Lookin’ Good, Merrick Garland!

Merrick-GarlandYesterday was the first of the two-day confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, President Biden’s choice to head the Department of Justice.  I have felt for weeks that Garland would be confirmed by the Senate, for he is both liked and respected by those on both sides of the aisle.  According to an article in The Washington Post …

“… there was little acrimony and many Democrats and Republicans on the panel appeared to treat his confirmation almost as a foregone conclusion.”

Several Republicans seem certain that Garland will be confirmed …

“I believe so. There were people that weren’t totally satisfied with his answers, but i didn’t hear anybody get really irritated. … For the most part, he answered pretty well.” – Senator Chuck Grassley (republican) from Iowa

“That certainly seems likely. I thought he did fine. It was frustrating in that he answered very few questions. He approached it more like a judicial nominee dodging every question.” – Senator Ted Cruz (republican) from Texas

“Judge Garland is about as sure a bet as you can have in the Congress these days that he will be confirmed. He has navigated these questions with extraordinary adroitness and aplomb.” – Senator Richard Blumenthal (democrat) from Connecticut

To be sure, there were contentious lines of questioning, especially from the likes of Senator John Neeley Kennedy, a republican from Louisiana, and the ignoble Josh Hawley who cheered the attackers on January 6th, and did everything in his power to try to overturn our votes on that day.  But, Garland remained cool and his answers brought no rebuttal.  For example, Hawley arrogantly twirled his pencil while attempting to goad Garland into a conversation on defunding the police, and on what constitutes ‘domestic terrorism’.

Garland, who prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombing perpetrators before becoming a federal judge,  looked Hawley straight in the eye and responded …

“As you no doubt know, President Biden has said he does not support defunding the police, and neither do I. We saw how difficult the lives of police officers were in the body-cam videos we saw when they were defending the Capitol.  The use of violence or threats of violence in an attempt to disrupt democratic processes.  So an attack on a courthouse while in operation trying to prevent judges from deciding cases, that plainly is domestic extremism, domestic terrorism.”

Lindsey Graham, who would not allow Garland’s hearing to take place earlier this month, reared his typically ugly head, quizzed Garland on whether he thought James Comey, who was fired by the former guy early in his administration, was a good FBI Director.  Garland calmly replied that the question was not useful and that he didn’t intend to get into critiquing other directors.  Then Graham responded churlishly with …

“Well, you’ve been very political, and appropriately so, at times. I just find it pretty stunning that you can’t say, in my view, that he was a terrible FBI director.”

However, at the end of the day, Lindsey told Garland, “I think you’re a very good pick for this job.”  Even Senator Kennedy, one of the more obnoxious among republican senators, said “You’ll be a good attorney general.”

Perhaps Garland’s most powerful statement, at least in my eyes, was when he said …

“I am not the president’s lawyer, I am the United States’ lawyer.”

Quite the contrast from previous Attorney General William Barr who saw himself and the entire Department of Justice as tools at the former guy’s disposal.

No doubt there will be some Republicans who will oppose the nomination, likely Tom Cotton, Mike Lee, and Josh Hawley among them, but the general consensus is that Garland will win senate confirmation when the vote is taken on March 1st.  Score one for justice.

Fools Rush In …

“I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” – George Bernard Shaw

Stepping away for a minute from Trump’s abandonment of our Allies in Syria and Afghanistan, James Mattis’ resignation, Trump’s wall and related government shutdown, let’s take a look at some other things that happened last week.

On Thursday, it was reported that acting attorney General Matthew Whitaker had been told by Justice Department officials that he would not need to recuse himself from oversight of Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election — despite having been an outspoken critic of the Mueller and the investigation.  Imagine the surprise of the Department of Justice ethics officials who had, in fact, told Mr. Whitaker that yes, he should definitely recuse himself!

Whitaker

Matthew Whitaker, acting Attorney General

As the story unfolded, it turns out that Whitaker had some of his own personal advisors at the Justice Department say that it wasn’t necessary for him to recuse himself, and at the same time, they falsely claimed that it was unheard of for an Attorney General to recuse himself based on a conflict of interest.

Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, has also been a highly outspoken critic of Robert Mueller and the Russian investigation.  He will likely be questioned during confirmation hearings about his intent toward the investigation and whether he will recuse himself.  It would seem that Trump will pull out all the stops to throw a wrench into the search for truth.  The investigation has already racked up over 100 criminal charges against dozens of people, including guilty pleas from Trump’s former national security adviser, former campaign chair, former attorney, and multiple former advisers since it started in May 2017.  Can anybody honestly believe that Trump, his family, and most of his senior campaign staff were not involved in helping Russia rig the 2016 election?  No.  But Trump is pulling out all the stops to try to halt the investigation before Robert Mueller issues his final report.

Beyond the concern that Trump will direct his Attorney General to terminate the Russian investigation is the concern that Mueller’s report, once issued, will never make it to Congress, let alone to We The People.  By law, the Special Counsel’s report and conclusions must be presented to the Attorney General. But … the Attorney General then decides what portion of the report, if any, will be issued to Congress and ultimately the public.  Would Whitaker or Barr choose to suppress the report?  Hmmm … take a wild guess.  Watergate is beginning to look like a Sunday picnic in the park.


I know better than to judge a book by its cover or a person by their looks, but that said, Steven Mnuchin has always looked a little … seedy, sleazy, not-too-honest … to me.  Turns out he’s just plain not-too-bright, I suspect. MnuchinThroughout the past two years, a number of safety nets have been cut loose and sent to the dumpster, some rolling back the post-financial-crisis regulations that had been put in place to prevent another financial crisis similar to the one in 2007-2008.  As a result, our money, our investments, are a bit less secure now as the potential for a recession grows more likely.

So, Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, is apparently getting a bit nervous now that the regulations have been rolled back.  On Friday, he apparently called six of the largest banks to make sure they had plenty of money!  Yes, you heard me right.  What a way to run a government, eh?  Financial analysts, bankers and economists were all left scratching their heads on this one.

The best guess is that, in light of the stock markets tumbling last week, and then Trump threatening to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, Mnuchin was doing damage control, attempting to stroke the ruffled feathers of investors and assure the public that … nothing to see here, folks – business as usual.  Well guess what … it isn’t working, as we can see by the continued slide today.  Analysts said it was almost certain to have the opposite effect and throw up some red flags.marketsTrump blames Powell for the stock market plunge, whereas in reality, it is more attributable to his own erratic moves over the past few weeks, tariffs, and the chaos that reigns in Washington at the moment.  In other words, Trump, who has taken credit for a decent economy that he largely inherited, now also owns the economy that is on the brink of recession.

But back to Mnuchin.  He called the CEOs of Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo to “confirm that they have ample liquidity available”, according to Treasury officials.  He then issued a statement:

“We continue to see strong economic growth in the U.S. economy with robust activity from consumers and business. With the government shutdown, Treasury will have critical employees to maintain its core operations at Fiscal Services, IRS, and other critical functions within the department.”

One financial analyst, Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said …

“Panic feeds panic, and this looks like panic in the administration. Suggesting you might know something that no one else is worried about creates more unease.”

Folks … let’s call a spade a spade.  This administration has rapidly devolved into complete chaos with a “leader” who is either the biggest fool on earth, else in the throes of severe mental illness.  Between the government shutdown, the threat of pulling our troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, the resignation of General Mattis, the border wall dispute, the issue of our treatment of immigrants, Trump’s horrid choices for Attorney General, his threats and bullying … there is no sanity in our federal government and we are not all fools.  I wouldn’t invest in the market right now under almost any circumstances.  Mnuchin can issue as many statements, tweet as many tweets as he likes, but he is not calming the fears of the public.  The fears are very real and nothing he can say will allay them.  Steve Mnuchin is, perhaps, as much a fool as his boss.

A Session With Sessions

Section 1001 of the U.S. Code states in part that:

“Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the government of the United States, knowingly and willfully” falsifies or conceals information, including before a congressional committee’s inquiry, may also be fined or imprisoned up to five years.”

Section 1621 of the code states in part that anyone who …

“… willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true” is guilty of perjury and shall be fined or imprisoned up to five years, or both.”

Better make room in the federal penitentiary for one Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions.

