The GOP Tax Cuts Didn’t Work
Republicans said the reform would grow the economy by up to 6 percent, stimulate business investment, and pay for itself. None of that happened.
A must-read thread.
A must-read thread.
This compelling editorial explains why, when it comes to defending Trump, the Republicans have bupkis.
House Republicans acknowledged that they have no witnesses and no documents to dispute the main facts concerning President Trump’s impeachable conduct: a demand from Ukraine for dirt on a political rival; withholding of aid vital to Ukraine’s defense against Russia; concealing evidence of the scheme by moving a transcript to a secret server; and threatening the tipster who alerted Congress to gross malfeasance. They admitted all that? Well, in a manner of speaking they did.
House Republicans sent Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) a list of witnesses they want to testify in the impeachment inquiry, including former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and the anonymous whistleblower who filed the initial complaint against President Trump. …
Schiff is likely to reject many, if not all, of the witnesses from the Republicans’ wish list.
Hunter Biden lacks any direct knowledge of anything that occurred in the Trump White House, and hence he cannot rebut evidence of Trump’s demand that Ukraine interfere with our election. By Republicans’ own admission, the whistleblower lacks first-hand knowledge of events. Witnesses who testified out of public view have corroborated the crux of the case against Trump — that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals — so the Democrats see no need for the whistleblower, who heard the story secondhand, to testify. Three career State Department officials are returning next week for the public hearings.
All Republicans have are distractions, stunts to generate claims of unfairness, and gimmicks to threaten the life and career of the whistleblower. It’s remarkable, really, that they could stipulate to every fact about which the witnesses testified under oath.
Republicans implicitly admit that there is no disputing Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony. Vindman testified that, in the July 25 call, “there was no doubt” Trump made a demand of the Ukrainian president to initiate an investigation of a U.S. citizen, a “deliverable” to help his presidential reelection. “When the president of the United States makes a request for a favor, it certainly seems — I would take it as a demand,” Vindman testified. There are apparently no witnesses to contradict his testimony and none to dispute it was of such concern that Vindman went to John Eisenberg, the top national security lawyer in the White House.
Republicans apparently have no evidence to contradict the testimony of Fiona Hill, who served as a top Russia adviser to the White House. She testified that former national security adviser John Bolton, in a meeting following an exchange between U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Ukrainian officials that made explicit that any White House meeting was conditioned on an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens, “basically said — in fact, he directly said: Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up. He did make it clear that he didn’t feel that there was anything that he could personally do about this.” In other words, the national security adviser knew hijacking foreign policy for Trump’s political gain was wrong and likely illegal.
Likewise, there is nothing to undermine Vindman’s testimony that the Office of Management and Budget put a hold on funds appropriated by Congress to Ukraine, an action contrary to U.S. policy, injurious to Ukraine and a function of the Trump-Giuliani campaign smear operation. (“Basically we were trying to get to the bottom of why this hold was in place, why OMB was applying this hold. There were multiple memos that were transmitted from my directorate to Ambassador Bolton on, you know, keeping him abreast of this particular development.”) Republicans have no evidence to dispute that.
Republicans have no evidence to dispute Hill’s complete debunking of the nutty conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Republicans have no evidence to dispute that Giuliani and his cronies obtained the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the competent and respected U.S. envoy to Kyiv. Republicans have yet to disprove evidence that Sondland, Giuliani and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were acting as agents of the president.
Republicans cannot dispute the testimony of George Kent that “POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton.” Republicans cannot produce evidence to contradict Kent’s conclusion that “Mr. Giuliani, at that point, had been carrying on a campaign for several months full of lies and incorrect information” against Yovanovitch, or was dispatched by Trump to obtain dirt on Biden. …
… The Republican Party stands foursquare behind a president soliciting a bribe, endangering U.S. national security and attempting to intimidate witnesses and cover his tracks.
An inspiring story from the BBC of what a huge difference one, dedicated journalist can make.
