The “Great” Debate …

I actually managed to watch the full debate last night without once trying to punch my computer or throw it across the room.  In fact, there were several points at which I laughed aloud, causing the girls to look at me in awe, for it is a sound they don’t often hear coming from me these days.  Typically, I think the value of the debates is far over-rated by the pundits, but it is an opportunity to see the candidates speak for themselves, see how they handle pressure under fire.  But, if I want to know what their platform is, I will go to OnTheIssues.org  which is the best place I have found over the years to get all the candidates’ platforms in one place.

What follows is only my takeaway from last night’s debate.  I have no doubt that others will have different opinions, but since I gave up two hours of my life that I can never get back, I thought the least I could do is opine just a bit.

There are six democratic candidates left from the 20+ that entered the race:

  • Bernie Sanders
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Joe Biden
  • Pete Buttigieg
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Michael Bloomberg

The main reason I watched this debate last night … the first one I watched all the way through … was that I wanted to see how Mike Bloomberg handled the pressure of the questions he was inevitably going to get regarding his racist profiling in the stop-and-frisk policy he implemented in New York City, and the reports of sexist behaviour toward women in his businesses.  So, let me start with my take on Bloomberg’s performance last night.

The first word that comes to mind here is: arrogant.  His body language and facial expressions said:  I’m above all of this, I’m far above all these others, why am I even here?  Not one time did he actually smile, not once did he engage in any form of camaraderie with the others, and he rolled his eyes several times when asked a question that he felt unfair, or when critiqued by another candidate.  I sometimes think that body language and facial expressions tell as much as the words that come out of a person’s mouth.

But going beyond that, Mr. Bloomberg’s responses were unsatisfying, at best.  He seemed to defend his stop-and-frisk policy, though he has apologized for it.  But an apology is just words, and as they say, actions speak louder than words.  His defense of the reasons he started the policy was a turn-off for me.  Then there was the little matter of the treatment of women in his company.  Much of what women have alleged, Bloomberg denies, and yet … and yet, those women have been made to sign non-disclosure agreements.  One must ask why.  Elizabeth Warren called on Bloomberg to release the women from the agreements so the public could hear their allegations, but Bloomberg flatly refused.  According to much of what I have read, Bloomberg’s attitudes toward women, his vulgar language and crass remarks, are no better than Donald Trump’s.  If he wants transparency, what better place to start?

There were two candidates whose fire and genuine passion stood out last night:  Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  The media have declared Sanders the winner of the debate, but in my humble opinion, while they were both great, I’d give Warren the prize.  Perhaps this is a slight prejudice on my part, for I frankly think the time has come for us to steer away from the old, white, male image of the presidency.  Nonetheless, Warren showed us what she’s made of, and I liked it.

Joe Biden.  Sigh.  Poor Joe … by most standards, and judging by history, Joe Biden should be the #1 frontrunner.  He has the most applicable experience, he understands foreign policy in a way that not a single one of the others do, and he has good ideas.  What he lacks, though, is the persona.  He simply hasn’t got the passion, seems to have lost his way somewhere along the line.  Perhaps it is still the effects of his son’s death that have turned his world to grey, or perhaps it is the constant barrage of mindless accusations by Donald Trump that have taken the wind out of his sails.  Either way, he just wasn’t quite … there.

I like Pete Buttigieg, though perhaps not quite as much as I did in the beginning.  A few things stood out last night, but the biggest one was his almost continual attacks on Amy Klobuchar, some of which seemed unfair, to say the least.  The media, and Pete, have made much of the fact that when asked the name of the president of Mexico last week, she couldn’t remember.  It has been blown far out of proportion, and Buttigieg seized on it last night … unrelentingly.  Heck, there are days that I cannot remember my own name, let alone the president of Mexico’s!  Buttigieg does his homework, but it would have shown humanity to have let it drop.  He disappointed me in his attacks on Klobuchar. Buttigieg has a few things in his favour with me, though, and one is that while the other five have a net worth in the millions, or in Bloomberg’s case, billions, Pete Buttigieg’s net worth is approximately $100,000.  This impresses me far more than Bloomberg’s $63 billion.

I thought Amy handled the stress of Pete’s attacks fairly well, but a few times she did seem overly emotional, such as when she said, “Are you trying to say that I’m dumb?” Far too much has been made over a bit of momentary forgetfulness, I think.  Overall, I was impressed with Ms. Klobuchar’s heart.  I believe she cares very much about people and would be a strong advocate for human rights, but I have to wonder if she’s a bit too emotional and too thin-skinned for the job of president, for more than once it seemed as if she was near tears.

As for the debate itself … two main takeaways.  First, while climate change and the environment was briefly discussed, it was altogether too brief.  When the DNC refused to hold a debate focused solely on climate change, they made a huge mistake, in my book, for this is the single most crucial issue on the ballot.  While each candidate said one of their first moves as president would be to re-join the Paris Accords, that’s about all we learned.  I want to know details!  I want to know more than the 5 minutes or so that climate change was discussed last night provided.

