Democrats debating whether to impeach Donald Trump may be misreading the evidence from the last time the House tried to remove a president.
It’s become conventional wisdom—not only among Democrats but also among many political analysts—that House Republicans paid a severe electoral price for moving against Bill Clinton in 1998, at a time when polls showed most of the public opposed that action.
But that straightforward conclusion oversimplifies impeachment’s effects, according to my analysis of the election results and interviews with key strategists who were working in national politics at the time. While Republicans did lose House seats in both 1998 and 2000, Democrats did not gain enough to capture control of the chamber either time. And in 2000, lingering unease about Clinton’s behavior provided a crucial backdrop for George W. Bush’s winning presidential campaign—particularly his defining promise “to restore honor and dignity” to the Oval Office.
Today we will remember all those who died in the service of their country. Too many wars have been fought, and too many people have died, in the service of half-baked political ideologies. No more unnecessary wars. Let us honor all those who have died by committing ourselves to opposing unnecessary wars; and by working hard to understand the difference between wars that have to be fought and those that don’t.
In the beginning, Anna Langthorn was just another Democrat with a broken heart. True, like most progressives, she’s spent the last six months in emotional turmoil. But this—the very beginning of her political career—was before all that. Langthorn, who at 24 was recently elected to be the youngest ever Oklahoma State Democratic Chair, hadn’t lost an election or seen her candidate concede. She’d never even voted.
That was almost a decade ago, and she was only 17—still in school and recently dumped. “This isn’t a very feminist story,” she cautions, laughing. But, she explains, she’d been broken up with and was “incredibly distraught.” In desperate need of a distraction, Langthorn picked a new hobby almost at random. Sure, she figured, why not politics. “I already read the news and was politically aware—probably more than the average 17-year-old,” she says. “But I wasn’t very involved or proactive.” She immersed herself in local campaigns, places where passion, even obsession, were not only considered normal, but rewarded. Langthorn got involved with the local Democrats and volunteered, landing internships during her last two years of high school with candidates and the state party apparatus itself. She skipped most of the pomp and circumstance of her own high school graduation to attend the Oklahoma State Democratic Convention (“I couldn’t miss it!”) and worked on campaigns throughout college.
I believe, deeply, that we have to be leading on women’s issues and LGBT issues and the issues that are affecting communities of color while we drill down on that economic populist message. We need to fight for fairness, but we need people to know that we’re fighting, which isn’t happening in the state now.
But I don’t think we have to temper our message or water down progressivism to appeal to older voters. Voters want good health care and they want good housing and good education. They may say, in rural Oklahoma, that they’re less concerned with black lives, but there are black rural voters that need to be reached and engaged too. They may say they don’t care about abortion, but plenty of women are getting abortions and even more are getting access to birth control under our current laws.
Investigators have only begun to follow the money.
By Bill Buzenberg
Federal investigators continue to dig into Russia’s cyberattack on the US election and the Trump administration’s possible involvement—but as bad as that intrusion and collusion may be, Trump’s opaque financial dealings could prove even more perilous for the president.
Trump has blazed a decades-long trail of questionable financial dealings with Russian sources that could provide investigators with the grist they need for legal action. A wide array of Russian oligarchs with links to Vladimir Putin have invested tens of millions of hard-to-explain dollars in Trump properties. And Trump professes never to know who these people are or where they got the big bucks for their mostly cash deals.
Money laundering is the process of taking proceeds from criminal activity (dirty money) and making them appear legal (clean). Although the news didn’t make much of a splash during the 2016 campaign, Trump paid a $10 million fine to the U.S. Treasury in 2015 for his bankrupt Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City because it failed to meet anti-money-laundering requirements. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Regulators said the casino failed to establish and implement an effective anti-money-laundering program, failed to implement an adequate system of internal controls, and failed to properly file currency transaction reports or keep other required records.”
It is already a matter of public record that several Trump-affiliated businesses and associates are connected to alleged Russian money-laundering operations.
Many of Trump’s business dealings involve Deutsche Bank or the Bank of Cyprus—both known for their connections with Russian oligarchs. Deutsche Bank is also Trump’s biggest lender; he owes the bank some $300 million, as first reported by Mother Jones‘ Russ Choma and David Corn. The Guardian reported that Deutsche Bank paid $630 million in fines for failing to prevent $10 billion in Russian money laundering between 2012 and 2015.
The Bank of Cyprus is also well known as a money-laundering haven for Russian oligarchs. Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has invested heavily in the Bank of Cyprus (some $424 million in 2014, giving him an 18% stake) and he was once vice-chairman of the bank, according to the Guardian. Ross presided over deals that raise questions about his tenure at the bank and his ties to politically connected Russian oligarchs.
Ross shared his vice-chairman post at the bank with a deposit holder-turned-shareholder, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, referred to in Russian media as a former KGB official and Putin ally.
Overall, the poll reflects a resounding rejection of Trump as a person and the agenda he has worked to implement over the course of his first several weeks in office.
By Sean Colarossi
It’s been less than three weeks since Donald Trump took the oath of office, and the American people are starting to question whether the new president is even sane enough to hold a job.
According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, a whopping 60 percent of registered voters say that Trump is not “level-headed.” Just a dismal 35 percent of the survey’s respondents say that he is.
This is no surprise given what Trump has managed to do over the first several weeks of his presidency, from lying about crowd sizes and wreaking havoc on American airports to threatening war with two countries and making a deadly and ill-formed foreign policy decision.
