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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Warren's M4A financing plan

Elizabeth Warren over the last few weeks has faced questions over how she imagines financing Medicare for All -- and who, in the end, would be better or worse off.  On Friday, she answered those questions by sketching out how much she envisions a new government-run health care system costing and, then, how the government would pay for it.

Here's the thumbnail version of what she proposes: She would hike taxes on corporations and the rich. She would repurpose the money employers and states now spend on their own health insurance programs. She would pull money from elsewhere in the federal budget and, critically, she would control spending throughout the health care industry -- not just for drug makers, but for doctors and hospitals too.

The plan is complex and so it will be a while before analysts figure out exactly what it entails and where all the hidden tradeoffs are. The numbers add up, at least on paper, and she's got some highly respected experts, including former Obama administration officials Don Berwick and Betsey Stevenson, vouching for the feasibility of different plan components.

Still, plenty of experts are already wondering about the provision to keep employers paying for health care -- and whether it can work as Warren intends. Others are questioning her campaign's assumptions of massive new savings from administrative simplification and whether she's accounted appropriately for other variables, like the fact that people who get better health insurance tend to consume a lot more health care.

And then there are the daunting political challenges that any Medicare for All plan, including the original bill from Bernie Sanders, would face. Corporations will fight the new taxes and the health care industry will oppose the new cost controls, arguing, rightly or wrongly, that they will undermine quality and timeliness of treatment, even as the plan eliminates financial barriers to care. That could resonate with a public that, however unhappy about the status quo, also lacks faith in government.

Could Warren's plan work in the real world? Should we judge it as a schematic, or a statement of priorities and values? Is it more or less honest than the typical campaign document -- and how does it compare to what Republicans have put forward? These are all good questions, about which honest people can disagree. 

But at the very least, we can stop asking how Warren would pay for a single-payer health care plan and start asking whether her approach to policy makes sense for the country.

Here's a tweetstorm with some more thoughts:


And then the full story at HuffPost, from Friday, with my colleague Kevin Robillard:

 
Jonathan Cohn 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

IRS (It's Russia Stupid)

  The only possible explanation for Traitor Trump's insane foreign policy is that it is being done to please Russia.  To this day I do not discount the possibility that Russia has him on videotape at the Moscow hotel.  Separately, his real estate empire has been financed by Russia.  Who knows how many 10s of millions or hundreds of millions he owes Russia.  His son admitted that their main source of financing is Russia.  This is separate and apart from the untold millions of  laundered dollars spent by Russians to buy units in his Manhattan and other facilities.

         The thing about tRUMP is that a lot of stuff he does in plain sight.  The perfect example is when during the campaign he asked whether Russia was listening to him.  Then in Helsinki he said he believed Putin rather than his own intelligence agencies.
 
       I could give an exhaustive list of examples of the tRUMP/Russia quagmire.  I will give only the ones that have come up in the last week   The vast majority of commentators discussing the Ukraine scandal hardly mention Russia.  For me, Russia is at the heart of the scandal. Russia is the story, not Ukraine.  The two men who were indicted for illegal campaign violations to the tRUMP campaign did so with laundered Russian money.  It was in Russia'a interest to destabilize Ukraine.  

         There  has been absolutely zero explanation from the White House about why tRUMP personally withheld military funding from Ukraine.  If you realize that withholding the funds was in Putin's interest, then it make sense.

          Pulling U.S. troops away from protecting our allies also makes perfect sense if you look at it through the Russia prism.   The Assad regime would have been defeated if not for Russian military aid.  Assad fought bitterly against the Kurds. By failing to protect the Kurds, tRUMP is helping to support Assad who in turn is supported by Russia.

          Trump was asked if his withdrawal of support for the Kurds will hinder other alliances.  In a total non sequitur tRUMP basically said that we don't need alliances.  He went on to bash NATO with his old canard that NATO has not paid enough money.  He basically said that there is no reason for us to be in NATO.  Let them face Russia by themselves.  This was music to Putin's ear. 

                Moscow Mitch was totally offended by any suggestion that he is not tough on Russia.  He claims that he has opposed Russian influence for his entire career.  Where was Moscow Mitch's outrage when the Mueller report said that the tRUMP campaign encouraged Russian interference in our elections?  Where is  Moscow Mitch now when faced with  the fact that laundered Russian money went into the tRUMP campaign.

             The walls are crumbling.  The former ambassador to Ukraine made a blistering statement about the State Department and tRUMP's hatchet men  who got her fired.  A top adviser to Pompeo has quit in disgust.  tRUMPists are are scrambling to get rid of laundered Russian money.  Unless tRUMP's  S.Ct. decides to reverse well established law his tax returns will be turned over to Congress.   tRUMP has viciously turned on Fox.  If Fox turns or if even a few Republicans grow some, Russia's favorite asset is going down.  As every new breaking story comes out, hope is building. Yesterday more rats left the stinking ship.  

                                                                  Richard

Monday, October 7, 2019

Bizarroworld

The last 24 hours may be the most bizarre in all of tRUMP's presidency.  And that's a very low bar.  The State Department inspector general had an urgent meeting with the house intelligence committee.  It turns out that the urgency was because he was in position of crazy conspiracy documents and he wanted to get them off his hands as  soon as possible.  The documents were in an envelope addressed to Mike Pompeo, attn. Ruth.  The envelope was apparently hand delivered.  The return address said, "White House."  Inside were several  folders which contained documents on Trump Hotel stationary.  How did they come into the possession of Mike Pompeo you may ask?  Rudy Giuliani.  He put together a bunch of junk trying to show that Ukraine interfered in our elections to help Hillary Clinton.  This is, of course, directly opposite of the unanimous conclusion of 17 intelligence agency as well as the exhaustive Mueller investigation.  It is the equivalent of tRUMP suggesting that the DNC might have been hacked  by a 500 pound man sitting on his bed.

           Trump's press conference with the president of Finland could be Exhibit 1 in tRUMP's involuntary confinement hearing.  He was crazed. He turned red in the face.  He did his usual screaming and yelling.  He did his usual name calling. Then he took off on Adam Schiff.  He  said that Schiff could not hold the blank strap of Mike Pompeo.  He said it twice.  After some headscratching, people figured out that tRUMP must have meant jockstrap.  Who knew that jock is a dirty word?  tRUMP's aversion to bad language did not last long since he said that the impeachment investigation is total bullshit.  

       Back to Giuliani.  It turns out that he has visited Manafort several times in prison.  Please recall that Manafort was on the payroll of the corrupt Ukranian government.  Giuliani was probably on two missions.  First, to prove that  Ukraine supported Hillary 
Clinton.  And second, that  Joe and Hunter Biden were criminals.  Both of those theories are nonsense.  And coming from Manefort they have zero credibility.
It is tempting to laugh off these visits.  But  there is a very important  point to be made.  What  is the message that Manafort is receiving when President tRUMP's personal attorney is asking him for something?  The message is obvious.  tRUMP can pardon him if he gives some  dirt.  In my view this is another example of obstruction of justice.

    Then there is Pompeo.  After feigning complete ignorance of tRUMP's conversation with Zelezny, he finally, and  very sheepishly,admitted that he was listening to the conversation.  Pompeo's people are saying that he  recalled the ambassador to  Ukraine because he was worried about her safety.  Unfortunately for Pompeo he was listening to tRUMP say that the ambassador was a very bad person and things were going to happen to her.  As with all of tRUMP's acolytes, Pompeo's reputation for whatever it was worth is now forever sullied.