On Tuesday, 13 June 2017, Jeff Sessions testified, under oath, before the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the various strands of connection between Trump, his staff, and the Russian government.  He lied … under oath.  There is no doubt in my mind.

jeff-sessionsSessions said he couldn’t remember much of the details of his conversations or communications on the subject of Russia. “I may have had some conversations and I think I did, with the general strategic concept of the possibility of whether or not Russia and the United States could get on a more harmonious relationship,’’ he said, calling it “tragic’’ that the two countries don’t get along better. Either he is lying or he is so senile that he cannot remember his conversations … either way, he is not qualified for the position he holds.

“I’m not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous.’’ Awwwww shucks … poor li’l Jeffy …

“I have never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”

Mr. Sessions initially told Congress earlier this year during his confirmation hearings that he had no contacts with Russian officials last year, but in March he was forced to acknowledge meeting the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, on two occasions. A third meeting at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C., reportedly took place in April 2016.

Sessions denied meeting with Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in April 2016, adding that he could not “recall” any such private conversations with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, there. “If any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador, I do not remember it,” he said.

As regards James Comey’s testimony last week that he (Comey) had expressed concerns to AG Sessions about direct communications with Trump, to which Sessions did not reply, Sessions said, “While he did not provide me with any of the substance of his conversation with the president, Mr. Comey expressed concern about the proper communications protocol with the White House and with the president. I responded to his comment by agreeing that the F.B.I. and Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with the White House.”

Mr. Sessions repeatedly refused to discuss his conversations with Mr. Trump about the Russia investigation or Mr. Comey’s firing beyond what was in his recommendation memo about ousting Mr. Comey, which the White House released.

Sessions made it clear that he did not take kindly to the insinuations and accusations arising from the fact that he previously failed to disclose meetings with Mr. Kislyak. And he came to the committee in large part to defend himself against what he called “an appalling and detestable lie” that he had colluded with Russian officials. “I recused myself from any investigation into the campaign for president, but I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false accusations,” he said.

I do not believe anything Sessions said.  It becomes obvious to me that the term “under oath” has little, if any, meaning to the Trump administration of which Jeff Sessions is a part.  Did he or did he not meet with Russian ambassador Kislyak on April 16th?  A straight “yes” or “no” question, but he cannot – or will not – answer it.  Once he recused himself from the Russian investigation, why did he play a role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey?  Does he fail to understand the meaning of the word “recuse”?

The time spent on Sessions’ testimony was time wasted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, for he answered untruthfully in some cases, and in other cases dodged the question with non-answers and evasions.

Fellow-blogger Gronda Morin has delved much deeper into Sessions’ testimony than I have the heart for, and for a more in-depth analysis, be sure to check out her post  .  And if you have the stomach for it, you can find a full transcript of Sessions’ testimony  on Politico’s site.

What happens next, you ask?  Who knows.  The Senate Intelligence Committee indicated that they will have more questions for Mr. Sessions at some point in the future, and Sessions will likely be invited to testify before Robert Mueller at some point, but meanwhile … here is my thought, for what it’s worth:  In light of some obvious ‘discrepancies’ in Jeff Sessions’ testimony, and some blatant lies prior to this point, Mr. Sessions should be temporarily suspended from his duties as U.S. Attorney General until the truth is known about his contacts and connections to officials within the Russian government.  Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appears to be a man of integrity and would do well filling the shoes of the Attorney General in the interim.  Sessions may then decide to ‘remember’ what actually took place and be truthful, or he can become permanently unemployed … his choice.  Meanwhile, he should have absolutely NO contact with anybody in the Attorney General’s office, nor should he have any contact with Donald Trump. I believe there is more than adequate reason for this decision.

The lies among the Trump administration are piling up like dog poop and smell just as bad.  We The People must demand some transparency from this administration, else they must be ousted … all the way up to the very top of the pile.  I am tired of all the b.s., and I’m pretty sure the rest of the nation is too.  And why are we not hearing cries of “Lock Him Up”???  They surely said it enough in 2016 about Ms. Hillary Clinton, who was innocent as a rose compared to this bunch of thugs.

