Monday, November 25, 2019

Defeat or Impeach? The (Il)Logic of Impeachment

Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
I've had the displeasure to watch some hours of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry. It’s an excruciating spectacle, alternately boring, confusing, and infuriating.
Where have the Democrats set the high-crime-and-misdemeanor goalpost today? Is it the “Russian collusion” for which Adam Schiff had “direct evidence” even before the Mueller investigation? How about the “10 different episodes of presidential obstruction of justice” for which Jamie Raskin told us “the evidence is overwhelming”? No, really, they got him on “quid pro quo”!  Or is it “abuse of power”? Wait, it’s “bribery.” Final answer. (They focussed-grouped it!) Bombshells all.
I have no interest in parsing the minutiae of the purported case Schiff is now making against Trump. (I’ll leave that to Aaron Maté, who does it so well.) I’ve said before that I think it’s political folly. Here, I would like those who are enthralled by the ongoing impeachment frenzy to focus for a moment on one glaring contradiction in the logic of the Democrats’ position—a contradiction that reveals that the Democrats are speaking with forked tongue about what they are actually trying to do.

Week in Review Discussion on The Critical Hour (11/22/2019)

As Dems' Impeachment Marathon Wraps Up, the Counterattack Begins

On Thursday, House Democrats concluded their 72-hour impeachathon with testimony from two witnesses: Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council adviser on Russia, and David Holmes, a counselor in the US Embassy in Ukraine, who backed up the allegations that US President Donald Trump conditioned military aid and a White House meeting for Ukraine on Kiev opening an investigation into former US Vice President Joe Biden, who may face Trump in the 2020 US presidential election, and his son Hunter. Have the Democrats been able to present a case to the American people that will impact how they vote in 2020? Has the needle been moved, or without a conviction in the Senate, will they have shot themselves in the foot? Does Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani need to look both ways twice before crossing the street so he can avoid being hit by the bus they are trying to throw him under? Is it possible that when this gets to the Senate that former National Security Adviser John Bolton will flip on the president and spill the beans?
[Related articles: The Empire Steps Back: Trump Withdraws From Syria – Impeachment Now PossibleDead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit]

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Loud & Clear Discussion of Netanyahu Indicment (11/22/2019)

Netanyahu doubles down on own defense following indictment

The Israeli media are weighing in on the indictment yesterday of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on three felony counts of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Most of the reporting so far has been factual, with outlets going to lengths to explain exactly what the charges are. The debate now is whether he can remain Prime Minister while under indictment, whether he can maintain his parliamentary immunity, and if he can’t, how he can fight the charges in criminal court. Brian and John speak with Jim Kavanagh, the editor of thepolemicist.net.
[Related Article: Sacrificing Gaza: The Great March of Zionist Hypocrisy]

Listen to "Netanyahu doubles down on own defense following indictment" on Spreaker.

Loud & Clear is a daily program of news, commentary, and political analysis on Radio Sputnik, hosted by Brian Becker and John Kiriakou, featuring independent experts, activists, and political writers. (Introduction above is theirs, with related articles of mine referenced in brackets.)

Loud & Clear Discussion of Vindman, Williams Impeachment Testimony (11/19/2019)

Vindman, Williams testify as second round of open impeachment hearings commence

impeachment hearings continued today with the Intelligence Committee hearing testimony from two National Security Council staff members--Jennifer Williams, a Foreign Service Officer assigned to Vice President Pence’s staff; she was listening in on the now-famous phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky; and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the NSC’s top Ukraine specialist. Vindman has been the subject of recent attacks from Republican lawmakers, particularly Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson. Vindman was also on the call and raised concerns with the White House Counsel. Jim Kavanagh, the editor of thepolemicist.net, whose latest article on CounterPunch and The Polemicist is “Trump’s Syrian See-Saw: From Pullout to PIllage”, joins the show.

[Related articles: The Empire Steps Back: Trump Withdraws From Syria – Impeachment Now PossibleDead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit]

Listen to "Vindman, Williams testify as second round of open impeachment hearings commence" on Spreaker.

Loud & Clear is a daily program of news, commentary, and political analysis on Radio Sputnik, hosted by Brian Becker and John Kiriakou, featuring independent experts, activists, and political writers. (Introduction above is theirs, with related articles of mine referenced in brackets.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Week in Review Discussion on The Critical Hour (11/15/2019)

Another Of Trump's Men Falls: Roger Stone Found Guilty, but Based on What?

It’s Friday, so that means it's panel time.

Roger Stone, a longtime political operative and associate of US President Donald Trump, was found guilty of federal charges on Friday. "The panel of nine women and three men deliberated for less than two days before finding Stone, 67, guilty on all seven counts," the Washington Post reported. "A judge set Stone’s sentencing for Feb. 6 and allowed him to remain free until then. Stone faces a legal maximum penalty of 50 years in prison — 20 years for the witness tampering charge and five years for each of the other counts, although a first offender would face far less time under federal sentencing guidelines."

Loud & Clear Discussion of Tulsi Defamation Charge, Bloomberg & Patrick Entering Primary (11/12/2019)

Gabbard’s letter, Bloomberg, Patrick: New 2020 Democratic primary developments

Attorneys representing presidential candidate and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard have sent a letter to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanding that Clinton retract a statement she made several weeks ago calling Gabbard a “Russian asset.” When challenged about the assertion, Clinton responded, “If the nesting doll fits..” Gabbard’s lawyers say the statement was defamatory, and they want a retraction. Meanwhile, two new likely entrants are trying to upset the Democratic presidential primary. Jim Kavanagh, editor of thepolemicist.net whose latest article is “Trump’s Syrian See-Saw: From Pullout to Pillage,” joins the show.
[Related article: Hunting 250s: “We’re going to go out there, and we’re going to violate some rights.”]

