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Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
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Trump's Arpaio Pardon is a Constitutional Crisis

...you don't need to look any further than the crime he's pardoning Arpaio for.

from Bloomberg:

If President Donald Trump pardons Joe Arpaio, as he broadly hinted at during a rally Tuesday in Arizona, it would not be an ordinary exercise of the power -- it would be an impeachable offense. Arpaio, the former sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, was convicted of criminal contempt of court for ignoring the federal judge’s order that he follow the U.S. Constitution in doing his job. For Trump to pardon him would be an assault on the federal judiciary, the Constitution and the rule of law itself...

Specifically, Arpaio was convicted this July by Judge Susan Bolton of willfully and intentionally violating an order issued to him in 2011 by a different federal judge, G. Murray Snow.

Federal judges don’t much like it when their orders are flouted. Snow held extensive hearings in November 2015, and in July 2016 he issued a lengthy opinion finding Arpaio in civil contempt of court. Snow didn’t mince words. He wrote that the department’s “constitutional violations are broad in scope, involve its highest ranking command staff, and flow into its management of internal affairs investigations...”

Judge Bolton convicted Arpaio of criminal contempt. She found he had “willfully violated” the federal court’s order “by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed.” And she held that Arpaio had “announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.”

This is the crime that Trump is suggesting he might pardon: willful defiance of a federal judge’s lawful order to enforce the Constitution...


Consider that Trump's reasoning for the pardon was made clear in his tweet announcing the deed, essentially praising Arpaio for his anti-constitutional acts (assumed culpable of those crimes by virtue of the pardon) and calling him a "patriot."


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!
10:00 PM - Aug 25, 2017


This is the President of the United States officially approving flagrant violations of the Constitution; openly subverting a bedrock foundation of our democracy which is at the heart of the oath he swore in front of the nation - the Constitution he swore to 'preserve, protect and defend.'




—"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Donald Trump may well be mentally ill, but he's also an ignorant, fearful bigot

I'm inclined to agree with folks who say Trump looked and sounded like a crazy man at his Phoenix rally Tuesday night. But the thing is, he looks even more insane because he's expected to represent the nation like decades of presidents before him.

It's just that it's so shocking, and so completely unnerving to see someone mindlessly trash and discard the collective and evolving efforts of generations of presidencies to be as progressively inclusive and representative of citizens from almost every corner of the nation in their appeal and discourse, that Trump's lurid assaults against broad swatches of our population seem unhinged and demented.

Who, in their right mind, would deliberately alienate and enrage so many of our countryfolk with such debasing and demeaning language from the highest office in the land, while, at the same time, promoting and elevating the most divisive and destructive individuals and elements in our nation?

Donald Trump may well be mentally ill. His mind is certainly susceptible to the strains of age, but his words read like almost every ignorant, fearful bigot who has soiled this land since the first slavers with their captive cargo of Africans landed in Jamestown.

They read like every defender of the crown preceding the American Revolution; like every slave owner who believed more in their superiority than in the unity of the nation; like every reconstructionist legislating blacks out or political empowerment because they couldn't countenance equality; like every anti-suffragist who couldn't bear to live with women as equals; his words tear at the fabric of our society like every segregationist barring the door to opportunity and equality out of self-interest, fear, and outright hatred.

On his face, Trump is a run-of-the-mill, anti-social bigot who uses racism and hatred as weapons to elevate his own sordid view of himself, and also as cruel sport against 'enemies' who dare question why this megalomaniac is being allowed to systematically dismantle our democracy.

What happened last night in Phoenix was truly deranged. Pundits say he was in 'campaign mode,' but this was our sitting president openly heralding his returning America to a time in our history where his crippling insecurities about his fellow citizens were leavened by an equally insecure white, male majority willing and able to legislate *others out of the opportunity and protection they, themselves, enjoyed for decades.

