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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 9,639

Journal Archives

Republicans Stand by Trump Because They Like What He Does

Donald Trump is probably the weakest he’s been since becoming president.

He all but confessed to trying to tilt the next election in his favor with pleas — public and private — to China and Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president, and Biden’s son. A majority of Americans support the Democratic impeachment inquiry; a plurality wants him impeached already. His defense is anything but, as allies like Rudy Giuliani keep undermining his position with their own misconduct. His approval rating is on the wane, and he trails his Democratic opponents in key swing states like Wisconsin.

And yet most congressional Republicans refuse to break with the president. Despite his obvious wrongdoing and complete unfitness for the job, the vast majority of Republican office holders in Washington are “ride or die” supporters of Trump.

The most common explanation for this stalwart commitment is simply fear. “Across the country,” reports The Washington Post, “most G.O.P. lawmakers have responded to questions about Trump’s conduct with varying degrees of silence, shrugged shoulders or pained defenses. For now, their collective strategy is simply to survive and not make any sudden moves.” The former Arizona senator Jeff Flake made a version of this point last month, when he said that most Senate Republicans — “at least 35” — would vote to remove Trump if it were on a secret ballot.


Yes, the obvious truth is that Trump's policies are Republican policies, and they like what he's doing.

The GOP's bootlicking cowardice knows no bounds

President Trump’s defense against impeachment is bombastic, full of lies and incoherent to the point of lunacy, which is no surprise. Republicans are beclowning themselves to pretend Trump is making sense — and that, sadly, is also no surprise.

Trump has described his smoking-gun phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “perfect,” which is only true from the point of view of the prosecutors in his impeachment trial — if it comes to that. His lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has claimed that Zelensky was the first to mention Joe and Hunter Biden, while the rough transcript of the call clearly shows it was Trump who did so. Trump has demanded that the whistleblower be unmasked, and claimed that he or she somehow misrepresented the call, hoping no one will notice that the allegations in the whistleblower’s complaint have been confirmed by documents and statements released by the White House.

Trump has accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of “treason” and demanded that they be impeached. After first refusing to say whether he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, he admitted it and called on China to investigate them, too. And as for Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — who said that Trump’s call with Zelensky was “troubling in the extreme ” and that his requests to Ukraine and China were “wrong and appalling” — Trump has called him a “pompous ‘ass’  ” and wants him impeached, too.

Romney and Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), however, are the only prominent GOP officeholders thus far to call out Trump for the conduct that will likely get him impeached. Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) have been critical of the China appeal but have said nothing about Ukraine. The bootlicking cowardice of today’s Republican Party knows no bounds.



Trump Ordered to Turn Over 8 Years of Tax Returns to the Manhattan D.A.

Source: New York Times

A federal judge on Monday rejected a bold argument from President Trump that sitting presidents are immune from criminal investigations, allowing the Manhattan district attorney’s office to subpoena eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump were expected to appeal the ruling from Judge Victor Marrero of Manhattan federal court.

The judge’s decision came a little more than a month after the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for his personal and corporate returns dating to 2011. The demand touched off a legal showdown that raised new constitutional questions and drew in the Justice Department, which supported the president’s request to delay enforcement of the subpoena.

The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has been investigating whether any New York State laws were broken when Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed the president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, for payments he made in the run-up to the 2016 election to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who had said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/nyregion/trump-taxes-lawsuit-vance.html

Impeach Trump, Repeatedly

A president should not be able to stonewall and run out the clock.

When the Democratic leadership was finally forced to formally back an impeachment inquiry, they faced a choice: focus broadly on all of Donald Trump’s corruption and unfitness, which could drag on for a long time, or focus narrowly on the new revelations about Trump and Ukraine and do so quickly. They chose the latter.

I happen to agree with that strategy, if one assumes that you only have one shot at this. But, I also propose another scenario: Do both. Draw up articles of impeachment on the narrow case of Ukraine, but don’t close the impeachment inquiry. Keep it open and ready to draw up more articles as new corruption is uncovered. Impeach Trump repeatedly if necessary.

There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents a president from being impeached more than once.


