It’s Time For Action …

Don Trump’s taxes have been in dispute for years.  He is the first president since Reagan … more than thirty years ago … to refuse to make public his most recent tax returns.  His excuses have been many, none of them valid.  First, he said we weren’t smart enough to understand them, for their complexity was far beyond our ability to comprehend.  He fails to remember that among “we” are tax lawyers, accountants, and other professionals who would far better understand his returns than he himself does.  Then he said that nobody cared … another blatant lie.  His next excuse was that he was being audited, but that argument was struck down when the IRS said that while it was true he was under audit, there was no reason that should stop him from releasing his tax returns.

Then, in light of the fact that he refused to divest himself of certain business holdings once he held public office, coupled with the fact that there appears to be a connection between his businesses and certain Russians, the House Ways and Means Committee first requested, then subpoenaed the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service in order to obtain Trump’s tax returns.  And again, ran into a brick wall when Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, flat out refused to honour the subpoena, saying that in his opinion it had no legitimate purpose.

A week later, New York State lawmakers approved a bill that would authorize state tax officials to release the president’s state returns to any one of three congressional committees.  The state returns would include much, though not all, of the same information in the federal returns, and is readily available, whereas obtaining the federal returns could be a years-long process.

Representative Richard Neal from Massachusetts is Chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, and as such is the person who would need to ask the state of New York for copies of the returns.  And … he is refusing.  Between this, and Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to open an impeachment investigation, I am beginning to wonder if the democrats are in cahoots with the republicans!!!

Neal claims he fears that getting the state returns would bolster Trump administration arguments that Congress is on a political fishing expedition — and not, as Neal has claimed, overseeing the Internal Revenue Service’s annual audits of the president.  While I have urged caution in a number of areas up to this point, my patience has worn thin … no wait … make that, my patience has worn OUT!  I agree with Representative Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee when she says …

“Whatever it takes to get it — I’m for it.  I believe that the president of the United States should follow the tradition of other presidents and reveal his tax returns.”

Every single day that Donald Trump remains in office he causes more damage to this nation.  He is wasting precious tax dollars on things like taking his entire family on a trip to the UK, when only he and Melania were invited.  His policies and ‘executive orders’ have wreaked havoc on our southern border where thus far six children have died while in ‘protective’ custody and thousands remain separated from their parents.  He has caused serious rifts between the U.S. and its allies by being offensive to their leaders and attempting to bully them into acting as he wishes.  He has placed people in high-ranking cabinet positions who are less qualified for their jobs than I am.  He has committed to sending $8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, a nation whose crown prince ordered the brutal murder of one of our own journalists. He has imposed tariffs on imports from just about every nation we trade with … tariffs that cost We, The People of this nation. And the list goes on.

On a slightly more positive note …

On May 21st, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former campaign press secretary Hope Hicks, and former White House lawyer Annie Donaldson for documents related to allegations that Trump obstructed justice.  On June 4th, Trump directed the two women to defy the subpoena.  Both are now private citizens and are not subject to orders given by Trump.  Hope Hicks has, it is reported, turned over some of the documents requested, those relating to Trump’s campaign.

It is but a drop in the bucket, for Ms. Hicks’ attorney Robert Trout said in a letter to committee chairman Jerry Nadler that Hicks would not hand over documents related to Trump’s time in the White House and his presidential transition period because administration attorneys believe the papers may be subject to a claim of executive privilege by Trump.  Since when does the president of this nation have the right to claim “executive privilege” in order to cover up his own wrongdoing?  Did we learn nothing from Watergate?

I keep hoping that somehow, somewhere there is a person whose conscience calls on him or her to do the right thing, to put the well-being of the nation first, to tell what he or she knows.  I had hoped that person would be Robert Mueller, then I hoped it would be Don McGahn, but Mueller has chosen to err on the side of caution, and McGahn has shown his feathers.

All the games being played, all the political posturing, is going to come with a high price tag.  It already has, but it gets higher for every day he is allowed to rule as a king.  It seems to me that all the attempts to hide documents and threaten witnesses constitutes obstruction of justice in and of itself.  It’s time for Congress to get tough, for we can no longer afford to sit on our hands and wait for just the right moment.

Where Do We Draw A Line?

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, and in recent times that has been challenged and the limits sorely tested.  It is a slippery slope, one fraught with the danger of going a step too far in censuring free speech, but it is the opinion of this writer that there must be a line … somewhere.  Last night I came across one of the right-wing pundits who I believe has crossed the line no matter where the line is.  His name is Josh Bernstein, and he is an online commentator.  His online show is called, predictably, the Josh Bernstein Show.  His bio says he is an anthropologist, writer, news anchor, political analyst, and more, but I rather doubt most of that, and don’t have time to spend trying to confirm or deny.

