Why Impeachment Is Necessary.

The Founding Fathers were so concerned about the very real possibility of their new nation being taken over by an authoritarian president, they crafted the Constitution to create three co-equal branches of government: Congress, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. The idea was that Congress and the courts would serve as a check on presidential abuse of power. The Founders also provided for a mechanism to remove the president from office. But rather than specify the actions which would justify the president’s removal, they vaguely referred to them as “high crimes and misdemeanors,” trusting that members of Congress would recognize abuse of power when they see it.

Given the following actions of Trump and his administration, it’s difficult to imagine that the Founders wouldn’t have expected such a president to be impeached and removed from office:

1 – Although Mueller could not find enough evidence to indict the president, his family and his campaign for criminal conspiracy, he documented dozens of instances of collusion and cooperation with Russia and Wikileaks to subvert the 2016 election. In fact, the president’s campaign manager is now in prison as a result of campaign violations and several others are awaiting sentencing. And Trump’s personal attorney is in prison for violating campaign laws at the direction of the president!
2 – Mueller cited at least 10 instances in which the president engaged in obstruction of justice during the Russia investigation, including the suborning of perjury by his associates. The only reason he was not indicted is because of a questionable DOJ opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted for crimes.
3 – Despite the Mueller investigation and the subsequent convictions of members of his 2016 campaign, Trump announced during an interview that he would again accept illegal help from a foreign nation in the 2020 election.
4 – Trump has admitted to illegally holding up congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine agreeing to open an investigation to obtain dirt on one of Trump’s political rivals.
5 – Trump and his administration have routinely and illegally obstructed congressional oversight by refusing to turn over documents and ordering anyone connected to the administration – even those who do not work for the government – to refuse to testify by claiming executive privilege.
6 – Trump has routinely violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by encouraging foreign representatives to meet in his resorts and hotels at the expense of taxpayers.
6 – Trump encouraged the vice-president to stay at one of his resorts during his recent trip to Ireland even though the resort was more than 100 miles from his official meetings.
7 – The US military has engaged in a questionable contract with the Prestwick Airport near one of Trump’s resorts in Scotland. In addition, it has quartered military personnel in the resort to financially benefit the Trump organization.
8 – Trump has routinely spent weekends at his resorts along with his government entourage at great expense to US taxpayers. And great profit to his company.
9 – Virtually the entire Trump cabinet has engaged in corrupt activities for personal gain.
10 – Trump’s family and others in the administration have conducted business via personal emails and illegally failed to keep records of their communications – the very thing they accused Hillary of doing.
11 – It has been documented that the president and his administration routinely lie to the American people. According to the Washington Post and other fact-checkers, Trump has made more than 12,000 false or misleading claims since the inauguration.
12 – Trump and his administration have violated numerous federal and international laws in their handling of Central American refugees seeking asylum, including the separation of children from their parents.
13 – Trump has undermined our nation’s relationships with many allies while pandering to the planet’s worst dictators.

The House’s impeachment inquiry may find numerous additional abuses. But, regardless of the findings, the president and his supporters will do everything in their power to dismiss it as another Democrat-led “Witch Hunt.” As you listen to their spin, keep in mind that the “Mueller Witch Hunt” caught a lot of “witches” who were members of the Trump inner circle, some of whom are now in prison.

We do not know if the House will vote for impeachment. And we don’t know if the Senate will convict and remove the president from office. But we do know one thing for certain: If the roles were reversed and a Democratic president had committed even one of the crimes listed above, the GOP would have already impeached, convicted and likely executed that president.

Yes, He Really Is A Russian Asset.

Trump loudly and repeatedly proclaims that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. Yet, beginning in 2015, after Trump announced his presidential bid, there have been 272 documented contacts between the Trump team and Russia-linked operatives. That includes at least 38 face-to-face meetings with those representing our nation’s most dangerous rival. As a result, the Special Counsel investigation obtained indictments, convictions and guilty pleas for 34 people and three companies. Those include several of Trump’s top advisers.

And that’s not the worst of it.

Once Trump assumed office, despite losing the election by nearly 3 million votes, he has taken numerous actions that appear to aid and abet our enemy. To begin, he has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that Russia helped his campaign and interfered in our election despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He invited the Russian ambassador into the Oval Office along with the Russian press while denying US press access to the meeting.

