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If You Didn't Already Think Trump Was Unfit for Office, Syria and Ukraine Should Change Your Mind


If You Didn’t Already Think Trump Was Unfit for Office, Syria and Ukraine Should Change Your Mind
By David French October 17, 2019

French is a TIME columnist. A lawyer and senior fellow at the National Review Institute, he is a best-selling author whose next book will be The Great American Divorce.

Throughout the 2016 presidential primaries and through the presidential campaign, those of us who were classified as “Never Trump” or “anti-Trump” conservatives repeated the same mantra, time and time again: Character is destiny. A man’s temperament, knowledge, and integrity inevitably shape his conduct. As much as voters may hope that the weight of the office or the influence of advisers can shape or influence a flawed president, those flaws will still burst forth — especially when a man is as headstrong as Donald Trump.

While we have seen the consequences of Trump’s character throughout his presidency, no series of crises has demonstrated his profound flaws more thoroughly and completely than the twin foreign policy scandals in Ukraine and Syria. All of the character traits that Trump’s critics most feared are present — including his petty corruption, his temperamental unfitness, and his rank incompetence.


But if there is anything we’ve since learned about the partisan mind, it’s that it’s capable of endless contortions and rationalizations in the pursuit of power. For the GOP partisan, character is no longer destiny. It’s an increasingly-irrelevant factor in the quest for power — even when the exercise of that power consistently and increasingly results in outcomes and policies that Republican stalwarts once opposed.

Imagine, just for a moment, the Republican outcry if the Obama administration had so abruptly abandoned the Kurds. Republicans, in fact, demanded that Obama intervene in Iraq in 2014 to save Iraqi Kurdistan from ISIS. And when he did, they demanded that he fight harder, that he “take the gloves off.”

While it’s gratifying to see a number of Republican senators and congressmen condemn Trump’s Syrian retreat, few are (publicly, at least) acknowledging the full truth of the moment. Trump’s Ukraine and Syria policies represent Trump unleashed. This is the man in full, and the man in full is demonstrating that he’s just as corrupt, unfit, and incompetent as his critics feared. Character doesn’t just count, character controls, and the diplomatic, military, and moral fruits of Trump’s are bitter indeed.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Oct 18, 2019, 09:16 AM (0 replies)

American diplomacy is crumbling under Trump, top diplomats warn


Dave Lawler10 hours ago
American diplomacy is crumbling under Trump, top diplomats warn

Some of America's most seasoned diplomats are warning that President Trump is wounding American diplomacy so severely that it could take generations to heal.

Why it matters: “One of our sources of power as the United States of America is that we have the deepest and broadest bench when you go into any negotiation,” says Wendy Sherman, who served in top State Department roles in the Obama administration. “When you hollow out the State Department, when you diminish diplomacy, you are taking away an essential tool of power of the United States.”

Driving the news: Michael McKinley, a veteran diplomat who resigned last week as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s senior adviser, told House investigators yesterday that he was “disturbed” by the administration's efforts to convince Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

“I was convinced that this would also have a serious impact on foreign service morale and the integrity of our work overseas,” McKinley said, per the Washington Post. He resigned in part to protest Marie Yovanovitch’s ouster as ambassador to Ukraine.

Yovanovitch, also a career diplomat, testified last week that she’d been removed based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.” Those included associates of Rudy Giuliani.

George Kent, another senior State Department official whose role includes overseeing Ukraine policy, testified that he’d been cut out of the loop.

Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, was in the loop. According to testimony from Trump's former Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, he was pursuing a shadow foreign policy aimed at benefiting Trump politically.

What they’re saying: Bill Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment and a revered former diplomat, writes in Foreign Affairs this week that he has “never seen an attack on diplomacy as damaging … as the one now underway.”


The bottom line: "Institutions like the foreign service don't turn on a dime,” Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, tells me. “They're generational."

“Even if some future administration made the revival of the diplomatic corps a priority, it would take years if not decades."
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Oct 18, 2019, 07:51 AM (2 replies)

Trump takes credit fo getting himself impeached


Trump takes credit fo getting himself impeached
Posted on Thu, Oct 17th, 2019 by Jason Easley
Unhinged In Texas, Trump Takes Credit For Getting Himself Impeached

Trump claimed during his Dallas rally that he outsmarted Democrats by releasing the Ukraine phone call that got him impeached.

