After a single day’s introductory hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives, it is already evident that the Oversight Committee’s inquiry into President Joe Biden’s potentially criminal involvement in his family’s foreign business dealings will be much more than a formal, constitutionally-mandated legal proceeding. Viewed in the broadest terms, this is likely to prove a test of the troubled republic’s relationship with reality. If the hearings to come conclude with a finding that the forty-sixth president is guilty of impeachable crimes, as now appears likely, they will confront Americans with an insidious, many-sided effort to subvert their public institutions and the national discourse altogether in the name of a liberal authoritarian ideology.
Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly by decree on May 17 bringing forward legislative and presidential elections and heading off an attempt by opposition politicians to impeach him. Opposition politicians wanted to impeach Lasso over accusations he disregarded warnings of embezzlement related to a contract at state-owned oil transportation company Flopec, charges the president denies. A majority of lawmakers had backed a resolution accusing Lasso of allowing the corrupt contract to continue after taking office in 2021, although a congressional oversight committee, which heard testimony from opposition lawmakers, officials, and Lasso's lawyer, said in its report it did not recommend impeachment.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, on Wednesday, May 17, at 7 am, signed a presidential decree to activate the “cross-death” constitutional tool and dissolved the National Assembly, the country’s unicameral parliament. The decision came a day after the legislature began an impeachment hearing against Lasso, who stands accused of the crime of embezzlement of public funds. With this decision, the impeachment process against Lasso was canceled, which could have removed him from office. In a televised address to the nation, Lasso explained that he had applied article 148 of the Constitution that grants him the power to dissolve the National Assembly and request the National Electoral Council (CNE) to call for new presidential and legislative elections.
On Thursday March 30, Peruvian legislators from the parliamentary benches of progressive Free Peru, Democratic Peru and Democratic Change-Together for Peru political parties presented in Congress a vacancy motion against the de-facto President Dina Boluarte for “permanent moral incapacity” to continue in office. The left-wing legislators condemned Boluarte for unleashing brutal police and military repression against peaceful protesters during the past four months of protests against her government. The legislators pointed out that at least 49 protesters have been killed in these months at the hands of public security forces.
Ecuador is on the way to an impeachment trial against its neo liberal president, Guillermo Lasso. This Wednesday, the Constitutional Court listened to the voice of parliamentarians, workers, Indigenous people, and many other citizens of Ecuador and admitted, in part, the demand for an impeachment trial of the banker turned president, Lasso, for the alleged crime of embezzlement. Ecuador’s National Assembly overcame the first filter of the Legislative Administration Council (CAL), formed by seven assembly members, who are mostly from the opposition parties. CAL approved the impeachment request and sent the document to the Constitutional Court.
Peru’s Congress rejected the initiation of impeachment proceedings against President Pedro Castillo with 76 votes against, 46 in favor and four abstentions. The vacancy motion was proposed by the right-wing caucus, composed of the parties Avanza País, Popular Renewal, and Popular Force of former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori. In order to be admitted, the proposal had to obtain 40% support in the legislature, equivalent to 52 votes. This was the Peruvian president’s third clash with Parliament in only five months in office. The voting process was accompanied by demonstrations of support for the government in front of Congress. “On behalf of my government I am thankful that the vote of Congress prioritized Peru over all interests. Brothers and sisters, let us put an end to the political crises and work together to achieve a Peru that is just and based in solidarity.
On Saturday, Brazil's leftist political parties and social organizations called on Brazilians to protest against far-right President Jair Bolsonaro for his mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Brazil Popular and Fearless People Fronts, the Workers' Party (PT), trade unions and student organizations are supporting the demonstrations in over 450 cities. Protesters called on the conservative Lower House's chairman Arthur Lira to respect the popular will and accept the impeachment requests against Bolsonaro. They demand also an immediate response to stop the wave of deaths and the economic crisis provoked by the pandemic, which has plunged 59 percent of the Brazilian population into food insecurity.
