-psychologists and non-psychiatrists understand much about insanity.

Second, I think I have a good definition of neofascism (and also of fascism), but again it seems very few agree with me, while also very few, including many academics, seem to have a decent knowledge of fascism. Besides, in ten years of reading, I have not found a single journalist who was capable of giving a decent definition of fascism.

Third, apart from these theoretical difficulties, there is the major practical difficulty that the Senate, of which three quarters have to agree on an impeachment if ever it comes so far, is Republican, and  very few of the - present - Republicans will vote for impeachment.

And fourth, there is the difficulty who will replace Trump if he does get impeached. The first replacement would be vice-president Mike Pence, and while he has the strong advantage - for me - that he does not seem to be insane, he has the strong disadvantage that he is much like Trump in policies and values - and the same holds for the next three replacements if Pence would be impeached.

Therefore, all in all I do not think it will help much to impeach Trump before he gets reelected, if indeed he is. And my main ground is that the Republicans hold the Senate, and will very probably not vote for impeaching Trump. (But I agree I may be mistaken.)

Here is more from the article:

MH: Nancy Pelosi who is expected to be the new House Speaker isn’t keen on going for impeachment nor is Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer. But I am and I think people aren’t keen on impeaching Trump because they’ve been a little misinformed and may be misled. In fact, there are two main myths that are often put about when anyone raises the issue of impeaching this President and I want to thoroughly debunk both before we get to our very interesting and unique guest today. 

The first myth is that the president of the United States has to have broken the law in order to impeached. Nope, not true. Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution says the president “Shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” That famous phrase “High crimes and misdemeanors,” doesn’t refer to a criminal offense, to a felony. It refers to abuse of public office. It’s a political offense.
But this leads me to the second myth that poisons every debate on impeachment and Trump these days and that really annoys me. And it’s to do with the Russia investigation and Robert Mueller. The idea that you can’t begin the process of impeaching Trump until you’ve got the final report from special counsel Robert Mueller and that report has to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump personally colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. But that’s mad. We don’t need to wait for evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors when Trump has been committing high crimes and misdemeanors from the moment he took office on January 20th, 2017. 

Take the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution which is supposed to prevent the president from taking gifts, from getting money, from foreign governments.

Etcetera, indeed. And in fact I agree with all of the above (and knew it already). But none of these valid points meets my argument.

Here is more:

MH: (..) Now, look I get it impeachment isn’t easy. The House votes on impeachment, but the Senate does the convicting. You need a whopping two-thirds majority in the Senate to get that conviction and the Democrats don’t even have a simple majority in the Senate, let alone 67 votes. So impeaching Trump, no matter how much he deserves to be impeached – and let’s be honest, if Trump is never impeached, we should probably issue a collective apology to the family of Richard Nixon. Impeaching Trump many say is a pipe dream.

Well, that’s not the view of my guest today and she knows a thing or two about impeaching presidents.

Yes again - and the guest is former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, who did help to impeach Nixon (who was not impeached because he resigned before being impeached).

In fact, I have not quoted her at all in this review, except for one sentence. If you are interested, you are recommended to read the whole article. She does say interesting things, but her main argument seems to be that the present Senate - forced by the public - may vote for impeachment. That seems to me a matter of opinion and not of fact, and I disagree with her but respect her.

There is a lot more in the - long - article, and I skip it all except for this bit from the ending:

MH: That was Elizabeth Holtzman, former member of Congress, author of the new book “The Case for Impeaching Trump.”

You can read her op-ed at making that case in detail. And maybe you share some of our optimism. I hope it’s infectious because I think she makes a key point in that interview, which is that impeachment being a political process requires public support. And rather than being negative, or pessimistic, or defeatist, rather than saying let’s wait for the evidence when a lot of the evidence is staring us in the face, the Democrats need to start making a public case for impeachment, for the merits of impeachment, for the need for impeachment. They need to start preparing the ground for a trial in the Senate. Even if it ends up being a trial they don’t or can’t win.

I happen to think Fox News makes it much harder to impeach Trump than it was to impeach Nixon, no matter the evidence. But having said that, I also happen to believe Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to democracy and to not use a constitutionally provided tool to try and stop him, to try and prevent him from undermining democracy and the Constitution is just political malpractice.

I mostly but not wholly agree and this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Donald Trump and the Counterrevolutionary War

This article is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Donald Trump is waging a political counterinsurgency. This week on Intercepted: Columbia University professor Bernard Harcourt lays out the multidecade history of paramilitarized politics in the U.S., how the tactics of the war on terror have come back to American soil, and why no one talks about drone strikes anymore. Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore talks about his recent visit from the FBI in connection to the pipe bomb packages and who he thinks should run against Trump in 2020. Journalist and lawyer Josie Duffy Rice analyzes the battle over vote counts in Florida and Georgia, the Republican campaign to suppress black voters, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, and why she isn’t protesting the firing of Jeff Sessions. Jeremy Scahill explains why Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer need to go away.
In fact, this is the second long article from The Intercept that I review today. And again I have quoted the whole introduction in part to make clear what you missed if you only read the present review and in part because this article is too long to make a decent excerpt.