Secondly, I was put off and rather disgusted by the structure of the debate.  Candidates had small bits of time to answer a question, then when time was up they kept on talking, while all the others on stage were rudely interrupting, and with six people plus the moderators all talking at once, the closed captioning was useless and it was impossible to discern what anybody was saying.  I don’t know what the answer to this is for future debates, but I do wish somebody would come up with one.  It would have been far more helpful if all the candidates had stuck with giving their opinions of the issues rather than their opinions of their opponents.

Overall, I was glad I watched for I got a bit of a feel for the personas of the candidates, but as I said in the beginning, if I want to know their platforms and ideologies, I’ll turn to another venue.   Unfortunately, the infighting is doing nobody any good, and it is almost certain that no single candidate will end up with a clear majority by the time of the nominating convention in mid-July, which opens a whole ‘nother can of worms.  Sigh.

Democratic Jitters

As always, our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters is spot-on in his assessment of the current Democratic candidates and their campaigns. He has also drawn a scenario about Michael Bloomberg that, while it doesn’t please me, I certainly cannot argue otherwise. The goal that we must not lose sight of is to topple the bully-in-chief, for another four years under Trump, who has been handed the keys to the kingdom, is unthinkable. Good work, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

It’s time to state the obvious: Beating Donald Trump must be the main objective in the 2020 election. While we all may have our personal favorites, and should proudly vote for that person in the primary, when it comes to November 3, whoever is the Democratic nominee deserves all of our support.

No matter who it is.

I know this upsets a lot of people. Ideological purity tests are running rampant all over social media. “But wait, he’s too far to the left.” “Hold on. We need to excite the base and increase the turnout. Only a real progressive can do that.” I’ve heard and seen them all. Everyone’s nerves are frayed. We know what the King is doing to our democracy, and none of us want to see what another four years of Trump will do to our beloved country.

Right now, the bane of all of the hand-wringing…

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Little Devin’s Feelings Are Hurt 😭

One of the not-so-illustrious faces of the GOP today, Devin Nunes, is suing media outlet CNN … for $435,350,000.  Yep, folks … you read it right.  $435 million and change!  I would love to know how he came up with that figure … heck, his life isn’t worth that much!  His net worth is estimated at $158,001 (the extra dollar … who knows … maybe the Tooth Fairy?).  He may well be the poorest member of Congress!

So why, you ask, is he suing CNN?  He is suing because last month CNN published what Nunes now claims to be a “demonstrably false hit piece.”  The story reported that in December 2018, while serving as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes traveled to Vienna and met with Ukrainian former prosecutor general Victor Shokin to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden.  Funny, isn’t it, that the entire focus of Trump & Co these days is on Joe Biden?

Now, I don’t claim that CNN or any of the other news outlets are above embellishing on a story from time-to-time, but unlike Fox, Breitbart and others, they are not into conspiracy theories.  They report actual news.  Their source for the November 22nd story was an attorney for Lev Parnas, a now-indicted business associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani.  The attorney, Joseph Bondi, says Mr. Parnas would be willing to testify to Congress under oath.  CNN contacted Nunes’ office multiple times before publishing the story, asking for a response from him, but he refused to return their calls.

Nunes’ complaint is 47 pages long … lawyers always manage to write 50 pages for what could easily have been said in 2-3 sentences … and accuses Parnas of manufacturing a narrative that he hoped would help him negotiate a deal with federal prosecutors or obtain immunity from Congress.  So … why isn’t he suing Mr. Parnas?

Records disclosed Tuesday in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry report show phone calls between Nunes and Giuliani as well as between Nunes and Parnas earlier this year.  Nunes says he remembers speaking with Giuliani, but that it was all perfectly innocent, and he doesn’t remember speaking with Mr. Parnas.  I guess he has a ‘convenient memory’ like Trump, eh?

Nunes claims that CNN published the story in order to damage his reputation and ensure his removal from the ongoing impeachment inquiry.  It seems to me that Nunes is trying to catch up to Trump in the number of lawsuits to his name.  Trump has been either plaintiff or defendant in over 6,000 lawsuits during his 73 years, so while Nunes has some catching up to do, he’s certainly trying (in more ways than one).

Devin-Nunes-criesIn March, he filed a lawsuit for $250 million against Twitter, claiming that two parody Twitter accounts (one called “Devin Nunes’ Cow”) and a Republican political consultant defamed him with mean tweets.  Awwww … pobrecito!  In August, he sued McClatchy news organization for another $250 million, alleging defamation.  And in October he sued Ryan Lizza and Hearst Magazines for $77 million, claiming that a story in Esquire about the Nunes family farm in Iowa defamed him.

