Impeachment nostalgia: 1868, 1974…

abused the power of the Presidency for personal and political gain

Erie County’s best blogger and writer, Jaquandor, a/k/a Kelly Sedinger, starts off this round of Ask Roger Anything.

We’re entering the second impeachment trial of my life (and there should have been a third, had Nixon not read the writing on the wall). Are you tired of these things?

richard-nixon---the-origins-of-watergate

The nature of the three impeachment procedures I lived through – I just missed Andrew Johnson’s – are so different. In Watergate, as you may remember, the beginning of the scandal was the break-in in June 1972. It was dismissed as a “third-rate burglary” by Nixon’s Press Secretary, Ron Ziegler. Nixon was re-elected so easily that the networks called the election c 7:30 pm before I had even had a chance to vote.

Yet early in 1973, the Senate voted 77-to-0 to approve a “select committee” to investigate Watergate, with Sam Ervin (D-NC) named chairman. The hearings ran from mid-May until early August, and I watched quite a bit of it. It was shown by the three networks in rotation, so as not to tick off the soap opera fans too much.

But it got a whole lot more interesting in mid-July when White House assistant Alexander Butterfield acknowledged there was a taping system in the Oval Office. At some point, I was watching every day when I wasn’t in class. A special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, subpoenaed the tapes, as did the Senate. Nixon got all “executive privilege”.

SNM

Then there was the “Saturday Night Massacre” on October 20, 1973. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, who recently died, both resigned rather than fire Cox. The Solicitor General, Robert Bork, finally did. The public, who had voted for the man less than a year earlier, were generally displeased.

On March 1, 1974, a grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicted several former aides of Nixon, including H. R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell, and Charles Colson, for hindering the Watergate investigation. The grand jury secretly named Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator. John Dean and others had already pleaded guilty.

Nixon lost in the Supreme Court over whether he could hide the tapes. He turned them over in July 1974. About the time the “smoking gun” tapes were released implicating Nixon, the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve three articles of impeachment over four days. As you know, Nixon resigned less than two weeks later at the urging of some Republicans.

As much as I despised Nixon’s policies, I didn’t feel a sense of elation when he announced he was stepping down. It was more, as Gerald Ford put it soon after, “our national nightmare is over.”

Slick Willie


Now Bill Clinton’s impeachment I was aware of, but I certainly didn’t watch any of the Senate trial. Before that, as I mentioned at some point, I was in the same Boston hotel as Bill Clinton in September 1998. I was there to be on JEOPARDY! Clinton was there for a political fundraiser. No, I never saw him.

There were thousands of protesters outside the Omni Parker House (?). About half of them thought Bill was awful. But the other half thought Ken Starr was terrible. This was the early days of the Internet, so such explicit info some considered unsavory, and they blamed Starr.

When it all went down, I felt bad for Hillary and especially Chelsea. But I didn’t watch the proceedings at all. I did follow the news, though. It was right that Bill Clinton apologized to the country. Some of the chief GOP accusers, it later came out, had no right to the moral high ground.

Impeachment #3

That’s what I did with the 2019 story as well. There was so much wall-to-wall coverage that I was feeling no need to watch in real time. I will say I thought, even before the fact, that forcing Robert Mueller to testify was a mistake. He said as much. Mueller had a part in getting several indictments or guilty pleas.

I did see snippets of a lot of compelling testimony from the hearings in the fall. Gordon Sundland, the EU coordinator, political fundraiser, and definitely not of the “deep state”, was oddly entertaining. The others were solid citizens, doing their duty to their country.

Rudy Guiliani, an extra-governmental figure, by his own admission, forced out the Ukrainian ambassador back in April. So the claim that the July phone call with the new Ukrainian president was “perfect” is rather beside the point. It was, as John Bolton said, akin to a drug deal. The man abused the power of the Presidency for personal and political gain. He obstructed Congress illegally, which was settled law when SCOTUS ruled Nixon had to turn over his tapes.

Still, I think the issues taken up here, while legitimate, are too arcane for most people to follow. Christianity Today, of all publications, seems to understand it, though.

Follow the money

Frankly, I wish the House had gone after the emoluments issue. He may have been guilty of that on January 20, 2017, when he failed to put his businesses in a blind trust and maintained controlling interests.

He encouraged foreign entities to stay at his properties with the suggestion that it’d be in their countries’ best interest. The Air Force refueling near his Scottish resort, and staying there longer than necessary. (If the G7 did stay at Mar-a-lago, that would be prima facie proof of corruption.)

Yeah, he should have been impeached. But since the charges won’t stick, I suppose there is some fatigue on my part. A lot of it is towards the 2019 GOP, which is not the 1974 GOP. You can say you don’t believe the charges reach the level of impeachment, as Will Hurd (R-TX) stated. But to say things that happen didn’t happen, even though Guiliani, Mick Mulvaney and the man himself have acknowledged them publicly, that’s exhausting.

One more thing

The suggestion that because he’s “doing a good job”, one shouldn’t impeach a president is weird to me. Let’s say that he did something clearly a high crime or misdemeanor. He shoots someone on Fifth Avenue, for which one of his lawyers claims he couldn’t be prosecuted. Would you not impeach him – it’s always him – because the unemployment rate is 3.5%?