Don't Be Fooled. Chief Justice John Roberts Is as Partisan as They Come.

The Supreme Court’s new term that begins on Monday could prove momentous, with cases involving gun control, abortion, L.G.B.T. rights and immigration. The term is likely to signal how far the court’s conservative majority will go to block the agenda of the next Democratic president and Congress.

With the court on the precipice of a dangerous lurch rightward, polling data indicate that Democrats have a positive view of Chief Justice John Roberts, who has expressed regard for precedent and concern for the court’s legitimacy, encouraging a view that he will step in to prevent partisan excess. Yet history suggests that Democrats have much to fear. The chief justice is neither a swing vote among his four liberal and four conservative justices, nor a moderate. Expect him to land time and again with the conservatives.

During his 2005 confirmation hearing, Chief Justice Roberts affirmed his “respect for precedent, even-handedness, predictability, stability.” But once on the bench, he compiled a voting record that is among the most partisan of any justice in the modern era when it comes to cases overturning precedent, according to our analysis. He has presided in 21 such cases and voted to overturn precedent in 17, or 81 percent, making him the second behind only Justice Clarence Thomas as the most frequent member of a precedent-overturning majority over the last 14 years. In 15 such cases with partisan implications, the chief justice voted for conservative outcomes 14 times, or 93 percent of the time. In determining whether a decision was liberal or conservative, our organization, Take Back the Court, relied on the methodology used by the Supreme Court Database, maintained by the law school at Washington University in St. Louis. To determine whether an outcome was partisan, we assumed that if at least four liberal justices voted for a decision in a split ruling, then the outcome was consistent with Democratic Party values and goals. And if at least four conservative justices voted similarly, then the outcome was considered consistent with Republican Party values and goals.

Our analysis shows that the chief justice’s voting record is as conservative as those of his most extreme current and former colleagues — Justices Thomas, Samuel Alito Brett Kavanaugh and Antonin Scalia. In all 42 split-decision cases that the chief justice has presided over involving racial minorities, immigrants, workers and abortion, he voted for conservative outcomes 100 percent of the time.


Trump Sees New Polls and Orders Ukraine to Investigate Elizabeth Warren

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—After looking at the most recent polls for the Democratic Presidential race, Donald J. Trump has ordered the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“What Elizabeth Warren and her crooked kids have been doing in Ukraine is a disgrace,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn. “This is maybe the biggest scandal in the history of our country.”

After Jim Acosta, of CNN, pointed out that there had been no reports of any involvement in Ukraine on the part of either Warren or her children, Trump responded, “You bet there’s been no reporting, because you people are even more crooked than she is.”

Trump brushed aside an official statement by the Ukrainian government indicating that Warren’s children had never set foot in the country. “That is because the Warren kids are basically spies, and everyone knows that spies are invisible,” he said. “You people are so dumb.”

Concluding his remarks, Trump said that he would wait for the results of the Iowa caucuses before urging Ukraine to investigate Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.


In the Land of Self-Defeat

Inside Washington, there’s a sense that this scandal really is different. Even the White House’s memorandum of the phone conversation President Trump had with the Ukrainian president in July makes it clear that Mr. Trump asked a foreign country to help him undermine a political rival. But while national polls show support for impeaching him is growing, it’s still divided sharply along partisan lines. Democrats strongly favor it, while Republicans tend to oppose it.

I’ve been following this story from my little corner of the world in rural Van Buren County, Ark. Tim Widener, 50, who lives outside my hometown, Clinton, summed up the town’s attitude well: “It’s really a sad waste of taxpayers’ money,” he told me.

Mr. Widener could have been talking about anything. His comment reflected a worldview that is becoming ever more deeply ingrained in the white people who remain in rural America — Washington politicians are spending money that they shouldn’t be. In 2016, shortly after Mr. Trump’s victory, Katherine J. Cramer, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, summed up the attitudes she observed after years of studying rural Americans: “The way these folks described the world to me, their basic concern was that people like them, in places like theirs, were overlooked and disrespected,” she wrote in Vox, explaining that her subjects considered “racial minorities on welfare” as well as “lazy urban professionals” working desk jobs to be undeserving of state and federal dollars. People like my neighbors hate that the government is spending money on those who don’t look like them and don’t live like them — but what I’ve learned since I came home is that they remain opposed even when they themselves stand to benefit.