What brought him onto my radar was his call for Trump to “sharpen up them guillotines” to use on special counsel Robert Mueller in response to Mueller’s comment during his public statement on Wednesday that “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”  Bernstein went into attack mode, accusing Mueller of taking bribes.josh-bernstein.png

“How much were you paid to do that press conference? All of you are just disgusting, despicable excuses for human beings and, honestly, I hope you all go down. Treason. President Trump said treason. Guess what? I agree with that. … You know what they do for treason? U.S. Code 18 § 2381. They put you to death, that’s what they do. Let’s sharpen up them guillotines, let’s bring out Old Sparky, let’s make sure that those lethal concoctions are ready to go, because you people deserve it!”

Now, we’ve all become used to the hate speech that emanates from both sides of the political spectrum, but most viciously from the far right, and most of us take it with a grain of salt these days.  But I sense a more ominous tone here.  The danger is not in him saying it, but in people hearing it, and some people hearing it as a call to action.

If this were an isolated episode in Mr. Bernstein’s hate speech, I might be more inclined to chalk it up to the ravings of a lunatic and move along, but it is one of many.  In January, he had this to say about democrats …

“Democrats don’t care about Americans, they don’t care about their security, they don’t even care about their paychecks.  The bottom line is, and I hate to say this, these are the types of people that Americans fought against in World War II. These are the ones who should be sterilized so we can start over.”

In October, after Alex Baldwin made a statement that through the electoral process, we need to effect a change in government, Bernstein called him treasonous and said he should be banned.  He went a bit further, though …

“These idiot liberals, these morons that want to bring us down to a third-world level, these people should be locked up for treason. Liberals like to say, ‘Well, it’s very patriotic to say something nasty about your own country.’ You know what? No it’s not. It’s treasonous.”

He has called for all Muslims to be ‘eradicated’ …

“These people need to be eradicated from Western Europe, they need to be eradicated from the United States, they need to be eradicated, I would say, pretty much from everywhere, because they have shown time and time again—whether you’re a peaceful Muslim, whether you’re a radical Muslim—you’ve shown time and time again that you just cannot deal and cope with being in a civilized society. So we’ve got to do something about it.”

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Why is this man allowed to say these things on the airwaves?  Because of the 1st Amendment right to free speech.  I think by now you all know that I fully support the right to free speech and freedom of the press.  But, I’ve said more than a few times, with every right comes an accompanying responsibility to use that right with conscience.  Josh Bernstein is taking his right, but not exercising his conscience.

Picture a white supremacist, or a hater of gay people, or an Islamophobe sitting at his computer one night, watching one of Bernstein’s videos calling for the execution of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Robert Mueller, or just ‘liberals’ in general.  The man has a few guns, maybe a few beers under his belt, and decides to take up the gauntlet.  I don’t need to paint the picture, do I, for we’ve seen it far too many times already.

Remember last October when Cesar Sayoc sent pipe bombs through the U.S. mail to a number of prominent Democrats and Trump critics, as well as CNN?  Fortunately, he was stupid, the bombs were discovered, and nobody was hurt.  But, what about next time, or the time after?  Remember the mosque shootings in Philadelphia last year and New Zealand this year?  What inspired those killers?

I think that the time has come to draw a line somewhere.  Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school shooting has had terrible consequences for the families of children who died in that horrific event.  In December 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch entered Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., armed and planning to kill whomever he came across.  His inspiration was the conspiracy theory that would become known as Pizzagate.

Words have consequences.  While I would not wish to stifle the ability of the press or anyone else to speak freely and offer an opinion, I think we must draw the line at calling for the death of another.  Mr. Bernstein just happened to cross my radar, but how many more are out there calling for the death of an individual or a group that we don’t know about?  I think that when you allow a right or a privilege to be abused, it ultimately ceases to be a right.  Think about it.

Mitch McConnell: Enemy of the People

Senator Mitch McConnell has gone too far, has far overstepped his bounds.  In fact, it would seem that there are no limits, no boundaries to what McConnell believes is within his rights.

There is hard, irrefutable, fact-based evidence that the Russians interfered in numerous ways with our 2016 election, likely the only reason we have a madman in the Oval Office today.  Set aside for the moment the issue of how involved Donald Trump’s campaign was with the Russian efforts, for while that is important, today I wish to address something else. mcconnell-2Our intelligence agencies have warned that the Russians are already up to their shenanigans in an effort to do a repeat performance in 2020.  Even Trump’s butt-kissing Attorney General Barr has said that conditions still exist that would allow this scenario to repeat in 2020.  FBI Director Christopher Wray and Robert Mueller have warned that if we do nothing, the 2020 election will be compromised.

Last year, a bill with bipartisan support in the Senate, the Secure Elections Act, that would have …

  • Promoted better information sharing about cybersecurity threats
  • Funded improvements to state election systems and processes through federal grants
  • Established a bug bounty program to uncover new vulnerabilities in election systems

Not enough, but a darn good start.  The bill was squelched just 90 minutes before it was set to be heard on August 22nd.  We now know who squelched it … Mitch McConnell.  Today, there are three bills in the Senate that address election security:

  • Protecting the Right to Independent and Democratic Elections (PRIDE) Act
  • Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act
  • Honest Ads Act, which would give online political ads the same disclosure requirements as political ads on television and other media

All three were introduced last year and re-introduced this year after the 115th Congress failed to act.  And, it looks as if the 116th will also fail to act, all because of one man:  Mitch McConnell.mcconnell-1Last week, it came to light from another senator, Roy Blunt of Missouri, that McConnell has made it quite clear that he will not allow the Senate to consider any election security bills.  Process that for a minute.  One man … one single man has the power to ensure that we will have an election, perhaps the most important election in our lifetimes, that completely lacks integrity.