Trump said, “See, we did one thing. You always have to do the unexpected. They never thought I’d release the conversation with the Ukranian president.”


It is the conversation transcript that Trump released that launched the impeachment investigation. If Trump would not have released the conversation, Democrats might not have the ironclad that they needed to impeach him.

Trump’s massive mistake in releasing the rough call notes is why impeachment moved forward so quickly. The president handed the case for impeachment to Democrats on a silver platter. He gifted impeachment to the House, yet, Donald Trump thinks that he outsmarted Democrats by getting himself impeached.

Trump is completely unhinged, and he thinks that he is winning even though he is set to become the third president in US history to be impeached.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Oct 18, 2019, 07:09 AM (7 replies)

Trump's shout-it-out-loud strategy


Jonathan Swan, Mike Allen
23 mins ago
Trump's shout-it-out-loud strategy

The Trump administration is testing a novel strategy for dealing with controversy and possible illegalities: Pretend you have nothing to hide by blurting it out loud.

Why it matters: President Trump and his aides and allies seem to think that by being unapologetic and admitting things that would have touched off blazing scandals just a few years ago, they can move the goalposts of what's acceptable to Republicans and the public.

We had two doozies yesterday:

1) Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney just said it out loud at a White House briefing, connecting Trump's release of Ukraine aid with an investigation of corruption that included U.S. Democrats.

ABC's Jonathan Karl pressed: "[T]o be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is: Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happens as well."
Mulvaney replied: "We do that all the time with foreign policy."
This, of course, pulverized Trump's "no quid pro quo" mantra.
The subtext of the pivot was: Own it. So what? He's allowed. He's the president. There's no coverup.

Republicans on the Hill couldn't believe it. A House GOP committee source to Axios' Alayna Treene: Mulvaney's "diatribe has blown up the [Gordon] Sondland interview — Democrats are referring to the transcript mid-interview. WTF."

After headlines like "White House admits quid pro quo over Ukraine aid," Mulvaney tried to walk back the admission with a statement blaming the press: "Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump. Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election."

2) Amid rising charges of cronyism, Trump awarded one of his own resorts, Trump National Doral near Miami, the lucrative contract for next June's G7 summit.

The Miami Herald calls it "a surge of off-season business for the lagging property."
Republicans would have howled "self-dealing" if a Democrat did anything like that.


Between the lines ... Last week's gambit was: "There is no whistleblower. There is no impeachment." From nothing to everything. Welcome to "The Trump Show."
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Oct 18, 2019, 07:06 AM (5 replies)

The Giant Life of Elijah Cummings


The Giant Life of Elijah Cummings
Remembering the conscience of Congress, who died Thursday at age 68
By Tyler Tynes Oct 17, 2019, 4:56pm EDT


Cummings was a voice of unsurpassed moral clarity, a champion of the prevailing idea that equality was promised to every person, and a defender of that truth. He embodied traits that should be enviable to all our public servants. He was a conscience in Congress. A man who led with compassion and argued for the betterment of American life with the fire of a prosecutor and the ordained dogma of a preacher.

The poet Maya Angelou once wrote that, “When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder, lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants lumber after safety.” That is to say, when giants of this ilk tumble, we all hear it. His life was too monumental. His fight too steadfast. Our political process will look different without Elijah Cummings. The man kind enough to chat with a boy on a spring day and regale in a simple joke to make him remember his face. The man with fire in his bones to ask America about itself with a grace from the political dais we may never see again.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Oct 17, 2019, 08:55 PM (5 replies)

A letter to Kurdish soldiers from a US military wife


A letter to Kurdish soldiers from a US military wife
Updated 2:12 PM ET, Thu October 17, 2019

"This article was written by the wife of a Special Operations soldier, who has served throughout the Middle East. CNN is not revealing her identity at her request. The views expressed in this commentary are her own.

(CNN)Dear Kurdish soldiers,
You don't know me, but I have known of you for most of my adult life. When my military husband and I quickly married, knowing he was deploying to the Middle East to be part of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, I feared what he and his Special Operations unit would face when they arrived.