Listen to "Gabbard’s letter, Bloomberg, Patrick: New 2020 Democratic primary developments" on Spreaker.

Loud & Clear is a daily program of news, commentary, and political analysis on Radio Sputnik, hosted by Brian Becker and John Kiriakou, featuring independent experts, activists, and political writers. (Introduction above is theirs, with related articles of mine referenced in brackets.)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Trump’s Syrian See-Saw: From Pullout to Pillage

thegrayzone.com
To withdraw, or not to withdraw? That is the question Donald Trump, in his own inimitable way, has answered both ways.
First came the withdrawal. It was real, and had a significant effect. Trump ordered the removal of US troops from Kurdish areas, putting an end to the prospect of an independent Kurdish statelet, split off from Syria. Such a partition was always implausible, given the general balance of forces in the region and the specific refusal of NATO-member Turkey to accept any such thing. (Turkey had already invaded Syria in 2016, and the Obama-Biden administration ordered the Kurds to accept it.) It was also a lynchpin of the longstanding Plan B for dismembering the Syrian state. As I argued in a previous article, agreeing with ”the entire spectrum of US-imperialist politics and media,” Trump’s withdrawal decision “marked ‘a major turning point in Syria’s long war’ and has, indeed, ‘upended decades’ of imperialist and Zionist plans for the Middle East.” 
But, as I also noted, Trump is impulsive, shallow, and weak, and “surrounds himself with neocon deep-state actors on whom he depends and who often ignore or actively oppose…his non-interventionist instincts,” and who “may yet get him to reverse that [decision] or over-compensate for it.”
And thus it came to be. Kinda-sorta.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Week in Review Discussion on The Critical Hour (11/8/2019)

Bloomberg Plans to Jump Into 2020 Race: Is He Being Pushed?

It’s Friday, so that means it's panel time.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to join the Democratic presidential primary campaign. The decision is a shift in direction for Bloomberg, who said in March that he wouldn't be running. Is there a path here for Bloomberg? Is this a public rebuke of the performance so far of former US Vice President Joe Biden, who has attempted to build a coalition of the same moderate Democrats that Bloomberg would court? Will this inflame the populist wing of the party? Where does he pull votes from?

"House Republicans’ latest plan to shield President Trump from impeachment is to focus on at least three deputies — US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and possibly acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — who they say could have acted on their own to influence Ukraine policy," the Washington Post reported Thursday. Is this a plausible defense?
[Related articles: The Empire Steps Back: Trump Withdraws From Syria – Impeachment Now PossibleDead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit]

Loud & Clear Discussion of Burisma's Use of Hunter Biden (11/6/2019)

New reports show Hunter Biden’s political value to Ukrainian Burisma company

A lobbying firm representing Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company that famously had Hunter Biden on its board of directors, referenced Biden’s role in the company when it contacted the State Department in 2016 to downplay concerns about corruption. The revelation, so far published only in the conservative media, is important because the lobbying took place at almost exactly the same time that then-Vice President Joe Biden was pressuring Ukraine’s president to fire a prosecutor in order to secure $1 billion in loan assistance. Brian and John speak with Jim Kavanagh, the editor of thepolemicist.net.
[Related articles: The Empire Steps Back: Trump Withdraws From Syria – Impeachment Now PossibleDead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit]

Listen to "New reports show Hunter Biden’s political value to Ukrainian Burisma company" on Spreaker.

Loud & Clear is a daily program of news, commentary, and political analysis on Radio Sputnik, hosted by Brian Becker and John Kiriakou, featuring independent experts, activists, and political writers. (Introduction above is theirs, with related articles of mine referenced in brackets.)

Monday, November 4, 2019

Week in Review Discussion on The Critical Hour (11/1/2019)

Contrary to Mainstream Media Reports, Slowdown Begins: Are We Close to Recession?

It’s Friday, so that means it's panel time.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported, "The US economy cooled over the summer, growing at a 1.9 percent annualized pace from July through September, the latest sign that the slowdown is deepening. Economists anticipated slightly weaker growth following President Donald Trump’s decision to dramatically expand his trade war with China." On Friday, the Post reported, "The United States added 128,000 jobs in October as the jobless rate ticked up to 3.6 percent, outperforming analyst forecasts during a month in which one of the largest private-employer strikes in recent years weighed on the economy."

Friday, November 1, 2019

Loud & Clear Discussion of House Impeachment Vote (10/31/2019)

It’s Official: Impeachment Goes Forward with Newly Passed Rules

On today's episode of Loud & Clear, Brian Becker and John Kiriakou are joined by Jim Kavanagh, editor of thepolemicist.net.

The House today voted to move forward on a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump. The inquiry will include public hearings and will end with a formal vote on impeachment. Meanwhile, Republican senators are adopting a more sober tone on impeachment.

[Related articles: The Empire Steps Back: Trump Withdraws From Syria – Impeachment Now PossibleDead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit]

Listen to "It’s Official: Impeachment Goes Forward with Newly Passed Rules" on Spreaker.

Loud & Clear is a daily program of news, commentary, and political analysis on Radio Sputnik, hosted by Brian Becker and John Kiriakou, featuring independent experts, activists, and political writers. (Introduction above is theirs, with related articles of mine referenced in brackets.)

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