His reason appears to be that any talk of the 2016 Russian interference upsets Donald Trump, and McConnell, among others, lacks the courage, the guts, to stand up to Trump and do the right thing.  How does such a wimp get elected to the Senate to begin with, let alone stay there for thirty-four years?  Mitch is 77 years of age … he’s well past his prime and is another of those old, bigoted white men that we need to purge from Congress!

This is the third time in a week that I have heard of people doing the wrong thing for the sole purpose of protecting Don Trump’s fragile ego.  Wake up, people!  Don Trump is 72 years old, not two.  If he couldn’t take the heat, he should have stayed out of the kitchen!

There is but one republican in all of Congress who I can respect, who has courage, who is not attached by puppet strings to Donald Trump, and that is Justin Amash.  But again, that is a story for another day.

I don’t know about you folks, but I am livid at the thought that an elected official, one who has been taking taxpayer money for 34 years now, would so blatantly act against the best interests of every single person in this nation in order to keep Trump happy, for everyone knows that if you make Trump angry, he will call you names.

Consider for a moment the results of the Russian interference in 2016.  We ended up with the most corrupt president the nation has ever seen.  A madman, a warmonger, a fool who acts first and thinks later, if he thinks at all.  And now, according to McConnell, we may well end up stuck with him for at least another four years, just because Mitch wishes to stay in the good graces of that same fool?  Not only that, but quite possibly the interference will filter down to congressional elections also, and it may be that he who gets the most votes … loses.

We’ve heard a lot about ‘obstruction of justice’ lately … is what McConnell is doing not also obstruction of justice?  He is, after all, keeping Congress from doing their job and denying the people of this nation, the people who pay his salary, the right to a fair and unfettered election.

Snippy Snarkets … er … Snarky Snippets

These days trying to keep up with the news is a full-time job, and just a bit overwhelming most days.  The insanity that defines the Trump administration may be contagious, for lately I’ve been doing really stupid things, like … well, never mind … I’m not going to give you that weapon to use against me some day when I least expect it.  Anyway, two stories today gave rise to these snarky snippets …


Fox is doing what???

Fox-News-logoOkay, folks, I want you to be sure you’re sitting down for this one.  I also suggest you keep a hand firmly planted on your chin to keep your jaw from dropping to the ground.  I swear I am not making this up, but next week, Fox ‘News’ will be airing an ad by republicans that calls for the impeachment of Donald Trump!  Are you still with me, or have you fainted?

Turns out there is a conservative group called Republicans for the Rule of Law (RRL) that has developed an ad calling for politicians to stand up to the president.  Who knew?  And to add insult to injury, they will be airing the ad on none other than Trump’s favourite show, Fox and Friends.  According to Chris Truax, a spokesman for RRL …

“Everybody — Republicans and Democrats but especially Republicans — need to step up and say, ‘Look, this is bigger than the politics of the day, this is about our democratic institutions.’ If we don’t defend them, that will have an impact on our country for decades to come. President Trump still does not want to admit that this happened and that’s wrong, absurd and dangerous. Republicans need to stop enabling this behavior.”

When I read this, I had to do a quick check of my calendar to make sure it isn’t April 1st, for I was sure this must be a joke.  The 30 second clip, set to air next week, will feature clips from Robert Mueller’s statement yesterday. The spot will end with the line, “Mueller did his job, now it’s time for members of Congress to do theirs.”

How encouraging to know that there are some republicans who are not enamoured of Donald Trump and are willing to put the welfare of the nation ahead of personal gain.

I literally laughed when I heard this and wish I could see Trump’s face when he sees it.  Or, perhaps his aides will find a way to distract him or ‘accidentally’ turn off the television just before the ad comes on, like they covered up the USS John S. McCain so that Trump would not see it and become upset.


Not again???

roy-mooreRemember Roy Moore, the former Alabama judge who ran for Senate against democrat Doug Jones in a 2017 special election?  He, along with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, remind me of the Energizer bunny … they just don’t know when to quit, but keep on going … and going … and going.  Roy is planning another run at the senate seat next year.

As you’ll recall, Moore has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with at least nine women, two of whom were underage at the time.  He was suspended not once, but twice from the Alabama Supreme Court.  Moore is the classic definition of a jerk.  The strangest thing is that, while he did lose the 2017 election to Jones, it was by a very narrow margin.  So, apparently in Alabama, it doesn’t much matter whether you have morals or a conscience, as long as you’re a republican.

Trump initially supported Moore in 2017, then backed off when the sexual accusations started coming to light.  So, what is Trump’s take on Moore’s current bid?