How bad would the fighting be? How long would they be gone? Would he survive?

Months later, he returned and recounted to me what he could about his experience. I asked how he had made it through. He replied, "We had help. We had the Kurds."

He told me stories of how the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq supported the troops, advised them, stood by them, fought shoulder to shoulder with them in combat, and became allies and friends. And I became grateful -- immensely, unwaveringly, and forever grateful for you.

Since then, the word "Kurds" in my home has meant something. It has meant "ally" and "friendship."
There are pictures of Iraqi Kurds alongside my husband and fellow soldiers in our home. I have a coffee mug with depictions of female Syrian Kurdish soldiers on it that I proudly use to remind me of you. My children play soccer in their Kurdistan jerseys.

The Kurdish people are not nameless, faceless people across the world. You hold a place of honor and respect in our home. It's important to me that all of you know that. I owe you so much. My husband is home safe today after years of fighting and I know you helped make that happen.

But now, I watch the news in horror. I see promises broken, progress destroyed, years of hard work and unimaginable sacrifice gone in a tweet. I see allies betrayed, their faces in my picture frame. While watching the news, my children turn to me and ask if those are our friends and I say yes. They have looks of confusion on their faces.

I can't imagine what your families are going through. I can't imagine their fear. I can't imagine these things because for the last 17 years you have fought to help us keep an attack off our soil, and I know that has now compromised your safety. It breaks my heart.

Where I come from, a person's word means something. Our honor and integrity are everything, as I know yours are to you. To read in international newspapers that the United States, my country, has abandoned the Kurds is absolutely heartbreaking.

Hasty decisions like this have not only put your people in terrible danger, they make the situation for our soldiers there on the Syrian-Turkish border much more difficult. My husband was with you on that border not long ago and I can't imagine what our soldiers' families are feeling right now.

And it's not just safety. It's hard to imagine how difficult it is for American soldiers to hear a partner and ally's calls for help and not be allowed to answer them. It's also hard to imagine you having to turn to Putin or the Assad regime for support because you could no longer count on Americans to keep their promise.

I worry for the safety of you and your families. I worry about the instability of the region and what that could mean for the future. I worry about the thousands of ISIS fighters we worked so hard to put in prisons, and who you must walk away from as you defend yourselves. I can't imagine the threat that now poses for us all. I see the look on my husband's face when he watches the news at the end of the day. The only phrase that comes to mind is "I'm sorry."

I write you today, on behalf of my family, to say thank you for everything you have done for us. Thank you for your friendship, for keeping your word and fighting alongside us, for staying the course year after year. Thank you for keeping my husband safe so he could come back home to me and my children. You have my sincerest prayers today that you too may safely return to yours. Thank you to your families that sacrificed without you, so you could make this partnership happen.

I pray we return to your side, that we stand by you, and that this has not all been in vain.

Forever yours,
A Grateful Wife
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Oct 17, 2019, 05:59 PM (3 replies)

Elijah Cummings 'signed subpoenas from his hospital bed' for Trump impeachment before his death


Elijah Cummings 'signed subpoenas from his hospital bed' for Trump impeachment before his death
Maryland Democrat also helped lead Democratic caucus conference call
Chris Riotta
New York @chrisriotta
1 hour ago

Elijah Cummings was kept busy to the very end of his life leading an investigation into Donald Trump before passing away at the age of 68 on Wednesday, his aides have said.

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee was signing subpoenas from his hospital bed, one aide told the New York Times.

He also helped lead a Democratic caucus conference call.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described Mr Cummings as a “north star” who spoke with “unsurpassed clarity and moral integrity” on the House floor.

Ms Pelosi, who grew up in the city Mr Cummings represented, said he was her “brother in Baltimore” during a press conference on Thursday, adding: “We’ve all lost a friend … I’m devastated by the loss.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Oct 17, 2019, 05:32 PM (21 replies)

Rand Paul just blocked a vote to condemn President Donald Trump's withdrawal of troops in Syria

Rand Paul just blocked a vote to condemn President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of troops in Syria
Many Senate Republicans disagree with the president. But they won’t be voting on a resolution that says so.
By Li Zhou on October 17, 2019 2:30 pm

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a longtime opponent of “endless wars,” just blocked a resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria.

