The story of the downfall of Spiro Agnew, Tricky Dick Nixon’s Vice President. He was insanely popular with American conservatives of the time, just as Richard Nixon was popular with the majority of Americans of the time. They were both popular when they were elected. Spiro Agnew had a secret that wasn’t much of a secret in Baltimore where he had come from, and that secret would lead to some strange twists and turns in the near future as Richard Nixon broke laws in his attempts to stay in office.
Without that advisory from the Office of Legal Counsel Donald Trump would have been indicted for his crimes before he was impeached, and his impeachment and removal would have been a foregone conclusion because you can’t be President of the United States and conduct the business of the United States from prison. Well, Mitch McConnell and the cult-like followers of QAnon would have said he was railroaded and that the superhuman Donald Trump could easily do the country’s business from prison, but they wouldn’t have represented a majority. They would have been an even smaller minority than the one that came out and voted for Donald Trump in the November election.
I’ve mentioned the podcast that spawned the book she is out stumping for three times on the blog over the past few years. Unfortunately all the links that were in previous articles now lead to non-existent feeds as far as I can tell, so I will have to re-edit them eventually to point to a new feed location (Done. However the feed was restored when I started editing, so I left some of the old links in. Fingers crossed that the feed stays up this time. -ed.) In the meantime, the podcast is also on Youtube just like the segment of LSSC that I linked above.
If you love a good yarn, especially a true tale of intrigue, check out this podcast and book. you’ll definitely enjoy the story. I did.
She was elected to the House of Representatives in 1995, and was on the Judiciary committee when the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton was being conducted.
She was an aide to Representative Don Edwards (D-Calif.), who sat on the House Judiciary Committee in 1973. She was sent to Washington to work on a bankruptcy bill but was swept up in the Nixon impeachment inquiry.
Everybody got sucked into the tornado that was the impeachment inquiry. I was a law student, so I wasn’t running the show, but I did work on it. You had a sense of how historic it was, how serious it was. But to be present was both an honor and also an obligation, and to be able to play a small part in something, it felt profound.
So she has a unique perspective on the subject of impeachment.
I remember when Bill Clinton was impeached. I remember that I was pissed off for having to explain what a blow job was to my then seven-year-old daughter. I understood that Bill Clinton had broken the law. I also understood that what the Republicans were doing was entirely for show. They had no intention of acting on the evidence against him in any real fashion; or perhaps they knew that the charges they could bring against him were insufficient to have him removed from office. They just wanted to embarrass a popular Democratic president, and perhaps keep the next president from being a Democrat.
…a task that they weren’t capable of pulling off without the help of the Supreme Court. I knew that if they had been serious about getting Bill Clinton out of the White House, they would have called him on fraternization. But then most of them would also have skeletons in their closets that they wouldn’t have wanted dragged out into public after conducting that trial.
What Bill Clinton did was a crime. However the crime was engaging in a sexual relationship with a direct subordinate, which should be much more of a crime than lying to the grand jury about the sexual relationship. Worse, it was apparently a common practice of his to engage in sex with his subordinates, as other women took pains to testify about. Even to sue him over.
I also remember when Richard Nixon left office. I was a little older than the daughter was when Clinton was impeached, but I remember the sadness and betrayal that many people felt. Betrayal by the president of the people he was supposed to represent. I don’t know how many of my relatives and neighbors supported him before he was found to be culpable by the tapes he was forced to release to the House of Representatives. But I do remember that Grandma didn’t have a single kind word to say about him, so she wouldn’t say much other than he got what was coming to him.
Nixon and Clinton both were compelled to release information to the impeachment inquiry that the House embarked upon against them. Both of them understood that the United States government was not just the president. It was the entire nation, figuratively. The U.S. Government is made up of at least the other two branches of government outside of the executive branch, and it is also made up of all the people who worked in all the branches of government that make up the government. It is and was bigger than any one person. That is perhaps the most telling argument against Donald J. Trump. He doesn’t admit that anything is bigger than he is. I doubt he even has the capacity to understand just how small he really is.