“Republicans cannot allow themselves to again lose the Senate seat in the Great State of Alabama. This time it will be for Six Years, not just Two. I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win. But he didn’t, and probably won’t.  …If Alabama does not elect a Republican to the Senate in 2020, many of the incredible gains that we have made during my Presidency may be lost, including our Pro-Life victories. Roy Moore cannot win, and the consequences will be devastating….Judges and Supreme Court Justices!”

His reason for being against Moore running is not because Moore is not a person of conscience, or because Moore is a racist and a sexual predator, but only because he thinks Moore cannot win, and to Trump winning is the only thing that matters.  Returning Jones to the Senate in next year’s election would possibly mess up little Donnie’s grand plans for the further destruction of the U.S.!

Moore was not happy with Trump’s response and fired back.

“The president doesn’t control who votes for the United States Senate in Alabama. People in Alabama are smarter than that. They elect the senator from Alabama, not from Washington, D.C.”

The frightening thing is that Moore continues, despite his abhorrent behaviours, to have a large following and could actually win the republican nomination.  Moore is 72 years old and would be 74 by the time he took his seat in the Senate if he were to win.  We do not need any more rich, bigoted, old men in Congress!!!


And thus concludes today’s supply of snark.  Have a great whatever-day-it-is!

Just Two Thoughts …

It occurs to me that those of us writing political blogs covering U.S. politics and the regime of Donald Trump spend more time correcting misconceptions that he creates than we spend being proactive and creative.  But so be it … we cannot let the fool on the hill get by with lies that go unchecked and with tarnishing the reputations of good people.

Image result for don mcgahnThe latest, of course, is Don McGahn, former White House counsel.  According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, McGahn testified under oath that Trump had given him a directive to order Rod Rosenstein, then-Deputy Attorney General, to fire Robert Mueller based on a ‘conflict of interest’ that did not, in fact, exist.  McGahn refused, and ultimately left Trump’s employ rather than break the law.

Naturally, Trump denied that he had told McGahn to fire Mueller …

“As has been incorrectly reported by the Fake News Media, I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller, even though I had the legal right to do so. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself.”

Ah yes, he could have, but that would have opened a can of worms and made him look even guiltier than he already did at that point.  Now really, folks, who are you going to believe … Trump who has told more than 10,000 documented lies since his inauguration, or McGahn who had the integrity to refuse an order and resign rather than break the law?

Then last month, the day after the redacted copy of the Mueller report was released to Congress and the public, Trump contacted McGahn and asked him to publicly declare that he doesn’t believe Trump obstructed justice.  McGahn refused Trump’s request.  Now if that doesn’t speak loud and clear that Trump is, to this day, obstructing justice, then I don’t know what it takes.  Are you listening, Mitchell McConnell??? 

Trump, needless to say, is in a state of rage …

“I was NOT going to fire Bob Mueller, and did not fire Bob Mueller. In fact, he was allowed to finish his Report with unprecedented help from the Trump Administration. Actually, lawyer Don McGahn had a much better chance of being fired than Mueller. Never a big fan!”

Image result for quotes about lies thomas jeffersonUnprecedented help from the administration?  I think not.  And if he wasn’t a fan of McGahn, why did he hire him in the first place?  More lies.  With apparently nothing better to do, Trump tweeted some 70 times on Saturday. Since he is so fond of giving everyone nicknames, I think his new moniker ought to be Tweety Twump.

McGahn is still, as of this writing, scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on May 21st, though Trump has ordered him not to.  I think that since McGahn is a private citizen, and since he has already testified before the Mueller team, that even Trump’s “executive privilege” cannot stop McGahn if he chooses to testify.  I hope that he will, I like and respect McGahn, however if he doesn’t, I hope that the committee will issue a warrant for his arrest for contempt of Congress.  Somewhere, somehow, Congress must find the chink in the armour and be allowed to do its job.


july-2The United States celebrates Independence Day on the 4th of July each year.  The celebration commemorates the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject and subordinate to the monarch of Britain and were now united, free, and independent states.  Of course, it would take a war to make the declaration reality, but this is the date that is remembered for its significance.  In recent decades, the holiday is, for many, not much more than an excuse to picnic or grill out, drink lots of beer, and watch fireworks after dark.  Nonetheless, there is symbolic meaning to the day.

One of the most prominent events takes place in Washington, D.C., which includes fireworks on the mall.  Correction … it did.  Until King Donald Trump decided to take over the celebration and make it all about himself, rather than the people who fought for this nation’s independence back while his own ancestors were still living in Germany.

Trump has decided to move the fireworks display from its usual spot on the Mall to be closer to the Potomac River (who said it was up to him???), but that isn’t even the worst of it.  He has decided to hold a bloomin’ campaign rally from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial!  What an irony!  The man who was known as ‘Honest Abe’ … being defaced and devalued by the most dishonest president in the history of the United States.  The man who fought to free the slaves and end bigotry being smeared by the one who is “Making America Racist Again”!

This is supposed to be the people’s celebration, not Donald Trump’s.  That’s okay, though, for just as I said last year, in my heart, there is nothing to celebrate this July 4th.  Frankly, in this, the year 2019, I wish we were still a subject of the Crown.  Queen Elizabeth is a much kinder, more intelligent leader than the one we have.