The Unjust Department of “Justice”

 

AG Sessions has some explaining to do. This will either take a long time or a very short time.Four weeks ago, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)  —a respected nonprofit in Seattle that represents immigrants in deportation proceedings—received a “cease and desist” letter from the Department of Justice, aka Attorney General Jeff Sessions, threatening disciplinary action. The letter  demanded that NWIRP drop representation of its clients and close down its asylum-advisory program. What prompted this action on the part of the DOJ?  In all likelihood, it was because NWIRP has been at the forefront of resisting Trump’s travel ban. Its staff and volunteer lawyers were at SeaTac airport immediately after the White House launched the first Muslim ban, and in March it sued to block the second Muslim ban.

Last week, NWIRP filed a lawsuit to defend itself against the DOJ’s order—and on Wednesday, a judge granted a restraining order.   So for now, the organization can keep helping immigrants who need legal advice. But what’s at stake extends far beyond NWIRP and the 5,000 people it serves every year. The outcome of this legal battle will profoundly impact access to legal representation for the tens of thousands of immigrants who apply for asylum in the United States every year.

airportRemember that part of the Miranda warning that says, “if you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you”?  It doesn’t apply to immigrants who face potential deportation, because it only applies in criminal, not civil proceedings, and being in the United States without authorization is a civil offense.  This is where organizations like NWIRP are crucial to provide legal representation to immigrants who face mounds of legal paperwork and language barriers, and few have the means to pay for legal representation.

There are non-profits like NWIRP in many major cities around the U.S.  They coordinate the volunteer work of lawyers at big law firms, who represent children and refugees in immigration and asylum proceedings for free. The DOJ’s suspiciously timed cease and desist letter sends a chilling message to exactly these groups, and to volunteer attorneys. This attack by the government on a legal services-provider for immigrants could dissuade law firms from letting their lawyers volunteer for these cases, scaring those firms away by convincing them that immigration-related projects are too risky pro-bono projects.

attorneyIf they succeed, they don’t just deprive people of scarce resources for volunteer counsel, they gradually muzzle the bar. They marginalize the heroic work of nonprofits like NWIRP and its peers around the country. They defang the big law firms that have been willing to stand up to this administration—like Davis Wright Tremaine, which is assisting NWIRP—and they make immigrant representation a more marginal part of the law.

When lawyers rushed to airports in January and again in March to protect our friends, our neighbors, and our Constitution, people cheered. The Trump administration took offense, and now those lawyers are in their cross hairs. The president is taking a sledgehammer to the pillars of our government: the FBI, the Justice Department, the federal courts.

Senator Warren Told To Shut Up And Sit Down …

Rules of the Senate – Rule XIX:

 2. No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.

3. No Senator in debate shall refer offensively to any State of the Union.

4. If any Senator, in speaking or otherwise, in the opinion of the Presiding Officer transgress the rules of the Senate the Presiding Officer shall, either on his own motion or at the request of any other Senator, call him to order; and when a Senator shall be called to order he shall take his seat, and may not proceed without leave of the Senate, which, if granted, shall be upon motion that he be allowed to proceed in order, which motion shall be determined without debate. Any Senator directed by the Presiding Officer to take his seat, and any Senator requesting the Presiding Officer to require a Senator to take his seat, may appeal from the ruling of the Chair, which appeal shall be open to debate.

Yesterday I reported on Betsy DeVos’ confirmation by the Senate.  Today, we can expect to hear that Jeff Sessions has been confirmed as Attorney General, a position that he is as unqualified for as DeVos is for Secretary of Education, albeit for different reasons.  There is no doubt in my mind that the proven racist Sessions will be confirmed, but last night, during his final confirmation hearings, an atrocity was committed against Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.

sessions-1

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III

Senator Warren was doing her job at the time, making her case as to why Sessions should not be confirmed. Remember, if you will, that Jeff Sessions was nominated for a federal court judgeship in 1986, but the Senate then refused to confirm him because of his blatantly racist comments and behaviour.  At that time, the late Senator Edward Kennedy said, “He is, I believe, a disgrace to the Justice Department and he should withdraw his nomination and resign his position.” Those were the words Senator Warren had quoted earlier in the debate, and she was warned by Senator Steve Daines, who was presiding over the senate at that point in time, that the remark using the word ‘disgrace’ was inappropriate in the debate on Sessions.