How one Indian cobbler traded polish for print in the hope of telling the unheard stories of his town’s underprivileged.
Thanks for linking to that @Keaton_James. A truly inspiring story. On a similar vein I wish to highlight another journalist currently visiting New Zealand from the Australian Asylum Seekers detention centre on Manus Island.
Mr Boochani, who is an award-winning author, journalist, and advocate for refugees held in a detention camp on Manus Island by the Australian government, flew into Auckland last night with a visitor visa.
At the airport, he told reporters this was the first time he had felt happy in a long time.
“I survived, you know, when I was in Manus or Port Moresby. I was just thinking about getting freedom … affect Australia, challenge Australia, make people aware of this situation. But I think it’s the first time that I feel happy because I survived.”
The journalist has been detained on Manus Island since 2013 after arriving in Australian territory by boat.
He wrote the book No Friend but the Mountains on a smartphone app while imprisoned on the island, and won multiple international awards including Australia’s richest literary prize.
Thrilled and exhausted and free
This morning, he was welcomed in Christchurch, where he will be a special guest at a literary event on November 29, by Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Ngāi Tahu.
According to the Guardian , he took a 34-hour journey across three countries and six timezones in the Asia Pacific before reaching New Zealand.
He told RNZ’s Morning Report programme today it was a long journey with struggles from PNG to New Zealand.
"It was quite hard to travel with a blue passport, which is for the UNHCR for the refugees, because at Port Moresby in the airport they ask many questions and it took a long time to get in the plane, in Philippines it was like that too, and in New Zealand.
In the top photo the Mayor of Christchurch City Lianne Dalziel gives Behrouz Boochani a hongi, a traditional NZ Maori welcome - where the breath of each is shared.
The twitter link is from Golriz Ghahraman herself a Refugee and now a Member of Parliament - she is a Green Party MP.
None of the services seems happy with President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon two service members accused of war crimes, and reverse the demotion of a third. The Navy’s reply, however, sets some kind of record of disdain. The Twitter account of the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Information Office wrote on November 15: “As the Commander in Chief, the President has the authority to restore Special Warfare Operator First Class Gallagher to the pay grade of E-7. We acknowledge his order and are implementing it.”
Those icy words breathe the mood of the admonition from Band of Brothers : “We salute the rank, not the man.”
To understand why the Navy—and the other services, too—reacted so negatively to the pardons, here’s a story I heard on a visit to Germany a couple of months ago. I had the chance to talk with a senior U.S. officer in that country.
The officer had been posted all over the world during his long and distinguished career, but his very first overseas assignment took him to Stuttgart in 1983. The move into the apartment left behind a mess in the street: packing tape, that kind of thing. He knew how conscientious the Germans are about litter. But he had little children then and he was exhausted after the move, so he fell asleep intending to wake up early the next day to finish the job.
He did rise early, only to find that somebody had done the job for him. He interpreted this as passive-aggressive criticism by a neighbor, so he knocked on the next door to apologize. The door was answered by an older man who spoke clear, although strongly accented, English. Yes, the neighbor had cleaned up the mess. No, no apology was necessary. He had noticed that the officer had a young family, and he understood how difficult it was to move with children. The neighbor had wanted to extend a welcome, because he was a great admirer of the U.S. military.
“Where did you learn such good English?” asked the officer of his new friend.
“Do you have family there? A job?”
“No, I was a prisoner of war. I was captured in Tunisia in 1943.”
“I’m sorry you met America that way.”
“Don’t be. I ate better in America than I ever ate in the Afrika Korps. And I’m alive, which I would not be if I had not been captured. So when I see American soldiers, I always try to say, ‘Thank you.’”
The American officer who told me the story would later lead part of the cleanup effort at Abu Ghraib, after the exposure of maltreatment of prisoners there. He told his troops in Iraq: The way the U.S. Army had treated German POWs in 1943 paid security dividends for 40 years afterward. The way the Army treats its prisoners today will matter just as much 40 years from now.