Quinnipiac’s finding is just one in a series of devastating numbers showing that a majority of the American people don’t think the president has positive leadership traits.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the electoral college requires that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our president. That view is an insult to our framers. It is compelled by nothing in our Constitution. It should be rejected by anyone with any understanding of our democratic traditions — most important, the electors themselves.
The framers believed, as Alexander Hamilton put it, that “the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the [president].” But no nation had ever tried that idea before. So the framers created a safety valve on the people’s choice. Like a judge reviewing a jury verdict, where the people voted, the electoral college was intended to confirm — or not — the people’s choice. Electors were to apply, in Hamilton’s words, “a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice” — and then decide. The Constitution says nothing about “winner take all.” It says nothing to suggest that electors’ freedom should be constrained in any way. Instead, their wisdom — about whether to overrule “the people” or not — was to be free of political control yet guided by democratic values. They were to be citizens exercising judgment, not cogs turning a wheel.
Many think we should abolish the electoral college. I’m not convinced that we should. Properly understood, the electors can serve an important function. What if the people elect a Manchurian candidate? Or a child rapist? What if evidence of massive fraud pervades a close election? It is a useful thing to have a body confirm the results of a democratic election — so long as that body exercises its power reflectively and conservatively. Rarely — if ever — should it veto the people’s choice. And if it does, it needs a very good reason.
So, do the electors in 2016 have such a reason?
In this election, the people did not go crazy. The winner, by far, of the popular vote is the most qualified candidate for president in more than a generation. Like her or not, no elector could have a good-faith reason to vote against her because of her qualifications. Choosing her is thus plainly within the bounds of a reasonable judgment by the people.
Yet that is not the question the electors must weigh as they decide how to cast their ballots. Instead, the question they must ask themselves is whether there is any good reason to veto the people’s choice.
There is not. And indeed, there is an especially good reason for them not to nullify what the people have said — the fundamental principle of one person, one vote. We are all citizens equally. Our votes should count equally. And since nothing in our Constitution compels a decision otherwise, the electors should respect the equal vote by the people by ratifying it on Dec. 19.
Chester Sawko arrived in North America in July 1943 and within days learned those words important to a child in any language.
“Lend me your bicycle!” the 13-year-old Polish refugee shouted in Spanish at the curious Mexicans who rode their bikes up to the fence of the temporary safe haven that had been set up for refugee families at Colonia Santa Rosa in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico.
Sawko, now 66, and the president of his suburban Chicago manufacturing firm, never has forgotten the kindness of the Mexican people who obligingly let the refugee kids ride their bikes, even though most didn’t know how.
“It was a real novelty for us because we never had any toys,” said Sawko, whose family members were among 1.7 million Poles uprooted by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and shipped on cattle cars to labor camps in Siberia during World War II when the Soviet Union and Germany divided Poland.
“Mexico was the first place we felt at home, where we realized we were still part of the human race,” said Thaddeus Piezcko, 63, who was 15 when he was resettled in Chicago at the now-shuttered St. Hedwig’s orphanage.
The journey to Mexico was a long one for the refugees, beginning Sept. 17, 1939, when the Soviet Union invaded and occupied part of Poland, then a few months later began mass deportations mostly from the northeastern half of Poland.
Each family has its own story, but they all begin like Sawko’s, with Soviet soldiers banging on the door in the middle of a cold, snowy February night in 1940.
The family was given 30 minutes to pack what belongings and food they could carry on a wooden sleigh. Sawko’s father, a forest ranger, was arrested. Sawko’s mother, then 35 and pregnant, was crying.
An older brother, Stanley, then 16, was allowed to stay and care for a sister, 14, in the hospital. But Sawko and his three younger brothers were forced onto the sleigh with their parents and driven to a city where they were put in a crowded railroad car for a four-week trip to the Soviet border.
They came without warning late one night in 1943 and took 7 year-old Rebekkah Dunst and her parents from their home. The next day my mother cried and cried. Her older brothers too. Rebekkah had been my mother’s best friend. My grandmother wept bitterly for the Dunst family. They had been close neighbors, good friends, kind, decent and gentle people. They had done nothing wrong. Nothing.
My mother and her brothers were warned by my grandmother not to be seen crying for the Dunst family in public. In Nazi Germany, to show empathy for Jews, foreigners, the disabled, homosexuals, or anyone else who didn’t represent the Nazi ideal of an ethnically pure and glorious Greater Germany revealed a moral weakness that was not to be tolerated nor excused. The slightest sign of nonconformity was dangerous. Germans were afraid. Everyone was afraid. Not just Jews.
My grandfather was a soldier in the German Wehrmacht. His family had lived in Germany since 1482. But that did not stop the Gestapo from ransacking my grandmother’s house, a German soldier’s home, on several occasions. My uncles were in the Hitler Youth but that did not matter either.
They were looking for letters from my grandfather’s brother and sister, who had emigrated to Brazil when the Nazis first came to power in Germany. Even possessing a simple letter from someone whose loyalty to the Third Reich was suspect could be a death warrant.
And so here we are again. We have failed to learn the lessons of history. We have elected a president openly supported by Nazis and White Supremacists–a man who has refused to disavow their support–and who now finalizes plans to “relocate” millions of Hispanic immigrants and to forcibly register millions of Muslim-Americans. Suddenly, the American Right is no longer preoccupied with our constitutional guarantee of Freedom of Religion nor their abstract fears of imagined government concentration camps.
The majority of Germans didn’t vote for Hitler. But now, like then, a great nation has lost its moral compass, and the long established relations of the civilized world have been suddenly swept in a single night into an abyss of pure darkness.
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