In fact, I will quote just one bit from it:

JS: I want to begin today by sharing with you the political position of someone who has absolutely no business running any institution that claims to be fighting against the authoritarianism of the Trump presidency.

Nancy Pelosi: We will have accountability and we will strive for bipartisanship, with fairness on all sides. We have a responsibility to find our common ground where we can, stand our ground where we can’t, but we must try. We’ll have a bipartisan marketplace of ideas that makes our democracy strong.

JS: That of course is the current House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi. Anyone who thinks that this administration is participating in the democratic marketplace for ideas is making clear that they do not understand how serious the battle is that we face right now in this country. Nancy Pelosi has been in power for 16 years. She was already speaker of the house and she has repeatedly refused to take any actions that would have held the Bush Administration responsible for its widespread crimes. Not the least of which was the invasion and occupation of Iraq or the global torture program. But you know who wants to have Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker? Yeah, this guy.

DJT: Nancy Pelosi — and I give her a lot of credit. She works very hard and she’s worked long and hard. I give her a great deal of credit for what she’s done and what she’s accomplished.

JS: Here’s the truth about Nancy Pelosi. She is an empire politician. When the emperor — whether it’s Bush, Obama, or Trump — wants to expand the state’s authorities, wants to expand the military budget, wants to conduct mass surveillance, Nancy Pelosi has aided and abetted them.

I totally agree. There is a whole lot more in the article which is quite interesting, and the article is strongly recommended (and not better reviewed here simply because it is too long).

3. The ‘Pelosi Problem’ Runs Deep

This article is by Norman Solomon on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Nancy Pelosi will probably be the next House speaker, a prospect that fills most alert progressives with disquiet, if not dread. But instead of fixating on her as a villain, progressives should recognize the long-standing House Democratic leader as a symptom of a calcified party hierarchy that has worn out its grassroots welcome and is beginning to lose its grip.

Increasingly at odds with the Democratic Party’s mobilized base, that grip has held on with gobs of money from centralized, deep-pocket sources—endlessly reinforcing continual deference to corporate power and an ongoing embrace of massively profitable militarism.

Pelosi has earned a reputation as an excellent manager, and she has certainly managed to keep herself in power atop Democrats in the House. She’s a deft expert on how Congress works, but she seems out of touch—intentionally or not—with the millions of grassroots progressives who are fed up with her kind of leadership.

Yes, that seems all correct to me. Here is more on Pelosi:

There is much to counter at the top of the party. Pelosi still refuses to support
single-payer enhanced “Medicare for all.” As on many other issues, she—and others, such as the more corporate-friendly House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer—are clinging to timeworn, Wall Street-friendly positions against powerful political winds generated by years of grassroots activism.

Increasingly, such leadership is isolated from the party it claims to lead. Yet the progressive base is having more and more impact. As a Vox headline proclaimed, more than a year ago, “The stunning Democratic shift on single-payer: In 2008, no leading Democratic presidential candidate backed single-payer. In 2020, all of them might.” The Medicare for All Caucus now lists 76 House members.

Well... "76 House members" is still a fairly small minority, while not being "for single-payer enhanced “Medicare for all" seems being for a non-Democratic position as a Democratic leader.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Any progressive should emphatically reject Pelosi’s current embrace of a “pay-go” rule that would straitjacket spending for new social programs by requiring offset tax hikes or budget cuts. Her position is even more outrageous in view of her fervent support for astronomical military spending. Like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (who was just re-elected to his post), Pelosi went out of her way last winter to proclaim avid support for President Trump’s major increase in the already-bloated Pentagon budget, boasting: “In our negotiations, congressional Democrats have been fighting for increases in funding for defense.”

I completely agree and think that Pelosi should go, although I think she will not. This is a recommended article.

4. Why Amazon Wants a Piece of Our Political and Financial Capitals

This article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Amazon made its long-awaited announcement this week, revealing where it will site its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. The selection process pitted over 200 cities against each other, vying for the prospect of hosting the new corporate campus with its promised 50,000 well-paying, white-collar jobs. Politicians prostrated themselves before the online behemoth and its CEO/founder, Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, as they competed to lavish the company with as many enticing public subsidies and tax breaks as possible. The winning city would flourish, they hoped, with increasing tax revenues and the emergence of a vibrant tech hub to rival Silicon Valley. In the end, Amazon announced that HQ2 would be divided into two smaller locations, one in Queens, New York, and the other in Crystal City, Virginia. While the details of the publicly financed subsidies remain shrouded, what is known so far is enough to confirm the worst fears of Amazon’s many critics: The HQ2 auction was, at best, a boondoggle, yet another example of corporate welfare, transferring wealth from working-class taxpayers to a massive corporation and its billionaire owner.
I completely agree. Here is more on Bezos and Amazon:
Time magazine calculated that it takes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos only nine seconds to earn $28,000, what the median Amazon worker earns in a year. Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First has long watchdogged what he calls “persistent megadeals” like New York and Virginia’s courting of HQ2. “It’s another example of Amazon getting paid to do what it would have done anyway,” he said on “Democracy Now!” “It wanted to be in the financial capital of the world and the political capital of the country, so no surprises about its location. We’re massively subsidizing, yet again, a company to do what it wants to do anyway.”
Precisely. Here is more:
LeRoy also notes that Amazon “is the biggest cloud computing company in the world. It has roughly a 40 percent market share. And among its most lucrative clients in that space are the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency and other federal agencies.” That’s why the other HQ2 is planned for Crystal City, Virginia — as LeRoy says, “very close — literally, practically a stone’s throw from — the Pentagon.”
Yes, I agree, although I doubt the small distance from the Pentagon was important, but I may be mistaken. In any case, Bezos (Amazon's head) and Zuckerberg (Facebook's head) should be in prison for stealing private information of millions or billions of people rather than leading companies.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
“Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market — It Wants to Become the Market,” read a headline for a Nation article written by Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “It’s now capturing one out of every two dollars that Americans spend online,” she said on “Democracy Now!” Additionally, it kills small businesses. “We’re losing about two retail jobs for every one job created in an Amazon warehouse,” she said.
I completely agree and this is a strongly recommended article.  