Against long-standing international protocol, Trump attended private meetings with Vladimir Putin with only their personal translators in attendance. In one of their meetings, only Putin’s translator was present. And, afterwards, Trump took extraordinary measures to conceal details of the meetings, even from officials in his own administration. No detailed record of any of his conversations and interactions with Putin exists…at least not outside of Moscow.

In Helsinki, Trump publicly bowed to Putin by accepting his denial of Russian interference in our elections while ignoring the overwhelming evidence obtained by US intelligence agencies. At a G20 meeting in Germany, Trump met with Putin for more than two hours then followed that up with a second private meeting that he denied ever happened. In total, Trump and Putin have conducted at least 5 off-the-record meetings. No one knows how many off-the-record phone conversations they have had.

All of this raises concerns about the official actions Trump has taken for the obvious benefit of Russia.

For example, he verbally attacked NATO and our European allies which, in effect, weakens the greatest counter to Russian aggression. He appeared to kowtow to Russia in the Syrian civil war and the fight against ISIS by allowing Putin to prop up Assad. Despite saying that “nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have,” Trump ignored a congressionally-mandated deadline for imposing sanctions on Russians. Trump withdrew the US from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia, a move that actually benefits Russia, which has been suspected of ignoring the treaty for some time. It also puts all of Europe at greater risk.

Trump has campaigned for Russia’s re-admission to the G8 after Russia was denied participation in the group following its invasion of Ukraine and its occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. And now we’re learning that Trump apparently held up $250 million in US military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to elicit a Ukrainian investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son – a move intended to get dirt on a 2020 Democratic rival which raises questions about abuse of power and federal election violations. It is also an obvious threat to Ukraine at a time when it’s vulnerable to further Russian aggression.

Add to all of this Trump’s long-standing attempts to build a Trump Tower Moscow, the extraordinary number of purchases of Trump properties by Russian oligarchs and Russian mafia figures, the fact that Russians were running an illegal gambling operation out of a condo one floor below Trump’s living quarters, and rumors that Russian oligarchs backed loans to Trump in 2009 to help him salvage his near-bankrupt organization.

It’s preposterous to believe Trump and his supporters when they dismiss all of the evidence and rumors of collusion between Trump and Russia as mere coincidence. As many have said, “There are no coincidences in politics.”

Trump truly is Putin’s bitch.

Crimean Crisis Began With Bush.

When Mikhail Gorbachev called an end to the Cold War, President George H. W. Bush agreed that there would be no expansion of NATO. Bush also agreed that, following the reunification of Germany, NATO troops and weapons would not be permitted on former East German soil. This was not only necessary to ensure the security of the Russian Federation. In part, it was to prevent a reunified Germany from ever posing a danger to Russia again. After all, the Soviet Union lost more than 20 million of its citizens during World War II.

The agreement was short-lived.

Almost immediately, NATO expanded into the former East Germany. Then, during the Clinton administration, NATO expanded into the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Then George W. Bush pushed NATO to expand into Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia. In addition, Cyprus, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro have considered membership. And, before the end of his second term, Bush made it clear that he wanted Georgia and the Ukraine to join NATO, as well.

This expansion of Russia’s former enemy into nations that were once part of its Warsaw Pact has led Putin and the Russian government to distrust the ultimate goals of NATO, Europe and the US. Add the Bush/Cheney doctrine of pre-emptive war along with Bush’s assertion that the US has the right to use nuclear weapons, and Russians have reason to question our intentions. At the same time, the US has continued to develop and deploy our National Missile Defense (NMD) throughout Europe. Even though it is called a “defense” system, Russians see it differently. They view it as making a first strike survivable.

The NMD is unlikely to be capable of intercepting a massive first strike by Russia. On the other hand, it could more reasonably be seen as capable of intercepting a much smaller retaliatory strike by Russia following a first strike by the US. In other words, it very much upsets the balance of power. Combined with the US thirst for oil which has led us to interfere with governments around the globe, and you can easily see why Putin would be unwilling to see its long-time partner nation, the Ukraine, move away from Russia and join the European Union. Even worse, Russia would lose its naval base at Sebastopol, Crimea, which is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

If you still think this crisis is the result of the Obama administration’s “weak” foreign policy, consider this: What if “independence” groups in Canada or Mexico suddenly took control of the government and formed an alliance with Russia? And what if they signed a treaty of mutual protection? What then? Would you support your neighbors? Or would you demand that the US do something to stop it?

I thought so.

Men (And Women) Of War.