“I object to this resolution because it does nothing to fix this problem,” Paul said, while pushing his own bill to stop arms sales to Turkey. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had called for the Senate to consider a vote on this resolution, which passed the House with a bipartisan 354-60 majority on Wednesday, with the goal of sending Trump a message about Congress’s disapproval of his recent actions.

“Because of the president’s precipitous action ... ISIS prisoners are escaping,” Schumer said in a floor speech on Thursday. “The president’s incompetence has put American lives in danger.”

Schumer is far from the only one who’s criticized Trump’s decision, which many Republicans also view as a betrayal of the United States’s Kurdish allies in the region, who’ve been forced to confront a Turkish military offensive. Despite their outcry on the subject, it’s still not clear just how much Republicans are willing to clash with the president explicitly on this issue. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unlikely to allow the non-binding resolution condemning Trump to come to the floor, and he has previously said it has some “serious weaknesses.”


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Oct 17, 2019, 04:44 PM (5 replies)

Even Fox Admits Trump Is Violating Emoluments Clause By Holding G7 At His Golf Club


Posted on Thu, Oct 17th, 2019 by Jason Easley
Even Fox Admits Trump Is Violating Emoluments Clause By Holding G7 At His Golf Club

Fox’s Judge Andrew Napolitano said that by awarding himself the G7, Trump has created a direct and profound violation of the emoluments clause.

Napolitano said, “It’s not my notion. It’s the Constitution’s notion. The Constitution does not address profits, it addresses any present, as in a gift, any emolument as in cash of any kind whatever. I’m quoting the emoluments clause, from any king, prince or foreign state, so if this were a meeting of the governors of the United States, there would be no violation of the emoluments clause.”

Video @ link~

Napolitano explained that the emoluments clause is in the constitution to prevent the president from receiving gifts or cash from foreign entities.

The Judge continued, “He has bought himself an enormous headache now with the choice of this. This is about as direct and profound a violation of the emoluments clause as one could create.”


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Oct 17, 2019, 04:38 PM (1 replies)

GOP colleague assails Lindsey Graham's sign-on letter to acquit Trump as 'dumbest' idea ever


GOP colleague assails Lindsey Graham's sign-on letter to acquit Trump as 'dumbest' idea ever
Kerry Eleveld
Daily Kos Staff
Thursday October 17, 2019 · 12:29 PM EDT

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is in overdrive to protect his own 2020 reelection chances even as he criticizes Donald Trump's disastrous withdrawal of troops from Syria. So Graham floated the idea of sending a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledging that the Republican caucus would never vote to remove Trump from office. In other words, Senate Republicans would take a pledge prejudging their vote before seeing really any of the evidence Democrats have turned up in a cascade of interviews from career public servants.

Frankly, the idea kind of flopped. Sure, Lindsey needs to bear hug Trump on the way to reelection, but it's a pretty terrible idea for any vulnerable Republican senators facing reelection in tougher states like Maine, Colorado, or Arizona. One GOP senator anonymously told The Hill it was “one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard from Lindsey," adding that it could "backfire" if there weren't enough signatures supporting Trump. It would also put some of Graham's fellow 2020 senators in the position of facing Trump’s wrath if they don't sign on (because Trump’s just that dumb). That surely wouldn't help the caucus.

Even some unlikely characters stepped forward to question the wisdom of such a letter, including Sens. Jim Risch of Idaho, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Roy Blunt of Missouri. Wow, really going over like a lead balloon there, Lindsey.

Graham pitched the letter during a caucus lunch and is following through with trying to get signatures. If that letter never sees the light of day, you can bet it's because the lack of GOP support would be embarrassing for Trump. But if it does surface, it's just one more thing to tar the GOP caucus with for putting party over country.

Graham acknowledged that his latest brainchild didn't get the greatest reception.

“Some people didn’t like the approach and I’m taking their concerns under advisement. And I’ll do what I need to do,” he said. In other words, he'll do what he needs to do to get reelected—everyone else is on their own.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Oct 17, 2019, 03:40 PM (5 replies)
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