Just A Few More Snarky Snippets

My friends … I don’t even know where to begin today.  When they say, ‘truth is stranger than fiction’, they aren’t kidding!  Nobody, in their wildest dreams, could have written the script for the madness and mayhem that is the federal government of the ‘United’ States today.


Good grief …

good griefFirst on the agenda is the fact that Trump’s approval rating has climbed.  He still hasn’t hit 50%, but according to the latest Gallup poll, he is at 46%, while according to the FiveThirtyEight aggregate of polls, he has climbed to 42.7, a 1.5% jump since last Thursday.  Why?  The only thing I can figure out is because his base, who largely do not bother to investigate facts, believe him when he says the Mueller report “completely exonerated” him.  It didn’t, and in fact it pointed out at least ten instances where he was guilty of obstruction that would have landed him in jail if he were not president.  But, Trump supporters don’t read the report.  They also don’t question why he is going to so much trouble to keep Mueller, McGahn and others from testifying if he believes he is exonerated.  They don’t ask why he isn’t encouraging those testimonies that would show us mean ol’ liberals just how innocent he is.

What’s even more concerning is that the jump in his approval rating is not necessarily among republicans but rather democrats and independents!  Among Democrats where Trump’s job approval has improved the most month-to-month, just 4% approved of the job he was doing in March compared to 10% who said the same in April. Independents went from 33% job approval for Trump in March to 39% in April.  Now, I don’t put much faith in the numbers of the polls, for each is biased in its own way, but it’s the trend that is relevant.  What the Sam Heck has he said or done that has democrats swaying in his favour?  Anybody?


Can he do that?

President-Elect Donald Trump Holds Meetings At Trump Tower

Judge Napolitano

Second, let’s talk about freedom of the press, shall we?  Remember a week or so ago Gronda wrote a piece about Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Senior legal analyst for Fox News, who wrote an OpEd whereby he opined that Trump is, in fact, guilty of obstruction of justice and should be charged as such.  Trump, needless to say, was not happy with the man who he once referred to as a “very talented legal mind”.  I made a comment at the time on Gronda’s post that I wondered how long it will be before he is relieved of his duties at Fox.  And now, Trump is hinting at just that just that to happen.

Trump retweeted an obscure Twitter account on Sunday morning …

trump-re-tweetIf Trump were just anybody, one might overlook it and say he was just blowing off some steam.  But, for better or for worse … mostly worse … he is the president of a nation of some 330 million people and thus is to be held to a higher standard than Joe Blow. This one bears watching, my friends, for this is about more than a difference of opinion or a dispute between Trump and the judge … this one may set a precedent in terms of freedom of the press.


And about those pesky subpoenas …

Last Thursday, Trump said he did not believe he would allow former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify to committees in Congress, saying McGahn had already spoken to the special counsel on the Russia probe.

“I would say it’s done. I’ve had him testifying already for 30 hours.”

I am not a lawyer and hesitate to make a proclamation about what can or cannot be done, but I’ve done a bit of research and as best I can tell a private citizen, which McGahn is and Mueller will soon be, does not have to take orders from the ‘man’ in the Oval Office.  Now, if he were being asked to testify about state secrets or the location of nuclear weapons stashes, that would be a different story.  But, McGahn is being asked only to clarify and elucidate his previous testimony before the special counsel.

Trump is also attempting to keep Mueller from testifying.  It was assumed that Mueller would resign from the DOJ in April, and I have no idea why the delay, unless it is for this very reason, to keep him from testifying.

And Attorney General William Barr has both ignored the summons to testify before the House Judiciary Committee last week, and refused to release the unredacted Mueller report as requested by subpoena by the deadline yesterday.

Mick Mulvaney, acting as White House Chief of Staff, said in early April that the democrats would never see Trump’s tax returns.  This was in response to a subpoena for six years’ worth of returns, something that every other president since Reagan has submitted voluntarily.  Then yesterday, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin refused to allow the Internal Revenue Service to release Trump’s tax returns.

ENOUGH!!!!!!!!

Either Donald Trump wants to be the president or he does not.  He cannot be considered the leader of this nation if he cannot even be held accountable to We the People who are paying his salary.  And before any of you say, “but he doesn’t take a salary” … yes, he does receive a salary.  If he donates it somewhere, that is his choice, but he does receive a salary of $400,000 per year.  As comedian Seth Meyers said, Trump should pay his taxes instead of donating his salary. And what are we getting in return?  Obstruction of justice, corruption extraordinaire, destruction of our environment, an average of twelve blatant lies each day, incited divisiveness of our nation, and a ‘man’ who believes himself to be above the law of the land.

Imagine what would happen if either you or I simply ignored or willfully defied a subpoena? Anybody know how to bake a cake with a saw in it? We do not have a president, folks, we have an autocratic wanna-be dictator who has trampled our Constitution, has trampled our democracy, and is trampling on our lives.


