Category Archives: Politics

Ukraine Flag

Trump & the Ukraine scandal

Today’s news is consumed with Trump’s criminal Ukraine scandal.

๐Ÿ’ต The Trump administration has said there was “no quid pro quo” because Ukraine didn’t know that the Trump admin was sitting on their aid funds. Turns out, Ukraine totally did know. (New York Times)

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ The US envoy to Ukraine, William Taylor, testified in Congress yesterday and laid out a pretty clear and damning timeline for Trump and his administration withholding aid from Ukraine to force Ukraine to fake up an investigation into Biden and related conspiracy theories. (Politico)

๐Ÿ˜ The House Intelligence Committee was deposing an impeachment witness today in a SCIF, a special secure room, and non-committee-member Republicans forced the doors open, stormed the room, and basically staged a sit-in as a political stunt. Since the Republicans brought their electronics – smartphones, etc. – in with them, they have breached the security of the SCIF. I think this situation is still ongoing. (CNN)

A few quick notes about the Republicans storming the SCIF:

  • They have claimed that they pulled their stunt because Republicans aren’t involved in the impeachment hearing. Republicans are definitely involved in the hearing, as it was held by the House Intelligence Committee, which Republicans are members of.
  • These idiots were tweeting and broadcasting from inside the SCIF.
  • Here’s a Twitter thread on why what the Republicans did was so alarming.
  • “In reality, more than 45 House Republicans โ€” nearly a quarter of the House GOP conference โ€” already have full access to the depositions through their membership on one of the three panels leading the impeachment inquiry. During the depositions, Republican lawyers are given the same amount of time to question witnesses as Democratic counsels.” (Politico)
  • Of course they’re keeping the impeachment proceedings mum. For one thing, there’s probably national security stuff being discussed, and for another, if it were public, Trump would be shitting it all up in the media while his cronies used the revelations to get their lies straight and consistent.

๐Ÿ“ˆ A Quinnipiac University National Poll has found that support for impeaching Trump has risen to 55%. (poll.qu.edu)

๐Ÿฅฑ Meanwhile, apparently some Republicans are getting tired of covering for Trump? I guess? I don’t quite buy it, myself. (Daily Beast)

Trump - Prisoner

Re: Trump’s BS & the Impeachment Inquiry

This morning the president tweeted this crap.

Trump Tweet

This is a variation on his usual theme: The impeachment inquiry isn’t fair and is a violation of his rights. Somehow. Except, obviously, it is not.

Also, President White Supremacist probably shouldn’t be trotting out “lynching” to describe his entirely justified impeachment. But aside from that bullshit…

Trump’s been beating this drum pretty regularly since the impeachment kicked off seven thousand years ago – that because he can’t talk to witnesses, and/or because the House didn’t hold a formal vote, and/or fill in the blanks, the impeachment inquiry is illegal, immoral, impinging on his rights, a farce, whatever. But that’s not how this works.

For starters, a formal vote to begin impeachment proceedings isn’t constitutionally required. It’s been customary, but it’s not legally required. And, to be honest, in this particular moment of history, holding a formal vote is lose-lose for Pelosi and the House Democrats. A formal vote would pass, but it would do so along party lines. If Pelosi doesn’t hold a vote, Trump whines that the impeachment inquiry is invalid. If she does, the impeachment inquiry gets smeared as a strictly partisan attempt to discredit Trump. There’s no win scenario in an impeachment inquiry vote right now.

But the longer the inquiry goes, and the more dirt that gets dragged out, and the more often Trump loses his temper and fucks up (see: the Kurds, Mick Mulvaney, Trump National Doral, etc.), the more likely it is that the House Democrats pick up some House Republicans to vote for an impeachment inquiry. And that would be a pretty hefty blow to Trump.

Trump Tweet

See, the thing is, Republicans do have lawyers and are asking questions. We’ve all seen open hearings, where Democrats and Republicans take turns asking questions, and where the person testifying shows up with a veritable army of lawyers, and where, sometimes, the House shows up with lawyers of their own to lead the investigation. And as to transparency – that comes with the trial, not the inquiry.

An impeachment proceeding works sort of similarly to a criminal investigation. At the moment, we’re in the “investigation” stage.

