Drone strike won’t lead to war. It is war.

Yesterday’s drone strike in Iraq by the US against a top Iranian military commander won’t lead to war. It is war. More precisely, it is an escalation of the US war on Iran that started within months of Trump’s inauguration. 

In his prepared remarks today, Trump said, “We took action last night to stop a war.  We did not take action to start a war.” That’s a lie. Last night’s action was a ramping-up of an ongoing war.

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Another roadside distraction. And another. And another.

This is a photo of Lucy the Elephant, America’s oldest roadside attraction. Think of her as a symbol of the year ahead in politics — endless exhortations to “look over there” at one meaningless distraction after another.

Trump’s constant efforts to divert attention away from whatever issue is currently generating negative headlines for him are certainly well known and well understood by now. Ezra Klein of Vox has referred to the distractions as “the core of Donald Trump’s political strategy.” The political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow was moved to pen a strip titled “Are Trump’s Distractions a Distraction From His Distractions?” just a couple of months after Trump was inaugurated.

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Please join me for this forum. It’s important.

This post is adapted from my Not-Very-Often Newsletter, which comes out on a highly irregular basis. The really good news is that it doesn’t land in your inbox very often at all. To subscribe, just send an email to paul@dissentment.com

* Paul George’s Not-Very-Often Retirement Newsletter * 

Dear Friends – Happy New Year! I hope you all are having a relaxing holiday season, because we’re all going to have to work our butts off in the coming year, right? For me, retirement has meant this is the first December in 30 years that I haven’t been sweating out the results of the all-important year-end fundraising drive for Peninsula Peace and Justice Center. Believe me, that’s a huge relief. But I still care, of course, so if you haven’t made a year-end gift to PPJC yet, please click here right away. Thank you very much.

I’d like to urge you to join me for the first Other Voices TV program of the new year. On January 7 at 7:00pm I’ll be hosting Pierre Labossiere, a renowned and beloved Bay Area human rights activist who originally hails from Haiti. And that will be our topic.

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Trump’s impeachment strategy is backfiring. Bigly.

God’s Chosen One (Franklin Graham edition) shared some seasonal thoughts this past Christmas Eve and Day: “… very unfair with no Due Process …”  “They want to make it as hard as possible for me to properly run our Country!”  “I am having to constantly defend myself …”  “… they are vicious, will say anything!”

You are, no doubt, feeling spiritually elevated after all that. Also, he apparently forgot to get a gift for Melania. Might as well blame that on the Do Nothing Democrats™, too.

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Trump: Thank you for coming to my TED talk

This is the President of the United States speaking. You know, the guy who says he has “the right to do whatever I want to do.” Commander in Chief of the military. Finger on the nuclear button. Yeah, that guy.

Wherever you live, call your Senator. He needs to go.

U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 – Friendly operators standing by to help you do democracy.

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Let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind.

Let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind. Those words were famously uttered in the early days of the Watergate scandal, which led to Richard Nixon’s resignation in the face of imminent impeachment. They were uttered in 1973 by John Erlichman, a top Nixon aide, about L. Patrick Gray, Nixon’s nominee to become Director of the FBI.

As Acting Director of the FBI, Gray had been complicit in the White House’s efforts to conceal Nixon’s connection to the Watergate break-in. Congress was only just beginning to sniff out evidence of such a connection and the Senate’s confirmation hearings for Gray afforded Congress its first opportunity to start digging deeper. Gray tried to stonewall but ultimately made several damaging revelations. The White House soured on on his nomination, but instead of withdrawing the nomination, Erlichman thought Gray should undergo a period of public embarrassment. “I think we ought to let him hang there. Let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind.”

That’s what Congress should do with Trump: Let him twist slowly, slowly in the wind.

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“Partisan” impeachment, bipartisan militarism. The military-industrial complex marches on.

While everybody has been focused on — and bemoaning — the starkly partisan nature of the continuing impeachment saga, a stunning display of broad bipartisanship has just taken place in the House. It hardly made a dent in the wall-to-wall impeachment coverage. That’s too bad, because the recent bipartisan action in question here is an outrage.

I’m talking about the passage last Wednesday of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the massive legislation that funds all things military. This year’s Pentagon funding bill passed the House with a lopsided 377-48 vote (only 41 Democrats voted against). You can’t get much more bipartisan than that. And that’s a huge problem, especially because the military spending bill always garners such bipartisan support.

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Trump will try to turn the Senate trial into a spectacle. That won’t happen. I hope.

It’s all over except for the party line voting. Donald Trump is going to be impeached. Now all attention turns to the Senate and the upcoming trial.

Trump would love to turn the Senate trial into a spectacle, a headline-grabbing circus featuring him, of course. With his nemesis Nancy Pelosi removed from a central role in the action, Trump sees a chance to reclaim his domination of the public narrative again. Given his way, Trump would turn that narrative into crazy talk. It’s what he does all the time.

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Video: Impeachment 101

This entire program was worth doing for the concise definition of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” alone. But there’s so much more, including an analysis of the effect of this scandal on Ukraine, delivered by a long time expert in the region. Matt Harrigan is a lecturer in political science and Janey Curry is a professor of political science. Both are faculty at Santa Clara University.

Billionaires and ballots. We need to talk.

America minted its first billionaire 103 years ago when steel magnate John D. Rockefeller’s bank balance clicked over to ten digits. The country is now home to 607 billionaires. Three of them are running for president. 

Media tycoon and former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg ($53 billion) sent up a trial balloon this week, joining hedge fund manager Tom Steyer ($1.9 billion) and the incumbent horror Donald J. Trump (morally bankrupt) on the campaign trail. 

Never before has the country seen three billionaires vying openly for the most powerful office in the nation. The standard operating procedure for plutocrats has been to wield power from behind closed doors, and to do so quietly, lest they alert the teeming masses.

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