The armed forces of the United States do their utmost to fight lawfully and humanely not only because it is the right thing to do. They do their utmost because it is also the smart thing to do. Every war ends. The memories from that war persist for decades.
War is horrible enough when fought honorably. To join dishonor to horror is no victory for any American cause.
I totally agree with the sentiments voiced above @Windthin . I myself served 14 years as an officer in the RNZN. A crime committed in war is just as much a crime as any other. And when it takes place in a situation where the perpetrator is in a position of power, it is even more deplorable. This action by Trump may garner some favour from some, but it sends a very poor message to the world.
I found this article by David Roberts on Vox extremely interesting. Maybe because I studied Epistemology at Stage 3 level in my Philosophy degree
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that has to do with knowing and coming to know things — what counts as true, what counts as evidence, how we accumulate knowledge, and the like. It’s where you find schools of thought like skepticism (we can’t truly know anything) and realism (the universe contains observer-independent facts we can come to know).
Tribal epistemology, as I see it, is when tribalism comes to systematically subordinate epistemological principles.
Tribal epistemology happens when tribal interests subsume transpartisan epistemological principles, like standards of evidence, internal coherence, and defeasibility. “Good for our tribe” becomes the primary determinant of what is true; “part of our tribe” becomes the primary determinant of who to trust.
A circular logic, which has become quite familiar in the impeachment affair, emerges: Anyone who says anything contrary to the tribe marks themselves as an enemy of the tribe (cough deep state cough); enemies of the tribe cannot but trusted, so their testimony or evidence can be ignored. Thus, by definition, nothing that questions the tribal narrative can be trusted.
A decades-long effort on the right has resulted in a parallel set of institutions meant to encourage tribal epistemology. They mimic the form of mainstream media, think tanks, and the academy, but without the restraint of transpartisan principles. They are designed to advance the interests of the right, to tell stories and produce facts that support the tribe. That is the ur-goal; the rhetoric and formalisms of critical thinking are retrofit around it.
Rings true … and confirms the all-or-nothing approach of ‘he’s our guy, and whatever he does is fine.’ The all-in approach is what T is betting on.
And Trump, the ultimate tribalist, has made it clear that he doesn’t want to hear any of these half-ass stories about how he did something wrong but it’s not that bad. He demands ultimate loyalty, and to him loyalty means insisting that he did nothing wrong at all.
Every vet (or child of a vet like myself) I know sees it; the danger, the message to the world that we are above the law. If we stop playing by the rules of engagement, so will others. And all of our soldiers will be in danger.
And this is tearing the House GOP apart. Trump’s order has been “I did nothing wrong, this is your message.”
It’s a losing message. The House GOP knows this. They’d much rather waffle and make noises and state its bad but not impeachable, and he’s allowing them NO wiggle room.
This is a thread of my own, 17 posts, about Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch
A lot of us realized after watching her testimony that she came into this not wholly aware of the full breadth of the story, based on her reactions. She often admitted she didn’t know a lot of the outside details, only what happened to her, and we watched in real time as it was laid out for her and she came to realize why this was done to her.
It’s stunning, the betrayal that was committed against her, and her strength and heroism in the face of it all, especially when she very clearly was searching for answers herself.
She is a hero.
A powerful article/opinion piece by Professor Lawrence Tribe, lawyer and legal scholar…and he does not mince words, citing quotes from Alexander Hamilton.
We have learned that Trump is so obsessed with the legitimacy of his 2016 election—and so terrified of becoming a private citizen (subject to indictment and imprisonment) after the 2020 election—that he embraces a conspiratorial myth of Ukrainian responsibility for Russian lawlessness hatched by an oligarch in Vladimir Putin’s orbit. We have heard an official’s first-hand account of a president so beholden to Putin that he blithely dismisses Russia’s aggression as not “big stuff” compared with a public announcement by Ukraine’s new president to the effect that, contrary to fact, its government is investigating (nonexistent) corruption by Trump’s political rival.
