WHY I SIGNED THE HISTORIANS’ STATEMENT ON THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP By SEAN MUNGER

SIGNING THE IMPEACHMENT STATEMENT – SEAN MUNGER

This week I was asked by a professional contact in the history community to add my name to this statement, called the Historians’ Statement on the Impeachment of President Trump. It was an easy call for me to do so. But, as has become evident over the last few days, this statement was much more than just another “online petition.” The historians who have signed this statement, now more than 2,000 of them, have had a measurable impact on the events that occurred in Washington, D.C. this week. Indeed, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referenced the statement in her floor speech beginning debate on the impeachment of Trump. As you know, the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. We historians have joined numerous other professionals whose expertise is relevant to the impeachment process, such as Constitutional legal scholars and public prosecutors, in stating that impeachment is warranted under the standards of the Constitution.

Some of the historians I joined in signing include Ken Burns (documentary historian), Robert Caro (biographer of LBJ), Ron Chernow (author of the biography of Alexander Hamilton that was the basis of the Broadway musical), John Fea (fellow history podcaster and author of the wonderful Way of Improvement Leads Home blog), Alan Taylor (Pulitzer Prize-winning historian), Matthew Dennis (my former academic advisor), and many, many more.

While the statement speaks for itself, I thought I would add a few words to explain why I signed it.

I marched in favor of women’s rights and solidarity on the day after President Trump was inaugurated in 2017. That action was political. My signing of the Historians’ Statement goes beyond politics.

Reason one: Trump’s actions are unquestionably impeachable.

The Constitution’s standard for impeachment is deliberately vague: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The fact that it’s vague doesn’t mean it’s always difficult to tell when the standard has been reached. The impeachment inquiry has proven beyond all doubt that Trump committed bribery by conditioning aid to the government of Ukraine on their investigation of the Biden family. That’s bribery. As for other “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” it seems difficult to argue that this standard hasn’t been reached either. If we could go back in time to the stuffy room in Philadelphia where the Founders met in the summer of 1787 to create the Constitution and give them the example of Trump’s actions, it’s abundantly clear that they would agree, probably to a man, that this is the kind of behavior they had in mind when they wrote the impeachment clause. The evidence is uncontroverted. I say that both as a historian and as a lawyer.

Reason two: The Constitution and its processes must be protected.

America was created with the notion that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Flawed, yes; imperfect, yes; subject to change in interpretation by future generations who are entrusted with it, certainly. But some things about it are absolute. If the Constitution’s standard for a President’s removal from office is reached, not taking the Constitutionally-required action to set that process in motion does violence to the primacy of the Constitution and its principles. Letting Trump’s unconscionable behavior slide, giving it a pass, is itself an affront to the Constitution and everything it stands for.

The action of impeachment entails considerable political risk. While it’s true that I voted for the other lady (you know, the one who got more votes than Trump did), I’m certainly not happy with the idea that, if Trump were to be convicted, his successor would be Mike Pence, a man whose bedrock principle is that I, as a member of the LGBT community, do not deserve basic human and civil rights, and once in office he’ll likely mobilize the power of the government to strip me of those rights–because he’s done it before. But that’s a political calculation. The risk to the Constitution in turning a blind eye to Trump’s crimes transcends politics, and it should. That’s what the primacy of the Constitution means.

The men who met in this room in the summer of 1787 believed they were serving principles larger than themselves. I think we have to honor that commitment, however imperfect the Constitution was (and still is).

Reason three: Trump must be taught that his wrong actions have consequences.

Even if the Senate takes the cowardly way out and does not convict him, the impeachment of Trump has considerable value on its own. One of them is to teach him something he apparently hasn’t learned during his nearly two years in office: he can’t just do anything he wants, and his bad actions have consequences. Apparently, he has learned that lesson. There is a report out of the White House this week that Trump was surprised, astonished and furious that he was impeached, and that he’s gone through violent mood swings as a result. Indeed, an aide is quoted as saying, “He’s very angry. It’s made a deep impression.” Trump is a man impervious to facts (such as the proven scientific reality of human-caused climate change) and incapable of empathy (such as when he ordered children to be placed in concentration camps). But if impeachment can get through to him on such a deep level, and tell him that his actions will receive push-back, from the Constitution if from no other source, then the impeachment is worth it on that score alone.

Reason four: Historical precedent shows impeachment has the effect of reining in a wayward President’s actions.

If you look back at the two Presidents who have previously been impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, you’ll see that, although neither was removed from office, impeachment had a profound effect on both of them: they took care to stop doing the actions that got them impeached in the first place. Andrew Johnson, in particular, was every bit as pugnacious and defiant about his impeachment as Trump is about his own. Yet, after the impeachment and Senate trial in May 1868, Johnson suddenly went quiet: he stopped trying to interfere with Congress’s power over Reconstruction and he took no significant action for the rest of his term.