But that wasn’t the final straw.  The final straw came some 25 minutes later when Senator Warren read the following excerpt from a letter, written by Coretta Scott King, the widow of the late Dr. Martin Luther King.  The portion of the letter she read was:

“Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”

A true statement by an honourable woman … so what is the problem?  The problem is that it was written about Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican who has been nominated by Trump for the position of Attorney General.  A man who is supposed to be the subject of the debate about his worthiness for the position for which he was nominated.   Yet, at this point, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took it upon himself to invoke Rule 19, quoted at the beginning of this post, to shut down any negative comments about the nominee. In plain English, Rule 19 is intended to keep debate among senators polite, keep it from becoming a brawl, and if one Senator speaks in a way “unworthy or unbecoming” a Senator, the Presiding Officer, in this case Senator Steve Daines, may order the “offending” senator to sit down and not allow them to speak for the rest of the debate.   But note that Warren was not critiquing Sessions as a fellow senator, but as a candidate for a job.  Rule 19 was never intended to stop honest debate for cabinet nominees! Rule 19 was never intended to stifle one party in favour of the other!  McConnell took liberties when he then called for a vote to shut Senator Warren down for the remainder of the debate, saying, “The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair.”  Elizabeth Warren did not ‘impugn’ Sessions … he did that to himself 30 yars ago!!!

mitch-2.jpgThe result of the vote was strictly along party lines … surprise … and resulted in a 49-43 decision to force Senator Warren to take her seat and not be allowed to speak again for the remainder of the debate.  This, folks, is not how the confirmation hearings are supposed to go.  Ms. Warren read passages from two very respectable, highly reliable sources stating true facts, that Jeff Sessions was a racist in 1986.  Just as leopards do not change their spots, racists do not change their ideologies, and it is certain that if this man becomes the next Attorney General, minorities will suffer even more discrimination than they already do, particularly African-Americans. It is clear that what I refer to as The Great Divide, that between Democrats and Republicans both in government and among the citizenry, is destined to remain a part of life in the United States for a long time to come.

This misuse of power by the Republicans in the senate is an atrocity and an affront to the democratic process.  If McConnell’s new rule is that only nice things can be said about the nominee during confirmation hearings, then the confirmation hearings are, in fact, nothing more than a sham. Further, if the Republicans all vote to confirm Sessions without reservation, then in my book, they are, each and every one of them, as much of a racist as Sessions himself.  They do not belong in Congress any more than Sessions belongs in the Attorney General’s office or DeVos belongs in the Department of Education. They are setting up a government by Trump, for Trump and of Trump, rather than one by the people, for the people and of the people.  We the people have no value in their eyes.  Think about it.

Will Jeff Sessions, Racist, Be Confirmed This Week?

This morning at 9:30 the Senate Judiciary Committee will open the senate confirmation hearings for Trump nominee Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General.  The hearings will be held over a two-day period, concluding on Wednesday.  You can find a full schedule of hearings for the week here.

I have mentioned Sessions in numerous posts, and in late November I wrote this one detailing the reasons I am against his nomination.   There is no need to re-hash old ground, so suffice it to say that Sessions is a proven racist who will likely set civil rights back 100 years if confirmed.  How likely is his confirmation? Let us look at some of the things that may affect the process.

First, each nominee is required to be cleared by both the independent Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and the FBI.  There is concern because a number of Trump’s nominees have not yet completed the process nor filed the appropriate financial paperwork, though apparently Sessions is not among those, which would indicate that he has already been cleared by both agencies.  The purpose of this OGE review is to review potential conflicts of interest and determine the course of action the nominee must take in order to resolve such conflicts.

Second, on Tuesday, Sessions will face questions on his 20-year tenure in the Senate, including his staunch stances on immigration, mass incarceration and civil rights. Then on Wednesday the second part of Sessions’ confirmation hearing follows very public pushbacks from the NAACP, whose members staged a sit-in at his Alabama office last week and were arrested, and by more than 1,400 faculty members from 180 law schools in 49 states, all of whom signed a letter opposing his nomination for attorney general. Other groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have publicly opposed Sessions’ appointment on the grounds of his stance on police reform, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, criminal justice reform, Muslims’ rights, racial justice, LGBT rights, women’s rights, privacy rights, torture, and abortion rights. Frankly I have to wonder if two days will be enough to cover all the questions he should be made to answer.