If this were a cop show, it would be the part where the cops were following leads, finding clues, and questioning witnesses. And you’ll notice that in every single cop show you’ve ever seen, the actual criminal was not hanging out with the cops also questioning witnesses and looking at clues. In fact, as a general rule, the cops try to avoid letting the criminal know they’re being investigated, so that the crook can’t interfere or destroy evidence or whatever.

The next stage of the impeachment proceedings is a courtroom show – the Senate trial. There’s where evidence is presented and lawyers get involved and we get our transparency – or at least as much as national security will allow. That’s where Trump – or rather, whatever lawyers he manages to scrape together who haven’t also been arrested for crimes *coughRudycough* – gets to talk to witnesses and see evidence.

Like, we all watch TV. We all know that’s how this works.

Okay, well, all of us with any sense left, anyways. I suppose the diehard MAGA crew doesn’t know much of anything.

Trump Tweet

Trump Tweet

I mean, it was definitely, 100% intended to be this way for the president, especially if the president is a blatant criminal. That’s why the impeachment process was included in the constitution – so we’d have a way to remove crooks from the presidency.

But besides that, I just wanted to point out Trump’s campaign of smearing the impeachment proceedings as illegitimate, and the House leaders involved as corrupt, mentally ill, etc. This is a standard tactic of his – if he doesn’t like something or someone, he goes on an endless tirade of abuse and lies, painting the person or situation as unfair, morally wrong, illegal – all that jazz. And I’m pointing it out because it works. If he keeps hammering this nail, and his propaganda outlets like Fox News, RT, Infowars, and various botnets, flunkies, and diehard MAGA fans on Twitter and Facebook keep repeating it, and the regular media covers it… it becomes “common knowledge.”

Pretty soon otherwise rational people who aren’t tits-deep in the news everyday like me are saying things like, “I dunno… the way the Democrats are handling this impeachment thing seems a little fishy to me…”

That’s why it’s important to push back on Trump’s garbage. That’s why you have to call this shit out and correct it when you see it. Because otherwise, Trump makes it the truth.

The impeachment inquiry is legitimate. The president has committed criminal, impeachable offenses. He should be removed from office. At the very barest least, he should be made to go through this process, and all his dirt should be dragged into the light, and it should be shouted from the rooftops, and then the Senate, better than half of which is complicit in Trump’s crimes, should be made to vote on it, so they can be on record for all time.

And then in 2020, we should vote every last single one of those bastards out of office.

5 Things To Read Today

Friday Round-Up: Trump, Ukraine, Astronauts, & More

It’s been a long week, you guys, and I’m betting next week will be longer.

Current Events

The US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, will appear before the House for their impeachment inquiry on Oct. 17, but he won’t provide documents because he says he’s not legally allowed; the State Dept. will have to release the documents. You know Sondland’s name because he’s tied up in this Ukraine mess. Specifically, he had a lot to say in the damning text messages that the House released this week.

Meanwhile, more whistleblowers are crawling out of the woodwork, which is to be expected.

Also, Marie Yovanovitch, the US’ ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted by the Trump administration because she wouldn’t play ball in their attempt to pressure Ukraine into helping smear Joe Biden, testified to the House today. It was closed testimony, so we may or may not get details anytime soon, but her opening statement is public and gives us a place to start, anyway.

Don’t forget – the Senate Select Committee released their report on the Russian disinformation campaign in the 2016 elections. The disinfo campaign was complex, began before the 2016 elections, and continues today. Also good to know: the disinfo campaign propagates mainly on social media, and social media platforms haven’t done much of anything to curb it.

One last thing: Trump lost his appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which means that the House is allowed to subpoena his tax records from his accountant, Mazars USA.

Good News

Four young kids in in Roseville, California heard a report that a 97-year-old lady with dementia was missing, so they jumped on their bikes and scoured the neighborhood until they found her.

Researchers used an AI language program to discover that not only do bats talk to each other, like, individually, but that mostly they bitch at each other. Which is both hilarious and kind of adorable.

The first all-woman space walk is scheduled for Oct. 21. Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will do a walk outside the International Space Station.

Stuff I Wrote

Ballot Box - Pexels

Trump’s Base: In which I do math (๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ)

As of 2018, there are 327,167,434 million US citizens and 253,768,092 (78%) of them are 18 or older. Of that, about 153 million are registered to vote. That’s about 47% of the total population and about 60% of eligible US voters.