The impeachment circus has mercifully come to an end. The public have endured rank hypocrisy and a cynical show meant to give both parties cover for their wrong doing. The Republicans defended Donald Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection because that’s what their people want them to do. Their rank-and-file members are Trump defenders, and senators took a risk if they voted to convict the man who garnered more than 74 million votes in his losing effort. As usual the Democrats want to look like an opposition party without really opposing anything. They made media stars of their impeachment managers, who talked a lot about the need to punish Trump for the January 6 Capitol riot and the threat to democracy if that didn’t happen.
As the fight amongst the oligarchs heats up over Trump's 2nd impeachment, one must wonder what ever happened to the days when the poor and the working class were clear-eyed enough to see their real struggle was against the rich? Wall Street banksters, the weapons warlords, Hollywood moguls, oil barons, real estate developers and the like. Instead we see the Lumpenproletariat on their knees scratching and clawing each other - defending one side of the elite mobsters who are armed against the other in Washington's usual sideshow that distracts the nation from the ever present reality of capital accumulation.
On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to constitutional scholar Bruce Fein about the death of our US Constitution. Ralph Nader, with constitutional scholars Louis Fisher and Bruce Fein, wrote to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, on November 22 urging her to focus on 12 Articles of Impeachment President Donald Trump had allegedly violated during his administration. Among them: flouting the emoluments clause, expanding presidential wars, and spending billions of dollars on projects not appropriated by the US Congress.
One of the more interesting aspects of the nauseating impeachment trial in the Senate was the repeated vilification of Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. To hate Russia has become dogma on both sides of the political aisle, in part because no politician has really wanted to confront the lesson of the 2016 election, which was that most Americans think that the federal government is basically incompetent and staffed by career politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell who should return back home and get real jobs. Worse still, it is useless, and much like the one-trick pony the only thing it can do is steal money from the taxpayers and waste it on various types of self-gratification that only politicians can appreciate.
Violence begets violence; revenge engenders cycles of vengeance. This is exactly why war, or acts of war, must not be taken lightly. It also explains why America’s recent adventurism in the Middle East has only increased Islamic terrorism, killed hundreds of thousands worldwide, and ultimately left the U.S. no better off than when it began its crusade after the 9/11 attacks. Instead, this cycle of violence and revenge has produced nothing but “blowback” in the form of global anti-Americanism.
With each passing day of the impeachment crisis, the distance between the official reasons for the conflict in Washington and the real reasons grows wider. It has become increasingly clear that the central issue is not Trump’s attempt to “solicit interference from a foreign country” by “pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president’s main domestic political rivals,” as alleged in the whistleblower complaint that triggered the impeachment inquiry.
Clearing the FOG cohosts, Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, interviewed journalist and author Chris Hedges about the significant events of 2019 and what activists must prepare for in 2020 and beyond. Hedges covered uprisings and wars in the Middle East, Balkans, and Central America for twenty years as a foreign correspondent. He has studied and written books about sacrifice zones, the failures of the liberal class and the rise of the right in the United States. He shares the wisdom he has gained from his experiences watching governments fall to inform us about what to expect and how to build power. You can listen to the full interview plus current news and analysis on Clearing the FOG.
With the gravitas of a wardrobe malfunction at a Super Bowl halftime show, Donald Trump was impeached. This, by the same Democratic Party functionaries who went on to pass his $734 billion military budget and his reworked not-NAFTA trade agreement. To the perpetual ‘if,’ if Mr. Trump isn’t to be trusted with the affairs of state, the alleged reason he was impeached, why enhance his power over the affairs of state through increasing the military budget? The same is true with re-upping the Patriot Act. And backing his coup in Bolivia. And his attempted coup in Venezuela. Clearer evidence of the political theater character of impeachment would be hard to find. Left apparently unconsidered in the halls of power is how socially divisive this theater is becoming.