Now that the political upheaval in Ukraine is reaching a critical juncture, the usual warmongers are blustering and calling for military threats. At the same time, they’re blaming President Obama for “weak foreign policy.” Exactly which foreign policy do they consider weak? The policy that ferreted out and killed Osama bin Laden? The policy of targeting al-Qaeda leaders with drone strikes? The policy of providing air support for Libyan rebels? The policy of mandatory inspections and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria?

Or is it the policy of allowing the people of other nations to select their own government and leaders? Is it the peace negotiations with the new moderate President of Iran who requested a dialogue to end the severe economic sanctions in exchange for Iran ending its ambition for nuclear weapons? Or is it the resumption of US-led peace talks between Israel and Palestine? All of these are positive steps that stand as a welcome contrast to the Bush administration’s “you’re with us or against us” black and white approach to foreign policy.

The world is not merely black and white. It’s nuanced and complex. For example, Russia still has thousands of nuclear warheads with the capability of extinguishing all life on this planet. The US, Great Britain, France, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea all have nuclear weapons. And all but North Korea have long-range delivery systems for their warheads. As a result, military threats and war are seldom the best solutions.

Without using nuclear warheads, which could escalate into the complete destruction of our planet, our options are limited. We have seen what happens when we involve our military in nation-building projects such as Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. We have seen what happened when we used our CIA to overthrow leaders in Chile, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and too many Caribbean and Pan American countries to count. We have seen what happens when we serve as the world’s largest arms and munitions dealer.

All of these tactics have created anti-American sentiment, anti-American terrorists and legions of heavily-armed militias who are determined to fight us and each other. Yet this reality seems lost on the neocons who still cling to Cold War beliefs and the ideals of the Project for the New American Century…a plan to expand the American empire by using our status as a superpower by bullying and threatening other nations to obtain an endless supply of cheap raw materials and underpaid labor.

It was neocons from both parties who led us to arm the Shah of Iran to help him oppress his people in exchange for selling us cheap oil. It was Teapublican neocons like Donald Rumsfled who armed Saddam Hussein to fight Iran. It was the neocon Richard Perle who convinced Ronald Reagan to rebuff Mikhail Gorbochev’s attempts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. It was the neocons who led us to arm and educate the radical Islamists of western Pakistan to fight the Soviets. It was neocons like George H.W. Bush, Oliver North, Elliott Abrams, Caspar Weinberger and Richard “The Dick” Cheney who arranged to sell arms to Iran in exchange for the illegal funding of death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua. It was the neocons who supported the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in hopes that the Taliban would allow US oil companies to build a pipeline across Afghanistan so that they could gain access to Caspian oil and gas. It was neocons like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby and Condoleeza Rice who used the attacks of 9/11 to lead us into Iraq in order to ensure access to Iraqi oil.

More recently, neocon-lite Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called for direct military involvement in Libya and Syria despite the fact that many of the militias involved in the war to overthrow Assad in Syria are allied with al-Qaeda. McCain, Graham and other warmongers from both political parties have called for increased sanctions on Iran – even as serious negotiations are underway – a move that would be likely to result in war with Iran. And now, the neocons are calling for confrontation and intervention in Ukraine. They are claiming that the problems in Ukraine are the result of the Obama administration’s “weak” foreign policy.

Seriously?

What do they want the administration to do? Invade Ukraine despite the fact that Ukraine has long been allied with Russia? Such an intervention rightly would be seen by Russia as an act of war. Since the end of the USSR, we have already broken our promises by moving NATO to the very doorstep of Russia, a move that is seen as a very real threat. We have already deployed our missile defense system in Europe, an act that is also seen as a threat to Russia by making a US first strike seem like a real possibility.

Any threat to use military force in Ukraine would, in effect, create a reverse version of the Cuban missile crisis. And there’s no guarantee that Putin is as realistic as Nikita Kruschev and as determined to avoid nuclear war.

The Project for the New American Century ended in 2006 in the aftermath of the group’s disastrous plan to invade and remake Iraq. Unfortunately, its members and proponents, including Richard “The Dick” Cheney, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, William Bennett, Jeb Bush, Steve Forbes, Dan Quayle and many others continue to sell the same bad ideas. Their ideas need to be relegated to the toxic waste dump of history where they belong. While we’re at it, we should bury the racist notion of American “Exceptionalism” along with the top-down economic policy known as Reaganomics, aka Trickle Down theory, Horse and Sparrow economics, and Voodoo economics. It’s time to leave the military and economic thinking of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries behind us.

It is a new century with new possibilities. It requires new thinking and new strategies.