We have heard direct evidence of a president utterly indifferent to Ukraine’s survival and to the lives of its patriotic defenders. We have seen a president wholly unconcerned with the danger to our national security of strengthening Russia’s hand in any negotiations with Ukraine, disinterested in the threat to global stability of positioning America as an unreliable ally and brazenly willing to usurp Congress’ authority for over five months to direct the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to Ukraine’s defense.
We have witnessed a president who imagines he can deny all guilt simply because, caught red-handed, he finally released the appropriated funds, many months after promising to do so and well after doing irreparable harm in the interim. And we have watched a president blatantly engage in witness intimidation through his Twitter feed on live television during the testimony of one of the career diplomats who had the courage to resist his lawless demand that everyone in the government he heads defy Congress’ impeachment proceedings.
And Professor Tribe lands the punch here…quoting Hamilton, and saying this power hungry president is no president at all, but a despot and dangerous demagogue, anti-presidential and definitely deserves impeachment.
There will be time, once the House Intelligence Committee concludes its public hearings and transmits its report to the Judiciary Committee, to determine how best to wrap the indisputable abuses of power, betrayals of the nation and corruption of the presidential office into appropriately labeled articles of impeachment. What must not get lost in the process of categorizing and naming this man’s grotesque betrayals of his oath, however, is how shamelessly he has exposed himself as not merely “unpresidential”—the moniker he has proudly embraced more than once—but as anti -presidential.
More than unpresidential, Trump represents the perfect exemplar of what Alexander Hamilton darkly envisioned when he described the danger that a demagogue might one day assume the presidency and require removal through the awesome power of impeachment. Such a demagogue, Hamilton prophesied, would be “a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper…despotic in his ordinary demeanour.” Such a man, Hamilton wrote, would one day “mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day” with the object of “throw[ing] things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’” Such a man, we should all be able to see now, is Donald J. Trump.
And this quote is so very close to T’s character…
and sent from
So much outrage at this administration…this one focused on AG William Barr. His Federalist Society speech was galling to many Americans in its core believe that Presidents have wide and unfettered power.
Much will be said about Burr…and many of his peers and legal backers are not ashamed of their actions.
Barr waves all such historical complications away, blaming any and all concerns with presidential power on the “amusing,” “breathless attacks” of “modern progressives.” “Since the mid-60s,” he claims, “there has been a steady grinding down of the executive branch’s authority. … More and more, the president’s ability to act in areas in which he has discretion has become smothered by the encroachments of the other branches.” In particular, Barr wants to push back against "the knee-jerk tendency to see the legislative and judicial branches as the good guys protecting society from a rapacious would-be autocrat."
Barr’s criticisms of judicial overreach have some merit, in my view, so I won’t quibble with them here. Far more disturbing are his attacks on congressional encroachments “on the presidency’s constitutional authority.” That these criticisms come during the presidency of Trump makes them especially remarkable. But that shouldn’t prevent us from noting that presidents began pushing claims of executive privilege and prerogative into numerous new areas long before Trump. Since the September 11 attacks, in particular, presidents have pushed all kinds of boundaries. They have attempted to hold terrorist subjects in detention indefinitely, authorized and engaged in torture, surveilled the American people as a whole on a massive scale, and claimed a right to summarily execute Americans suspected of terrorist activities without charge or due process of any kind.
Congress, meanwhile, has almost completely abdicated its constitutional responsibility for declaring wars. Instead, presidents have been empowered under broadly worded authorizations of force to drop bombs on and deploy special operations forces and ground troops to countries all over the world in the name of fighting terrorism. Under much of the Obama and Trump administration, the U.S. has been fighting wars in at least seven countries (Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan), all of them without a formal declaration of war.
