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General News    H4'ed 10/15/19

Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, True Crimes and Misdemeanors

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Think of it this way: with the refusal of the White House to cooperate in any fashion with the impeachment inquiry of the House of Representatives, which Donald Trump has already taken to calling a "totally compromised kangaroo court," the president is, in effect, attempting to impeach Congress. He's doing it through the media, on Twitter, and in the long run -- he hopes -- via the 2020 election. He now plans to share nothing with Congress, not witnesses, not documents, nada. As a friend of mine recently said to me, this president is into walls big time -- from his "big, fat, beautiful" border wall (not a mile of which has actually been built) to stonewalling the House.

It's quite a performance by what was an "imperial presidency" long before Donald J. Trump descended that escalator in Trump Tower to launch his 2015 election campaign. Of the three supposedly coequal branches of government, the Republicans have been packing the courts for years now, while Congress has regularly ceded ever more of its powers to the president, including most infamously the power to declare war.

High crimes and misdemeanors? As TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon points out today, putting pressure on a Ukrainian president to deliver a gift to Donald Trump for 2020 is the least of it. In the Oval Office, we have a wildly self-praising man ("I, in my great and unmatched wisdom...") who increasingly looks like an autocrat-in-waiting amid a system in chaos that continues to be hollowed out, day by day, week by week. Tom

Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough
But Trump Has Done Much Worse
By Rebecca Gordon

Recently a friend who follows the news a bit less obsessively than I do said, "I thought George W. Bush was bad, but it seems like Donald Trump is even worse. What do you think?"

"Well," I replied, "in terms of causing death and destruction, I suspect Bush still has the edge." In fact, the U.S.-led forever wars begun under the Bush administration have killed hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan (almost half a million by one respected estimate). And those are only directly caused, violent deaths. Several times that many have reportedly died from hunger, illness, and infrastructure collapse.

Millions more have become refugees. The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) says that, worldwide, "[t]here are almost 2.5 million registered refugees from Afghanistan. They comprise the largest protracted refugee population in Asia and the second largest refugee population in the world." The numbers for Iraq are even higher. UNHCR reports that 3.3 million Iraqis were displaced by the various conflicts that followed the U.S. invasion of 2003 (though most of them remain in-country). Eleven million people, a quarter of the population, still need humanitarian aid.

Things are so bad that, since early October, Iraqis in Baghdad and some other cities have united across sectarian lines to risk death and injury in demonstrations demanding changes from the government. As Reuters explains it:

"After decades of war against its neighbors, U.N. sanctions, two U.S. invasions, foreign occupation, and sectarian civil war, the defeat of the Islamic State insurgency in 2017 means Iraq is now at peace and free to trade for the first extended period since the 1970s. Oil output is at record levels. But infrastructure is decrepit and deteriorating, war-damaged cities have yet to be rebuilt, and armed groups still wield power on the streets."

So much for Operation Enduring Freedom. In terms of creating sheer human misery, George W. definitely has The Donald beat for now. But despite Trump's frequently voiced desire "to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home," he may yet do more harm than his Republican predecessor.

At the very least, he deserves impeachment as much as Bush did.


Back in 2006, when Bush was president, a reader of the gay sex-advice columnist and podcaster Dan Savage suggested a campaign to "Impeach the Mother-f*cker Already." ITMFA was the mock acronym -- a play on Savage's frequent advice to readers in bad relationships that they should DTMFA (the "D" being for "dump"). In response, Savage would have a bunch of ITMFA pins and buttons made and raise about $20,000, which he split between the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and two Democratic senatorial campaigns.

In 2017, Savage again took stock of the country's situation. "I didn't think I'd see a worse president than George W. Bush in my lifetime. But here we are," he wrote. So he added a new line of T-shirts, hats, and mugs to the ITMFA store, and sales have allowed him to donate more than $250,000 to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the International Refugee Assistance Project.

Of course, Savage wasn't the only one already talking about impeachment in 2017. That June, Representatives Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Al Green (D-TX) actually presented an impeachment resolution on the House floor. Its single Article of Impeachment accused President Trump of using the power of his office to "hinder and cause the termination of" the Justice Department's investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election by threatening and ultimately firing FBI Director James Comey. It also cited Trump's efforts to get Comey to "curtail" an investigation into Lt. General Michael Flynn who had briefly served as the president's national security advisor. Flynn would later plead guilty to lying to the FBI about calls he made to Russia's ambassador to the U.S. soon after Trump's election victory.

Since October 2017, Representative Green has repeatedly introduced a different set of Articles focused on the president's obvious and vocal racism:

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Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch (more...)

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