    And finally today  tRUMP said  that everyone has no doubt that the Bidens are not criminals.  Read that again.   In addition to all of his other unfamiliarity with the English language, tRUMP can't figure out double negatives.   He did exactly the same thing at his press conference with his brother Vladimir.

          This is a very brief rundown of bizarroworld.  I am sure you can give plenty of other examples that I missed from the last 24 hours.  In the world of sanity, Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff had a fabulous news conference.  They are so smart and so objective and so patriotic.  I think they are going to prevail and tRUMP is going down.  Before that happens he is going to flail  and attack even more outrageously.  It won't be pretty but he is going down.  Take care all.

                                                                 Richard

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Whistleblower

Since the time Traitor Trump began his campaign until today there have been any number of instances where people have speculated that the end of tRUMP had arrived. So far we have all been wrong. Maybe this time the tipping point has arrived. The acting director of national intelligence is supposed to testify to Congress on Thursday. He has been subpoenaed to supply the whistleblower complaint to Congress. If he does not he is continuing to break the law. I understand that there are several Democratic congress men and women who flipped their districts who now say they will vote for an impeachment investigation if the whistleblower complaint is not delivered.
Just to refresh your recollection, Michael Atkinson inspector general for the intelligence committee wrote that the whistleblower's complaint is of "urgent concern" Mr. Atkinson is a tRUMP appointee. His finding requires that the whistleblower complaint be provided to congress within 7 days after the "acting" director of national intelligence receives it. tRUMP's acting director of national intelligence did not comply with his legal obligation. Instead , he consulted with tRUMP's attorney general which received input from the White House. This activity is so wrong on so many levels.
Here is why I ask the question about whether Traitor Trump is telling the truth . He made a statement that everyone but him has read the report and they are all laughing. There is much to unpack in that simple statement. First, he says that he has not read the report. I don't believe him. He certainly seems to know exactly what is in the report. Second he says that everyone is laughing at the report. Again, I don't believe him. I think there is not a soul laughing at the whistleblower's report. But the third element of the statement is by far the most concerning. tRUMP claims that "everyone" has read the report. What if he is telling the truth? It is entirely possible that he is.
To start, every whistleblower statute explicitly requires that the whistleblower's complaint be seen by only a limited number of people and must be kept strictly confidential. If "everyone" has seen the report, it has a totally chilling effect on future whistleblowers. They can no longer be assured that their complaint will remain confidential. It certainly has a devastating effect on the whistleblower in this case.
Second, we are dealing with national intelligence. Does "everyone" include people with no security clearance?" If in this instance tRUMP is telling the truth, he has betrayed our country once again.
There are so many parts to this story. This is one I find most interesting. On August 8, Dan Coats, former national security advisor interrupted a meeting which included his deputy to tell her she must resign immediately. The whistleblower filed his or her complaint on August 12. Coats and Gordon left on August 15. Did Coats resign because he knew about tRUMP's traitorous conversations with the prime minister of Ukraine? I don't believe in coincidences.
So is this the tipping point? We will know a lot more on Thursday. If Congress is denied information which the law says must be shared with Congress, the next step could well be an impeachment investigation. Even Nancy Pelosi, the reluctant impeacher, seems to be saying ,"Yes." Stay tuned.
Richard

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Corporate Democrats

Apparently, it is necessary to identify and define corporate Democrats. The first step is to recognize that there is objectively a split in the ruling class. The Republican party represents the most reactionary, racist. male supremacist section of the ruling weighted heavily weighted with inherited wealth. Trump did not come out of nowhere. The Republican party has used "wedge" issues for over 60 years particularly when
Goldwater carved out the South as the base of the Republican Party. They attacked Democrats as soft on crime and established the war on drugs which was a smoke screen to attack the anti-war movement and the militant Black power movement. They attack busing, affirmative action, feminism, governmental regulation, unions, and on and on all identified as The Democratic Party.
There is as section of the ruling class that controls the Democratic party that is in favor of busing but not strongly, that is opposed to mass incarceration but not with conviction, that allows diversity but not integration, that above all requires the protection of capitalism. They are in favor of unions as long as they are weak and obedient.
That leaves the working class with one of 2 choices: the reactionary Republican party or the corporate based Democratic Party. Because the choice is so troublesome, I say we have been fighting a rear guard action until Bernie broke through the control and energized the progressive base of the party, uniting all who have been left out.
A corporate Democrat accepts the history of choosing the lesser of 2 evils and bowing to the demands of big money donors. That includes all candidates except Bernie. The first requirement is to announce that they are capitalists to insure their loyalty. And they are losers: Clinton lost 7 senators, 45 representatives and 11 governors; Obama lost 9 senators, 63 representatives 13 governors. And they lost 1000s of down ballots. In addition, they have caused millions of people to give up on voting. Hope is the only revolutionary mechanism and 2018 provided that. Even then corporate Democrats cling to their losing strategy. Bernie is the one person who can implement change and defeat Trump/Republicans. Yours in Struggle Ron

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Trump bars two U.S. Congresswomen from Israel

As I have often said, when you think that tRUMP can't go any lower, he exceeds your expectation. His limbo trick is now subterranean. tRUMP encouraged Israel to bar two U.S. Congresswomen from visiting Israel. When his partner in crime Netenyahu announced the ban, tRUMP tweeted with glee. The decision by Netanyahu and tRUMP's support are disgraceful. tRUMP tweeted that if Israel allowed the two congresswomen to visit it would be a sign of great weakness. Needless to say the exact opposite is true.
I am a former member of AIPAC. I gave up my membership for a fundamental reason. AIPAC's raison d'etre is to support the State Of Israel whether or not its policies are, in my opinion, wrong. I don't support my own country right or wrong. Therefore I will not support Israel right or wrong. On the other hand, I totally agree with AIPAC's mission to support the State Of Israel and to strengthen Israel's ties with the United States. Israel remains the sole democratic country in a sea of undemocracy.
I am a member of J Street. J Street's mission also is to support the State Of Israel. But if Israel has a policy which J Street feels is wrong, J Street will criticize Israel. I have witnessed first hand some bitter disputes between AIPAC and J Street. But their fundamental disagreements do not detract from their core missions of support for Israel.
I have been a member and then an observer of AIPAC for more than 30 years. AIPAC has issued an eloquent denunciation of Netanyahu's decision. In my memory, this is the first time that AIPAC has criticized a policy of Israel. My hat is off to AIPAC. J Street has issued a similar denunciation. It is a joy to see these sometimes bitter rivals agree on an important issue. To a large extent, this coming together is an unintended consequence of tRUMP's ignorance.
Make no mistake, I do not like either Tlaib or Omar. They both support BDS. I believe that at its core BDS is antisemitic. The BDS manifesto says that it is opposed to the "occupation". BDS is not referring to the West Bank alone. It considers all of Israel to be an occupier of Arab lands. This means that BDS wants to see Israel eliminated. I don't blame the Israeli government for denouncing supporters of BDS. But Israel is a democracy. Anyone who has been to Israel knows that there are robust disagreements, to say the least, among many factions in Israel. But Israel is a strong nation. It can well handle dissent. It is simply unforgivable that Israel is barring two duly elected United States Congresswomen.
Last week Congressman Steny Hoyer led a large delegation of congressmen to Israel. He has led many similar delegations in the past. You cannot find a stronger supporter of Israel than Steny Hoyer. In last week's trip, Congressman Hoyer met with Rashida Tlaib's grandmother in the West Bank. This is how democracy in Israel works. Hoyer has denounced Netenyahu's decision.
I remember well Saudi Arabia barring U.S. Senators who happened to be Jewish from entering its country. It may still be the policy in some Arab countries that they will not allow people into their country if there is an Israeli stamp on their passport. This policy by Netenyahu bears a striking resemblance to those abhorrent policies. Israel is a small country in size, but a big country in democratic ideals. Its Palestinian Arab citizens vote in Israeli elections and have representatives in the Israeli Parliament.. I hope that Netenyahu and his crew will return to Israel's idealistic roots. That's my view. Take care all.
Richard Lenter