It is that lack of understanding that made these events we are witnessing inevitable. Nixon understood that if he was impeached he would be removed from office because the country had turned against him. He knew that he would face prosecution, and that he couldn’t be pardoned if impeached. So he left office on the heels of his even more crooked vice president, Spiro Agnew, the Bag Man of Rachel Maddow’s podcast.
…and Richard Nixon was pardoned by Spiro Agnew’s replacement, Gerald Ford.
Bill Clinton knew that what he had done was wrong and he apologized to the country. His behavior since that time publicly has been exemplary. I haven’t had to explain one other uncomfortable thing about him to a minor since that day.
Nixon knew when he was beat. Clinton knew how to appease the people who were rightly offended at his behavior. Donald Trump? He doesn’t acknowledge that others exist or that his behavior varies in any way from the absolute straight and narrow, even when caught red handed lying, cheating and stealing. That has been his standard of practice since I first ran across his name back in the days of Trump tower and the Trump Taj Mahal. Donald Trump doesn’t have the presence of mind to understand just how far out on a limb he is right now.
Zoe Lofgren knows how precarious his position is and hopes to hold him accountable for the crimes he has always gotten away with before. I wish her luck in her endeavor. Perhaps someone exercised caveat emptor after all.
Everybody and their dog is now talking about impeachment. It’s about fucking time. Where were they three years ago? Donald Trump was impeachable from the day he lied taking his oath, and we knew he was lying when he did it. We simply lacked the political will to do the work required to set the misfire of the 2016 election aside back when it would have made a real difference.
But hey, Nancy Pelosi is on board with impeachment, so everyone thinks they have to talk about it now. Now that the bus of the US federal government is on fire, plummeting downwards at a predictable rate of V = gt, now they want to apply the brakes. Well that’s fine. I’ll have another bottle of spirits over here in the meantime. If you don’t mind.
The comparative difference between Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton & Donald Trump is easy to discern. Donald Trump is a fraud, plain and simple. He has sold his Stormtrumpers a bill of goods that he could never deliver, and had no intention of delivering. This is his standard of practice. Donald Trump was a fraud way, way back. All the way back to the 1970’s & 80’s when he cheated on his taxes stealing the wealth of his father’s company. When he built his first building. When he bought out and then bankrupted his casinos. He is still a fraud, a tax cheat and a money launderer. All of this will come out, eventually.
All the other guys who have faced impeachment had some good thing they hoped to achieve in the public service. The same cannot be said of Trump.
This episode of the 538 Politics podcast is the best explainer I’ve run across on the subject of impeachment. Kate Shaw even picks up on what the guest on Today Explained missed (Exhibit C) She goes point by point through the process as it will most likely progress. Since we only have three cases of presidential impeachment to measure with, it will be hard to say exactly how this will manifest itself. Stay tuned.
Unfortunately for the people who don’t (or won’t) listen to podcasts, there isn’t a transcript for 538 podcasts, and therefore no quick reference for those who just want to get to the facts of the subject directly. You’ll just have to listen. (Editor’s note: Now you can watch, too. I haven’t seen the video which isn’t available on the podcast feed. Yet)
Which not only adds itself into WordPress articles as a playable embed, but you can find the transcript right in the embedded interface. (Not on Spotify, the current streaming source. -ed.) Given what this episode is, a light brush over the subject of where the Trump impeachment goes from where we are now, it’s not too bad. If you understand the subject.
What did Laura McGann miss? The entirety of Scenario 9 is no mystery. Impeached officials, once successfully removed from office, can be barred from serving in public office again. Subject to a simple majority vote of the Senate. It’s right there in the rules. Or Wikipedia.
The Daily from the New York Times is more of a cautionary tale. The Times, in its usual attempts to prove that they aren’t liberal by literally (or audibly) embracing the most insane rantings of whichever pundit they choose to give publicity to, chose to give publicity to the guy who brought us Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, et all. His name is Mike Davis.