An interesting aside … the Devin Nunes’ Cow Twitter account had only about 1,000 followers until Mr. Nunes filed the lawsuit, and then it’s readership skyrocketed to 667,000! nunesIt seems to me that Mr. Nunes has very thin skin.  As I was writing this post, the thought occurred to me that perhaps it would be fun to mail him a box of tissues to dry his tears.  Hey, maybe he would then sue me!  That could be fun, for as the old saying goes, “you can’t get blood out of a turnip”!

The irony here is priceless, for in 2017, Devin Nunes co-sponsored HR 1179 – Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act.

Just think, if Nunes were to win all these lawsuits, he would increase his net worth from his present $158,001 to $1,012,508,001.  That’s it, folks!  I’ve got it now!  He wants to become a billionaire like so many of his peers!  All these lawsuits could put him just over the billion-dollar mark!  Except … one small problem … I don’t think he’s likely to win a single one of them!Devin-Nunes

The Great Debate … #5

I just finished watching most of tonight’s Democratic debate (I had to take a 15-minute break to roll a pack of smokes).  This is the first of the debates this year that I have watched for a number of reasons.  One, when there were 20 candidates on the debate stage, it seemed pointless.  No way was any candidate going to be able to have enough time for us to get a good feel for his/her platform, ideas, and persona.  Second, I actually hate watching debates.  Why?  Because I do not like to see the infighting that typically takes place … the sly remarks, the arguing, the cutting of other candidates.  Third, because as a rule, I see little value in them … it often turns into more of a personality contest than an actual presentation of ideas.  Tonight, the field was narrowed to a more manageable, though still twice as large as it should be, number of candidates (10), the infighting wasn’t too bad, and I came away with a somewhat better idea of the differences between the candidate’s platforms.  I wanted to share my (unsolicited) thoughts about the debate while it is fresh in my mind, for by tomorrow I will have forgotten half of my impressions.

Overall, my biggest complaint about the debate topics was the omission, once again, of any meaningful discussion about climate change.  It was touched on briefly, but far too little relative to its importance, and only in the most general of ways.

The candidates, in my order of least to most likely to win the nomination (I have included links to their Politico profile which includes their platform):

Tom Steyer speaks well, has some good ideas such as term limits for Congress, and is an environmentalist.  He is not, however, qualified to be president of the United States.  He is a billionaire businessman … we do not need another of those.  He stands no chance and would be doing the nation a favour by dropping out, so that future debates can focus on the more viable candidates.

I found Tulsi Gabbard to be incredibly arrogant and combative.  Gabbard is a veteran of the Iraq War, and I respect that.  But, she has been highly critical of such people as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as the Democratic Party in general, while cozying up to the likes of Steve Bannon, and has among her fans, the ignominious Tucker Carlson.  She struck me as somehow ‘false’, not genuine. She is polling very low and, like Steyer, would be better off dropping out.

Amy Klobuchar has some very good ideas, such as ending Citizen’s United (one of my top priorities), and is well-spoken, but something about her bothered me, and quite honestly, I don’t know what it was.  She had one line, however, that brought the house down and had me laughing out loud:  “If you think a woman can’t beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day.”  That line alone should bring her up a few points in the polls!  I have mixed thoughts about Klobuchar, however since I don’t expect to see her in the top 3, I’m not going to overthink it.

This was the first time I really took much notice of Andrew Yang, and I liked what I saw and heard.  He was very down-to-earth, his humanitarianism seemed genuine, and he came across as very intelligent.  However, he has no government experience of any sort, is an entrepreneur, and that just simply falls short of the qualifications in my book.  It might not have three years ago, but after the experience of the current administration, I want somebody in office who at least halfway knows what they’re doing and how our government operates.

Kamala Harris has always impressed me, and tonight was no exception.  She has some experience in government at both state and federal levels, having been the Attorney General of California for 6 years, San Francisco District Attorney for 7 years, and has currently served as a U.S. Senator from California since 2017.  She speaks with passion, intelligence, and I found nothing in her platform that I disagreed with.

I like Cory Booker.  No, I don’t think he stands a snowball’s chance, but I like him, like his ideas, his platform, and think that while maybe 2020 isn’t his time, perhaps 2028 might be.  I disagreed with him on one thing, that he is against increasing taxes on the wealthy, though he said he definitely does support estate taxes and capital gains taxes, and he agreed that the nation needs to find additional sources of revenue.  He was friendly, congenial to the other candidates, and his closing statement brought a tear to my eyes when he noted that Representative John Lewis, a hero in my book, was in the audience and referred to Mr. Lewis’ civil rights heroism of the 1960s.

Pete Buttigieg was ranked as one of the debate ‘winners’ by The Washington Post, and I would agree.  He is intelligent, and while his governing experience is limited to being Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012, it is certainly more than the current president has.  He speaks well, has some good points, such as in the areas of housing, minimum wage, and education.  He took some guff tonight, as was expected given that he has been rising in the polls of late.  I rank Mayor Pete fourth of the ten remaining candidates.