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Jews and Trump

I am the son of a child refugee from Nazi Germany who was thrown out of his school as a Jewish student while my grandfather’s shoe store was boycotted in the mid 1930s by the Nazis. I am horrified that today over 85 years since the Nazis came to power in Germany the same hateful tropes are being used to take away people’s dignity and accuse them of being rapists and deny them access to their children.
My family were fortunate that the UK took them in, while the US refused to accept many of those Jews who later died in the death camps, including Anne Frank and her family. My grandfather also initially tried to immigrate to the US, but was refused entry.
The death camps came at the end of a long process of dehumanization and the normalization of discrimination and hatred. I am not suggesting Trump has mass murder in mind, but tearing mothers from their infant children was also a method Hitler used and it leads people to see those parents and children as not fully human or deserving of the same rights “we" deserve for our own children.
The duelling demonstrations in Detroit last night at the Holocaust Museum were very informative. The Republicans stood shoulder to shoulder with the Proud Boys (no friends of the Jews) and claimed they would never allow an anti-semite to stay in their party. Have they never heard of Steve King the republican representative from Iowa who is a proud white supremacist?
Whatever your view of the current fault lines in America there can be no doubt that my grandparents would find the behaviour of the racists and white supremacists chanting “The jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville very familiar especially given the proud Nazis marching with swastikas and torches in a replay of the terror they inflected on Jews in Germany prior to the Holocaust.
If my father was alive today he would be appalled at the situation we find ourselves in. I fully expect that the great majority of American Jews will help vote Mr Trump out of office next year. Most Jews are just not that dumb as to vote for a would-be dictator and vapid racist
.
Robert Oppenheimer, Canada

Fox News

By now you know that I am the eternal optimist. Kathryn hates my optimism. She much prefers being surprised by a victory rather than surprised by a defeat. We were all shell shocked by the totally unexpected loss by Hillary. So I was wrong about Hillary. But I was right about Barack when he trailed Hillary in the polls in 2008. So here is another dose of my optimism.
I wrote a long time ago that if Fox News abandons Despicable Don, then he's a goner. There is much evidence that he is losing Fox.
There are millions of Americans whose political reality is shaped solely by Fox News. We all know that this administration is the most corrupt in U.S. history. We all know that tRUMP is a pathological liar . We all know that tRUMP has done incalculable damage to our country. Viewers to Fox News know none of these things. I have seen interviews with tRUMP supporters who honestly believe that he is the best president in U.S. history. How is this possible? It is possible if your only source of information is Fox. Just imagine what would happen if Fox News turned on him. There are plenty of signs this is happening.
It appears that Fox is now run by Rupert Murdoch's son, Lachlan. The son is not a sycophant for tRUMP. There are several tRUMP critics on Fox. Donna Brazile has been hired by Fox. So has been Juan Williams. Fox polling shows that tRUMP trails at least four Democratic candidates by huge margins. I believe that tRUMP was universally criticized on Fox for his disgraceful appearance in El Paso
You don't have to believe me about the changes happening at Fox. Listen to what tRUMP says, "Fox has changed. The worst polls have always been from Fox. Something is going on at Fox I'll tell you right now. And I don't like it." God willing, he's right for once. What if the decision makers at Fox look at their own polls and decide to abandon the losing side?
At the moment lots of Democratic voters are disheartened by the lack of a transcendent candidate like Obama. They may not be transcendent but they are very good, all of them. I am optimistic even without Fox turning on tRUMP. But if it does, he's toast. Take my optimism for what it's worth. Take care all.
Richard Lenter

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Democratic presidential candidates

My son Jed wrote this plea to the Democratic presidential candidates not gaining traction. I sent it on to my senators and ask that you do the same. They have a vested interest in seeing Massacre Mitch and his Republican henchman ousted.
Dear Beto O'Rourke, Julian Castro, John Delaney, Steve Bullock, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan, Amy Klobuchar and Stacey Abrams,
We need you to be patriots. We need you to drop out of the democratic presidential primary and run home to your states and fight for democratic ideals and winnable seats. And, Stacey Abrams, we need you to enter the race - the senate race in Georgia.
We need you all to hold your seats or seek new office to take back the Senate, expand governorships and hold valuable ground we can't seed to a lost party that has been hijacked by white nationalism, Russian oligarchs, corporate wealth and lobbyists that fight against the welfare of our citizens.
Beto and Julian - Go back to Texas - Julian should run for Senate and Beto should build his case to become governor in 2022 by helping Julian win. If one of you runs for Senate, you might get Texas close to turning blue in the presidential race. You'll at least get the GOP spending money out of fear.
Delaney - Go back to Maryland and make the case to become governor in 2022. Flip that seat.
Bullock - go win the 2nd Senate seat in Montana. It's winnable in 2020.
Hickenlooper - Go win another Senate seat in Colorado. It's likely one of the most winnable GOP seats in 2020.
Inslee - Stay the course in Washington and keep making the case for climate change. Become our climate czar when we take back the White House.
Ryan - Keep building your profile and fighting for middle America. Hold your seat.
Klobuchar - Keep raising your voice and represent mid-western citizens and hold onto that seat.
Abrams - join the fight. Keep up your effort in Georgia to end voter suppression, but use that platform to build a case to win a Georgia senate seat. If you run, you might just get Georgia close to turning blue in the presidential race. You'll certainly get the GOP's attention and spending.
We need you all now more than ever in other places than the presidential primary. Beating Trump is a high priority, but it won't mean nearly as much if we don't flip critical Senate seats and governorships.
Respectfully,
A Concerned American

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How do we talk to friends who support Trump?