Clinton, similarly, toned down his act in his last two years in office. And you can bet that, at long last, for once in his life, he stopped running around with young women and lying about it. Both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were/are deeply flawed men who did monstrous things. But impeachment did put brakes on their reckless behavior. Even as defiant and vengeful as Trump is, I seriously doubt he’ll ever call up a head of state and ask them to interfere in our elections again. There’s no telling what other more subtle effects it will have that can serve the public good.

Andrew Johnson was, like Trump, a racist man, a white supremacist, and deeply incompetent at his job as President of the United States. But, his impeachment in 1868 did have an effect on his behavior.

I don’t like to see our Constitutional system tested and tarnished by the actions of President Trump. Our government has many important things that it could be doing right now, like taking immediate and drastic action on climate change. But the Constitution must be protected, and sometimes its enemies are within the walls rather than without.

I stand by the Historians’ statement. I only hope it’s not too late for our republic to be saved from the damage being done to it by self-serving people like Donald J. Trump.

All images in this article were either taken by me or are in the public domain.

Please check out Sean’s blog at: https://seanmunger.com/

THE INCREASING STUPIDITY OF THEIR ARGUMENTS TELLS ME ALL I NEED TO KNOW – THE SHINBONE STAR

One thing I learned back in my college days* was if your enemies are walking into an L-shaped ambush, let them walk all the way into the kill zone before firing. They then have two choices: run and die, or stand and die.

The Trump Administration is running headlong into an L shaped ambush formed by the Democrat-led House of Representatives and public opinion, and it is done.

Donald Trump can stonewall, whine, accuse, demand, plead, and threaten …  and then what? Only his truly hard-core cult members refuse to see that this guy isn’t fit for the office. He could light himself afire before he is impeached and those people would cheer him for owning the libs.

The MAGA folks love it when Trump does some nasty shit that owns the libs, but when they see him sell out our Kurdish “allies” to our Turkish allies, those folks have to wonder in which of these allied camps do they stand. If they have half a brain they’ll finally realize they ain’t in the Right camp because they ain’t J.P. Gotrocks and they’re right there with the rest of the people Trump considers to be losers. Unfortunately, most of his non-wealthy supporters aren’t that smart.

It was inevitable that America would end up in this situation because white America selected a stupid and venal asshole (whose only accomplishment in life was being born rich) to replace Barack Obama, who is the embodiment of the American Dream … except he is black.

Trump is the poor man’s idea of what wealth looks like and the loser’s view of winning. And he isn’t black.

Trump has bullied, bought and bankrupted his way through life, but for the first time ever, his modus operandi isn’t gonna work and he is panicked. You know the shit is deep by how excruciatingly stupid are the excuses from the few remaining GOP sycophants unashamed to lie in public.

In a September 23, 2016 article for The Atlantic, Salena Zito wrote:

“It’s a familiar split. When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

Peter Thiel, tech billionaire and Trump supporter said in October 2016:

“I think one thing that should be distinguished here is that the media is always taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally. . . . I think a lot of voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously but not literally . . . their question is not, ‘Are you going to build a wall like the Great Wall of China?’ . . . What they hear is we’re going to have a saner, more sensible immigration policy.”

Last week Jim Jordan said Trump was joking when he asked China to investigate the Biden boys. “You really thank he was serious?” During the 2016 campaign we were told to take Trump seriously but not literally. Now we’re being told not to take him seriously … he’s a bad joke … got it?

Stick a fork in this bastard, he’s done. This “strategy” of putting his fingers in his ears and yelling incoherent bullshit while his sycophants stonewall in court with stupid process arguments is coming to a close. One charge in one jurisdiction or another is going to crack the dam and the flood of provable crimes will wash away America’s Trump Error.

The GOP donor class has used him and the complicit Republican Party to squeeze the last petro buck out of the earth. In the process, they have destroyed traditional alliances and caused worldwide chaos. Trump didn’t quite get them everything they wanted (worldwide authoritarian plutocracy) but he got them enough (massive redistribution of wealth upward and a stacked federal judiciary) for now.

The GOP and Trump have hit the point of diminishing returns, and so they are no longer viable. This is going to be Watergate, ABSCAM and Iran-Contra all rolled into one, and the GOP as a party should not survive.

What’s next will be a test of the American people across all demographics for “do we continue on the path the Founders set us upon to create a more perfect union,” or “will we take the road towards Steve Bannon’s vision of a Fourth Reich?”

I’m betting on the USA.

BTW, I never served, was never an official member of ROTC but I am a proud member of the National Honorary Society of Pershing Rifles. Don’t ask me how that happened, but one of my fraternity brothers is Gen. Colin Powell.