Which brings us to the top three.  I truly cannot rank these as #1, #2, #3, because they are all excellent candidates and I am very much torn between the three, yet all three have the same Achilles Heel … their age.

bernie_palestine_debateBernie Sanders did a great job tonight.  He was passionate, spoke with strength and compassion, had all the right answers, in my book.  He had many good moments in the debate, but I think the one that received the warmest audience response was when he said, “It is no longer good enough for us simply to be pro-Israel. I am pro-Israel. But we must treat the Palestinian people with the respect and dignity they deserve.”  The concern with Bernie Sanders is his age and health.  He is 78 years old and recently suffered a heart attack.

Elizabeth Warren had the most speaking time on the debate stage, and I absolutely loved the passion with which she spoke, not to mention that I always like her ideology.  One of the most controversial topics was Medicare-for-All.  I liked many of the ideas that were floated, but I think perhaps I liked Warren’s best, for hers was to phase it in over a three-year period in order to have time to work out the kinks, and to give people time to “feel it and taste it and live with it”.  As with Bernie Sanders, her age is a factor, at 70.

I have thought, since the beginning of this never-ending campaign season, that Joe Biden is the most viable candidate, and … I still think that, with reservations.  Biden, obviously, has the most relevant experience, and he is more moderate than some of the others that I like.  The sad truth is that next year’s presidential election is not about any issues … it’s not about climate change, health care, education, foreign policy, housing, or any of the other issues.  It is about one thing and one thing only:  Who can beat Donald Trump.  Everything else is secondary.  Biden is, of the ten remaining candidates, the most qualified, and the most ‘trusted’, for he is a known factor, while the others are unknowns, relatively speaking.  Biden would be a good president.  However, as far as the debates, I must admit that relative to almost all the others, Joe Biden was not exciting … in fact, he damn near put me to sleep. Additionally, Biden gets cantankerous when challenged … not a good thing.  At the moment, I think he is the best choice to beat Trump, but … for a number of reasons, that may change.

The most recent polls …

Candidate Economist/YouGove Politico/Morning Consult
Biden 30 32
Warren 22 17
Sanders 12 20
Buttigieg 9 8
Harris 4 5
Bloomberg 0 3
Yang 2 3
Gabbard 3 2
Klobuchar 2 2
Booker 1 2
Steyer 1 1

Overall, the debate was worth watching, and I was glad I did.  I’ll likely watch one or two more if I can.  Though it wasn’t captioned, the audio quality was excellent, and I had no trouble hearing the candidates.  I would like to see the next one, which I believe is later this month, whittled down to five candidates, but I am not holding my breath there.  The candidates engaged in a bit of humour from time to time, which helped, and I chuckled aloud more than once, ‘til finally daughter Chris asked what the heck I was watching!

I will have more on the candidates and their platforms in the coming weeks/months, but those are my thoughts about tonight’s debate.  It’s gonna be a loooooooooonnnngg 12 months, my friends.

New Poll spells trouble for Dems

I was pondering on a similar post, when Jeff’s post popped up in my inbox. He has said it better than I could have. This is not the news you want to hear, but it is the news you NEED to hear, for next year’s election is not, as some believe, a sure thing. Thank you, Jeff, for this analysis … though it may not be what we hope to hear, it is certainly information that we should be thinking about.

On The Fence Voters

Trump still competitive in battleground states

There’s roughly a year to go before we decide who will become President of the United States on January 20, 2021. Recent polls telling us who’s up and who’s down rarely cause a rise to my blood pressure.

Until the one that just came out, that is.

The New York Times/Sienna College poll, released yesterday, should be a wake-up call to all of us who think that Donald Trump is a disaster for America. The idea that he could win again, even with all we know about his presidency, is beyond frightening. However, when you look at the results of the poll, the warning signs are flashing loudly.

But many may ask, “What’s the big deal? All the top tier Democrats are leading Trump overall nationally, some by nearly ten percentage points.” That’s true. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders all lead Trump…

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“I Tried Not To Be Snarky” Snippets

Friends … I had every intention of NOT being snarky this morning.  My intentions were pure and good … I would write something upbeat and cheery … surely I could have an attitude adjustment and be happy-go-lucky just for one post, right?  Right?  Sigh.  Wrong.


Why?

Below is a map of the United States … please take just one minute to look at it and see where Colorado is located (hint … it’s the blue state just left of center).us-states-and-capitalsNow, you see Colorado there, right?  And … do you notice that there is at least one whole state, New Mexico, between Colorado and the U.S.-Mexican border?  The southernmost part of Colorado is some 450 miles from the border.  And yet …

“You know why we’re going to win New Mexico? Because they want safety on their border and they didn’t have it. And we’re building a wall on the border of New Mexico.  And we’re building a wall in Colorado. We’re building a beautiful wall. A big one that really works that you can’t get over, you can’t get under.”