Of those voters, as of 2017, Gallup polling showed that “46% are either “Democrats or Democratic leaners” and 39% are either “Republicans or Republican leaners.”

So, roughly, 98,969,555 of the voting population of the US leans or is Republican. (Leaving 116,733,322 as Democratically-aligned.)

According to the Gallup’s most recent polls Trump has an 87% approval rate with Republicans. That’s about 86,103,512 registered voters.

In 2018, voter turnout was about 53%. In 2016, voter turnout was about 61%. The 2018 turnout was unusually high for a mid-term election, but 2016’s turnout was about bang-on for a presidential election (contrary to popular belief). I would expect to see a higher-than-usual turnout for the 2020 election due to the 2018 turnout and just because so much is on the line and things have been so fraught these last few years, but let’s not count those chickens before they hatch. We’ll assume a 61% turnout rate for 2020.

That means about 154,798,536 people will vote in 2020, of which about 60,371,429 will be Republican or Republican-leaning, and of that, about 52,523,143 (according to the current Gallup numbers) will vote for Trump.

In a nation of 257 million registered voters, where around 155 million of them are expected to actually vote, about 53 million might vote for Trump.

(Assuming I mathed right, which is always a crap shoot, but I sourced my numbers, tried not to guesstimate too much, and used a calculator widget to figure the percentages, so…)

So, call that 53 million Trump’s base. That’s… not a lot, relatively speaking.

Trying to come up with a hard number for Trump’s base is tricky. I’ve done a lot of Googling and reading about it, and I have not found much in the way of hard numbers. I’ve seen a lot of percentages based on this poll or that, calculated from adults 18+, registered voters, likely voters, etc, counting this number of people as “hardcore” supporters or that number of people as “likely supporters,” and so on, and so forth, but… not much by way of hard numbers.

What it does come down to is that “Trump’s base” is not large. It’s not even close to any kind of a majority. And I think that’s important to know in this frightening and disheartening age of ours.

Sources

Gavel

Impeachment resources!

News is breaking so fast on this impeachment thing that it’s hard to keep up. Here’s a roundup of resources you can use to keep an eye on things.

I’ll update this as I find more. I know a few newspapers are rolling out email newsletters for impeachment information, so I may add some of those, too.

ETA: You can sign up for the New York Times’ “Impeachment Briefing,” an email newsletter, here. I don’t suggest it, really – I haven’t been thrilled with the way the Times has been covering Trump, either in their news section or (especially) their opinion section. They’re a little too ass-kissy for my taste. If you’re wanting something that shows up once a day in your email, you’re better off signing up with WTFJHT or impeachment.fyi.

Gavel

On the Ukraine call ‘transcript’ & impeachment.

The Trump administration’s “transcript” of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is out. Here’s NPR’s article about it, and here’s the “transcript” itself.

Let’s talk a little bit about this “transcript,” the situation with Ukraine, and impeachment.

For starters, you see the word “transcript” and you may think you’re reading a verbatim account of the phone call. You are not.

To make transcripts of official calls between any US president and another foreign leader-type person, what happens is the president calls somebody, and a bunch of people sit in on the call on both sides. Some of those people are typing/writing furiously as the leaders speak. After the call is edited, these notes are edited and/or summarized, and that’s the “transcript.” IE, it’s not being recorded. They stopped doing that after Nixon got in all his trouble.

So this isn’t a verbatim account of the call. This is what the Trump administration claims was said on the call. And of course we all know how far we can trust the Trump administration when it comes to the truth. ๐Ÿ™„

Speaking of, you should read their account. I’ll cop to having not read very many accounts of phone calls between actual national leaders of the world in real life, but I gotta tell you, this transcript reads like the fakest fake thing I’ve ever read. I mean, shit, son, real people do not speak to each other this way. And like some of that is almost certainly the Ukrainian president blowing smoke up Trump’s ass, but I’m pretty sure some of it is just bullshit, too.

Now, about that situation with Ukraine – a very basic summary goes like this: Ukraine has relied on aid from the US since 2014, and just prior to this phone call, which happened in July, the Trump administration cut off aid to Ukraine. The Trump admin has struggled to explain why they cut off aid. Then this phone call about drumming up an investigation into one of the front runners Trump might be facing in the 2020 elections happened, and the aid started flowing again. You can read a more detailed and in-depth explanation here.

