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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,209

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What a time for my 20,000th post.

The times are truly momentous, and historic with a capital "H". Nancy Pelosi was astute and profound to directly reference Thomas Paine. His literal words, which she evoked, are contained in his seminal political treatise "Common Sense":

But we need not go far, the inquiry ceases at once, for the time hath found us. The general concurrence, the glorious union of all things prove the fact. It is not in numbers but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world.


My first post on Democratic Underground was in the fall of 2003. That now feels half a century removed. History flows in a mighty stream, the waters change but the river remains. For those of us roughly in my age group (I'm now 70) it is sobering, even staggering to realize that our individual life spans comprise over one fourth of the history of our nation, since the actual time that Thomas Paine spoke of.

And always it is a struggle to preserve and then expand upon the gains that collectively we, over generations, have won; for freedom against autocracy, and for justice against oppression in every form. I watched Richard Nixon consolidate his hold on power in 1972, winning the electoral votes of 49 states in his run for reelection. Then I watched as his growing autocratic tendencies were exposed and finally rebuffed by the Republic Benjamin Franklin said was ours to live in, but only if we could keep it.

I am so grateful for the community of activists who I tap into daily when I log into Democratic Underground. We fight together constantly to keep the Republic that all of us, as Americans, proudly inherited. The Democratic Underground was here for me in 2003, it is here for me today. When Thomas Paine said "It is not in numbers but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world" our community here comes to mind for me.

Impeachment must not be too "narrow" in scope

There is political wisdom in not attempting to throw the kitchen sink at Trump. Impeachment should focus on Trump's misdeeds while in office. Hush money payments made prior to his election should not be a focus. "Collusion" with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign should not be a focus. Long term financial ties with Russia that may lie hidden in Trump's tax returns should not be a focus. There may be ways those can be referenced to provide context during hearings, but they should not constitute separate counts

In that sense the impeachment investigation should be narrowly focused, on actions that have happened since Trump took his oath of office. But it is unwise to narrow the impeachment inquiry down to a single "High crime or Misdemeanor." Trump needs to be removed for far more than just his role in the "Ukraine Conspiracy", grave as that may be. But, more to the point, he needs to be accused by the House of more than that alone.

By all means let the Ukraine charge take the lead. It is distinct and straight forward to prosecute. Unlike the wide scale undermining of the United States Constitution, it involves violating America's national security in an easy to grasp and tangible way. Trump's conduct toward the Ukraine may well be the easiest article of impeachment to convict him of, but it should not be the only one prosecuted. It needs to be pressed within a broader context that additional charges would provide.

Ultimately only a single article of an impeachment indictment against the President needs to pass the House in order for impeachment to move forward, but that does not argue in favor of presenting a single charge only. Some Democrats worry about muddying the waters with too wide a scope of inquiry. I worry about the opposite. A pattern of wide scale Presidential misconduct in office must be presented, otherwise Trump and his allies can focus their disinformation campaign on the particulars of one confined set of facts.

As has been shown before, truth is no deterrent to a Trumpian line of defense, which never revolves around the winning of any argument. Instead their goal has always been to confuse the public with alternate versions of reality that literally turn facts on their head. That is how and why the waters get muddied, to Trump's advantage, and Democrats must not fall into it. The "guilt or innocence" of Donald Trump can not rest on the facts of any single act alone, no matter how consequential it may be. When presented with a discreet accusation, Trump is a master at expanding the "shadow of a doubt" into a dust storm induced blackout, blinding the public of the ability to discern fake from real news with any degree of certainty.

Trump's actual impeachment likely will ultimately rest on Congressional findings regarding the Ukraine, but that by itself could mean winning the battle while losing the war if, in the process, Democrats do not forcefully inject into the record substantial evidence establishing that Presidential misdeeds relative to the Ukraine are consistent with the entire tenor of Trump's Administration and his time in office. That is why additional counts in the final articles of impeachment presented against Donald Trump become critical. It is not just Trump's actions in any instance that must be prosecuted, it is the fundamental integrity of the man who occupies the Oval Office that must be frontally assaulted relative to all of his actions and every misinformation campaign subsequently he launches in his defense.

One count of impeachment does not sufficiently present a pervasive pattern of Trump's core unfitness to hold office. It should and must be buttressed by other charges, based on his actions while in office centered on the Obstruction of Justice and his self serving Corruption at the expense of the American people.

Whoa. The extortion is at best thinly veiled, even in the non transcript transcrpt Trump released

Look at the direct juxtaposition of these two topics in that phone call:

Zelenskyy: "...I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. . We. are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United· States for defense purposes."

The President: "I would like you to do us a favor though
because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike ... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has.it. There are a lot. of things that went on, the :whole situation .. I think you are surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance-, but they. say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that's possible."

And of course Trump was holding up military aid at the time of this call which Trump initiated.

In essence this reads "So you say you are ready for our suspended military aid, well we have a favor we need to ask of you."
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