And now that I have managed to raise your blood pressure by at least 30 points, I shall leave you to ponder while I go clean my kitchen.  I had a bit of a cooking mishap this evening and there are grease and rice sticks all over the place!  Ever deep fry rice sticks?  I’ll tell you all about it later.

Trampling The Constitution — Part I

Mueller-letter-page-1

Mueller letter to Barr – page 1

Mueller-letter-page-2

Mueller letter to Barr — page 2

The above letter was written to Attorney General William Barr by Special Counselor Robert Mueller on March 27th, just three days after Barr presented an abbreviated 4-page “summary” of the full report.  Mr. Mueller followed up with a subsequent phone call in which he again expressed his displeasure at Barr’s handling of the report.  Robert Mueller has spent the better part of two years digging and investigating the Russian’s influence over our election, as well as the relationships between Trump, his family, and his campaign staff with the Russians who were de facto interfering with our elections.  He is much more well-versed and knowledgeable on this topic than William Barr, who has only been in his position since February 14th, less than three months, but Barr purported to know more than Mueller about what Mueller’s own report said.

Yesterday, Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Trump sycophant Lindsey Graham.  When asked about Mr. Mueller’s letter, Barr discounted it, saying he thought it was “a little snitty”, and concluded it was probably written by a staffer rather than Mueller himself.  Excuse me?  Under the circumstances, it seems to me that the letter was quite cordial. And, he called Barr in person to follow up, so that rather negates the idea that a ‘staffer’ wrote the letter.

I have heard it said numerous times over the past month that AG Barr is acting more like Trump’s personal attorney than the attorney general who took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution.  I would agree.

Barr attempted to blame the media for Mueller’s displeasure of his handling of the report, but as you will note, at no point did Robert Mueller even mention the media.  He tried to argue that Trump directing Don McGahn to “get rid of” Mueller did not constitute obstruction of justice.  Barr claimed that Trump never told McGahn to “fire” Mueller but rather to remove him from his position due to alleged conflicts of interest.  First, there was no conflict of interest, and second, that is splitting hairs. In May 2017, the Department of Justice made clear that Mueller had no ethical conflicts and was perfectly capable of overseeing the special counsel investigation.  It was a month later that Trump told McGahn to get rid of Mueller.

Senator Kamala Harris asked Barr one simple question:  Did anyone in the White House ask or suggest that he open an investigation into a person or people?  Easy, right?  Barr, who has a good, solid education and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from George Washington University Law School, struggled to understand the meaning of the word ‘suggest’.  He stumbled about with that question, never actually answering it.  Now, you can make of that what you will, but … I take it as outright obfuscation, and why, unless there is something to hide, would he struggle with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question that contains the word ‘suggest’ … a word most of us knew and understood by age five?

Senator Patrick Leahy asked this question:

“Special counsel [Mueller] did uncover evidence of underlying crimes here, including one that directly implicated the president. Did we learn, due to the special counsel’s investigation that Donald Trump known as “Individual 1″ in the Southern District of New York, directing hush payments as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. That matter was discovered by special counsel [and] referred to the [United States Attorney for the] Southern District in New York. Is that correct?”

Barr answered simply: “Yes.”  This is, by the way, a felony.Barr-Senate-Judiciary-CommitteeOkay, so that covers the highlights of Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, though I do have more to say another time about Lindsey Graham, but that must wait.  Today, then, Barr was scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, but apparently yesterdays testimony must have given him a tummy-ache, for he is declining the ‘invitation’ to testify.  Not only that … the full un-redacted version of the Mueller report was subpoenaed with a deadline of yesterday, but it was not produced and all indications are that Barr has no intention of producing it.

Some House democrats have called to begin impeachment against Barr, but Nancy Pelosi, again the calmer head, prevailed when she suggested it would detract from the greater issue of the investigations into Trump, so they have decided to ‘give him a day or two’ to have a change of heart.  If he fails to do so, then they will seek a contempt citation against Mr. Barr.Warren-on-BarrPersonally, I am of a mind that we should impeach the entire corrupt administration and start over.  Of course, my opinion is largely irrelevant, so don’t hold your breath on that one.  However, we need to step back a minute and take a look at the big picture.  There is enough factual evidence, even in the redacted version of the Mueller report that we have, to know that Donald Trump did, in fact, obstruct justice.  However, he and his trained pets in the form of Barr, Graham, and others, are continuing to obstruct justice, making the case against them stronger by the day.  How so?  By ignoring subpoenas, or in Trump’s case, suing those who have received subpoenas, tying the matter up in court and disrupting the flow of information.

Folks, what Trump, Barr and others are doing is criminal.  It is a crime against the U.S. Constitution, and it is a crime against We the People, We the Citizens, We the Taxpayers.  I am not exaggerating when I say that our very system of ‘separation of powers’, of ‘checks and balances’, of ‘rule of law’ are being trampled as never before.  If Trump & Co. get by with this, if they are allowed to impede the investigative committees, then it will have been confirmed that Trump and his cabinet members are, in fact, above the law, that the law only applies to us peons, not to them.  And you know what the next step is, if that happens?  Think about it.