MAGA. Is there any campaign slogan in modern history more repulsive than 'making America great' for the terminally-bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, and racist still among us?

here's Maya Kosoff's take in Vanity Fair on Trump's "I know I told them I wasn't a racist, but I'm still a really big one, okay?' speech in Phoenix:

“The words were perfect,” Trump said of his own words about Charlottesville. “They only take out anything they think of, and all they do is complain. The media can attack me, but where I draw the line is when they attack you, the decency of our supporters. You are honest, hard-working, tax-paying—and you’re over-taxed, but we’re going to get your taxes down—Americans. It’s time to expose the crooked media deceptions and to challenge the media for their role in fomenting divisions. They are trying to take away our history and our heritage.”

For a speech that began, ostensibly, as a call for unity, Trump’s rally was filled with barbed attacks on all variety of people who he said had no place in America. Trump spoke broadly about “liberating our towns” from undocumented immigrants, citing Joe Arpaio, pledging to purge “sanctuary cities” of undocumented immigrants and leading the crowd in a “build the wall” chant. He threatened a government shutdown if the wall he wants constructed between the U.S. and Mexico isn’t approved. And, after the White House said Trump wouldn’t pardon Arpaio during his rally in Phoenix, Trump hinted that a pardon would come. “Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe? Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” he asked. “He should have had a jury. But I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s gonna be just fine. But, but, I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. Is that O.K.? But Sheriff Joe can feel good.”


Clearly, the 'history' Trump wants to protect and preserve is regressive and evil. It's a call to return to the days where a cliquish, white, male majority made all of the decisions for the nation and acted in their narrow, exclusive self-interest; back to a time where the press kowtowed to authority and was complicit with the government in obscuring the truth from the public; to return to an age in America where racism and bigotry flourished under an umbrella of segregation and Jim Crow; an era where dissent was legislated into obscurity.

It was President Woodrow Wilson (who applied Jim Crow, segregationist policies in the South to the federal workplace) who urged legislative action against those who had "sought to bring the authority and 'good name' of the Government into contempt." He worried in his declaration of war, about "spies and criminal intrigues everywhere afoot" which had filled "our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government."

During his presidency more than 2,000 American citizens were jailed for protest, advocacy, and dissent, with the support of a compliant Supreme Court. The Wilson-era assaults on civil liberties; Schenck v. U.S.; Frohwerk v. U.S.; Debs v. U.S, Abrams v. U.S., were ratified by Supreme Court decisions which actually asserted that free speech in wartime was a hindrance to the efforts of peace.

It's amazing to me how the inhabitants of this land we call America - a country obtained and settled through force and deception by an immigrant, Anglo/Saxon pack of misogynist thugs - can assert their nationalism and detach themselves from the global influences that were essential, critical elements in the establishment of our nation and in the sustaining the people who settled here.

The Europeans were immigrants to this land. The original inhabitants comprised a vast nation of many languages and many different cultures that existed together for centuries. There is no reasonable argument that justified the American settlers systematic removal of these indigenous peoples from the lands that had sustained their ancestors for generations. Here in our own country, there was no reasonable argument for the destruction of the native inhabitants' culture, and the forced imposition of the settler's ideology.

If we're going to make America great (again), we'll need to either return to those troublesome roots, or, accept and build on the promises of successive generations hence who've made deliberate strides to include all of us in the weaving and coverage of the robust and diverse fabric of our nation.

One thing for certain, Donald Trump is a demonstrated enemy to progress in America. He threatens my family, and his actions threaten his rabid supporters' families as well.