Response to Barr’s speech from the Conservative group of lawyers - Checks and Balances, takes direct aim at the assertions Barr makes as to how wide the President’s power actually is, and criticizes most of what Barr said, as to what Barr considers that the President has an absolute amount of power.
Links to other overviews on Checks and Balances here. Checks and Balances WTFJHT Opinion
Mr. Barr’s view on executive power is a misreading of the unitary executive theory, said Charles Fried, a Checks & Balances member and Harvard Law professor who endorsed the theory while he was solicitor general during the Reagan administration. In Mr. Fried’s reading of the theory, “the executive branch cannot be broken up into fragments.”
While that branch acts as a unified expression of a president’s priorities, with the president firmly at the helm, “it is also clear that the executive branch is subject to law,” Mr. Fried said. “Barr takes that notion and eliminates the ‘under law’ part.”
While Mr. Barr did not use the word “impeachment” in his speech, he laid out a new defense of Mr. Trump that was taken up by Republicans on Capitol Hill. In an effort to invalidate the inquiry, lawmakers had argued that the president did not withhold a White House meeting or military aid to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump politically.
After a week of damaging public hearings in which multiple witnesses offered new details of the president’s pressure campaign and said that he spoke openly of his desire that Ukraine publicly announce investigations, Mr. Trump’s supporters began to argue that he had acted within his rights.
Mr. Trump has also begun to echo Mr. Barr’s assertions. In an interview on Fox on Friday, he said that the decision to investigate his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia “was an overthrow attempt at the presidency.”
Now that the claim that Mr. Trump never pressured Mr. Zelensky no longer holds, “the argument has got to be a ‘so what’ argument — Bill Barr’s argument that the president did all these things, but this is what a president can do,” said Stuart Gerson, a Checks & Balances member who was a senior campaign adviser to George Bush and a Justice Department official in his administration.
“The Republicans in the Senate and in the House think they’re in a Parliament, and their responsibility is to a prime minister to whom they owe party loyalty,” Mr. Gerson said. “That’s not the American tradition. One can recognize substantial executive power, but that doesn’t mean the legislative branch should be dead.”
Mr. Barr has argued that his view of presidential power stems directly from the Constitution. It delineates the responsibilities of the three branches of government, he has said, rather than allowing the legislature and the judiciary to check the powers of the president as two of three co-equal governing powers.
That interpretation of history “has no factual basis,” Checks & Balances wrote in its statement, including the claim that “the founders shared in any respect his vision of an unchecked president, and his assertion that this view was dominant until it came under attack from courts and Congress a few decades ago.”
The group said that the “only imaginable basis” for Mr. Barr’s conclusion
that Mr. Trump did not obstruct the Russia investigation “was his legal view that the president is given total control over all investigations by the Constitution.”
Mr. Fried suggested that Mr. Barr’s interpretation of the law set a dangerous precedent. “Conservatism is respect for the rule of law. It is respect for tradition,” he said. “The people who claim they’re conservatives today are demanding loyalty to this completely lawless, ignorant, foul-mouthed president.”
Mr. Gerson echoed that sentiment. “It’s important for conservatives to speak up,” he said. “This administration is anything but conservative.”
The cynical truth is that yes this is probably true…hard to counter the messaging machine from the T crusaders…but we can and must.
Some defenders have flatly inverted what was actually testified to into its diametrical opposite. Others have reflexively reverted to conspiracy theories creating a universe as divorced from the actual corrupt conduct now being examined as one former half of a divided cell is from the other.
It’s now clear that the coming Senate trial will also be conducted in this manner. Reports tell us Republicans are divided over whether to have a drawn out trial that offers a genuine “defense of his conduct,” as if a protracted one will see Trump’s extensive misconduct evaluated and defended on its merits.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, a top Trump loyalist, has just demanded that the State Department turn over extensive documents to help “prove” the theory that the Ukraine activities of Joe Biden and his son Hunter were corrupt.