Above The Law???

Trump says the Mueller report exonerates him, that it proves there was ‘no collusion, no obstruction’.  Those of us who can both read and think know better.  We know the Mueller report, in fact, proves that at the very least, Trump did attempt on multiple occasions to obstruct justice, to interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Today, Trump is still obstructing justice with his refusal to turn over his tax returns or financial records, his threatening and bullying those who have been subpoenaed by congressional committees, and more.  As usual, Robert Reich chimes in with words of wisdom …

In Fighting All Oversight, Trump Has Made His Most Dictatorial Move

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

The president is treating Congress with contempt. This cannot stand – and Congress must fight back

Sun 28 Apr 2019 01.00 EDT

“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” says the person who is supposed to be chief executive of the United States government.

In other words, there is to be no congressional oversight of this administration: no questioning officials who played a role in putting a citizenship question on the 2020 census. No questioning a former White House counsel about the Mueller report.

No questioning a Trump adviser about immigration policy. No questioning a former White House security director about issuances of security clearances.

No presidential tax returns to the ways and means committee, even though a 1920s law specifically authorizes the committee to get them.

Such a blanket edict fits a dictator of a banana republic, not the president of a constitutional republic founded on separation of powers.

If Congress cannot question the people who are making policy, or obtain critical documents, Congress cannot function as a coequal branch of government.

If Congress cannot get information about the executive branch, there is no longer any separation of powers, as sanctified in the US constitution.

There is only one power – the power of the president to rule as he wishes.

Which is what Donald Trump has sought all along.

The only relevant question is how stop this dictatorial move. And let’s be clear: this is a dictatorial move.

The man whose aides cooperated, shall we say, with Russia – the man who still refuses to do anything at all about Russia’s continued interference in the American political system – refuses to cooperate with a branch of the United States government that the Constitution requires him to cooperate with in order that the government function.

Presidents before Trump occasionally have argued that complying with a particular subpoena for a particular person or document would infringe upon confidential deliberations within the executive branch. But no president before Trump has used “executive privilege” as a blanket refusal to cooperate.

How should Congress respond to this dictatorial move?

Trump is treating Congress with contempt – just as he has treated other democratic institutions that have sought to block him.

Congress should invoke its inherent power under the constitution to hold any official who refuses a congressional subpoena in contempt. This would include departmental officials who refuse to appear, as well as Trump aides. (Let’s hold off on the question of whether Congress can literally hold Trump in contempt, which could become a true constitutional crisis.)

“Contempt” of Congress is an old idea based on the inherent power of Congress to get the information it needs to carry out its constitutional duties. Congress cannot function without this power.

How to enforce it? Under its inherent power, the House can order its own sergeant-at-arms to arrest the offender, subject him to a trial before the full House, and, if judged to be in contempt, jail that person until he appears before the House and brings whatever documentation the House has subpoenaed.

When President Richard Nixon tried to stop key aides from testifying in the Senate Watergate hearings, in 1973, Senator Sam Ervin, chairman of the Watergate select committee, threatened to jail anyone who refused to appear.

Congress hasn’t actually carried through on the threat since 1935 – but it could.

Would America really be subject to the spectacle of the sergeant-at-arms of the House arresting a Trump official, and possibly placing him in jail?

Probably not. Before that ever occurred, the Trump administration would take the matter to the supreme court on an expedited basis.

Sadly, there seems no other way to get Trump to move. Putting the onus on the Trump administration to get the issue to the court as soon as possible is the only way to force Trump into action, and not simply seek to run out the clock before the next election.

What would the court decide? With two Trump appointees now filling nine of the seats, it’s hardly a certainty.

But in a case that grew out of the Teapot Dome scandal in 1927, the court held that the investigative power of Congress is at its peak when lawmakers look into fraud or maladministration in another government department.

Decades later, when Richard Nixon tried to block the release of incriminating recordings of his discussions with aides, the supreme court decided that a claim of executive privilege did not protect information pertinent to the investigation of potential crimes.

Trump’s contempt for the inherent power of Congress cannot stand. It is the most dictatorial move he has initiated since becoming president.

Congress has a constitutional duty to respond forcefully, using its own inherent power of contempt.

I leave you to ponder.

Something To Consider …

I first saw Fareed Zakaria several years ago on George Stephanopoulos’ Sunday morning show, This Week. The man impressed me with his intellect and reasonableness at the time, and he still does, although I frequently disagree with him on certain issues.  Mr. Zakaria is a journalist, political scientist and author whose political ideology defies description, as he is mostly considered to be a centrist, but has in some cases been labeled a conservative, and at other times a liberal.

The word ‘impeachment’ has been bandied around a lot lately, and I am one who has used it more than a few times.  I have urged caution, but since the release of the Mueller report am leaning more toward the idea, though I still believe it is prudent to take time, for it’s a one-shot thing, and right at this moment, I believe it would be destined to fail.