How do we talk to our friends who support Trump? We want to believe that our friends support Trump despite, not because of, his racism and anti-Semitism. Otherwise, we could not be friends with them. We should test that belief by asking them to think about the damage Trump is doing to the soul of this country and about the violence and hatred that his rhetoric has unleashed.
Trump has given us nothing on gun safety. Nothing on climate change. Nothing on access to affordable, quality health care. No strategy on Iran. Nothing for the middle class and those aspiring to the middle class. Nothing but tax breaks for those who least need or deserve it, separating families, caging detainees in inhumane conditions, abdicating American leadership abroad, palling around with dictators, and making America safe again for racism and bigotry.
If your friends are not racists, ask them what on the other side of the ledger outweighs Trump's racism and bigotry. Their own tax cuts and maybe less threat of regulatory red tape for their businesses? Our country doesn't always live up to its ideals, but Trump is undermining the ideals that are the raison d'etre of America, and that should be more important than any policy disagreement with a Democrat. They might not want Medicare for All, but it's not immoral or racist. Ideals can't always be counted in dollars, but we lose our humanity when ideals lose their value.
Trump's moving the embassy to Jerusalem and recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights did nothing to make Israel safer or more secure and probably made Israel less safe by making a two-state solution harder, but if your friends can appreciate the symbolism of these gestures, ask them to think of the symbolism of Trump's racist rhetoric. The difference is that while his rhetoric on Israel has yielded no tangible benefit, his racist rhetoric has cost American lives, including Jewish lives in Pittsburgh and Poway. Jews feel less safe and secure under Trump, and so should all Americans.
Steve Shelley, Pro-Israel Chicagoland Blog

Friday, August 2, 2019

Traitor Trump

The resignation of Dan Coats and the nomination of Ratcliffe has caused me to reread my e mail about naming Traitor Trump. Hard to believe, but I was too easy on him.
It is not enough for me to have said that Traitor Trump embraced Russia. He did more than that. Our approximately 17 intelligence agency unanimously agreed that Russia interfered in our election. None of us have been privy to the information gathered by the intelligence agencies. But we are privy to the findings of the Mueller report. He gave numerous specific examples of Russian interference. He found that Russia had a widespread and systematic operation designed to interfere in our elections. He identified and indicted specific Russian agents. In other words in an investigation separate and apart from the intelligence agencies investigations, Mueller had proof positive of Russian interference.
At Helsinki, Trump took the word of Putin who said that Russia did not interfere. He took the word of Putin over his own intelligence agencies. Dan Coats almost immediately publicly disagreed with Traitor Trump. tRUMP did more than "embrace" Russia He actively supporting Russia over the United States. Russia is a hostile country. Except for people in the tRUMP cult, anyone would call this treason.
There was ample evidence in the years before tRUMP entered the race that Wikileaks had a close relationship with Russia. Since tRump knows nothing, it is entirely possible that he did not know about that relationship. But it is impossible that his advisers did not know. So when tRUMP publicly asked wikileaks to disclose stolen e mails and when he said wikileaks would be richly rewarded, he was speaking to a Russian controlled organization. Again, tRUMP did not passively sit by and embrace Russian interference, he proactively encouraged it.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage. The trial judge called them treasonous. Whom did they sell atomic secrets to? What a coincidence, Russia. It goes without saying that selling atomic secrets to Russia is a horrible thing. But so is encouraging Russia to interfere in one of our most precious freedoms, the right to vote in a fair and free election. tRUMP and his puppy dog McConnell will not allow voter protection laws to come up for a vote, even though they have bipartisan support. They are giving free reign to Russia interfering in 2020. How can this not be treason?
Traitor Trump has committed numerous high crimes and misdemeanors. I assume that if there are articles of impeachment, treason will not be included, but it should be.
As I think about it, so should bribery. We have heard a lot about the Emolument Clause. Traitor Trump has no doubt violated that clause. Emoluments are nothing more than bribery. It is interesting that the drafters of the Constitution put bribery in the impeachment clause. The president is particularly vulnerable to bribery. If there are articles of impeachment, bribery should be included.
Several weeks ago I supported a restrained approach as advocated by Nancy Pelosi. As you know, I have the highest regard for Pelosi. As I started writing this piece, I was leaning more and more toward the House beginning an impeachment hearing. By the time I finished the draft, Senator Stabenow, another person I hold in the highest esteem, publicly came out in favor of an impeachment hearing. As you know, Senator Stabenow is a very reasonable person, always willing to listen to all sides of an argument. If Senator Stabenow favors an impeachment hearing, that's good enough for me.
I well know the argument that such a hearing may cost votes in the 2020 election. On the other hand, maybe it will cost tRUMP votes. His high crimes and misdemeanors will be on full display On balance it is time to put principle before politics. A crook and a traitor should be in the Big House, not the White House.
We cannot be exhausted by this fight. We must win back our government, if not by impeachment than by winning 2020 elections. So let's do what we can for the next 16 months to get it done. As always, thanks for listening.
Richard Lenter

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Brenda Lawrence on Impeachment

The United States is composed of three separate, yet equal branches of government and relies on a system of checks and balances to ensure cooperation and accountability. Congress has the authority to create and pass legislation, as well as conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. As a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, I take this responsibility very seriously. President Trump continues to impede our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities. I am now calling for an impeachment inquiry into his conduct so that Congress can obtain the documents necessary to fulfill our duties. 
 
The Trump Administration has made every attempt to prevent this Congress from performing its constitutional duties of oversight. They have blocked witnesses from testifying, ignored our subpoenas, and refused to turn over documents essential to our justified investigations. Administration officials have objected to precedents that have been in place for decades, while making baseless arguments to avoid complying with congressional requests. On the rare occasions that Administration officials have agreed to testify, they have stalled, obstructed, and disrespected the legislative process. 
 
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report laid out evidence that describes several instances in which President Trump obstructed justice by either trying to change the scope of the investigation or attempting to end it altogether. Given the heavy redactions made to the report, it is impossible to understand the full scope of the investigation. Special Counsel Mueller has stated on multiple occasions that his findings did not exonerate the President of a crime. The report made clear that any accountability would have to come from Congress when he explicitly wrote: “The conclusion that Congress may apply obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.” I look forward to hearing Special Counsel Mueller’s testimony in the House after months of misleading statements by the Attorney General and others in the Trump Administration. 
 
The Trump Administration is challenging the power of a separate, yet equal branch of government, a precedent established by our Founding Fathers centuries ago. The House of Representatives has been hard at work in the 116th Congress passing landmark legislation, but President Trump continues to stand in the way of conducting meaningful oversight of his administration. I believe that we must launch an impeachment inquiry to fulfill our constitutional duties. No one is above the law, not even the President.
 
Serving as your representative in Congress is a great privilege. You can visit my website at  www.lawrence.house.gov  to send me an email or learn more about my voting record and positions on the issues that matter most to you.
Sincerely,



Rep. Brenda Lawrence
Member of Congress
MI-14

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

BIDEN and Healthcare

THINKING ALOUD ALLOWED: FINALLY A CANDIDATE WHO UNDERSTAND HEALTHCARE AND THE ACA: ,,,,,,,,,BIDEN KNOWS that after spending billions of tax dollars to establish the foundation of the ACA (Obamacare), that even with Trump's (and the Republican Congress) efforts to destroy the ACA healthcare for 20 million Americans, it still LIVES, because Americans want it.
He also knows that for this existing culture of healthcare in America, the SPH (Single Payer Healthcare) is not anywhere as popular as ACA for many reasons.

A. We know that ACA WORKS, but needs repair, but not enough to scuttle a health program that actually works well for millions and millions of people.
B. ONE EXAMPLE: If congress (Democratic) could change the insurance market to enable people in Wyoming, who have only one source to buy healthcare, and must pay higher premiums, to buy their healthcare insurance from Michigan or Ohio, or California or New York, where there are multiple insurance carriers, it would FORCE insurance rates to go down, and more people could enroll for more coverage at a lesser cost.
C. Preexisting Conditions, need I say more?