On the other hand, I would oppose impeaching him because of policies I disagree with. And I disagree a lot. Or because he’s a vulgar and boorish liar; those are not reasons to impeach.

Nov. rambling: gifts of grace

Contractions-bitsThe Child Soldier Crisis: ‘Kids Are Cheap’

1619-2019: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration

Flat Earth conspiracy is growing especially among born again religious zealots

John Oliver Slaps Down Coal Baron’s SLAPP Lawsuit: ESB

Samantha’s Journey Into the Alt-Right, and Back from The New Yorker Radio Hour with David Remnick. I happened upon this while listening on the radio in the car last week. Whoa.

Susie Meister: How Studying Religion Made Me a Liberal and The Reality of Being a Reality Star, from Ken Levine’s podcast

Why use Ukraine to impeach when you’ve got the emoluments clause (and the Hatch Act)?

Weekly Sift: An Impeachment Hearing Wrap-Up

Recognizing Israeli Settlements Marks the Final Collapse of Pax Americana

The GOP Tax Cuts Didn’t Work

As a Veteran, I Refuse to Celebrate War

On Nov. 19, 1863, the accomplished Massachusetts statesman Edward Everett gave a two-hour speech at Gettysburg, but history gave him the shaft

RIP, the great Howard Cruse, from cancer.

Now I Know: The Woman Who Sniffed Out Parkinson’s and The Man Who Won a Trip to Mars and The British Ban on Clapping and When the US Air Force Bombed Montana and How Luke Skywalker Beat the Puffins and Why Did the Crab Cross the Road? and The Poacher Who Got Sent to the DVD Player

Gifts of grace

Ranked-Choice Voting “Allows You to Vote for the Person You Really Like”

Why bad taste is over – An interview with John Waters

Ruthie Berman & Connie Kurtz Residence – NYC LGBT Historic Site

Worker Training Program tackles opioid misuse and addiction. I know Jonny Rosen IRL.

Syracuse University janitor who cleaned racist graffiti replaces it with kindness

We desperately need to get out kids back outside

blue books

250 families receive “gifts of grace” to donate to meaningful causes

US Census Bureau: American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

Authentic black beauty

102 Common English Idioms with Meaning and Examples

The Beautifully Macabre Cartoons of Gahan Wilson

Massachusetts Highway Exits to Be Renumbered by 2022

It’s a Musical

Who’s the greatest JEOPARDY! player of all time? I’m so glad this is on ABC-TV in January, not part of the syndicated series

Gone in 13 Episodes (or Less!)

The story of The Whistler radio program

Groucho Marx on TV after the game show You Bet Your Life

MUSIC

He’s Just a Gurl Who’ll Quid Pro Quo – Randy Rainbow

Dommage – Bigflo & Oli; English lyrics to Dommage

Papaoutai – Stromae

I’m Going Home – Sacred Harp Singers At Liberty Church; Idumea– ditto; Sacred Harp and Shape Note singing

The Rock by Sergei Rachmaninov

Mr. Tambourine Man – the Starbugs, from New Zealand

One, a U2 cover, features McKenna Breinholt as the soloist and the 100-person Cinematic Pop orchestra and choir, arrangement of Rob Gardner

Hooked on a Feeling – Pomplamoose

Coverville 1285: The Bonnie Raitt Cover Story and 1286: J. Geils Tribute and Indie Hodgepodge

Metamorphosis episode of Star Trek (original series), incidental music

Rockin’ in the free world, the Netherlands, 2016

Mah Na Mah Na – Piero Umiliani (1968); Mah Na Mah Na – first Seaame Street appearance (1969)

LAY DOWN (Candles In The Rain) – Melanie & The Edwin Hawkins Singers (1970). Full recording.

I Wanna Be A Lifeguard – Blottomoji version

A highlight of the Barbershop Harmony Society’s International Convention

Tina Turner is 80 years old. The big Interview

The Best-Selling Music Artists of the Last 50 Years

September rambling: end the stigma

Musicians Across Five Continents

post-apocalyptic section
The Most Segregated City

Vlogbrothers: End the stigma

What happened to Jaye McBride could have happened to any of us

WAVE 3 News reporter kissed on live TV; here’s why it’s not cool – Sara Rivest is the daughter of Michael, a guy I know in Albany IRL

The differential privacy video the Census Bureau sponsored from MinutePhysics

Unmarried Partners More Diverse Than 20 Years Ago

Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies at 75

Longtime TV newsman Sander Vanocur dies at 91

Bill Schelly, R.I.P.