…everybody told us that he was sort of an unabashed advocate for Judge Kavanaugh and really sort of the torch-carrier politically through this process. And what he did in terms of not just managing the technicalities of the Senate investigation and the Senate process, but also waging this sort of cultural war for conservatives that was crystallized during the Kavanaugh confirmation process and is now being deployed as a defense against impeachment.
The fact that he was sort of an unabashed advocate for Judge Kavanaugh should have been the first reason not to give the guy a microphone and several uninterrupted minutes to rant. Just flat out don’t do that. There are far, far too many people who will not understand how to dissect his rantings with a skeptical eye. Mike Davis is a poster child for motivated numeracy if not the face on the poster advertising the shortfalls of relying on the reasoning of people who cannot divorce themselves from the things that they believe.
What do I mean by that? If everything Trump is accused of doing was something Obama had been accused of doing how would Mike Davis react? If asked that question on the podcast he would prevaricate. He might even understand the hypocrisy of saying that it would be different for Obama and thereby say “it’s no big deal” but that would be a lie.
We know what would have happened because we lived through eight years of outrage directed at what could objectively be determined to be the best president since Dwight D. Eisenhower (the tan suit, anybody?) If Dwight D. Eisenhower’s portrait is on display anywhere in Washington D.C., the place in the same building that would be appropriate for Donald Trump’s portrait is wherever the garbage is stored before being hauled to the landfill. Which is where Donald Trump’s portrait should go after that. The landfill. With the rest of the garbage.
The New York Times illustrates again exactly why I don’t spend money supporting their reporting. If I had money to support investigative journalism these days I’d have to give it to Vanity Fair, Propublica, The Guardian or The Atlantic. It is a sad day for journalism today, folks.
Impeachment is dangerous. And that danger – that very danger right there, the very nature of it — is why it must be done. And it is in the crucible of crisis, facing the greatest of dangers, when true, authentic greatness is forged.
Starting the second week in October, 2019, there are now three podcasts that I’ve found that deal specifically with the subject of impeachment and only that subject. The first one is Impeachment, Explained from the same people who bring you the podcast Today, Explained linked above. This is the first episode. It will come out weekly on Spotify.
Then there is the daily podcast from WNYC, called simply Impeachment. I like titles that just say what they are about. This podcast is compiled from content that is aired on the Brian Lehrer show.
…was the episode that followed up the voicemail I left two days previously asking why Trump hasn’t been impeached already based on his emoluments violations. I’m sure I’m not the only one asking that question. The Trump Doral debacle is, as the title suggests, a perfect slice of the subject.
The third podcast is Article II from MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. Of the three, this one is the one I have the least hope for. I’m not sure why, it just seems that MSNBC manages to shoot themselves in the foot about every other time they try to do something. Since Bagman was such a hit and The Oath is making waves, I’m betting that Article II is doomed to failure. But I’ll give it a few weeks to see what Steve manages to pull out of the hat.
In testimony on Tuesday, Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, described what he saw as a high-stakes decision by President Trump to withhold $391 million in aid to Ukraine. Dan De Luce, national security and global affairs reporter for the NBC News investigative unit, recounts Taylor’s opening statement and whether it support the theory of a “quid pro quo.”
Then Wednesday the Republicans in the House of Representatives proved themselves unfit for office by staging a juvenile stunt during the hearings. Such is life in the US in 2019. I sent #ImeachTrump? #ExpelMcConnell! to the show as a comment.
In an argument on DC’s forums last year, amidst all the caterwauling, hair tearing, and general hatassery concerning the President and the upcoming elections, I proposed the following;
Barack Obama could well be considered the best President since Dwight D. Eisenhower
I said it at the time largely because I like to take a devil’s advocate position, but I also said it because I’ve become quite weary over the last 6 years listening to idiots run down the sitting president. Generally, I’m right there with them. I mean, given the track record of U.S. presidents in recent history, it’s not hard to thrash a president and have a receptive audience. Let me run down a bit of the history of presidents over the past fifty years, just so you can get a feel for where I’m coming from.