Dang! I didn’t know there was a feud going on between Colorado and New Mexico!  Why didn’t someone tell me?  That was Donald Trump speaking at an oil and gas conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, yesterday.  Colorado’s governor, Jared Polis, had a great comeback, though …

“Well this is awkward. Colorado doesn’t border Mexico. Good thing Colorado now offers free full day kindergarten, so our kids can learn basic geography.”

Good one, Guv!  Not so good, Donnie … in fact, downright embarrassing.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont also had a good one, inspired by Sharpiegate …Colorado-sharpiegate


And speaking of … misspeaking …

What’s in a name, anyway?

It isn’t the most important thing in the world, certainly not the worst of Trump’s many, many, many terrible tweeting faux pas, but it speaks volumes about how he views other people.

On July 15th, Trump formally nominated Mark Esper as Secretary of Defense.  The Senate quickly confirmed the nomination, as they have with most of Trump’s nominee’s, and Mr. Esper took office on July 23rd.  Imagine Mr. Esper’s surprise on Sunday when he saw this tweet by Trump …esperantoSure, it’s a minor thing, but it tells us that Trump doesn’t even think enough of his own hand-picked cabinet member to get his name right.  And it wasn’t a live broadcast, where he might be forgiven for misspeaking, but rather a tweet, where he had the opportunity to look at it, realize his mistake, and correct it before hitting ‘Send’.  I see this as a matter of great disrespect.  Am I surprised?  Not at all.  However, if I were Mr. Esper or any other member of Trump’s administration, I would take this as yet another sign that he considers his staff as nothing more than disposable assets to be used, abused, and kicked aside when they displease him.


The ultimate hypocrisy …

You’d have to laugh, if only it weren’t more asininities coming from members of the Trump clan.  Now, we all know that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the Board of Directors of one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies.  This had nothing to do with Joe Biden other than perhaps the Biden name gave him a foot in the door.  There is no scandal, such as the one Donald Trump has been attempting to fabricate for the past several months, ever since most polls revealed that if the election were held today, he would lose to Joe Biden.

But, there is a certain irony when the entire Trump clan go on national television to whine … yes, folks, they whined … about nepotism!  Think about that one for a minute.  The Trump clan … is decrying nepotism???

You’ve got Jared and Ivanka, neither of whom could obtain security clearances, serving as “presidential advisors” … and both, I might add, who have business interests tied to Trump’s presidency.  And then, there’s Don Jr. and Eric who are supposed to be running Trump’s businesses, but somehow find time to stick their long noses into the day-to-day business of governance, and frequently tweet on daddy’s behalf, and even appear on Fox News to toot daddy’s horn!  Disgusting animal killers is what they are!

And these infamous fools critique Joe Biden’s son for … um … accepting a job that his education well prepared him for???

Junior and Eric travel all ‘round the country on our dime, folks.  They are accompanied by Secret Service agents wherever they go, and believe me, they go to some places that you and I could only dream of.  And we … yes, We the People, We the Taxpayer, pay for their journeys.  Whatever high-classed (read, expensive) accommodations they choose, the Secret Service must also inhabit … on our dime.  Even though they have NO OFFICIAL ROLE, nor are they qualified for one, in our government.  And they are screeching “Nepotism” at the Bidens???  Yeah, right, dude.  If anyone buys this one, please call me, for I have a lovely little bridge in Brooklyn I will sell cheap!


Granted, none of these stories constitute impeachable offenses … that’s a story for another day.  Nor are they as relevant as certain republicans in Congress, led by the obnoxious Matt Gaetz, disruptong an impeachment inquiry for some five hours today, breaking every rule in the book.  Again, that’s a story for later.  But, even these small incidents have relevance because they show us the mindset that is allegedly running this nation.  Can’t get your own employee’s name right?  Sheesh.  When I was in management, I made sure to know even the names of the children of the people who worked for me … it’s called ‘common courtesy’, ‘respect’, ‘caring’.  And to claim to be a “stable genius”, with “great and unmatched wisdom”, but not even know where the state of Colorado is???  Every bit of this, every ignominious tweet where he misspells words, calls people names, is further evidence that not only is he not a genius, but he is neither intelligent nor educated.  And yet … some 40% of the people in this country want that.

As for my failed attempt at not being snarky … don’t look for it to happen any time soon.  In fact, I’m thinking about changing my middle name to ‘Snarky’.  But, to prove that I am not the snarkiest, here is a clip from Seth Meyers who has snarky down to a science!

Questions … And More Questions

As most of you know, one of my favourite journalists is Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times.  Kristof has received two Pulitzer Prizes, for his coverage of China and of the genocide in Darfur.  He is often out and about covering humanitarian crises around the globe.  But, his political views back here at home are typically spot-on … his is the voice of calm, of reason amidst all the chaos.  His OpEd yesterday is no exception, as he weighs in on … what else?  Impeachment and Trump’s abuse of power.  His words are sound and well worth the read.