Amy Biancolli turns 56

The Surreal End of an American College

What Happens Right Before Your Best Employee Quits

Alan Zweig’s Vinyl documentary – a record collector’s expose

Baking Isn’t Hard When You’ve Got a Library Card

The Guardian: 100 best films movies of the 21st century. 1) I’ve seen 26 of them, at least two of which I disliked; 2) the year 2000 is NOT in the 21st century

Save on Internet Safety guide

Chef Boyardee: The Sine Qua Non of Homemade Pizza

Alex Trebek saying “genre”

Epergne: It’s time this Kitschiest of Obscure Vintage Treasures had a Comeback

The Evolution of a Fractured Coin of the Rebellion

The Modern Jonah

Now I Know: Who is MP and Why Are His Initials on My Checks? and An Aria a Day Keeps the Cougars Away and The Aquarium That Turned a Blind Eye Toward Bullies and The Island That Floated To Safety and Why We Give 21-Gun Salutes

English

The Beauty of Being Bilingual

Merriam-Webster dictionary adds ‘they’ as a nonbinary pronoun – America’s oldest dictionary claps back at grammar snobs as it embraces a more inclusive definition

Public is or Public are: “British English tends to see either a plural or singular verb, pronoun or noun as acceptable, depending on the context in which the collective noun is used. American English, however, is considerably more rigid in sticking with the singular. Though they too may reconsider occasionally, based on context.”

Harry Potter and the Poorly Read Exorcist

Boss Tweet

New Yorker.20191007
He is a threat to virtually everything that the United States should stand for

If This Isn’t Impeachable, Nothing Is and If Democrats put off impeachment until he does something worse, he’ll do something worse and His call to Zelensky was not out of the ordinary – for him and With the Gears of Impeachment Finally Grinding, the Hard Part Begins; also Lindsey Graham’s Impeachment Views in 1999 Vs. 2019

Iran Policy Is a Failure

Health Insurance That Doesn’t Cover the Bills Has Flooded the Market

The Race to Prepare for a Potential U.S. Exit From the World’s Mail System

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Legal Immigration

Travel ban really was a Muslim ban, data suggests

Comedian John Mulaney has the perfect analogy for what’s going on in our country today [explicit language]

MUSIC

What’s My Name – Ringo Starr

Playing for Change: The Weight – Robbie Robertson, Ringo Starr, and Musicians Across Five Continents

Old Town Road -Courtney Hadwin

Overture: L’italiana in Algeri, or The Italian Girl in Algiers by Giacchino Rossini

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – Sleeping At Last

Happy Birthday, Hans Zimmer edition

Coverville 1278: The Leonard Cohen Cover Story V

Love’s Creeping Up on Me – United Image, a 1971 Stax song that sounds more like Motown to me, and is billed as Northern Soul

All Kinds of Kinds – Miranda Lambert

Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris Trio Documentary

The importance of choir: John Rutter (there are about 20 seconds of him in b&w before he actually begins to speak)

Real Arrogance Over False Humility: The Beautiful Honesty of Joni Mitchell

The First Time I Met Prince, by Sheila E

More susceptible to falsehood than to truth

Anything can be corrupted, polluted or discredited

truthI receive Quotable Notes daily. One from March: “Man’s mind is so formed that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth.” –Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536), a Dutch humanist who was the greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance. I don’t know that “the first editor of the New Testament” is correct. But it WOULD appear so.

For the past couple years, in order not to write about him ALL THE TIME, I’ve posted on this date some links about a person who has described himself, more than once as a “an extremely stable genius”.

This has turned out to be an extremely difficult task. It’s not that there’s a dearth of examples of unsettling behavior but rather a plethora of them.

He feels compelled to comment about his claimed expertise in all subjects in some way, even when it comes to offering advice about something for which he is completely unqualified. He offered unsolicited advice on the best way to fight the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. It was met by derision and laughter because the weight of dropped water on a rooftop fire would have collapsed the structure and made things much worse.

He prevaricates brazenly, having lied or misled the American people more than 10,000 times.

He berates senior officials constantly. It’s remarkable how many times his aides ignored his dodgy or possibly illegal requests. He is tired of hearing “You Can’t Do That.” We should all be afraid.

Back in March, his 32 tweets were noteworthy, from a Saturday Night Live rerun he groused about to several attacks on the late John McCain.

He “railed against Shep Smith and other Fox hosts he doesn’t like; called on the network to defend Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro, two hosts he does like.” He’s since dissed Chris Wallace, and the network in general for allowing Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg on the platform.

Nation of Change noted: “No one has yet assessed the full disaster from stripping the office of dignity and competence, plus shredding prestige overseas. When ‘anything goes,’ even changes weekly, then anything can be corrupted, polluted or discredited.”

Frank S. Robinson says he has plan-free fact-free anal sphincter foreign policy. He CLEARLY has no idea how tariffs work.

Robert Reich wrote that, as a result of the tax cuts, “business is booming for connoisseurs of private planes. That’s because the tax law allows businesses to deduct the full cost of buying a plane in the first year of purchase… Some wealthy individuals have even created shell businesses to utilize the deductions.” His golf habit has cost American taxpayers $100 million.

Most Americans believe he has made race relations worse. He again targets transgender people – this time in new proposal to rescind Obama-era healthcare protections.

I could go on, and on, but it’s exhausting. He says he would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents; he feels no responsibility to protect the integrity of our democracy.

Should he be impeached? Probably, and for all these reasons. Even Justin Amash, a Republican, finds his actions “inherently corrupt.”

That said, as awful as I find him, he can win re-election in 2020. And THAT depresses the hell out of me.


A fugue