“This president is impeached for life, regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell. He will be impeached forever.”
— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on ‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos’ (1/12/20)
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (1/13/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Three things we know. Trump is impeached, “impeached for life”, as Pelosi says. Trump lies, about everything. Our elections are not fair or safe.
Because I also like the headline…
As the sub-head says, she did not hold back: “The Speaker of the House did not hold back on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
Pelosi was outspoken while stating “we have confidence in our case”, noting:
“Her concluding remarks about Trump stated that his “crossing the line in Ukraine violated the Constitution in such a way that can’t be ignored.” She also referred to his “crazy tweets” and added that “when he calls someone crazy, he knows that he is.”‘
Pelosi also tweeted this on Sunday morning:
“Every knock from Trump is a boost. Everything he says is a projection.
“But it’s Sunday morning, let’s be optimistic about the future — a future that *will not* have Trump in the White House one way or another. “
Credit where due, Pelosi has a knack for getting to the point with Trump.
The lie of the moment
Trump lies, as does everyone in his administration. Overstatement? …I paused for a bit, but couldn’t think of an exception.
Trump says his rationale for the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasam Soleimani was in response to an imminent threat. The last edition of the Commoner Call included a report of Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) comments following a Congressional briefing of the rationale by the Trump administration. Lee described this briefing as, “probably the worst briefing I have seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.” Oh, but don’t discuss or disagree:
“He added: “What I found so distressing about the briefing is one of the messages we received from the briefers was, ‘Do not debate, do not discuss the issue of the appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran,’ and that if you do ‘You will be emboldening Iran.’ ”
Meanwhile Trump — as Trump does — doubles down and doubles down again. ‘Imminent’ was now supposedly a planned attack on a US embassy. Then Trump goes on Fox and ‘elaborates’, telling host Laura Ingraham:
““I can reveal that I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies,” Trump said.”
Trump’s Defense Sec. Mark Esper knows better than to say Trump lied, appearing on Sunday’s CBS Face The Nation:
“Defense Secretary Mark Esper further muddied the issue Sunday morning on Face the Nation. Esper said that while he “believed” that there “probably, could have been attacks” that put Americans in the Middle East in immediate danger, he “didn’t see” specific intelligence indicating an imminent attack on multiple embassies, an odd statement given that, as secretary of defense, Esper ought to have seen such intelligence, if it exists.”
An even more creative way of talking around a Trump lie, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said Trump’s “interpretation” of the available intelligence — namely the conclusion four embassies were at immediate risk — was “consistent” with what the brief said.
As author and chess champion Garry Kasparov points out, citing Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA): “Lie on Fox News, apologize on Twitter or CNN. GOP wants two realities so they can be Trump propagandists and respected representatives at the same time.” Collins had falsely accused Democrats of being “in love with terrorists” on Fox and followed with an apology on CNN.
The GOP ‘lie’ playbook.
Elections at risk from multiple angles
Kasparov’s observation leads us into the third point; our elections are not safe. One factor comes in the disinformation and lies from the Trump administration. There are the deliberate lies, like Trump’s trumped up claims to justify ‘imminent’. There are the shameful, crass overstatements by administration persons and elected officials like Collins. And there is the persistent dark ‘who’s on first’ comedy of this inept administration.
So why did Trump assassinate Soleimani? Take your pick, and they can all be true. Or none o them.
One associate said Trump acted because he “was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate”. Another view is that Trump “can’t tolerate a Benghazi of his own”.
Speaking of Benghazi and politicized events to smear Democrats, the Department of Justice “is quietly winding down a two-year probe of the Clintons, and admitting that “nothing of consequence” was found to suggest they had committed any sort of criminal offense.”
Just to name of few moments from the GOP playbook of smearing political opponents – Benghazi, yellowcake, but her emails – now it’s Ukraine, lies about a CrowdStrike server, a Biden investigation… It’s not unique to Trump, it’s not specific to Clinton. Maybe you don’t care because the targets are Clinton or Biden, but do you really believe it can’t happen to your candidate of choice? Hey, it’s all fair in love, politics and social media – Facebook says, ‘not our job’ and they won’t police “lies in political ads”.
We rightfully think of propaganda as conspiracy theories, distortions and outright lies from Fox News to social media. But Yale philosopher and author of the 2015 book How Propaganda Works Jason Stanley reminds us there is much more to propaganda.
Stanley starts by observing propaganda is much like advertising or public relations, noting, “Propaganda is the use of images or language to manipulate people. It’s almost always a manipulation of the political space, and it can be done for all kinds of purposes.”
But he goes on to remind us, the less appreciated goal of propaganda “is the destruction of reality under the guise of reality”.
“So think of . Their slogan is, “Question More.” Now, what are they trying to say here? On the face of it, they’re just saying, “We’re going to give you all the possibilities and that will make you more free.” But discovered long ago that when you open the information space to every kind of conspiracy theory, you destroy reality.”
How often have you thought, or heard a friend say, “I don’t know what to trust”?
““Question More” seems to be in the service of more objectivity and knowledge but, in fact, it destroys it. And that’s the distinctive nature of the novel propaganda”, says Stanley. This ‘destruction’ serves Trump with “everyone thinks it’s just us versus them”.
But if lies and propaganda aren’t enough of a threat to fair elections we have good old-fashioned gerrymandering. Again the last edition of The Commoner Call carried an article reporting on the Wisconsin voter purge but also “Republican Family Secrets: Deceased Strategist’s Daughter Makes Vote-Blocking Files Public That GOP Wanted Sealed”.
The strategy guru of the GOP gerrymandering playbook developed initially in North Carolina was Thomas Hofeller. We now have a Trump Federal Election Commission (FEC) nominee “James “Trey” Trainor appears to have worked closely with deceased GOP gerrymandering guru Thomas Hofeller”. Yep, Trump is putting the trained gerrymandering fox in the election hen house.
Lies, propaganda, voter purge, gerrymandering… oh, and unreliable voting technology. Mother Jones reports that upgrading voting systems “in the wake of the 2016 Russian election interference operations, most election security experts” embraced paper ballots. Sadly, the article reports, this is not a silver bullet, noting “…a carefully designed mock-election found that the majority of voters don’t review their ballots before handing them over to be scanned, and that a shockingly low number of voters reported errors to poll workers, even though the researchers had programmed the machines to deliberately introduce one on every ballot. Based on the experience, the researchers warn that “error detection and reporting rates are dangerously low,” indicating that not only would it usually go unnoticed if such machines — either through error or manipulation — printed mismarked ballots, but that the paper record they produced would fail to document any evidence of a discrepancy.”
And of course, as the New York Times reports, the Russians are back, “The National Security Agency and its British counterpart issued an unusual warning in October: The Russians were back and growing stealthier.” Sadly, “many of the vulnerabilities exploited by Moscow in 2016 remain”.
So what can we do? Show up, make sure our vote counts, win elections and….
Impeach AND Remove.