Mr. President, a Few Questions

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist
SEPT. 27, 2019

“Shall any man be above justice?” George Mason asked in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention. “Above all, shall that man be above it, who can commit the most extensive injustice?”

That was a central question for the framers of the Constitution — to what extent should impeachment be a check on a president? — and it’s the central question for our political system today.

President Trump’s bullying of Ukraine to target Joe Biden is parallel to the kinds of abuse that the framers discussed when they adopted the impeachment clause. What they fretted about was a leader who abused power — by colluding with a foreign country, James Madison suggested — and threatened the integrity of our system.

So, guided by those concerns of abuse of power, let’s see what the impeachment inquiry turns up. Among the areas that merit further investigation:

What was Russia’s role? Did Trump discuss Ukraine with Vladimir Putin in their June meeting in Osaka, in their Paris or Helsinki meetings last year, or in their July 31 phone call? Did Putin plant misinformation that Trump acted on?

In his July 25 call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump raised the bizarre conspiracy theory that it had been Ukraine rather than Russia that had hacked Democratic emails. Doesn’t that sound as if it was translated from the original Russian?

Likewise, Trump’s distrust of his ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and his faith that a trove of dirt about Biden corruption was sitting in Ukraine waiting to be dug up — why, all this resembles what a skilled K.G.B. officer might say to manipulate a naïve American acolyte.

Certainly Putin benefited from Trump’s hold on nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, from the American coolness toward Zelensky and from the sidelining of Ukraine experts such as Ambassador Yovanovitch.

There are whispers of this in the intelligence community, but let’s be clear that these are questions rather than allegations. Unfortunately, the Kremlin came out on Friday against releasing phone transcripts, and Trump has generally concealed details of his conversations with Putin — even taking away notes from an interpreter after one meeting.

Was there a substantial cover-up? The whistle-blower alleges a cover-up, in a complaint that the administration then tried to cover up. Hmm.

The rough transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky was placed in an unusually secure system. Why?

Ukraine is a longtime Trump fixation, with the president tweeting as early as July 2017 about “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign.” Rudy Giuliani rode roughshod over policymakers in an attempt to hijack foreign policy formation, and the White House has never convincingly explained its hold on military assistance.

Did administration officials try to hide all of this? Did they impede Congress from providing oversight? Was there a cover-up of not just a call, but of a long-term pattern of abuse?

What were the roles of Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo? Pence dropped out of the delegation that attended Zelensky’s inauguration, seemingly as a way to pressure Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. Did Pence agree to this?

As for Barr, why did Trump repeatedly suggest him as a contact for Zelensky? And why did the Justice Department try to quash the whistle-blower complaint? Why does Barr regularly act as Trump’s cleanup man rather than as the nation’s lawyer?

Was Pompeo complicit in Trump’s efforts to shunt aside the State Department so that Giuliani could oversee relations with Ukraine? What role did Pompeo play in the recall of Ambassador Yovanovitch?

There’s much debate about whether Trump should or shouldn’t be impeached, but for now that seems to me to be premature. Before any impeachment vote, we need a substantial inquiry to determine facts.

Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law School professor, has a smart book, “Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide,” in which he advises people to think about whether they would favor or oppose impeachment if they felt the opposite about this president. In that spirit, I approach it this way: How would I feel about impeachment if these Ukraine revelations were about Barack Obama?

There’s a danger that Democrats rush this process in ways that antagonize swing voters, particularly when polls show that a majority of the public both disapproves of Trump’s conduct and does not favor impeachment.

In the end, Mitch McConnell may not even permit a Senate trial after an impeachment. Or if McConnell convenes a trial, he could immediately have the Republican majority vote to dismiss the case.

That makes it all the more important that the House impeachment inquiry meticulously gather information by a process that — to the extent possible in our polarized age — is perceived by the public as fair, deliberate and legitimate. The backdrop must be the question that George Mason properly posed more than two centuries ago: “Shall any man be above justice?”

Impeachment vs 2020 Election

There are so many different thoughts and opinions on the current impeachment process taking place in the House that it’s hard to keep up with them all. The only given is that it is going to be a roller coaster ride, and nobody is sure whether we will fall off or land safely at the bottom. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has some thoughts about the whole thing that are worth pondering, so today I share with you his excellent post. Thank you, Jeff, for this post and your permission to re-blog.

On The Fence Voters

But first, a mea culpa

One of the virtues of being a good citizen is admitting when you’re wrong. So, after a couple of days of continuing breaking news, it appears that my article from Monday, Impeachment Cynicism, was slightly off the mark. In the piece, I lamented the fact that the Democrats were hapless and feckless in their initial oversight of Trump corruption. I did not feel that anything resembling an actual impeachment inquiry would happen. Well, that all changed yesterday.