5. What happens when the intelligence community decides that Trump is too dangerous to be president?

This article is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet and originally on the Independent Media Institute. It starts as follows:

A surge of public activism by former CIA personnel is one of the most unexpected developments of the Trump presidency, and it is accelerating.

Two former CIA officers—both Democrats, both women, both liberal—were elected to Congress on November 6.
They are hardly alone. Former directors John Brennan and Gen. Michael Hayden are among Trump’s harshest critics. Other former CIA leaders like Michael Morell and John McLaughlin are more circumspect. But as a group, they are far more outspoken about the current president than, say, former director George H.W. Bush was about President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s. When Trump threatened to pull Brennan’s security clearance, more than 70 former intelligence officers signed an open letter calling Trump’s action a threat to free speech.
Well... yes and no, and mostly no, but that has to do with what I surmise about the background of these spies: I think the CIA is at least as dangerous as Trump, while it is in force for a much longer time than Trump is, or is likely to be.

Here is more:
“I think the blatant disregard for the threat of foreign influence in our election and the demonization of the Intelligence Community was a turning point for a lot of us,” former branch chief Cindy Otis told me in an email. “…Critics can call me ‘The Deep State,’ but I joined the CIA under George W. Bush and the vast majority of people at CIA lean conservative on foreign policy/natsec [national security] issues.”
Specifically, Otis seems to be talking about the Russian threat, that was in fact started by Hillary Clinton after loosing the presidential election. I have seriously considered that threat, and know how to program quite well, but I do not believe it - and in fact I also think the CIA does not believe it, and that they say they believe it because it gives them more power in the USA.

Here is more, this time on the tortures the CIA engaged in:
After the 9/11 attacks, the consensus in Langley that torture was a permissible, effective and necessary counterterrorism technique no doubt struck many intelligence officers as apolitical common sense. But, of course, adopting “extreme interrogation tactics” was a deeply political decision that President Bush embraced, and President Obama repudiated. The agency deferred to both commanders in chief.
Well... this seems mostly bullshit to me: First, it should be quite clear at present that "extended interrogation techniques" was and is a euphemism for torture, while second, this is bullshit because torture has been and is internationally forbidden - and indeed I do not care for what presidents Bush and Trump embraced: It was and is forbidden, and "extended interrogation techniques" = torture.

Here is more:

Trump is another story. Kent Harrington, a former station chief who served as agency spokesman, says historical comparisons miss “a huge and obvious point.”

“We are dealing with a level of ignorance and psychosis in the Oval Office and dysfunction in the so-called administration itself that makes drawing parallels, much less conclusions about Trump vs. previous national leaderships perilous to say the least,” Harrington wrote in an email.

The problem with Trump in the eyes of these CIA formers is almost pre-political. The president’s policy decisions matter less than his contempt for intelligence and the system that collects it.

“When we see things that are blatantly wrong, and the president is responsible, it is fair to speak out,” Bakos said in an interview. “If you’re silent, you’re part of the problem.”

This also seems mostly bullshit to me: While I agree Trump indeed is different from previous presidents because of "a level of ignorance and psychosis in the Oval Office" why should the mostly completely anonymous and quite secret CIA be the persons who are supposed to repair this?

I do not think they should, although I agree on the "
level of ignorance and psychosis in the Oval Office".

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Harrington expects the mistrust between the president and the intelligence community to grow in the next two years.

“No director of any federal agency can turn away the inquiries of the Democratic House,” Harrington said. “CIA people have to deal head on with the consequences of a president who is fundamentally not dealing with reality.”

If there’s one thing to be learned from talking to former CIA personnel, it’s the sense that the CIA system—powerful, stealthy, and dangerous—is blinking red about the latest news of an authoritarian leader in an unstable nation.

No, "CIA people" should not "have to deal head on with the consequences of a president who is fundamentally not dealing with reality": That is fundamentally and totally anti-democratic.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
       home - index - summaries - mail