I first started paying attention to politics when Carter was in office. I couldn’t vote back then, but I thought Carter was getting a raw deal leading up to the election of 1980. His policies weren’t anything to brag about, but the weakness of the president and the country that conservatives railed about was largely an illusion that they invented simply as a tool to use against him. As history has demonstrated, Reagan didn’t know anything more than how to hit a mark and say a line (mostly) correctly; and people in his employ did negotiate with the Iranian hostage takers. In 1984. Negotiate again in 1984? Who knows.
Reagan’s term in office was hardly anything to brag about either, in spite of what armies of conservatives say on the subject. During Reagan’s term in office the Soviet Union did begin to collapse, and the Berlin wall did fall during his VP’s only term as President; but the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall that represented it had almost nothing to do with US policies in the region and had everything to do with the ham-handed bureaucrats in the USSR. The Soviet Union falling was a result of Glasnost, a call by the Soviet people and their president who was specifically elected to usher in a new era of openness. (fixed that sentence. -ed.) What Reagan should be known for, the albatross that he should wear, is Reaganomics or trickle-down economics, which has been shown to be a complete failure and has actually contributed more to economic instability than any other action committed by any other US executive in modern history.
Reagan’s real legacy is the S&L debacle, brought about by loosening regulations on financial institutions, almost exactly as predicted by people opposed to that action. The Iran-Contra affair that I mentioned previously barely moves the needle compared to the destructiveness of Reaganomics.
But Ronald Reagan was popular and was elected to two terms. His popularity even earned his Vice-President, an almost unknown political animal named George Herbert Walker Bush, a term as President. (Listen to Bagman and hear how he helped Spiro Agnew avoid prosecution, and then sought out Spiro Agnew’s advice on how to beat governor Dukakis. -ed.) But the damage done by Reaganomics continued to plague the nation, and not even a short, victorious, righteous war to stymie the aggression of a Middle Eastern dictator could secure him a second term in office.
As a peacenik, someone opposed to war in general if not in principle, George H.W. Bush’s willingness to go to war didn’t earn any points with me. None of the things his successor said or did made me believe he was any different. Bill Clinton’s term in office benefitted from the investment of the LBJ administration in space technology, in the form of microchips that were finally small and powerful enough to drive the information technology revolution that we are in the middle of; which makes his term in office seem halcyon in hindsight. But his willingness to involve the US directly in every crisis that made global news (with the exception of Rwanda. Which he says he wishes he’d gotten involved in as well) lobbing missiles like they were footballs at every hotspot on the globe, provided the grist for the mill of anti-American sentiment around the world.
Packing a bomb which exploded on 9-11. That’s the takeaway that history will draw from this era, the post-post WWII decades. This will be the time when the US fumbled the ball handed to it by the old-world European powers, and let someone else take up the lead internationally (who that will be remains in question) That is what this time will be remembered for. the election of Bush II will not be remembered for what Al Gore supporters would like it to be remembered for (the theft of the 2000 election. A footnote to what happened in 2016. –ed.) but for the results of America being asleep at the wheel internationally almost since the end of the Vietnam war. To be involved is to take an interest in the problems of the people around the world. Not to give payola to their leaders and lob missiles at them when they start to tear down the governments they no longer support.
Bush II didn’t steal the election, he simply won it on a technicality. Because of this, he got to be the guy in charge when 9-11 happened. The saying roughly goes we get the best enemies money can buy and we made the enemies who attacked us on 9-11; both figuratively and in reality. We trained a good number of terrorists to resist the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, including some who later worked for Al Qaeda, possibly even OBL himself. The administration was warned but ignored those warnings, and then set about fighting a war that would end up being the longest in US history, and arranged for that war to occur based on false evidence. In the process the Bush II administration destroyed American credibility on the world stage (whatever was left of it) torturing innocent people who just happened to be in a warzone at the wrong time.