D, No sound thinking person would destroy a working business, without another working business already to replace it, and SPH cannot do this until such time as our government agrees on it's total concept of coverage. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DO THIS NOW, OR IN THE NEAR FUTURE, BECAUSE WE HAVE THIS FRACTURED REPUBLICAN SENATE, A SPLIT DEMOCRATIC HOUSE, AND A PSYCHOTIC PRESIDENT WHO PROMISED THE BEST AND CHEAPEST HEALTHCARE IN THE WORLD, BUT KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT HEALTHCARE EXCEPT THE ACA WAS CREATED BY A MAN HE DESPISES, BARAK OBAMA
E. COST; There are no estimates on the cost of SPH, or how much, and in what manner will the funding of SPH be created.
But, we know exactly what Obamacare cost over the last 9 years, and how to fund it.

 
This alone is reason enough for me to support BIDEN for president, because with a great healthcare system you'll have a happy and great America
 
Of course it might take a few more issue like the environment, wage disparity, immigration to bring a smile to the 51% who win, hopefully Democrats

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Puzder, Acosta, Epstein,Dershowitz, Trump and Vance,

  Let me try to connect the dots between all of these miscreants.  Alex Acosta, tRUMP's  labor secretary, is all over the news for the giveaway deal he made with Epstein,  the pervert monster.  Until all of this hit the fan, I had forgotten that Acosta was tRUMP's second pick for labor secretary.  His first pick was Andrew Puzder, best known for having bikini clad models eating giant hamburgers in ads for his Carl's   Jr. hamburger chain.  

              Puzder withdrew from consideration when it came out that his ex wife had publicly accused  him of multiple acts of abuse.   Those allegations were first made public when it came out that she had twice called the police  alleging abuse.   She actually went on the Oprah show in disguise to talk about how powerful men get away with beating their wives.  She said that the bruises are never visible.  A number of years later she vehemently claimed that she had made the whole thing up.

              Does this sound familiar?  Ivana tRUMP said that she made up the allegations in a sworn complaint for divorcee that tRUMP had raped her.  When she did her disavowal , she said that she did not understand the definition of rape.  All  she needed to do is to look at the facts she alleged in her  complaint for divorce which she signed under oath to understand the definition. Recanting most assuredly was a condition for getting a massive divorce settlement.

              Acosta claims that the deal he made was a good deal because it guaranteed that Epstein would do jail time.  If it was such a good deal, why did he not tell the victims as required by law?  Equally damning, why was the deal made in secret and put under seal? 

             Epstein was charged pursuant to a 53 page  federal indictment.  In order to do the deal, the federal prosecutor had to dismiss the federal charges and get the Palm Beach County district attorney to file far less serious State charges.    The deal then had Epstein plead guilty to the State charges.  

            This is an incredibly ingenious way  to minimize Epstein's penalty.   Only a Harvard professor could think of such a thing.  Lo and behold it was a Harvard Professor, namely Allen Dershowitz.  I have not heard a single legal commentator say that he or she has ever heard of such an deal.

            Rumor has it that the Palm Beach police officers who worked on the case, and the Federal prosecutors who wrote the indictment were outraged by the result.  Why did Acosta do the deal.  So far only he knows.  There has not  been a suggestion that he was paid off.  Maybe he merely succumbed to Epstein's high powered lawyers.  Maybe they made some kind of threat. No matter the reason, this case shows that Epstein got the best representation that money could buy.  It also shows that Acosta should never again be allowed to collect a penny of taxpayer money. 

           A few words about Dershowitz.  His client list includes Claus Von Bulow, and O.J. Simpson both of whom killed their wives.  Now add Epstein to the list.  As far as I know he has not killed a wife.    I don't believe that Dershowitz has been  officially retained by tRUMP, another member of the rogue's gallery.  But he is certainly acting as an unofficial member of tRUMP's team.  He is all over TV making up absurd defenses of tRUMP.

          So how does Cyrus Vance Jr. get in my subject line.? Vance is the district  attorney for Manhattan.  His staff lawyers recommended charging Ivanka and Jared with criminal fraud for duping investors in one of their buildings.    Vance rejected their recommendation.  This rejection occurred after a tRUMP fixer dropped off a $25,000 check for Vance's reelection campaign.  
   
            Fast forward to Epstein.  Vance filed a petition in a New York court to have Epstein's sexual misconduct status changed from Level 3 (highest) to level 1 (lowest)  There has never been an explanation for this petition.  Fortunately the judge who heard the request was appalled and refused to grant it.  So we now know that Vance prevented tRUMP's  daughter and son in law from being criminally charged, and tried to make a deal for tRUMP's old  pervert buddy.  

           I will always remember Michael Cohen's poignant statement to tRUMP enablers that if they continue to support him they will end up like Cohen.  So Puzder stinks, Acosta stinks,  Dershowitz stinks and Vance stinks.  Boys, join the crowd.
             As always, thanks for listening.
                                                                   Richard

Monday, June 17, 2019

Andy Levin on Impeachment

When I was sworn into the 116th Congress, I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. It's an oath I don't take lightly.
 
That's why I believe that the House must open an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Donald J. Trump. If you agree, add your name here.
 
Let me take a few moments to explain because it's important for you to understand how I arrived at this decision:
 
The evidence is clear that Mr. Trump has been violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution every day since he took office. The intermingling of his business dealings with governance and his profiting off his office is beyond improper. According to a recent analysis from  NBC News, representatives of 22 — 22! — different foreign governments have spent money at properties owned by the Trump Organization since 2017.
 
What's more — his refusal to share information about his taxes, which prevents the public from knowing the nature and extent of his conflicts of interest.  
 
As the Mueller Report makes clear, on more than ten occasions, the President obstructed justice or sought to obstruct justice — including by firing or attempting to fire people who were investigating him. And his brazen attitude towards foreign interference in our election process chills me to the bone — from his invitation to Vladimir Putin to meddle during 2016 to his comments this week about the 2020 election.
 
Until today, I have maintained the position that we should neither rush to impeach President Trump nor take impeachment off the table. However, I believe that even if our appeals to the courts continue to succeed, they will follow a timeline far too slow to meet the needs of the American people for truth and justice. 
 
After extensive discussion with colleagues on the committees of jurisdiction over various investigations, I have concluded that the only way to get to the bottom of Mr. Trump's activities and inform the public about what we learn is to consolidate and expedite the process through one select committee with the focus, power, and urgency that come with an impeachment inquiry.
 