Finally, Nancy Pelosi lowered the hammer and declared that an official impeachment inquiry was underway. With the newest allegations of the president abusing his office to go after a potential political rival, Pelosi couldn’t stand by any longer.

While she was late to the table, so be it. As the news continues to break, as of this writing, the Trump administration released a ‘memo’ of the conversation…

View original post 1,320 more words

Seeing Is NOT Believing …

The Associated Press (AP) has begun a weekly feature titled Not Real News: A look at what didn’t happen this week.  The purpose is to cull the fake news that has become widespread in this day of political corruption, video-doctoring, misinformation and more.  I find it a sad, frustrating statement of today’s world that we need such a column, but am glad that someone is stepping up to the plate to try to call out the liars and cheats.

The first story in this week’s roundup is about a doctored video with the intent of discrediting 2020 presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden.  From the AP piece …

CLAIM: Video shows Joe Biden making a “shocking admission.” Biden’s speech also appears to be impaired in the video.

THE FACTS: Democratic presidential candidate Biden did not make any sort of admission. Rather, in the video, he was referencing comments made about him by President Donald Trump. The source footage was slowed down and two clips from it were cut and spliced together to produce this altered video. A social media user who uses the handle @CarpeDonktum posted the altered video to Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Reddit on Wednesday and Thursday, calling it a “shocking admission” and saying it forced him to question Biden’s mental health. @CarpeDonktum, whose Twitter bio says he creates “doctored” videos in support of Trump, told The Associated Press that he had slowed down the video and cut the two clips together. On Reddit, he labeled the video as “doctored” because he said users on Reddit may not be familiar with his parody style videos. “All I do is make parody and funny videos,” he said. “No ill intent behind it.” The manipulated footage taken from ABC News video of Biden at Iowa Wesleyan University was uploaded following President Donald Trump’s remarks this week that Biden was getting slow and referring to him as “Sleepy Joe.” @CarpeDonktum inserted a person walking in front of the camera to hide a cut he made in the video, where he removed part of it and spliced the remaining footage together, so Biden appears to say, “Joe Biden shouldn’t be president. I think I’m either low IQ or slow or I don’t know what I am. Slow Joe Biden.” The editing of the video makes it appear to depict an uninterrupted quote. The deletion of that middle section and the omission of other, earlier parts of the original ABC footage removed context that’s critical to understanding what’s being seen — namely, that Biden was describing what Trump, as well as North Korea’s official news agency, have said about him. The Associated Press reported in May that North Korea’s official news agency had called Biden a “fool of low IQ.” ″He embraces dictators like Kim Jong Un who is a damn murderer and a thug,” Biden says in the original ABC News clip. “The one thing they agree on, Joe Biden shouldn’t be president.” He goes on to reference some of Trump and Kim’s characterization of him as “slow” or having a “low IQ.”

Carpe Donktum’s claim that there was “No ill intent …” is wrong.  Of course there was ‘ill intent’, and even though the discerning viewer, upon seeing this would at the very least question its authenticity, there are many out there who would accept it at face value.  How many people voted for Donald Trump for the sole reason that they didn’t like Hillary Clinton?  A good percentage, based on what I’ve heard and read.  Why didn’t they like Hillary Clinton, who was well-qualified and had an excellent platform?  Because they saw her as unbending, as cold.  Because they were told, falsely, that she was responsible for the loss of life in Benghazi.  Because they believed Trump and the false news who said she had secret emails that had shared information with foreign powers that breached our national security.  Because James Comey said the FBI was considering re-opening an old investigation.  Because … because … because of what they had seen or heard about her, not from her, but about her, most of which was manufactured by the GOP and the Trump campaign with the assistance of Russian trolls.

Most everyone reading this post is smart enough, savvy enough to check sources, double check the veracity of what they see and hear, especially on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, both of whom allowed Russian trolls to disseminate false information on their sites in both 2016 and 2018.  The illicit dirty pool has already begun for next year’s elections, though they are still 17 months away.  And a large number of people are ignorant enough, or lazy enough to believe everything they see and hear on these platforms.

The upcoming election is in grave danger of being the most unfair, dishonest election in the history of this nation, thanks to a corrupt GOP, a corrupt president, and technology that enables such things as doctored video.  Add to that, the largely republican gerrymandered district maps that dilute the votes of the poor and minorities, states that are trying to pass laws making it harder for young and old people to vote, and it is a recipe for disaster.

What can we do about it?  I wish I had an answer for that question.  Personally, I think that Carpe Donktum’s identity should be discovered and he or she should be tried in a court of law for attempting to rig an election, but I’m sure that’s not going to happen.  We must start holding social media sites accountable for ensuring their integrity by rooting out the faux news and blocking them.  If that’s an assault on free speech, then so be it.  I want an honest election … I want everyone to know the truth, not what the GOP and Donald Trump would like them to believe.