To finish off his term, Bush II also failed to act on the looming financial crisis (also about which he was warned) and consequently handed the election of the next President to the Democrats. Handed the election to the Democrats who could have run the proverbial yellow dog, and it would have won. If it hadn’t been for Sarah Palin’s circus show, there wouldn’t have been anything of interest about the election of 2008.
With that as a backdrop, you can imagine what I thought of Barack Obama going into his first term. Don’t get me wrong, I voted for him in the primary in a vain (?) effort to throw the election his way instead of towards Hillary Clinton (I have no use for political dynasties) but I voted straight Libertarian for my last time in that general election. Held my nose and voted for a Republican in Libertarian clothing.
President Obama (surprisingly) did most of what he promised he would do in the election. Yes he did crater on a lot of issues that privacy advocates and conspiracy mongers think he should have taken a hard line on (failed to deliver mortgage relief too. –ed.) He did try ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and no matter how much saber rattling conservatives do, the anarchy currently afoot in Syria/Iraq doesn’t amount to much in the scheme of things unless you happen to have business there. Happen to live there (if you do, you have my sympathy. But do you really want to help Bashar Assad stay in power? Really?) The Syrian revolution managed to win the Republicans seats in the midterms, blowing out the possibility of a more productive congress in 2015, but in the end they remain on the wrong side of history.
Why, you ask? Why are they on the wrong side of history? Why would Obama be considered a good President? Because the general trends are predictive and obvious. I tripped over them even if you, dear reader, did not.
Since the Cold War ended and we blithely went on unchanging in or priorities, the Old World powers found their legs and stood on their own again. If you want to visit countries with the highest ratings for health, productivity, happiness, etcetera, look no further than the old economies that hard liners in the US still wrongly dismiss. Proof of this can be found by the ease with which Germany absorbed the poorer provinces of Eastern Germany, long held back under Soviet rule. How the French absorb refugees into France at a rate that rivals the US.
Canada’s adoption of the Canada Health Act hasn’t proved disastrous for the Canadian economy as predicted. It’s services continue to improve at an impressive rate, leaving the US in the dust. Even Mexico City has better healthcare than we have in the US, finally making the claims of liberal agitators like Michael Moore truthful, if only in hindsight.
The writing is on the wall, has been on the wall for sometime and US citizens apparently never noticed. Socialized medicine, for lack of a better appellation, appears to be the future. The notion that individuals can pay for health services as needed and build the kind of infrastructure that the average person wants (emergency services, research, etc) has been effectively shown to be a pipe dream; and that systems can and do function with the amount of complexity required to provide services in a timely fashion.
Ergo we will all be charged something to provide the services we all say we want but don’t want to pay for, or rather, underestimate the cost of. But that subject is beside the point I’m trying to make, and I don’t want to get distracted from it.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is out this morning and reveals that 15.9 percent of American adults are now uninsured, down from 17.1 percent for the last three months of 2013 and has shown improvements in every major demographic group with the exception of Hispanics who did not advance.
If the Affordable Care Act continues working, if we actually expand on the basics of standardized healthcare provision set down by the Obama administration, What then? When Presidents back to the time of Truman tried to get this done?
Because Eisenhower was the last President to put his name on a fundamental change that was positive to the US as a whole. Lyndon Baines Johnson might have done this with his Great Society had his plans worked out, but his term was marred with the Vietnam War, which could have been avoided and dominates both his legacy and Kennedy’s legacy, even in the face of the Voting Rights Act. Eisenhower managed to avoid any major conflicts, and he established the Interstate Highway System with funds Congress had given to the military.
I’m not planning on doing an exhaustive search back though 60 years of Presidential history just to make my simple point. When I first proposed the idea, I stated it as best President in our lifetimes not best president since Eisenhower. I was born in the age of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and while his ending was tragic, what LBJ achieved in his name was of more importance than anything he did aside from not starting World War Three during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the grand scheme of things that is what he will be remembered for, aside from his words that took us to the moon on LBJ’s watch.