Once the hearings are complete, the Judiciary Committee can either move the nomination to the Senate floor for a vote, or decide not to, which in essence kills the nomination and it would be back to the drawing board for Trump. If the nomination is moved to the Senate floor, the Judiciary Committee makes a recommendation, either pro, con, or neutral.

Third, this is the makeup of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will conduct the hearings and make a recommendation to the entire Senate:

Majority – Republican

Minority – Democrat

Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Chairman Dianne Feinstein, California, Ranking Member
Orrin Hatch, Utah Patrick Leahy, Vermont
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Dick Durbin, Illinois
John Cornyn, Texas Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island
Mike Lee, Utah Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
Ted Cruz, Texas Al Franken, Minnesota
Ben Sasse, Nebraska Chris Coons, Delaware
Jeff Flake, Arizona Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
Mike Crapo, Idaho Mazie Hirono, Haiwaii
Thom Tillis, North Carolina  
John Neely Kennedy, Louisiana  

The present modus operandi seems to be that most all Republicans in Congress are supporting Trump in all things.  Good little lap puppies they are.  One concern is that Senator Cruz is vociferously supporting the nomination.  He wrote a piece for Politico  that I encourage you to read.  I found it highly offensive, given Sessions’ history. I suspect that Cruz will sway any errant Republican members of the committee who might be considering voting ‘nay’ with his strong-arm, bullying tactics.

Fourth, there is the composition of the entire Senate.  The Senate is comprised of 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats. If every senator votes along party lines, then the simple majority will be made and Sessions will become the next Attorney General of the United States.  If, however, just three Republican senators vote against the confirmation, then he will not be confirmed.  In the event of a tie, Mike Pence will cast the tie-breaking vote, and we all know how he will vote.  The simple fact that there is a Republican majority in the Senate would likely indicate that Sessions’ hearing and subsequent confirmation will go through with little or no resistance from the majority. My hope is that, given the past history and contentiousness of this particular nominee, one might hope that there are at least three Republican senators who would follow their conscience, if in fact they are possessed of one. (One interesting aside:  Senator Sessions can actually vote for himself, as he no doubt will.) The Washington Post predicts that most of Trump’s nominees, including Jeff Sessions, will be confirmed with few problems, and I am inclined to agree.  But we shall see.  Perhaps there are a few good men sitting on the right in the Senate.

***ABC News has an excellent, informative article titled Senate Confirmation Hearings: Everything to Know.  It is a plain language, understandable explanation of the process that I highly recommend.

The World’s Oldest Profession

On the 26th of February, New Jersey governor and former presidential candidate Chris Christie publicly announced his endorsement of Donald Trump for the republican nomination.  On the 11th of March, former presidential candidate Ben Carson also announced his endorsement of Donald Trump.  Some might view this as the troops rallying around the front-runner in an effort to re-unite the badly damaged GOP, but I have doubts.  I think there is more going on here than meets the eye.  First let us think back to some of the mudslinging and muckraking that has taken place in the past few months between Trump and his new endorsers:

Throughout his campaign, Dr. Carson exhibited remarkable reserve, especially relative to every other republican candidate, in only mildly rebuking or criticizing his fellow candidates.  Trump, however, not fully understanding the meaning of the words “respectful”, “dignity”, or “calm”, showed no such reserve.  Some of his negative past comments about Dr. Carson:

  • “Ben Carson is very, very weak on immigration. He believes in amnesty strongly.”
  • “Actually, I think Ben Carson is lower energy than Jeb [Bush].”
  • “Ben Carson has never created a job in his life (well, maybe a nurse). I have created tens of thousands of jobs, it’s what I do.”
  • “I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about, I just don’t know about.”
  • “He actually said ‘pathological temper,’ and then he defined it as disease. If you’re pathological, there’s no cure for that, folks. If you’re a child molester, a sick puppy, there’s no cure for that.”