That invented narrative has already been thoroughly debunked. But what really matters here is that this is the very same theory Trump set out to “prove” with his corrupt pressure on Ukraine in the first place.
The core question this impeachment process is raising isn’t “what did Donald Trump do?” The hearings have filled in important details and added confirming witness, but the story is largely the one we’ve known since the White House released the call record.
Instead, the core question the hearings are raising is: “What will Republicans accept and defend?” The answer, at least judging by the arguments of Reps. Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan, is chilling.
To paraphrase Sacha Baron Cohen:
Plutocracy, based on shared apathy, is on the march.
Combine that with a powerful quote from John Stott
Apathy is the acceptance of the unacceptable, whereas leadership begins with a decisive refusal to do so…
Another push from a former Republican Senator, who urges the R’s to dig into the facts and not support a partisan divide. Elder statesmen and respected Senators are invoking the example set by Alexander Hamilton to avoid such an obvious power grab by our President.
History will not be kind…is the constant refrain. And ALWAYS put Country before party.
It seems clear to me that the president of Ukraine was subjected to a shakedown.
By Slade Gorton
Mr. Gorton is a former Republican senator from Washington. Slade Gorton was a Republican senator from Washington from 1981 to 1987, and again from 1989 to 2001.
John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things.” Forty-five years after Mr. Nixon resigned before he could be impeached by the House, the facts should be the focus of every elected official, Republican or Democrat, as they decide what to do about another president facing impeachment and a possible Senate trial.
To my fellow Republicans, I give this grave and genuine warning: It’s not enough merely to dismiss the Ukraine investigation as a partisan witch hunt or to hide behind attacks against the “deep state,” or to try to find some reason to denounce every witness who steps forward, from decorated veterans to Trump megadonors.
History demands that we all wrestle with the facts at hand. They are unavoidable. Fifty years from now, history will not accept the position that impeachment was a referendum on the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. It must be a verdict reached on the facts.
Agree to disagree, or disagree better? We’ll help you understand the sharpest arguments on the most pressing issues of the week, from new and familiar voices.
My judgment so far as an objective observer is that there are multiple actions on this president’s part that warrant a vote of impeachment in the House, based on corroborated testimony that Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, pressured leaders of Ukraine to investigate the Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden and his family.
From what I have read, it seems clear that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was subjected to a shakedown — pressured to become a foreign participant in President Trump’s re-election campaign, a violation of the law.
Several credible witnesses have testified to the existence of a quid pro quo, including William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine; Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the White House’s top Ukraine expert; and Gordon Sondland, Mr. Trump’s ambassador to the European Union. They and others have testified that there was a push for politically motivated investigations, and three of them were so alarmed that they attempted to report their concerns up the chain of command at the National Security Council.
Are they to be believed? Here’s my bottom line: That’s what an impeachment inquiry and a Senate trial are designed to find out. That’s why there’s a process under the Constitution.
But make no mistake: This is precisely the kind of crisis Alexander Hamilton feared. In Federalist No. 75, he warned that a president might be tempted to betray the interests of the country for his own benefit, “to sacrifice his duty to his interest, which it would require superlative virtue to withstand”; that “an avaricious man might be tempted to betray the interests of the state to the acquisition of wealth”; that a president might “make his own aggrandizement, by the aid of a foreign power, the price of his treachery to his constituents.”
Here’s what I know: Neither the country nor the Constitution is served by a partisan shouting match divorced from the facts, a process boycotted by one side refusing to engage on the merits. John Adams is still right 250 years later: Facts are stubborn things. Facts are what should determine whether a stubborn president stays in office. Republicans, don’t fight the process, follow the facts wherever they lead, and put country above party.
The problem here is “former.” All the “formers” and “ex’s” and “governors” in the world don’t make a bit of difference when the ones who cast the votes, the GOP in the House and Senate, don’t give a damn any longer.