Which is really all that matters to history.
LBJ might pull a close second, even with Vietnam on his record, but that just really speaks to the lackluster nature of our leaders post-WW II, not to any high achievement on LBJ’s record.
I’ve heard similar talk in the news lately, which is why this subject came back to mind, the subject of Obama’s greatness. Obama took the shellacking of his party in stride and decided he wouldn’t sit out the last two years of his Presidency and play golf; at least not yet anyway (If you ask me he’s earned it, having taken less vacation than the last two Presidents) he took his Presidential pen in hand (something else he’s done less than recent Presidents) in order to reduce the suffering of people that were within his power to help.
It is noteworthy that every president since and including Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration without facing threats of lawsuits, government shutdowns, impeachment, or loss of executive authority.
The title caught my eye Every President Since Eisenhower. Well that’s interesting. It’s not a recommendation, but it is a true observation on the consistent obstinacy of the houses of the US Congress across the decades. It seems like Americans have a hangup when it comes to the subject of immigration. So I went looking farther. A piece from this time last year in the New York Times lays the case out pretty well;
Mr. Obama, barring tragedy or resignation, will get to serve eight years, but his margin of victory last November was not overwhelming. He won 62 percent of the electoral vote, which ranks 16th among the 30 presidents who sought re-election after their first terms. Mr. Obama’s electoral vote percentage was better than any of the 10 first-term losers, of course — but among the 20 winners, it exceeded only James Madison in 1812, Woodrow Wilson in 1916, Harry Truman in 1948 and George W. Bush in 2004.
That’s just going on percentages. Puts him in the running with Clinton, well below Eisenhower or LBJ in historical importance based on electoral percentage.
But that’s a little dry, don’t you think? Surely it means more than that, historical importance? More than the President’s popularity with the voting public? Not necessarily. Specifically, I have a hard time believing that Reagan will maintain his high rating (historically ranked 10th in importance) even with his overwhelming second-term victory percentages, given the looting that his administration ushered in and is only now coming to light.
Still, the cost-cutters will be hard pressed to nay-say Barack Obama’s place in history if he stays on course through the rest of his term. Check out the stats in this image from Forbes.
You are reading that right. Obama was the most conservative federal spender since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Don’t hold your breath waiting for your conservative outlets to spin this the right way, they won’t be doing that. They might even take the Heritage Foundation’s tack on the subject and insist that Bush II’s war costs should be saddled on President Obama. In any case, the groundwork has been laid. My work here is done. Barack Obama is the best US President since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Financially speaking.
When I say that Obama was the best President since Eisenhower, this shouldn’t be seen as a compliment to Obama or to Eisenhower. I just want to make this point clear. It’s an observation on just how predatory our government has been in the past and continues to be at present. Imagine what our society, the culture in the United States, would look like if Americans thought of themselves as not engaged in a zero-sum competition with their fellows? If we elected a government that actually focused on common welfare and not killing perceived threats to our ever-diminishing piece of the pie?
That is how Obama is/was different than his predecessors since Eisenhower, or at least since Carter. This is the first time the military agenda hasn’t dominated every second of the sitting president’s time. The first time in decades that any social advancement has been registered; or more precisely, the first time the downward slide of the average American has been noted publicly.
What I find amusing in this Trumpist hellhole we have been trapped in, is that a lot of people are now saying that Obama was the best president during their lifetimes. So all the flack I got when I said the very same thing in 2014 means absolutely as little as I thought it did then. I was right, for once. We as citizens should build on this discovery, that Obama was the best president of our own experienced lives, rather than be distracted by the same-old glittery glamour of sabre-rattling and outright warfare that has come to be synonymous with US policy since WWII.
We will look back on the Obama years as a halcyon moment we should have known to cherish. Because it will be a long time before we ever have it that good again.