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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 09:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,297

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I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

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Madam Speaker, I Rise in Support of Withholding the Articles

Madam Speaker, I Rise in Support of Withholding the Articles

“Make no mistake, we are not impeaching this president. He is impeaching himself. If you are the president, and you obstruct justice, try to bribe a foreign leader, and threaten national security, you’re going to get impeached. End of story.”
— Susan Davis, D-Calif., Impeachment Debate, House of Representatives, Wednesday, December 18, 2019.

The decision, Madam Speaker, to withhold the Articles of Impeachment is clearly justified by Abuse of Power. However, it is not the president’s abuse of power as articulated in the Articles of Impeachment, but rather Senator Mitch McConnell’s abuse of his power as

Senate Majority Leader that necessitates the course you have rightly undertaken.

Given Leader McConnell’s stark and clear declaration of intent to undermine the objectivity the Constitution envisions in an impeachment trial, you are compelled to safeguard the process by all means at your disposal.

Moreover, you are further empowered by the mandate of public opinion on the matter. By an overwhelming margin, the American people want precisely what you are negotiating for – open, public testimony from administration officials with direct, firsthand knowledge of the events for which the president has been impeached. They are surely entitled to have it.

In addition, unfolding events accelerate the urgency. New evidence of the president’s involvement in the Ukrainian affair now surfaces on an almost daily basis. White House emails newly obtained by Kate Brannen at Just Security illustrate a clear intent on the part of the president personally to withhold Congressionally approved aid from Ukraine as the administration demanded an investigation into former vice president Joseph R. Biden.


Bolton has let it be known that he will testify...But what gives him the right to dictate terms?

Why Aren’t All the President’s Men Testifying?
Their contempt for Congress should be met with a legal and political fusillade.

Why aren’t all the president’s men testifying?

Some of the president’s closest aides, official and unofficial, past and present — Robert Blair, Michael Duffey, Rudy Giuliani, Don McGahn, Mick Mulvaney and Mike Pompeo — invoke a presidential order to refuse to give evidence about delays in Ukraine aid. But government officials like Gordon Sondland, William Taylor, Alexander Vindman and Marie Yovanovitch all ignored such orders and gave valuable testimony. After weeks of tweeting, giving interviews and writing his memoirs, John Bolton has let it be known that he will testify before the Senate, if he is subpoenaed by the Senate. But what gives him the right to dictate terms?

Mr. Bolton’s statement Monday claims that he is trying to “resolve the serious competing issues” between his obligations as a citizen and a former national security official. In fact, those obligations point in the same direction. Like jury duty or paying taxes, testifying under oath about facts we know is not optional; it is a fundamental obligation of citizenship. As a government official, Mr. Bolton held high office under an oath to “support and defend the Constitution.” Testifying at a Senate impeachment trial fulfills that constitutional oath.

Anyone who served in high public office knows that testifying before Congress about matters you worked on in government is part of your solemn public duty. If legislators’ questions impinge upon legitimate concerns about executive or national security privilege, you still must appear, declining to answer only those questions that call for information legally protected from public disclosure.

It does not matter that these witnesses have successfully withheld their testimony until now. The House’s impeachment vote should overrule any ethical or legal objection these witnesses now have to testifying before the Senate. How can senators vote on Mr. Trump’s removal without the testimony of any of his closest advisers? And if Mr. Bolton ends up testifying, don’t the Senate and the public need the others’ testimony to flesh out the full story?


Fri. (1/3): we are cyberattacked


Ukrainians: Trump Just Sent Us 'a Terrible Signal'

Ukrainians: Trump Just Sent Us ‘a Terrible Signal’
Kyiv officials were hoping for a statement of support from Trump in advance of Ukraine’s big summit with Russia. Instead, the president hosted Putin’s main man.

Ukrainian officials spent last weekend glued to Trump’s Twitter feed.

People working closely with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have been in contact with Trump administration officials over the past several weeks discussing the relationship between the two presidents, according to four people with knowledge of the talks. Based on those conversations, Ukrainian officials came to expect that President Donald Trump would make a statement of support before Zelensky met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in France for peace talks. A statement might even come via Twitter, they said they were told.

“Through all the signals we got, we firmly believed there would be a statement,” a senior Zelensky administration official told The Daily Beast.

But as Saturday and Sunday ticked by, there was only silence from the White House. Even as Ukrainian officials have publicly been loath to criticize Trump’s pressure campaign on their country, frustrations with Washington have quietly percolated. And last weekend, they were especially acute.

On Monday, Zelensky and Putin met in Normandy, France for face-to-face negotiations on the war in eastern Ukraine. Russia had seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, and has ever since backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were on hand for the talks. Putin and Zelensky agreed to exchange “all known prisoners,” according to The Washington Post. Another round of talks is expected in several months.