(Note from Marilyn on Colin Powell: He grew up just a few blocks from me and we went to the same elementary school!)

THERE IS NO MORAL MIDDLE-GROUND – Marilyn Armstrong

Was there ever such thing as a moral middle-ground?

When we decided as a nation to allow and even extend slavery because it would enable us to create one nation — was that the “middle” ground? Middle of what? The middle between slavers and free people?

When we decided to kill every native American or “convert” every single member of every tribe to being “just like us” (and who are we, anyway?), was that middle ground?

Was refusing to discuss the cruelty of taking over this country and despoiling it without regard for its future ability to support other people, was that the middle-ground?

Was opening up Native “regions” to white settlement while simultaneously starving the original inhabitants — and pretending nothing was happening — was that middle-ground?


There is no middle-ground between cruelty and kindness. You are cruel or kind, but there’s nothing in between.

Destroying the earth or not destroying it … where is the middle-ground?

It’s not just about Trump and his politics. There has never been a middle-ground between good and evil. Pretending nothing is going on is not a middle-ground. Knowing about evil while pretending ignorance  — or worse, intentionally remaining ignorant in the face is evil — is not higher ground.

Ignorance does not excuse you from getting a speeding ticket. It also does not excuse you from Hell, either. There is righteousness and there is corruption. There’s no place where you can sit on the fence and thus eliminate your involvement. Black or white, but not gray.

Not discussing politics doesn’t put you in a better position than any of the raging ranters on Facebook. Having better manners doesn’t make you a better person.

ANOTHER VOICE HEARD FROM – GUEST AUTHOR – BEN TAYLOR

WTF! Not Another Dime

We elect representatives to … uh … represent us.

They are paid healthy salaries, enjoy the best health care in the country and draw a salary after retirement, even when voted out of office. What a great job to have. I’ll take it!

Then, you ask for more money from us who have little more than an opinion to give.

So, here’s an idea: How about doing the job you were elected to do, without requiring us having to cough up contributions, for which there seems to be an endless number?

And what gives corporations the right to make huge donations and project opinions that are as likely as not unshared by employees? Employees who, for fear of losing their jobs, are hesitant to express any political opinion which is not in line with the handful of upper management rich people who have the funds to make those big donations?

Wouldn’t that donation money be better spent by passing it on to the employee’s salaries, not to mention, sharing those the giant bonuses given to executives they don’t need it since their already huge salaries are more than sufficient to cover any living expenses they might incur?

So, why do the wealthy need tax breaks? We don’t ask you to contribute to our lives, donate to our household budgets or help us pay our mortgage or car loans. All we ask is to be allowed to take care of ourselves with dignity. That you as our representatives, prevent the rich — who can pay for anything out of pocket — from taking away what little we depend on to scrape out an existence.

Just think of what kind of country we’d have if everyone was poor. Is this what is meant by making “America Great Again?”

Impoverishing everyone? Ignoring science? Destroying the planet to the advantage of the few who might profit? Maybe even returning slavery to create a cheap workforce? Employing social media to carry on petty quibbling while allowing foreign governments to meddle in our elections. Not to mention racial, religious, ethnic and other cultural injustices while great, and potentially greater natural disasters occur all around us, all over the world?

What small people Americans have become. We were great when we fought injustice, however briefly it lasted. Whatever happened to justice? Who ARE we?

And meanwhile, you want me to give you money?  Who are you? What makes you think you deserve my money? Or anybody’s money?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!!!
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NOT ANOTHER DIME!

What We Can Do!!!! – Reblog – Judy Dykstra-Brown

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I’ve been saying for some time that it isn’t enough to rail against the conditions in the concentration camps currently being filled with those seeking asylum in the U.S. We need to propose some solutions. Today I received a communication that offers solutions–or at least ways in which we can support those attempting to institute measures to end the atrocities in these camps. Here is a link to view what is happening in the camps–many of them run by a big-time contributor to Trump and several senators as well as a list of things you can do to help. 

Some excerpts from the link above: 

But why are these camps any different from the detention centers we’ve been hearing about for the last year?  Elizabeth C. McLaughlin explains why: 

“These concentration camps (let’s call them what they are) will be under the control of the Department of Homeland Security, but within the Department of Defense. Unlike ICE facilities, which allow site inspectors inside, there will be no inspection of military-run camps. 

 The military will be able to deny access to anyone it chooses. No media. No oversight. Lawyers will not be allowed in. Human rights monitors will not be allowed in. The camps will also be protected airspace, meaning that no drones can fly over them to take pictures of what’s going on inside. The Trump administration will be able to conduct itself in whatever way it wants to without anyone knowing what’s going on inside.”