 
Thank you for taking action on this,
 
Andy Levin

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Legacy of the Trump Presidency

What will be the legacy of the Trump Presidency?
There will likely be many, few of them good, but I think the worst (for Republicans in general and conservative evangelicals in particular, anyway) is that they have lost any moral high ground they were ever able to claim. Democrats, if their silly hearts ever led them to do so, could nominate a Harvey Weinstein candidate with a Bill Cosby running mate, and the Republicans would not be able to say a single word, not and be taken seriously, anyway. In his article, A Comprehensive List of Things Republicans Can No Longer Legitimately Criticize Thanks to Trump, here are a few of the things John Ziegler came up with:

Having no political experience.
Having no military experience.
Having actively dodged a war.
Having compared avoiding sexual diseases during a promiscuous period to going to war.
Having disparaged a war hero for having been captured.
Having claimed to have more military knowledge than our generals.
Having admitted to getting their military knowledge from watching TV.
Having been divorced, twice.
Having multiple affairs with porn stars and paying them, possibly with campaign cash, to keep them quiet.
Having a wife who posed nude in lesbian-themed photos and plagiarized her only major speech.
Bragging, on tape, about sexually assaulting women.
Running several failed businesses into the ground.
Trying to violate the Cuban embargo.
Using Chinese steel on their own buildings while decrying what China has done to our steel industry.
Pretending to be his own publicist in an effort to get media outlets to publish how much women want to have sex with them.
Settling a massive fraud lawsuit for $25 million.
Bragging about being “very pro-choice.”
Bragging about the size of their penis during a presidential debate.
Getting electoral help from an adversarial power and refusing to properly condemn or punish their meddling in our election.
Siding with a foreign adversary over our own intelligence agencies.
Claiming, without evidence, that the presidential election is “rigged.”
Obsessing and lying about, and forcing government employees to do the same, the size of the crowd at their swearing in.
Lying (or being abjectly ignorant about) the size of their election victory.
Falsely claiming, without a shred of evidence, that they lost the popular vote because of millions of illegally cast votes.
Claiming to be a Christian while having no knowledge of the Bible and claiming to never have asked for forgiveness, or hardly ever actually going to church services.
Engaging in blatant nepotism.
Threatening to take guns away from citizens without due process.
Being consistently pro-Russia and pro-Putin.
Making numerous statements indicating that they want to be a dictator and praising those foreign leaders who already are.
Referring to friendly nations as “shithole” countries.
Constantly attacking people, even political allies, based on their physical appearance.
Being abjectly ignorant of the basic functions of our government.
Not knowing basic facts about important issues.
Having a general and reckless disregard for the truth.
A Comprehensive List of Things Republicans Can No Longer Legitimately Criticize Thanks to Trump

In an article for The American Conservative, Rod Dreher (no bleeding heart liberal he) has some pretty pointed things to say about Christian Trump supporters: Quoting Michael Gerson, he writes, “Evangelicals have become loyal to a leader of shockingly low character. They have associated their faith with exclusion and bias. They have become another Washington interest group, striving for advantage rather than seeking the common good. And a movement that should be known for grace is now known for its seething resentments.” Christians Tempted By Trump Idolatry He goes on to quote himself from his book “The Benedict Opinion”: “…fair or not, conservative Christianity will be associated with Trump for the next few years, and no doubt beyond. If conservative church leaders aren’t extraordinarily careful in how they manage their public relationship to the Trump phenomenon, anti-Trump blowback will do severe damage to the church’s reputation. Trump’s election solves some problems for the church, but given the man’s character, it creates others. Political power is not a moral disinfectant.
“And this brings us to the more subtle but potentially more devastating effects of this unexpected GOP election victory. There is first the temptation to worship power, and to compromise one’s soul to maintain access to it. There are many ways to burn a pinch of incense to Caesar, and some prominent pro-Trump Christians arguably crossed that line during the campaign season. Again, political victory does not vitiate the vice of hypocrisy.” (ibid)

Conservatives have made a bed of thorns that they will be forced to sleep in for years to come.

MORE (may be a lot of repeats initially but there is new stuff also)

After Tuesday’s special election upset loss in Pennsylvania, many in the Republican Party are now resigned to the likely reality that the 2018 elections, which once set up extremely well for the GOP, are going to be a disaster for them. There are many reasons this is the case, but the most prominent, of course, is that the party has allowed itself to be completely defined by President Donald Trump.

Perhaps the most underrated aspect of having sold out so thoroughly to Trump is that the GOP is now almost completely disarmed in their ability to legitimately attack Democratic candidates and office holders on numerous issues, especially in the realm of character. After all, once you have defended and accepted certain behavior from a president, it is awfully difficult, even in a world where hypocrisy is now longer seen as politically lethal, to claim that similar acts are unacceptable for any other elected office.

With this in mind, I recently attempted to put together a comprehensive — and ever growing — list of the things that had they been been true of a Democrat, Republicans and the conservative media would have been on the warpath to destroy them. I came up with almost 100 of them. I am sure the list is incomplete, and will probably grow by the end of the day, but here it is:

Being best known as a reality TV host.
Having no political experience.
Having no military experience.
Having actively dodged a war.
Having compared avoiding sexual diseases during a promiscuous period to going to war.
Having disparaged a war hero for having been captured.
Having claimed to have more military knowledge than our generals.
Having admitted to getting their military knowledge from watching TV.
Having been divorced, twice.
Having multiple affairs with porn stars and paying them, possibly with campaign cash, to keep them quiet.
Having a wife who posed nude in lesbian-themed photos and seemingly plagiarized her only major speech.
Bragging, on tape, about sexually assaulting women.
Running several failed businesses into the ground.
Running casinos and overtly sexual beauty pageants.
Declaring bankruptcy multiple times.
Trying to violate the Cuban embargo.
Using Chinese steel on their own buildings while decrying what China has done to our steel industry.
Having greatly misled about their academic record, while also questioning the academic record of a current president.
Falsely accusing a sitting president, with racist undertones, of not being eligible for the office.
Lavishly praising and giving lots of money to prominent Democrats.
Pretending to be his own publicist in an effort to get media outlets to publish how much women want to have sex with them.
Settling a massive fraud lawsuit for $25 million.
Dramatically flip-flopping on major issues, often within hours.
Bragging about being “very pro-choice.”
Bragging about the size of their penis during a presidential debate.
Bragging about massive wealth which doesn’t seem to actually exist.
Bragging about not paying taxes during a presidential debate.
Refusing to release their taxes, promising to do so if elected, and still not doing so.
Publicly asking for, and getting help from an international hacking/terrorist group to get elected.
Getting electoral help from an adversarial power and refusing to properly condemn or punish their meddling in our election.
Siding with a foreign adversary over our own intelligence agencies.
Claiming, without evidence, that the presidential election is “rigged.”
Obsessing and lying about, and forcing government employees to do the same, the size of the crowd at their swearing in.
Lying (or being abjectly ignorant about) the size of their election victory.
Falsely claiming, without a shred of evidence, that they lost the popular vote because of millions of illegally cast votes.
Claiming to be a Christian while having no knowledge of the Bible and claiming to never have asked for forgiveness, or hardly ever actually going to church services.
Making constant and dramatic campaign promises which never come close to being fulfilled.
Being unable to get hardly anything passed through a Congress controlled by their own party.
Causing run-away spending and massive deficits.
Taking credit for stock market advances they had almost nothing to do with.
Tanking the stock market with reckless statements.
Pardoning a political supporter for purely political reasons in their first year in office.
Having close senior aides quit and be fired at an alarming rate, even after having bragged that they would hire only the very best people.
Having multiple close aides plead guilty to serious crimes possibly related to their own election.
Hiring and then firing a National Security Adviser after they were correctly warned by the prior administration they were compromised by a foreign adversarial power.
Hiring a reality TV villain to work in the White House who ended up doing nothing and didn’t even last a year before being fired, provoking a bizarre security incident.
Having much of their close staff not be able to get top secret security clearances.
Having their chief economic advisor quit over a highly unpopular plan to impose huge tariffs.
Engaging in blatant nepotism.
Having a member of their own family caught up in a serious investigation of foreign meddling in our election and of allegedly using their influence to punish and reward countries based on personal business dealings.
Being in constant and clear violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution by personally benefiting financially from foreign states because of their position.
Threatening to take guns away from citizens without due process.
Being consistently pro-Russia and pro-Putin.
Aligning themselves with blatant conspiracy theorists and supporting obvious nut jobs.
Blatantly promoting, sometimes via government resources, highly partisan and non-credible media outlets.
Actively attacking legitimate media outlets (even those they give interviews to) as “fake” simply because they don’t like what is being reported.
Actively avoiding press conferences and extensive interviews with non-friendly news media.
Making numerous statements indicating that they want to be a dictator and praising those foreign leaders who already are.
Forcing the military to hold a parade in the streets of Washington for their own personal ego gratification.
Being consistently against the First Amendment, specifically with regard to libel laws and flag burning.
Taking credit for the release of college basketball players from China when the players had already been secured before they even got involved.
Endorsing a credibly accused child molester (and general nut job) for senator in a state they won big, and then having that person lose.
Publicly backing multiple friends accused of sexual misconduct who then turned out to be at least partly guilty.
Threatening to “lock up” their political opponents.
Having sub-40% approval ratings, and seeing that as a sign of failure.
Trying to fire a Special Counsel who is investigating their own campaign.
Firing an FBI Director because they don’t like the way they are handling an investigation that directly involves themselves.
Falsely and publicly claiming they might have tapes of private conversations with their FBI Director and then bragging that it was a good strategic move to lie.
Constantly publicly criticizing, and inappropriately directing, their own Attorney General.
Releasing a partisan memo over the objections of their own Justice Department.
Publicly describing a group of NFL players as, “that son of a bitch.”
Referring to friendly nations as “shithole” countries.
Constantly attacking people, even political allies, based on their physical appearance.
Publicly mocking a disabled reporter.
Routinely tweeting badly misspelled words and inaccurate statements.
Tweeting about frivolous subjects in the middle of the night.
Threatening a foreign country led by a madman with nuclear war.
Agreeing to meet with a madman without real preconditions and without consulting any diplomatic experts.
Threatening a damaging trade war, without aides knowing about it, because they are in a bad mood.
Using the House Intelligence Committee as a piece of partisan political machinery.
Firing their Secretary of State via Twitter.
Having their personal assistant escorted off the White House grounds due to a criminal probe and then immediately hiring the assistant to work on their campaign.
Campaigning for heavily favored candidates who end up losing.
Being abjectly ignorant of the basic functions of our government.
Not knowing basic facts about important issues.
Having a general and reckless disregard for the truth.