Words of support from the United States in the lead-up to the Normandy talks could have given the Ukrainian president more leverage with Putin, according to the Zelensky administration official and two additional people close to his administration. Instead, Trump spent the weekend on Twitter tweeting about Fox News pundits, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and CNN. It was a particularly busy weekend of social media for him, with more than 100 tweets and retweets by Politico’s count. But no word on Normandy.


Report: Trump's Ukraine Extortion Scheme Was Financed by Russia

Report: Trump’s Ukraine Extortion Scheme Was Financed by Russia

President Trump is facing impeachment primarily for abusing his power for political gain, extorting a foreign country to discredit his political rivals. The secondary aspect of the plot is that the target of his extortion is hardly random. Ukraine is the victim of Russian aggression, and Russia’s continuing incursions into Ukrainian territory is the muscle that gave Trump’s threats leverage. Trump’s domestic interests are one intended beneficiary of his scheme. The other is Vladimir Putin.

Trump and his allies insist he has actually pursued a hawkish line in Ukraine. “Mr. Trump didn’t withhold military aid to Ukraine, and even if he had he would have merely been returning to Barack Obama’s policy of denying lethal aid,” argues a Wall Street Journal editorial. “No one has done more to limit Russia’s ability to engage in mischief than President Trump,” insists Representative Matt Gaetz in a Fox News segment retweeted by the president.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors charged yesterday evening that Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump who represented him in Ukraine, was wired $1 million from a Russian bank account weeks before his arrest. Which is to say, Trump’s Ukraine plot appears to have been financed by Russia.

Parnas met repeatedly with Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Parnas claims Trump pulled him aside at last year’s White House Hanukkah party and personally directed his activities in Ukraine. That allegation remains unproven. What is proven, though, is that Parnas met with Trump numerous times (there are photographs), was Giuliani’s official business partner, and represented himself to Ukrainians as an agent of both Trump and Giuliani.

Rudy has worked as Trump’s lawyer for “free,” but Parnas paid him half a million dollars for his work. If Parnas himself was being paid by Russian sources, this means the Russians were essentially subsidizing Trump, paying for the work themselves so he didn’t have to lay out a dime of his own money.


it's hard to overstate how large the Horowitz and Durham investigations loom in the right-wing mind

Bill Barr’s Own Top Investigator Privately Says Right-wing Conspiracy about the Russia Probe Is Baseless: Report

John Durham, the U.S. attorney picked by Attorney General Bill Barr, has privately said that he has no evidence to support the right-wing conspiracy theory that the Russia investigation was an intelligence community plot to take down President Donald Trump, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Barr, who chose Durham to oversee a review of the origins of the investigation that has become a criminal probe, has fanned the flames of the conspiracy theories about Russia probe. His public comments have suggested he gives credence to claims made by Trump and many right-wing media figures that the whole investigation was an illegitimate effort to undermine the president. This theory has always been wildly far-fetched, but it’s been treated as received wisdom in some corners by Trump defenders.

Recent reports have suggested, though, that a forthcoming report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will refute the conspiracists and say the investigation was opened appropriately (though it will reportedly find some sloppiness and minor wrongdoing on the part of FBI officials). Following these reports, the Post found that Barr is prepared to dispute this key conclusion from Horowitz, adding to the perception that Barr is a partisan hitman trying to confirm Trump’s preconceived notions.


It cautions, though, that Horowitz’s report is not yet final and the Post has not seen the draft report.

For those not tuned in to conservative media, it’s hard to overstate how large the Horowitz and Durham investigations loom in the right-wing mind. A minor event on Wednesday gave just one indication of the build-up: During the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment proceedings, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) suggested that the release of Horowitz’s report could provide grounds to impeach former President Barack Obama.

It's hard to be an optimist about America right now



There is another concerning trend that threatens America’s constitutional character: the ever-expanding power of the presidency. Whatever you think of the charges against President Trump on Russia or Ukraine, his position of resolute noncooperation with Congress should trouble you deeply. If Congress cannot exercise its core oversight capacity, obtain documents and subpoena administration officials to testify, the essential system of checks and balances has broken down. The presidency will have become an elected dictatorship.

We have been going down this road for a while. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. wrote about “The Imperial Presidency” in 1973. The legislation and culture after Watergate led many to believe that matters were under control. People actually began worrying about a weakened and emasculated White House. In fact, as Schlesinger noted in a 2004 reissue of his book, the presidency in recent years has become stronger than ever. The fear after 9/11 proved to be the gateway for an out-of-control executive branch. The president gained the ability to snoop on private Americans, use military force at his whim, torture prisoners and detain people indefinitely. The president can now order the execution of American citizens who are deemed — by him — to be terrorists, without due process.