I returned to Van Buren County at the end of 2017 after 20 years living on the East Coast, most recently in the Washington area, because I’m writing a book about Clinton, Van Buren’s county seat. My partner and I knew it would be a challenge: The county is very remote, very religious and full of Trump voters, and we suspected we’d stand out because of our political beliefs.


This is a depressing read. Rampant and resolute ignorance abounds in rural America.

Barr and a Top Prosecutor Cast a Wide Net in Reviewing the Russia Inquiry

After a jet carrying Attorney General William P. Barr touched down in Rome late last month, some diplomats and intelligence officials at the American Embassy were unsure why he had come to the Eternal City. They were later surprised, two officials said, to discover that he had circumvented protocols in arranging the trip, where he met with Italian political and intelligence officials.

Everything about the visit was unusual — perhaps most of all, the attorney general’s companion and his mission. Mr. Barr and a top federal prosecutor, John H. Durham, who is reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation, sought evidence that might bolster a conspiracy theory long nurtured by President Trump: that some of America’s closest allies plotted with his “deep state” enemies in 2016 to try to prevent him from winning the presidency.

Mr. Trump has embraced the theory in his interactions with world leaders since the days after the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, testified to lawmakers in July that his investigation found insufficient evidence to charge any Trump associates with conspiring with Russia to help subvert the election. An emboldened Mr. Trump — who could benefit politically if Mr. Durham were to unearth facts that undermined Mr. Mueller’s investigation — began pressing close allies to cooperate with the review.

The trip to Italy generated criticism that Mr. Barr was doing the president’s bidding and micromanaging a supposedly independent investigation. But Mr. Barr seems to have embraced his role, signaling that he has made the investigation a priority and is personally overseeing it.


Ginger Baker, rock drumming colossus of Cream, dies at 80

Source: Washington Post

Ginger Baker, the prodigiously talented and volcanically temperamental rock drummer who helped form Cream, rock-and-roll’s first supergroup, and inspired awe and imitation in a generation of drummers, died on Oct. 6. He was 80.

The Associated Press reported Baker’s family saying on Twitter that he died Sunday: “We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully in hospital this morning.”

Gary Hibbert, a media representative for Baker’s family, confirmed his death, the AP said.

Cream, a trio that included guitarist-singer Eric Clapton and bassist-singer Jack Bruce, set a powerful standard for “supergroups,” bands composed of independent star musicians. During its 2 1 /2-year run, Cream sold millions of records and released a run of bluesy, jazzy and psychedelic hits including “White Room,” “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Tales of Brave Ulysses” in addition to rock-driven versions of blues standards such as “Crossroads” and “Spoonful.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/ginger-baker-rock-drumming-colossus-of-cream-dies-at-80/2019/10/06/f1aff9ae-e828-11e9-9c6d-436a0df4f31d_story.html

Here Comes the Trump Slump

When he isn’t raving about how the deep state is conspiring against him, Donald Trump loves to boast about the economy, claiming to have achieved unprecedented things. As it happens, none of his claims are true. While both G.D.P. and employment have registered solid growth, the Trump economy simply seems to have continued a long expansion that began under Barack Obama. In fact, someone who looked only at the past 10 years of data would never guess that an election had taken place.

But now it’s starting to look as if Trump really will achieve something unique: He may well be the first president of modern times to preside over a slump that can be directly attributed to his own policies, rather than bad luck.

There has always been a deep unfairness about the relationship between economics and politics: Presidents get both credit and blame for events that usually have little to do with their actions. Jimmy Carter didn’t cause the stagflation that put Ronald Reagan in the White House; George H.W. Bush didn’t cause the economic weakness that elected Bill Clinton; even George W. Bush bears at most tangential responsibility for the 2008 financial crisis.

More recently, the “mini-recession” of 2015-16, a slump in manufacturing that may have tipped the scale to Trump, was caused mainly by a plunge in energy prices rather than any of Barack Obama’s policies.

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