Jon Hill, Graphic designer: autodidact: Hist., PolySci., Religion


Monday, June 10, 2019

Two Legal Systems

“Read the AJC’s 36-page “Guide for the Perplexed” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and you wouldn’t know that in the West Bank Israel maintains two legal systems, one for Jews—which guarantees due process, free movement, citizenship in the country in which they live and the right to vote for the government that controls their lives—and a second, which denies all these rights to Palestinians.
The AJC constructs a cocoon that allows its supporters to believe that Israel is a thriving democracy even as it denies millions of Palestinians basic rights, and to believe that Israel yearns for a two state solution even as Benjamin Netanyahu boasts about opposing one.
And with the exception of Sanders, the major Democratic candidates didn’t challenge that intellectual and moral bubble. They inhabited it.

“I don’t know if Sanders would make a better president than his Democratic rivals. But this much is clear: When it comes to the conflict between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, he’s the only candidate who is boldly defending the moral principles — human dignity, anti-racism and equality under the law -— that all the Democratic candidates claim to prize. And he’s doing it in front of the audiences that want to hear that message least, and need to hear it most.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence that he’s also the only Jewish candidate in the race. But one day, when the occupation is a distant memory and American Jews have long since acknowledged its profound injustice, our people will look back at speeches like the one he gave this week to the AJC with pride.”

Tanya

Friday, May 31, 2019

What Mueller said and what he did not say

  In the last 24 or so hours there have  been countless analyses of the Mueller statement.  Here is one more. I must first state  that Mueller is an American hero and a man of impeccable integrity.  Having said that,  I was disappointed by Mueller's statement, but not surprised.  He did exactly what I had predicted he would do.  Mueller is the ultimate example of understatement.  There were several instances where he could have stated conclusions.  Rather than doing that, he left it to the listener to draw conclusions.  
         While Mueller's position may be admirable, it allows tRUMP and his sycophants to state their own conclusions  from Mueller's statement.  And they did. Their response to Mueller's statement  is, "see, no collusion, no obstruction."  It goes without saying that they are lying.  But Mueller enabled them to do it.  So here's my take.

           Mueller began and ended his statement by stating that Russia had a massive systematic  and sweeping program to interfere with and influence  our election.    But I have a major problem with the following sentence, "This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign's response to this activity as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy."  Mueller referred to the tRUMP campaign's response to the Russian campaign, but did not state what the response was..  Mueller's report explicitly stated  that the tRUMP campaign welcomed the Russian interference.  Why could Mueller not bring himself to say perhaps the most damning of all conclusions  in the report.  The vast majority of people who have not read the report would have no idea of this damning finding.

           Mueller went on to say that the Russian campaign was intended to damage a "presidential candidate."  Why could Mueller not say that it was intended to damage the Clinton campaign.  tRUMP has often said that the Russian interference was intended to help Clinton.  Mueller should have explicitly rejected that cockamamie B.S. Mueller expects people to draw the logical conclusion.  In my view, that is not enough.

            At the end of the statement Mueller praised the hard work and the integrity of the people on his team.  That praise was fine, but not nearly enough.  tRUMP has continuously called the investigation a hoax and a witch hunt being conducted by 18 angry Democrats.  tRUMP directly attacked the integrity of Mueller and his team. He accused two of them plus Comey  of treason. Barr is now investigating Mueller and his team to see if this was a political hoax.  I think it was incumbent on Mueller to explicitly rebuke tRUMP's claim.  He had a duty to maximize the protection of his team.  He needed to say that there was a sound basis for beginning the investigation and his team was not in anyway guided by political considerations.  

        Mueller said that he was constrained by the DOJ memo to not charge a sitting president with a crime.  There are plenty of legal scholars who disagree with the DOJ memo.  Mueller chose to abide by that memo.  It should be pointed out that Ken Starr did not feel the same constraint.  I would also say that two former federal prosecutors would not have felt the same constraint if they thought that Barack Obama had committed a crime.   Those former prosecutors are Giuliani and Christie.  Mueller said that the constitution had a remedy other than the criminal justice system to deal with a president who may have committed a crime.  Mueller simply could not get the word impeachment to come from his lips.  I understand why he couldn't, but he could have  just as easily told the American people what the alternative was.

    I cannot believe that Mueller chose to give high praise to Barr.  Mueller said that  at a point in time he requested that certain portions of his report be made public.  He was referring to the executive summaries of the report.  Once again Mueller could not bring himself to say what portions he was referring to.  More importantly he said that Barr made a decision to  largely make the entire report public.  Mueller than said, "I certainly do not question the attorney general's good faith in that decision."  This is just me, but I think it is outrageous for Mueller to have made that  statement.  Barr totally misrepresented the findings of the Mueller Report.  And  when Mueller saw the misrepresentation he sent  a letter to Barr urging him to release the executive summaries.  Barr refused.  So not only had Barr misrepresented,  he refused to correct the misrepresentation despite the urging of Mueller.  Again, it is extremely disappointing  that Mueller praised the good  faith of Barr.  Mueller at a minimum could have remained silent on the subject.  Now he has given Barr a pass he absolutely does not deserve.
     