Perpetuating the Afghanistan Folly

Back and forth, the ascended,
Leaders hurl their followers,
Into the bloody abyss upended,
None of them can be bothered,

Apart from the ones who do the dying,
There's nothing left for the tyrants,
But to gather up more kindling,
To appease the smoldering silence,


excerpt from the poem, 'Terrorists' by Ron Fullwood


FROM the time of Poppy Bush's opportunistic defense of Kuwait's territory and ports (at the behest of the Bush/Cheney obligations to their Saudi Arabian friends and allies) against Saddam Hussein's army's advance; through his son, Junior Bush's deployments to 'fight them there' in Afghanistan after the 9-11 attacks; to Junior's 'preemptive invasion and occupation of Iraq; through Barack Obama's 'surge' and escalation of force in Afghanistan; to Pres. Obama's re-escalation of military force and attacks in Iraq after completely withdrawing there (and attacks inside Syria, Libya, Sudan, Pakistan, and deployments to Yemen); and now to Donald Trump's declaration and bid for a new round of unremitting, unaccountable combat operations in Afghanistan; America is still at war.

Our nation's possessive militarism in Afghanistan and elsewhere has divided our nation from within, and, from without, against our restive allies. This new threat from Pres. Trump of an escalated occupation ignores whatever Afghans might regard as self-determination and sovereignty in their insistence that their country be used as a barrier against the terror forces we've aggravated and enhanced in Pakistan.

The Taliban is an imposture in our government's terror war. Our own invading and occupying military forces are the most aggravating element in the perpetual violence in Afghanistan and the region. Deliberately so.

Yet, the soldiers President Trump is determined to commit to his own 'pollyandish misadventure' are not wanted there by the majority of the Afghan people. Our soldiers have been fighting to control the Afghans, and they've been busy fighting to get the U.S. to release that control.

As far back as November 2011, senior officials in the Obama administration were signaling that the President was exploring a speedier transition of our troops' combat role to training Afghans to provide for their own defense of their dubious government. Tentative plans were said to have been made for President Obama to unveil his revised strategy before the annual NATO summit that May.

Even before the signals and the rest from the White House, there were key developments which made it clear that to continue in Afghanistan, President Obama would either need to undergo another ambitious campaign to rally allies away from their almost certain plans to turn away from their part in the U.S. folly, or the administration and Pentagon would have to devise a way to overcome the mounting problems with logistics, getting supplies to the troops, and the apparent outer limits of the president's belief in what the military forces can accomplish on the offensive against a scattered and determined insurgency.

As if to underscore the folly of their escalated military offensive, U.S. troops all but withdrew from Kandahar, the Pentagon's self-proclaimed 'center' of their terror war in Afghanistan, in a posture of retreat which began the previous October. Under the qualifying language of 'transition' and 'handover', the administration hoped to determinately pull the rug out from under whatever goals and ambitions propelled the President to adopt Bush's dubious defense of the Karzai regime, double down on the occupation, and try to effect a knockout blow to the Taliban resistance.

The mission of our forces in Afghanistan drifted, as in Iraq, to the desperate defense of an Afghan regime which was installed behind the 'shock and awe' of our invasion following the 9-11 attacks. Like the privileged regime in Iraq which was enabled into influence and authority with votes cast in a dubious election by a minority of citizens under the heavy-hand of their country's invaders, the regime in Kabul relied on their own 'Green Zone' of defense of our military forces as their seat of power to lord over the impoverished country.

While true that there was a dual focus on 'al-Qaeda' in Pakistan and on the Afghan-Pakistan border, there was also the effort to 'push back' the Taliban to 'give room' for the Karzai regime to establish itself. That was the reason given by President Obama for the escalation of troops into Afghanistan, and for the escalation of their offensive role.

I don't need President Obama's statement, however, to see clearly that the escalation of hundreds of thousands of NATO troops into Afghanistan had little to nothing to do with the efforts to corner and degrade the Taliban forces in Pakistan identified with al-Qaeda -- other than the forces which were stationed at the border to prevent the Pakistan Taliban from fleeing into Afghanistan as our drones bombed their encampments and compounds. The drone war was the primary offensive against 'al-Qaeda' in Pakistan. The military admitted several times that most of the al-Qaeda fighters had fled to Pakistan long before the offensive.

The thousands of troops surged on the initiative of President Obama into Afghanistan had almost zero to do with the 'small' invasion force which killed bin-Laden. They supported the Afghan regime by providing a perimeter defense in the area around Kabul, and by working to expand the reach and influence of that regime by taking over territory in the south and installing government sponsored rule to replace the Taliban's. The bulk of the forces were involved in chasing down and capturing or killing resisting Afghans - chasing down and killing Afghans that were fighting in opposition to the corrupt Karzai regime that our military 'surged' to maintain and expand in power.

As Sen. Russ Feingold so famously said at the President's announcement of the surge into Afghanistan: Why are we surging where al-Qaeda isnt?

The operation in Kandahar was also meant to be a defining stance to expand the influence of the Karzai regime to the outer provinces. That's why such a big deal was made about establishing an outpost and setting up a provincial government there to replace the Taliban rule which is the norm outside of Kabul. That effort was abandoned, after countless lives lost, without any measurable or lasting, transformative success. The defining mission of the surge was a failure on their own terms of gaining the trust and acceptance of the Afghan people and drawing the rest of the country to accept and not resist the U.S.-enabled Afghan rule.

It's not very likely the U.S.-led NATO will ever be able to emphasize their political aims over the destructive and destabilizing impact on the communities of Afghanistan from the devastating, U.S.-led military offensive. Through the force of our weapons - outside the limits that our constitution proscribes for the use of our military defenses - we represented a corrupt regime and imposed it on the Afghan population, especially in regions which were not engaged in elections that we claimed gave the Afghan government legitimacy.

Even our would-be puppet, Karzai, bristled and balked at the prospect of more destructive NATO conquest in Afghanistan on his behalf. The once-willing accomplice saw the political writing on the wall and settled for the assumption of power wherever the Taliban would allow. His reported outburst at the beginning of the Kandahar campaign, threatening to 'join the Taliban', was a open-warning to the U.S. that he recognized there is no political solution that can be reasonably carved out of the devastating, withering military campaign.

The military was quietly hoping we didn't notice that they didn't actually transform their Afghanistan misadventure from the leveling of homes, the taking of resistors lives, and the destruction of farmland and livestock into the nation-building success that they intended for the mission to highlight.

The premise behind President Obama's initial 'surge' of U.S. troops into Bush's Afghanistan quagmire was to 'push back' resisting Afghans enough to allow some sort of political reconciliation. That effort was predictably bogged down by the difficulty in getting the disparate tribes and factions to accept the central authority NATO has set up in Kabul. There's even more difficulty in getting their installed government to accommodate the interests and demands of the resisting rest of the war-split nation.

The increased occupation was designed to facilitate Afghan elections and to provide the same sort of 'with us or against us' choice that our invading and occupying forces in Iraq offered the citizens there. The plot which which emerged in this Potemkin defense of democracy in Kabul is one which is already well-know to Afghans. Opposition communities would be occupied and intimidated by our forces while supportive communities would be protected and enabled in the run-up to the balloting.

The outcome of the vote resembled whatever minority composition of the Afghan population felt unencumbered by the regime's heavy-hand to cast their ballot in their favor. The result may well have bolstered whatever legitimacy the West wanted to place on their enabled rule in Kabul, but the effect of the increased military activity had a predictable effect of aligning the myriads of Afghans once led to oppose one another, to band together in resistance against their country's foreign invaders.

The U.S. military offensive against the Taliban was an abject failure in achieving it's goals. What happened to the promised ability of the U.S.-led NATO forces to protect the residents of Afghanistan against Taliban blowback from their invasion? The ability to protect innocent civilians from NATO attacks, or insulate them from the negative consequences and effects of the NATO military advance? The ability of NATO to provide and deliver the services and amenities of the central government to the displaced residents? Nonexistent.

There's absolutely no hint in Trump's speech and remarks of lessons learned from the previous president's tragic escalation of Bush's Afghanistan deployment in which over 1000 more troops' lives were sacrificed in Pres. Obama's 'surge' than Bush lost avenging 9-11. Over 2200 U.S. troops have been sacrificed in Afghanistan - 630 of those deaths occurring in 8 years under George W. Bush.

Illustratively, the top three deadliest years of the war -- 2010 (497 deaths), 2011 (362), 2009 (303) -- occurred under President Obama’s tenure. Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. fatalities in the war in Afghanistan occurred during the Obama administration, in a quarter of the war's duration.

Bush wrote the script for the U.S. in the region; cast the antagonists in his kabuki play - erected Potemkins of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan to defend in contrived protection schemes where we create the 'enemies' we then claim to protect and defend against.

President Obama maintained and perpetuated that script through his own interpretation of threats to the U.S. or our interests, insisting he has the authority he needs to unilaterally initiate airstrikes; even introduce troops, if he sees fit.

One of the tragedies of 9-11 has been the degree our government's defensiveness has increased with a myriad of justifications to war - maybe not the unbridled military imperialism of the Bush-era, but threatening measures designed to frighten our adversaries away from their own military conquests; their sectarian violence fueled and inflamed by the seemingly deliberate vacuum created out of our own disruptive, self-serving military meddling.

Indeed, Barack Obama, in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, actually used that occasion to lay down justifications for war; 'just wars' he called them. The new president wrapped his militarism in a blanket of history in his acceptance speech in Oslo. He spoke with the detachment of a professor lecturing students about a "living testimony" to the "moral force" of the teachings of King and Gandhi who just happened to be commander-in-chief over dual, bloody occupations.

War and peace, in Mr. Obama's presentation, were inseparably intertwined throughout history with America rising above it all - virtuous and correct in the flexing of our military muscle abroad in this age, because of our righteousness in the defining wars we waged with our allies against the Third Reich and Japan. That American virtue, in Mr. Obama's estimation, made evident by our leadership in setting the terms of international patronage, diplomacy, and 'just' war.

The retention of that assumed authority, and it's ready adoption by the Trump administration is a loaded gun just waiting for an excuse or reason to use it.

I don't believe there was ever anything to 'win' in Afghanistan, as President Obama once declared there was, and as Trump asserted yesterday. There has been, however, much to lose in this repeated flailing of our military forces against the Afghan people; against the remnants and ghosts of al-Qaeda. We have already been shown, repeatedly, that our government-building efforts behind the force of our military in the Middle East has produced more individuals inclined or resigned to violent expressions of resistance than it's succeeded in establishing any of the 'democracy' or 'stability' promised.

For an economically crippled superpower pushing up against the admitted limitations of our military, that's enough for the U.S. to declare 'success' and 'progress,' and leave when the president says he will -- if not ahead of time. Instead, these successive presidencies have been content to tolerate the self-escalated sacrifices of our our soldiers as our troops eventually hunker down in Afghanistan, tolerating the tragically wounded and killed and waiting for some moment to declare 'victory' out of their desperate defense of their own lives against the Afghans that the presidents and the Pentagon claim we've been liberating.

We've been in Afghanistan longer than our country fought WWII. No matter to our leaders, though. 'Freedom's' cause for occupation supporters is nothing more than a repression of one group or another within the sovereign nation we invaded into accepting our military forces' false authority over them; and cynical manipulation and control of the Afghan government ruling by the intimidation of our military occupation.

The devastating effect of our military intervention in the region, which has cost so many lives caught up in the way of America's government-building folly so far, only deepened itself with every tweak and correction that intended us to 'win' some sort of 'victory' outside of the pursuit of the original 9-11 suspects (even after the killing of bin Laden during Pres Obama's term).

The counter to that bunk is that nothing at all had been done to address the original complaint of Muslims and Arabs in the way of our nation's swaggering advance across their sovereign borders; that the very presence of our military on their soil is an intolerable aggravation to their religion, values and their wishes - as well as a threat to a great deal of their own safety and security.

As certain as Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City after we withdrew from the Vietnam war, Afghanistan will have some element of Taliban rule after we eventually retreat.

One would hope that the American public would demand accountability from this new administration on the goals they establish behind these new deployments. It should be remembered that the Iraq 'surge' began as a trickle, and, in a year, over 800 U.S. troops had lost their lives as a result of that escalation. What we need to hear from the Trump administration is a clear mission for our nation's defenders in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, which is actually directed toward fulfilling the original authorization to use military force which Congress approved for prosecution against "those responsible for the (9-11) attacks launched against the United States."

The only lesson that our military invasions have imposed on the region is the one which the authors of the deployments purport to oppose; that of the efficacy of military force and violence as an ultimate avenue to power and authority. In Iraq and Afghanistan, those who support the U.S. military-enabled regimes and seek protection behind our dominating forces are considered 'democratic' and legitimate -- while those who choose to be or find themselves outside of that imposed influence are to be opposed as 'insurgent' or 'radical' in their opposition and defense of their chosen territory against NATO's selfish advance.

There aren't many who would question America's pursuit of justice in the wake of the 9-11 plane crashes. Chasing bin-Laden and his cohorts into Afghanistan, and the rout of his Taliban accomplices to Pakistan was a reasonable response to most looking on. Yet, there's a question of how much of the U.S. militarism today in Afghanistan, or now, again in Iraq, can be justified as part and parcel of that original pursuit; or even integral to some defense of our national security as defined in the original authorizations to use military force.

Our nation's citizens didn't start out ambivalent to chasing bin-Laden into Afghanistan. They became ambivalent when that effort was distorted into opportunistic nation-building - all the while with the fugitive terror suspects that were at the heart and soul of the military mission left free to instigate and motivate violent resistance against our nation's strident military presence and activity across sovereign borders, mostly by the virtue of their seemingly deliberate freedom from justice.

The nation became ambivalent when those occupations, in turn, were escalated to advantage the politics behind propped-up regimes. The suspicion of America's military force abroad was born in the 'extraordinary renditions' by our military and intelligence agencies; in summary executions by armed, unmanned drones; and in the indefinite imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans without charges or counsel - many held and tortured as in Gitmo - many tortured and disappeared in 'black sites' in compliant nations. Many are just as suspicious of this president's escalation of force in Afghanistan against the Taliban.

We've been told by the previous administration and the military that there are relatively few individuals thought to be in Afghanistan or Iraq who are al-Qaeda. Yet the U.S. military aggression in defense of regimes we helped ascend to power in corrupt elections is directed against an entirely different 'enemy' who is operating against the U.S. 'interest' in our maintaining ethically-challenged regimes in dominance over the very people we pretend to be defending.

The established practice from politicians in Washington since the Bush-era is to construct mechanisms of preemptive aggression in the vain hope of keeping war at bay. Is there really anything more delusional than fomenting war to prevent war?



Power maims to gain the ground,
Casts bold shadows across fear-ed's face,
Yet, reaps the bare Earth where death stands,
Disturbs dust which was laid to waste,

Shrouds the martyr's bloody veil,
Soils the tyrant's immaculate cloak,
Yet, humanity will prevail,
To spite the war its descendants spoke.

Where does Trump see 'beauty' in confederate monuments?? All I see is supremacy and intimidation.

Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump 44m44 minutes ago
Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.

Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump 30m30 minutes ago
...the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!


...this is a very bad person - not merely crazy, sick, or inept - Donald Trump is vile and contemptible.

He's determined to force his inner bigotry on the American public, desperately looking for someone to validate his most racist and divisive instincts and beliefs. He's not fit to enjoy the benefits of our diverse and magnanimous nation, or, much less, be president.

'He might never push the button.'

Steve Silberman‏ @stevesilberman Aug 9
One of the most brilliant and chilling things ever written about nuclear war, by the late Roger Fisher.


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