But first:

Can we put the upcoming impeachment hearings into context?

Congress’s job is to make Americans’ lives better.  So far in 2019, the House has passed bills that would lower prescription drug prices, raise wages, fight government corruption, require universal background checks, provide for paper ballot backups, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, prevent citizens from being fired for being gay, assure equal pay for equal work, fight climate change, restore net neutrality — and more.  That’s their job and they’ve done it.  Those bills are among the 250 the Republican-controlled Senate proudly refuses to consider.

But Congress has another responsibility.  Each member swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution.  If we had a president who – to take a ridiculous hypothetical example just to make the point – gave Russia all of Europe in return for a $10 billion personal bribe, not even Lindsey Graham would defend that as acceptable.  The House would vote to impeach; the Senate would vote to convict.  Clearly that is not what happened.  The purpose of the House proceedings is to find out what DID happen, and then to decide whether it warrants impeachment.

Ukraine is just one country in Europe, not all of Europe, after all.  And Putin has taken over only the Russian-speaking part of it, not all of it — that’s all he wants.

(There is precedent for this.  As Malcolm Gladwell recounts in Talking To Strangers, Neville Chamberlain assured England that all Hitler wanted was the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia, not all of it — the Sudetenland.  But then, as keen students of history will recall, one thing led to another.)

However benign or justified Putin’s intentions may appear to Trump, Ukraine is under active military invasion by Russia.  Ukrainians are dying in combat for their freedom from Russian domination.  The $391 million in promised military aid was desperately needed this past summer, when Trump — as has now been endlessly confirmed — held it up for personal gain.

To me that rises to the level of a misdemeanor.

(As has so much else he’s done, not least the multiple instances of obstruction of justice that 1,027 former federal prosecutors — Republicans and Democrats — have declared were clearly indictable offenses.)

And that’s what the hearings are about.

Yesterday, it was music for elephants.  Today — how many of these 20 do you know and love?  Me?  Most of them.

Have a great weekend.



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