A Little Dose of Snarky Snippets …

The big news of the day, of course, is that Robert Mueller let Attorney General Barr know more than a month ago that he was displeased with Barr’s 4-page summary of Mueller’s report, when Mueller had provided summaries for Barr to use.  And today, as I write, AG Barr is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and methinks he has much to answer for.  I peeked in on the hearing and saw Barr chewing his lower lip and looking downright unhappy.  Serves him right … his lies are catching up with him.  Anyway, since I’m not prepared to write about that whole situation today, but as it has left me in a state of some angst, I am bursting forth with more snarky snippets!Barr-toon.jpg


Trouble brews over at Fox …

Just as Hermie, in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer did not want to make toys, apparently some of the talking heads over at Fox ‘News’ don’t want to tell lies!  It is reported that Fox’s Corporate CEO Lachlan Murdoch has quite the task on his hands to keep Donald Trump and the White House satisfied with regards to loyalty and coverage. They also have to keep advertisers happy. Lachlan also has to deal with the internal conflicts between Fox’s rank and file journalists and the prime time hosts who are the faces of the network.

According to one source …

“Reporters are telling management that we’re being defined by the worst people on our air.”

Ya think?  Golly gee.  You lie down with the dogs, don’t be surprised to get up with a bad case of fleas!

CEO Lachlan Murdoch is in a bit of a tough spot here, for the people who see themselves as journalists, such as Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith don’t appreciate the image the network has taken on, that of being more of an entertainment venue rather than a news station.  And, to further complicate Murdoch’s life, advertisers have begun boycotting some of the more offensive Fox personalities such as Tucker Carlson, Jeannine Pirro, and Laura Ingraham, costing the network money.

Perhaps, however, Murdoch’s biggest worry is that Sean Hannity is said to be leaving when his contract expires in 2021 (Oh yes, please, GO!).  According to one of Hannity’s staffers …

“Sean doesn’t feel supported,. He has no relationship with Lachlan. Sean thinks, Wait a second, I was hired to get ratings and I get ratings, but now people are embarrassed about me? He feels Fox spends a lot of time supporting Shepard Smith but his show makes no money. That’s annoying to him.”

Awwww … poor li’l fella …


Donnie’s mad at the firefighters …

The national firefighter’s union, International Association of Fire Fighters, has given their endorsement for the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, and little Donnie is none too happy.  To let the world know just how unhappy he is, he tweeted no less than 60 times about it this morning.

“I’ve done more for Firefighters than this dues sucking union will ever do, and I get paid ZERO!”

“The Dues Sucking firefighters leadership will always support Democrats, even though the membership wants me. Some things never change!”

Trump mafiosoIn addition to his own juvenile tweets, he re-tweeted some 53 tweets by others who claimed to be firefighters in support of Trump.  All this in a 30-minute span … wait, is this what we are paying him to do???

He also said that Biden is “not the brightest lightbulb”.  Ahem … do I even need to point out the irony here?

There is a bright side, however, and that is that within a short time after his ‘tweet storm’, people began ‘unfollowing’ him and within an hour and a half,  he had lost 1,150 Twitter followers!  Is it just possible that people are finally getting sick and tired of his crude language, his lies, and his promotion of hate?  We can only hope.


Nitpicking words

After the Easter Sunday bombing attacks on hotels and churches in Sri Lanka that killed hundreds, public figures expressed condolences.  Three such people were former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro.

  • The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity. On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal, we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka. – Barack Obama
  • On this holy weekend for many faiths, we must stand united against hatred and violence. I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks on Easter worshippers and travelers in Sri Lanka. – Hillary Clinton
  • On a day of redemption and hope, the evil of these attacks on Easter worshippers and tourists in Sri Lanka is deeply saddening. My prayers today are with the dead and injured, and their families. May we find grace. – Julián Castro

Note the common denominator is that they referred to the victims as “tourists and Easter worshippers”.  Not a problem, right?  It was Easter and they were in church, presumably ‘worshipping’.  Unless, of course, you are a right-wing evangelical, and then it becomes a problem, apparently.

Fox ‘News’ hosts and other conservatives took this opportunity to rant that it was an attempt to avoid using the word “Christian”.

“How do President Obama and Secretary Clinton both come up with Easter worshippers in their tweets about the murders in Sri Lanka? To have both of them use the same term the same day is strange. Is Easter Worshipper the left’s new way to avoid the word Christian? Pathetic.” – Newt Gingrich

Seriously, Newtie?  Have you nothing better to do than nitpick the verbiage of a condolence message?  Even Kellyanne Conway jumped on this bandwagon …

“I think there’s anti-Christianity. That’s why the Sri Lankans were gunned down. They’re not Easter worshippers, Obama and Hillary Clinton. They are Christians.”

Nearly 300 people were killed, and all these fools can do is nitpick the words from well-intentioned people who happen to be democrats.   I think this speaks for itself.


Well, that’s all I’ve got time for today folks.  Have a happy evening!