Yesterday, I came across an editorial written by Mr. Zakaria in The Washington Post that gave me food for thought.  I have not yet decided to what extent I agree with him, but … I think it’s important for us to keep an open mind and I must admit that much of what he says is valid and makes sense.  So, I share this with you today in hopes you will at least give it a bit of thought.


Democrats, There’s A Better Strategy Than Impeachment

Fareed ZakariaBy Fareed Zakaria

Columnist

April 25 at 5:34 PM

Consider, for a moment, what the growing talk of impeachment among Democrats sounds like to the tens of millions of people who voted for President Trump. Many of them supported him because they felt ignored, mocked and condescended to by the country’s urban, educated and cosmopolitan elites — especially lawyers and journalists. So what happens when their guy gets elected? These same elites pursue a series of maneuvers to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election. It would massively increase the class resentment that feeds support for the president. It would turn the topic away from his misdeeds and toward the Democrats’ overreach and obsessions. And ultimately, of course, it would fail — two-thirds of this Republican-controlled Senate would not vote to convict him — allowing Trump to brandish his “acquittal” as though it were a gold medal.

I know, I know, many argue passionately that this is not a political affair but rather a moral and legal one. After reading the Mueller report, they say, Congress has no option but to fulfill its obligation and impeach Trump. But this view misunderstands impeachment entirely. It is, by design, an inherently political process, not a legal one. That’s why the standard used — “high crimes and misdemeanors” — is not one used in criminal procedures. And that is why the decision is entrusted to a political body, Congress, not the courts.

In 1970, when he was House minority leader, Gerald Ford provided the most honest definition of an impeachable offense: “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” Of the three cases in the United States’ past, history’s judgment is that only one — the impeachment proceedings against President Richard M. Nixon — was wholly justified. President Andrew Johnson’s decision to fire his secretary of war — clearly lawful — should not have led to his impeachment. The same is true for President Bill Clinton’s failed Whitewater land deal, which triggered an independent counsel inquiry that went into completely unrelated arenas and used questionable methods of investigation.

Harvard Law School’s Noah Feldman points out that neither history nor the framers’ intent yields clear lessons on the topic. “It’s quite possible that many founders would have supported impeachment for serious substantive matters like the usurpation of power by the president. By that standard, would [Abraham] Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, FDR’s internment of the Japanese Americans or [Lyndon] Johnson’s massive expansion of the Vietnam War all have been impeachable offenses? Possibly.” But these presidents were not impeached because Congress and the country exercised political judgment. And that is why it is entirely appropriate for Democrats to think this through politically.

For some Democrats, impeachment talk might be a smart, if cynical, short-term calculation. If you are running for the Democratic nomination and languishing in the polls, it is a way to get attention. If you are consolidating your support with the party’s base, the more fiercely anti-Trump you are, the better. But all these moves work only as long as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slow-rolls the process and stops it from getting out of hand. Others can be irresponsible on the assumption that Pelosi will be responsible. But what if things snowball, as they often do in politics?

The Democrats have a much better path in front of them. They should pursue legitimate investigations of Trump, bring in witnesses and release documentary proof of wrongdoing, providing a national education about the way Trump has operated as president. But they should, at the same time, show the public that they would be a refreshing contrast to Trump — substantive, policy-oriented, civil and focused on the country, not on their narrow base. America is tired of the circus of Trump. That doesn’t mean they want the circus of the House Democrats.

The president is vulnerable. With strong economic numbers, he has astonishingly low approval ratings. He will likely run his 2020 campaign on cultural nationalism, as he did in 2016. Democrats need to decide what their vision will be. That should be their focus, not the unfounded hope that if they pursue impeachment, somehow a series of miracles will take place — a deeply divided country will coalesce around them, and Republicans will finally abandon their president.

The real challenge the Democrats face goes beyond Trump. It is Trumpism — a right-wing populism that has swelled in the United States over the past decade. Surely the best way to take it on is to combat it ideologically and defeat it electorally. That is the only way to give the Democrats the real prize, which is not Trump’s scalp but the power and legitimacy to forge a governing majority.

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The Mueller Report-Final thoughts and takeaways

Last week, I re-blogged a piece by Jeff of On The Fence Voters fame, of his initial thoughts as he began reading the Mueller report. Today, he has finished reading the 448-page report and has written an excellent summation which I am sharing with you. I think his thoughts are on the money, and I share his hopes that the ongoing investigations will bring further results. Thank you, Jeff, for your excellent work and for permission to share it.

On The Fence Voters

So I’ve finally been able to read the entire Mueller Report. I actually read Volume II, which dealt with allegations surrounding Trump and obstruction of justice, first—then read the rest of Volume I, which dealt with Russian hacking and the Trump Campaign’s involvement. You can read my first assessment from a post I wrote last week. Here are some final thoughts and major takeaways, now that I’ve read the entire report.

Paul Manafort

I’ve always felt that Manafort was the critical piece in Mueller’s attempt to see what links the Trump Campaign had, if any, to the Russians. He served as campaign chairman for Trump for only about four months, but during his tenure, many of the significant instances of Russian interference was taking place.

For one, he was at the infamous Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, along with Don Jr. and Jared Kushner. They thought they were…

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