        Finally, there is one  sentence which I initialed failed to understand the  significance of..  Mueller  said the investigation was important "to preserve evidence  while memories are fresh and documents available."  There is only one  reason to preserve evidence, and that is for future proceedings.  This innocuous sentence suggests that Mueller believes there may well be future proceedings, whether trials or impeachment. 

         For me, tRUMP's response to the Mueller statement is the most fascinating of all responses.  tRUMP said that there was insufficient evidence to prove there was a crime.  Therefore, case closed.  First, Mueller's reference to insufficient evidence related only to possible conspiracy by the tRUMP campaign with Russia.  Mueller never said that there was insufficient evidence that tRUMP committed the crime of obstruction of justice.  Second, the fact that Mueller said there was insufficient evidence of a crime, does not mean there was no crime.  By the way, I have read enough of the report to question how Mueller could have come to that conclusion.  I think the report contains plenty of evidence of conspiracy.  And third, it is jaw dropping that the President of the United States thinks that lack of evidence somehow vindicates him.  That is a very low bar for anyone, let alone the President.  There are plenty of crimes which are not prosecuted for lack of evidence.  That does not mean that the crime was not committed.

              I agree with both sides of the impeachment debate.  Whether or not the House moves toward impeachment,  I think the period between now and the election will reveal enumerable facts that show tRUMP is the head of a continuing criminal enterprise.  If we survive until 2020, we will boot the crime boss out of office.  Take care all.

                                                                           Richard

Monday, May 20, 2019

Justin Amash tweets

From the day tRUMP got elected we all asked whether there is even one Republican in Congress who would call out this despicable man.  There are  53 Republican senators and about 195 Republican congressmen.  Finally there is one.  Justin Amash from Grand Rapids marches to his own drummer.  He is a far right libertarian. He is a Tea Party stalwart. My liberal friends in Grand Rapids despise him.  But everyone agrees that Amash believes in certain principles and will not waver from them  So here are his tweets:

   Here are my principal conclusions:
                    1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented the 
                        Mueller report.

                    2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct

                    3.  Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances

                    4. Few members of Congress have read the report.

              I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller's redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony and having discussed this matter with my staff, who thoroughly reviewed materials and provided me with further analysis.

                   In comparing Barr's principal conclusions, congressional testimony and other statements to Mueller's report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's analysis and findings.

                   Barr's misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies which he hopes people will not notice.

                    Under our Constitution, the president " shall be removed from Office on impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."  While "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust.

                     Contrary to Barr's portrayal, Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.

                      In fact, Mueller's report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all of the elements of obstruction of justice and undoubtedly any person who is not the president would be indicted based on such evidence.

                     Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g. obstruction of justice) has been committed.  It simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt or otherwise dishonorable conduct.

                 While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.

                 Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch's jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our Constitution.  When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the rule of law-the foundation of liberty crumbles.

Now this is Richard.  I hope that Amash's tweets become  a huge national story.  Amash has spoken truth to power.  I have heard for two years  that Republicans are afraid of tRUMP. Is it possible that a second and then a third and then more Republicans will have the political courage of Amash?  Then the Wizard Of Trump will come tumbling down.  Take care all.

                                                                    Richard
                                                            

PS:  Amash's parents are immigrants from the Middle East.  tRUMP will probably tweet that Amash should go back to where he came from.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

To impeach or not to impeach, that is the question

Without question there are multiple bases to impeach tRUMP.  Most discussions center on Mueller's findings of obstruction of justice.  tRUMP says there were no high crimes or misdemeanors. I would like to point out there are more bases for impeachment than just those.  The constitution also provides for impeachment where there has been treason or bribery.   I suggest that any president who accepts  the word of the head of a foreign enemy and disparages his own security experts is guilty of treason. (remember the judge in the Michael Flynn case said that Flynn's actions sounded like treason.) I suggest that any president who makes money (emoluments) from foreign officials is guilty of bribery.   Whether to impeach, however, is a complicated question which could be only  answered with a crystal ball.  If  we knew for certain how impeachment proceedings would affect the 2020 elections, the answer would be simple.  Here is my analysis.

        Regardless of whether tRUMP is impeached by the House,  It is almost a certainty that tRUMP will be President until January 2021.  It is inconceivable that there will be 20 Republican Senators who would vote for conviction.  About the only way that would happen is if the golden shower tapes or some other bombshell drops.   So the number 1 priority is to make sure tRUMP is not President in February 2021. The number 2 priority is to make sure we retain the House.  Number  3 priority is winning the Senate.

           Democrats must make their best calculation as to how impeachment proceedings would affect the 2020 elections.  Many Democrats are gun shy because of the Republican experience with the Clinton impeachment.  That exercise resulted in Clinton's approval rating skyrocketing.  It would be an unmitigated disaster if an impeachment of tRUMP would result in an increase in his approval rating similar to Clinton's.  That could result in his reelection.  Then priority 1 is lost.  This must   be avoided at all costs.
     
           Let's talk about priority no. 2.  There were approximately 40 seats that flipped from red to blue.  Most if not all were Republican districts.  Every one of these new congress men and women, must consider the feelings of their Republican constituents who voted for them.  I think that not a single one of the flippers ran on an anti tRUMP platform.  They ran on the issues.  If they use strong anti tRUMP rhetoric will that turn off Republicans who voted for them?  It would be horrible if we lose the House.

           There are strong arguments that an impeachment of tRUMP is far  different than the impeachment of Clinton.  I agree.  But a much better historical perspective than Clinton is the Nixon impeachment.  The House hearings lasted for almost two years.  Very slowly facts came out that led to the inevitability of Nixon either resigning or being removed.  I said at the time that the Nixon hearings were analogous to the peeling of an onion.  Layer after layer was peeled back until eventually you get to the stinking center.  I think that is exactly what will happen to tRUMP.

           Several House Dems have introduced articles of impeachment.  Those are representatives from safe Democratic districts.  They have nothing to lose by going after tRUMP.  But they have everything to lose if they are no longer in the majority. The impeachment articles  make us  feel good.  I think they are a mistake.  I come to the same conclusion as Nancy Pelosi.  Be deliberative.    Mueller has published a truckload of facts.  Congressional hearings can result in another truckload.  Let the hearings move forward in a deliberative way.  Let tRUMP supporters continue to show their blind support for this disgraceful human being.  tRUMP's base will never move.  But maybe more facts will move independents and principled Republicans.  We must stay focused on our priorities.  We cannot take a chance that tRUMP get reelected.

           The attached NYT article is the best I've seen  in describing the Democrats dilemma.  If I had a vote, I would vote against an immediate rush to impeachment.   Let the facts work there way into the American consciousness.  I will be satisfied if tRUMP is no longer the president in February 2021.  If that happens, he will still be facing a boatload of criminal and civil charges. Remember he is Individual 1.  That's only the beginning. As always, thanks for listening.

                                                                    Richard