In Attorney General William P. Barr, Trump has found an extraordinarily useful aide, who appears to believe, despite all this history, that the great problem in the United States is that the presidency is too weak. He has enabled a policy of stonewalling and silence, in which top administration officials almost behave as though Congress does not exist. People often ask themselves what the founders would think of America today. It seems to me that the greatest shock to them would be the incredible growth of presidential power. Congress and the courts are recognizable from their times; the White House is not.

Tensions over profound demographic change, fierce political backlash and a presidency that refuses to be checked. My optimism is wearing thin.

Trump's GOP defenders cannot be shamed. It's time to try this instead.



It’s time to drop the posture that Trump’s defenders can be shamed into accepting what has been unearthed, or that they can be shamed into arguing from a baseline of shared democratic values, or into arguing over how to interpret a comprehensive set of shared facts.

Instead, let’s rhetorically treat Trump’s defenders as his criminal accomplices. Not just as “enablers” of Trump’s corruption but as active participants in it.

Once this is accepted, it becomes obvious why they can’t be “won over,” because they are actively engaged in keeping the corruption in question from getting fully uncovered, in the belief that they, too, benefit from it, and that they, too, lose out if it’s exposed.


"If those records had come out, the truth would have been exposed"



The trial before Judge Amy Berman Jackson is expected to last about two weeks. She has warned that any visible or audible response from those attending the trial will lead to expulsion from the courtroom, and after one break, Stone warned his supporters to “tone down the reactions — no smiling, no giggling, no rolling your eyes,” he said.

A trove of Stone’s communications with Trump insiders, including exchanges with Bannon, Manafort and Manafort deputy Rick Gates, will figure prominently in the case.

Zelinsky said the case’s most important evidence will not be the witnesses, but Stone’s own words.

“Amazingly, most of the evidence in this case is in the written record — it’s emails and text messages showing what really happened. If those records had come out, the truth would have been exposed,” the prosecutor said.

The trial will detail the eagerness of some in Trump’s orbit to find damaging information to derail Clinton’s presidential run, and how Stone then denied such efforts when asked about them.

“At a critical moment in this nation’s history,” as Congress sought to “find out the truth of what happened,” Zelinsky said, Stone “was doing his best to stop them.”

Sorry, pundits: The problem isn't "polarization" -- Republicans have lost their damn minds

Sorry, pundits: The problem isn't "polarization" — Republicans have lost their damn minds
Mainstream media loves the "both sides" narrative. But the real problem is that the GOP has snapped the tether

When the final vote tally on a formal resolution governing the impeachment inquiry concluded on Thursday with a party-line split — all Republicans present voted against the resolution, and all but two Democrats voted for it — one could practically hear the squeak of excitement from the mainstream media pundit class. Here was an opportunity to run with a "partisan polarization" narrative that neatly sidesteps the substantive disagreement between the two parties.

The situation is simple: The Republican Party, both its politicians and its voters, has collectively decided that it's fine for Donald Trump to use his office to run an illegal extortion scheme against a foreign leader in an effort to cheat in the 2020 election. The moral rot of the Republican Party, and its cultist loyalty to a criminal president is the sole reason for this situation. Democrats are — rather too reluctantly! — trying to do something to stop the bleeding.

But to read mainstream news coverage, one would think the real problem is that both sides are irascible and bitterly divided, and that there's some reasonable solution that involves everyone joining hands and finding some way to compromise.

"Analysis: On Impeachment Fight, Neither Side Seems Willing To Give an Inch," read the Friday morning front-page headline at the New York Times, which, as usual, was the most egregious offender when it comes to "both sides" pablum.

The article underneath, by Carl Hulse, focused exclusively on the failure to compromise, noting that "the two parties [are] pulling ever further apart as they dig in deeper on the righteousness of their respective causes" and that "[l]ittle evidence has emerged that either side is willing to give an inch."

How the parties are supposed to compromise on the issue of whether the president should be allowed to commit serious crimes is not even addressed. After all, to acknowledge that one side is for crimes and the other side is against them might expose how ridiculous this "compromise vs. polarization" framework really is.

The Associated Press covered the vote in a similar vein, writing that "Democrats swept a rules package for their impeachment probe of President Donald Trump through a divided House," and failing to note until the 22nd paragraph that Republicans have been calling for such a vote for weeks, as Media Matters pointed out.

Other outlets, including NBC News, CNN and the Washington Post, ran front-page stories on the way partisan polarization shaped the vote and is driving the polling on impeachment.

These stories are tough, because, in one sense, it's technically true that the vote and the polling shows that Americans are deeply divided, by party identity, on the issue of impeachment. But that framework misses the larger story: The reason for this deep division is that Republicans, both voters and their representatives, have completely abandoned any respect for democracy and rule of law, choosing instead the cult of personality around a flagrant criminal. It ignores that Democrats value the truth and Republicans are awash in lies. It equates the two sides in a way that is not justified by looking at the bigger picture.

The "both sides" frame, in other words, hides the fact that this situation is very a one-sided problem.

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