Turn of the Screw

August 21st felt like a turning point. With the simultaneous trials of Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort popping out new bits of information about how Donald Trump ran his campaign, we learned that our President may be an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a crime. That’s an especially loaded term commonly associated with Nixon and Watergate (Wikipedia has already updated itself to include Trump) that indicates we may be headed into impeachment territory depending on the outcome of our midterm elections.

Joe Kahn, Managing Editor at the New York Times gave a very measured summary of the events of the day on The Daily podcast, part of what I’ve transcribed below.

This was the day that a series of possible charges turned into something that really is a direct legal and direct political threat to Trump’s longevity in office. It is quite likely that this will become a central issue in the midterm elections and force voters to decide whether or not they want to put Democrats back into majority in the house precisely because impeachment proceedings are the constitutional way to adjudicate a accusation of criminal activity by the President United States.

Up until now, even Democrats, had been reluctant to waive the impeachment flag as part of their campaign in the midterm elections. But you now have the President effectively being an unindicted co-conspirator in a crime. It seems highly likely that that then becomes a serious political if not a direct legal threat to the President. So this is a historic shift in the nature of the threat that we’ve been hearing about, writing about, talking about for so many months.

Impeachment is an unavoidable topic. It doesn’t mean he will be impeached. It doesn’t mean that if he is impeached he will be convicted but it is unavoidable topic when the president is an unindicted co-conspirator in a crime. That is the constitutional mechanism for adjudicating a credible accusation of illegal activity by the President of the United States.

Joe Kahn, Managing Editor, The New York Times

The following morning, here is the President’s response.

Two Headlines

She Loves Me?

Trump Says He Is Willing to Speak Under Oath to Mueller

“I would love to do that — I’d like to do it as soon as possible,” the president told reporters on Wednesday of the prospect of being interviewed by Mr. Mueller

She Loves Me Not.

Trump lawyer clarifies president wasn’t volunteering for Mueller grand jury

Cobb told The New York Times that Trump was speaking hurriedly, and only meant that he is willing to meet with the special counsel, not that he will speak in front of a grand jury.

Hillary Clinton on Trump

HRC is on tour to promote her book, What Happened. She was on the popular liberal podcast, Pod Save America and shared this snipped which I’ve transcribed and linked to below.

I wrote this book to come to try to come to grips with what happened but also to sound the alarm about what I think could still and may well happen.

I think Trump, left to his own devices, unchecked, would become even more authoritarian than he has tried to be. Also remember, the right wing, aided and funded by Mercers, Koch brothers, etc, is very serious about calling a Constitutional Convention. They need 34 states, last I checked they were at 28, 29.

Part of their gerrymandering is to control state legislatures, elect republican governors and to call a Constitutional Convention. If you really get deep into what they’re advocating, limits on First Amendment, no limits on the Second Amendment, limits on criminal justice, there is a very insidious right wing agenda.

So when I say that he doesn’t just like Putin, that we wants to be Putin. I’m not saying he’s going to start killing journalists but I am saying he likes the idea of unaccountable, unchecked power. We’ve never had to face that in a serious way in our country.

https://breaker.audio/e/22734699 (jump to 35:54, I have also left a comment on the page)

California and Sanctuary Cities

I think it’s charming that the California State Legislature opens the session with a prayer from a Buddhist priest. I also love that the Governor begins the swearing in of the new Attorney General with a jocular, “Are you ready?” and ends with a casual, “That’s it! Congratulations!”

But if you want to skip ahead to Governor Jerry Brown’s fiery defense of California’s philosophy of inclusion, scrub up to the 20 minute mark.

I’m proud that not only my congresswoman but also my senator is speaking out for inclusion, Affordable Health Care, and clean energy. Ending his speech with the words of Woody Guthrie, Gov. Jerry Brown quoted “This Land was made for you and me which took on new meaning and emphasis in his speech. “California is not turning back. Not now, not ever!”

But the state’s stance on sanctuary cities is what is front and center today. Up and down and across the country leaders are speaking out against the new administration’s threat to withdraw federal support from sanctuary cities.

There’s a study out today that has shown that communities that devote their resources to actually fighting crime (instead of rounding up illegals) are actually safer.

I’m proud to say that my city too has taken a stance and declared itself a sanctuary city on the eve of Trump’s inauguration. When friends and family ask about the significance of this I point to this speech given in front of the City Council by Reverend Michael Yoshii of the local Buddhist temple who reminded everyone present that it was in Alameda, because of the proximity of the naval base on the West End of the island that the first Japanese-Americans were rounded up to live in the local horse track stables while the internment camps were being built that would house them during WWII.

They were rounded up because, in Michael’s word, war hysteria and paranoia ran high in the days after Pearl Harbor and, “no one spoke up.” Without a law or policy in place that set up a moral true North, no one spoke up.

We must not let this happen again.

h/t to local blogger Lauren Do for the pointer to Reverend Michael Yoshii’s speech

What happened last night?

There’s a video is going around in Japan trying explain to people there how Donald Trump tapped into the under-represented and dispossessed to win the election. Over the moaning cellos from Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar soundtrack, Michael Moore rants in a clip from his latest movie TrumpLand against a gliding montage of Ken Burns-ed images of Trump supporters. Moore warns of the political landslide to come, something he saw plain as day, written across the faces of those in his native rust belt.

“Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘Fuck You’ ever recorded in human history.” It’s a powerful message, driving home the power of our democracy to collectively shape our future. With it’s built-in mechanism to overturn the establishment at regular intervals, it’s an incredibly resilient way to let off steam, for better or worse.

But if there is one thing we learned from last night, is that it’s important to put things in context. As powerful as that piece may be, it was served up with a perspective, a point of view. That particular cut faded out and and did not include the second half of his speech, the part that Michael Moore himself included in his clip from the same speech. Here’s the rest of it.

Careful what you wish for, the ballot is not an “anger management tool.” Moore’s broader message is that we need to be skeptical of a quick fix promised on incomplete information.

Today Moore posted this on his Facebook page today under, “Morning After To-Do List”

Everyone must stop saying they are “stunned” and “shocked”. What you mean to say is that you were in a bubble and weren’t paying attention to your fellow Americans and their despair. YEARS of being neglected by both parties, the anger and the need for revenge against the system only grew.

Now more than ever, we cannot be lazy and take in truths that are fed to us in sound bites and campaign slogans. The broader truth comes from multiple points of view and first-hand experience. Seek out new sources of information, talk to one another and compare notes. Americans pride themselves on their innovation – there’s a better way to do this – let’s get to work.