Admittedly, even these comments are somewhat mild for Trump, given comments he has made about women, Muslims, Hispanics and others, but still … if somebody attacked your personal life, your religion and your integrity, would you then turn and offer him your support?  Carson claims that he considered each of the GOP candidates in turn before deciding to endorse Trump and settled on Trump because he thinks he has the best chance of beating Hillary in November.  But he is wrong when he says “If [establishment Republicans] see a popular movement expanding in Trump’s direction, they have no choice but to come on board.”  There are actually two other, more plausible choices:  a) they can abstain from voting, or b) they can vote democrat.  I have heard numerous republicans claim that one or the other of these alternate options is their intent.  Either one is a vote against Trump.

And Governor Christie, who like Carson is a decent man, but a bit more willing to criticize, has had this to say about Trump:

  • “What’s that tell you about what we can expect if things go sideways when you go into the Oval Office? What are you going to do? Just go upstairs to the residence and say I’m not playing? You know, Vladimir Putin isn’t being nice to me, I’m not going to return his phone call? The press isn’t being nice to me, I’m not going to hold any more press conferences?” (This in response to Trump skipping the Fox News debate)
  • “We do not need to endorse that type of activity, nor should we,” he said. “You do not need to be banning Muslims from the country. That’s, in my view, that’s a ridiculous position and one that won’t even be productive.”
  • “Showtime is over. We are not electing an entertainer-in-chief. Showmanship is fun, but it is not the kind of leadership that will truly change America.”
  • “This is not negotiation of a real estate deal, OK? This is international diplomacy, and it’s different.” (In response to Trump claiming he will “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it)
  • “I tell everybody who goes to a Donald Trump event, if you get to ask a question, just ask him ‘how?'” Christie said. “I don’t care which of the things he talks about just ask him, ‘How? How?'”
  • “He shouldn’t be making fun of people with disabilities. It’s just not worthy of someone running for the president of the United States.”

Does this sound like a man who wants to throw his lot in with Trump?  And flowing the other direction, from Trump about Christie:

  • “How is Christie running the state of N.J., which is deeply troubled, when he is spending all of his time in N.H.? New Jersians are not happy!”
  • “Chris can’t win because of his past. I don’t believe you’ve heard the last of the George Washington Bridge, because there’s no way he didn’t know about the closure of the George Washington Bridge. And all of his people are now going on trial in the very near future. And they’re going on criminal trial. There’s no way he didn’t know about it.”
  • Trump once again blasted Christie for openly welcoming and praising Obama when the president toured New Jersey’s destruction from Sandy in the fall of 2012. “He was so warm and so happy to have Barack Obama in the state of New Jersey that I personally think it could have cost Romney the election.”

Again, low-key, perhaps, for Trump, but still not the stuff that lasting partnerships are made of. And now, Christie says “There is no one who is better prepared to provide America with the strong leadership that it needs both at home and around the world, than Donald Trump,” Christie said at a news conference. “He is, looking at the five people on that stage last night [at the GOP debate], the clear standout, and the person who will do exactly what needs to be done to make America a leader around the world again.”  Am I the only one who feels truly nauseous on reading this remark?

Does Christie want to be Attorney General?  Does Ben Carson want to be Surgeon General?  Of course they do.  Politicians rarely, if ever, give anything without expecting something in return.  When asked in October 2014 if he would be willing to serve as Surgeon General under President Obama, Carson responded, “No, no. Because if I would, if I were going to serve in that position, I would have to serve under someone that I trusted.”  Apparently either he trusts Trump more than he trusts President Obama, or he decided that the end justifies the means.  I suspect the latter.

I titled this post “The World’s Oldest Profession” for a reason.  I believe that both of these men have prostituted themselves, shelved their values and beliefs, sold their proverbial souls to the devil Trump, for personal gain.  I do not believe that either Carson or Christie respect Trump nor share his ideology, if in fact her has one.  I cling to the hope that all of them will go down together for the third time in November.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece stating that, if they did certain things over the next four years, both Christie and Carson might actually be viable candidates in 2020.  I no longer believe that.  I was wrong.