All that happened and someone in the government, who seems to be privy to even more context than we currently have, saw it and was like, “Well this looks shady as balls,” and took their complaints and concerns up the chain, legally, becoming the whistleblower that everyone’s been talking about. The thing to note here is that the whistleblower followed all the legal steps to address their concerns.

You’re probably used to thinking about whistleblowers as people who are technically breaking some law or a contract they had with their job to get the word out about corruption or illegal things they witnessed or can prove, because that’s usually how things work. That’s not what happened here – there are legal ways to address corruption and/or lawbreaking in the government, and that’s what this whistleblower is doing.

The whistleblower took all the right steps to address the issues they’d discovered, which resulted in a report which is supposed to be turned over to Congress, except the Trump admin is refusing to deal with that report, which is, very definitely, illegal.

As per the norm with the Trump administration, because they suck at everything including doing crimes, this all blew up in Trump’s face, which led directly to intense pressure on the House Democrats, and Nancy Pelosi in particular, to cough up an impeachment inquiry. Which was announced yesterday.

One of the things you’re probably hearing on the news is that these impeachment investigations “aren’t really happening” and “nothing has changed” because the House has to vote to begin impeachment investigations, and there hasn’t been a vote. That, my friends, is bullshit. The only vote the House needs to do, constitutionally, for impeachment, is when they vote on the actual articles of impeachment, which is what sends them on to the Senate for an impeachment trial. To start an impeachment investigation, all they technically need to do is start investigating.

The House investigated Nixon for almost a whole year before they actually did a vote to start calling it “impeachment” officially. For that matter, the House has been investigating Trump since 2018 when we voted in a Democratic majority. (They were investigating before that, but it wasn’t going anywhere because the Republicans were in charge.)

If you want to read more about how impeachment works, Reuters has a really good explainer.

One final thought – assuming the House brings articles of impeachment up for a vote (which is kinda like filing charges against the president), the Senate begins a trial. Common wisdom has it that the Senate won’t convict the president, IE, impeach him, and that’s probably true?

A thing to remember though is that Mitch McConnell is not necessarily Trump’s friend. Mitch loves power, and Mitch loves keeping the GOP in power. Trump is a means to an end for McConnell, and if those means aren’t getting Mitch to his ends… that worm might turn, y’all. No honor among thieves and all that shit.

United States of America

Little by little, bit by bit, they’re taking your US citizenship away.

Washington correspondent Tal Kopan of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets, “Today USCIS issued guidance that DHS ‘no longer considers children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members residing outside the United States as “residing in the United States” for purposes of acquiring citizenship.'”

This is the USCIS guidance document she’s talking about: Policy Alert: Defining โ€œResidenceโ€ in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship (.pdf).

Policy Highlights

  • Clarifies that temporary visits to the United States do not establish U.S. residence and explains the distinction between residence and physical presence in the United States.
  • Explains that USCIS no longer considers children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members residing outside the United States as โ€œresiding in the United Statesโ€ for purposes of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.

This new policy applies to non-resident children of non-US citizens who work for the US government or are in the armed forces, and also non-resident children of US citizens.

Effective October 29, 2019, children residing abroad with their U.S. citizen parents who are U.S. government employees or members of the U.S. armed forces stationed abroad are not considered to be residing in the United States for acquisition of citizenship. Similarly, leave taken in the United States while stationed abroad is not considered residing in the United States even if the person is staying in property he or she owns.

Therefore, U.S. citizen parents who are residing outside the United States with children who are not U.S. citizens should apply for U.S. citizenship on behalf of their children under INA 3228, and must complete the process before the childโ€™s 18th birthday.9 The child of a member of the U.S. armed forces accompanying his or her parent abroad on official orders may be eligible to complete all aspects of the naturalization proceedings abroad. This includes interviews, filings, oaths, ceremonies, or other proceedings relating to naturalization.10

โ˜Ž๏ธ Call your elected representatives today, House and Senate. Tell them that you do not support this policy change, and ask what your representatives and senators intend to do to stop it from being enacted.

  • Find your representative and their contact information: Click here.
  • Find your senator and their contact information: Click here.

UPDATE: