Tuesday, April 23, 2019

tromping through the fog of whether to impeach

Rachel Notley is gone. Pundits predict that Theresa May will be gone before the June 3rd visit of trump to D-Day celebrations. Jason Kenney has replaced Notley and Boris Johnston, (trump who speaks Latin!) is predicted to succeed Ms May.
In Canada, five conservative premiers Ford (Ontario), Kenney(Alberta), Palliser (Manitoba), Blaine Higgs (New Brunswick), Moe (Saskatchewan) are asking the courts to ban the federal (read: national) “carbon tax” that has been imposed on their provinces.

Washington has imposed sanctions on five countries currently purchasing Iranian oil, in the hope of suffocating the Iranian economy and bringing Iran to the negotiating table, to pound out a new nuclear concord. The result: one million barrels of oil a day from Iran could be withheld from world markets.

Gas prices are spiking and projected to spike stratospherically, and the environment continues to writhe under the strangulation of the right and the climate deniers.
And in the United States where the White House lines up with the climate deniers, the political discourse is whirling in a downward spiral on whether or not to impeach the current occupant of the Oval Office, following the Robert Mueller Special Counsel Report.

Imposing “political will” on a specific political issue, is a function of many variables:

·        the strength of public support of the party/leader in power
·        the trust of the public in those proposing to impose their will
·        the calculations of the potential impacts of the decision to impose a “will”
·        the relevant precedents in historic, legal, political and economic terms
·        the capacity of the “leader” to impose a set of talking points on the relevant media
·        the gullibility/innocence/predisposition of the public to the fine print of the specific issue
·         the complexity of the nuances of the issue itself
·        the ideological and cultural memes/themes playing out in the public discourse
·        the strength of the financial support for those intending to impose their will
·        comparisons with visible and appropriate narratives on the issue in other jurisdictions
·        the strength/weakness of the numbers garnered in current, relevant, verifiable opinion polling.

In Canada, over the last two or three months, the Prime Minister’s Office seriously miscalculated over the question of whether to impose its will on the Attorney General to intervene to achieve a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC Lavalin, following the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided against such a move.

In Great Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron seriously miscalculated in calling for a referendum on the question of remaining/exiting the European Union. Nearly three years on, the matter is still in a kind of political limbo, with a parade of parliamentary votes having come and gone, without clarifying or resolving the issue, after some 17 million-plus Brits voted to exit.

Apparently, President Emmanuel Macron also miscalculated in imposing a gas tax on middle income French voters, prompting thousands to don “yellow vests” and stream into the streets of Paris and other French venues in protest. This protest has been partially thwarted as a consequence of the epic fire in Notre Dame Cathedral.

In Sri Lanka, in spite of official and serious and credible warnings of the impending threat of terrorist attacks, some 200-plus Sri Lankans are dead and another 500-plus are wounded following attacks on Christian churches, high-end hotels and one private residence.

Clearly, for a political party (in this case the American Democrats) to make a decision on whether to open Impeachment Hearings, is a decision fraught with many pressures including but not restricted to:

Ø the vagaries and fickleness of public opinion
Ø the strength of the “victim” trump’s capacity to overturn all conventions and expectations
Ø the histories of both the Nixon and Clinton impeachment narratives
Ø the proximity of the 2020 presidential elections
Ø the intransigence of the White House to block all attempts to uncover damning evidence on his many, observable, verified, and continuing actions that expose just how unfit he is for the office
Ø the history of the Democratic Party to search in vain for a “spine” as far back as the 2004 presidential election when then candidate Howard Dean called for its recovery
Ø the arrogance and intransigence of the Senate Republicans who are predictably expected to block an impeachment verdict from the House of Representatives
Ø the threat of a trump-cult’s interpretation of impeachment as a “coup” as the  president has repeatedly chanted and the violence that could result.

Proceeding vigorously, relentlessly and without losing sight of the historic importance of this moment, as Eugene Robinson, columnist at the Washington Post urges the Democrats under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership in the House, makes sense, given, as Robinson reminds us, that trump himself will be energized, committed and relentless in his push-back and pursuit of re-election in 2020.

Governing, for the last decade plus, following the 9-11 terror attacks, the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, the Obama election embedded in the intransigence of  the Republican Congress, and more recently the tornado of headlines from the pervasive, ubiquitous dominance of the trump narcissitic meloldrama, has proven almost literally ineffectual. The public, naturally, has grown inured to the impotence of the Congress, as well as to the horrendous and demonstrably counter-intuitive if not outright illegal machinations of the trump presidency.

In the midst of extreme confusion, ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty, individuals usually revert to their most familiar, and often weakest option. Seeking clarity from “leaders,” the culture is magnetized by a “strong” leader’s captivation of the headlines, regardless of how that control is achieved, and also regardless of the hollowness of their content. Playing on the fears birthed in loss and uncertainty, linked to a perception of blatantly unfair policies and practices (read: tax policy and corporate malfeasance, in seeking labour at base levels and freedom from environment and worker protections offshore) trump descended that escalator in the “theatre” of the absurd king. He continues to seduce, deceive, mislead and wiggle into and out of entrapments into which others would have long ago been ensnared.

Accountability, transparency, trust and how to begin the process of taking the country back from this two-plus-year debacle is, apparently, one of the more complex goals, especially given the turbulence of both the president’s preferred modus operandi and the vacillation of public opinion. While there was a glimmer of hope coming out of the House elections in 2018, one house of Congress is not enough to effect a predictable removal from office of a chief executive who is unfit for office. Headlines, talking heads, and tweet storms have been so engulfed by the trump vacuum that most “other” issues have gone unattended, unless a public display of distraction was deemed necessary to prop the president’s popularity ratings: (read: North Korea summits, government shut-down to focus on a bogus emergency, deployment of the army to build the wall, silencing criticism of Saudi Arabia for the murder of Kashoggi, moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, supporting the Netanyahu take-over of the West Bank).

For the Democrats to hide behind the “legal” curtain of criminality (and the proven evidence required), is to fail to discharge their clear oversight responsibility. There is so much flaming evidence inappropriate behaviour, insolent attitudes, tyrannical beliefs, lies, deceptions and outright obstruction of justice by this president that the American system of government is metaphorically burning, just as was Notre Dame literally doing last week. America’s position in the world has suffered irreparable damage under this administration, and the income/inequality gap has and continues to grow within the country. Race relations are worse than at any time in the last half century; immigration is so botched both ethically and administratively, it will take decades to recover. Personal pecuniary gain, a specifically forbidden for the occupant of the Oval Office, continues unabated, with impunity.

Given all the vagaries, ambiguities, uncertainties and potential political landmines that will be planted as IED’s by the trump administration, to blow his political enemies out of the water (and there will be an interminable series of these!), it is still requisite for the House to move to an Impeachment investigation, as a formal way to lay out a course and to risk the political fallout of failing to convince the electorate that whatever the evidence demonstrates, the president should be impeached.

The see-no-evil-hear-no-evil Republican Senators, complicit with all the misdeeds of their president, have to be held accountable for their anticipated vote to acquit, even if the House provides an Impeachment charge for them to consider as the “jury” with the Chief Justice (another trump acolyte) in the chair.

Surely the American public (at least a majority) are not so enmeshed in this self-imposed gratuitous cult to remain blind to the historic demands of this moment.

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