Round One Of The Impeachment Hearings

[ Posted Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 – 18:14 UTC ]

The first public impeachment hearing was held today, in front of the House Intelligence Committee. It lasted almost five hours, and painted the same picture as all of the closed hearings -- at least, for anyone who has paid attention to them to date. The case was methodically laid out by the Democratic questions and the witnesses' answers that Donald Trump abused the power of his office to leverage both a personal White House meeting with him as well as military aid appropriated by Congress to Ukraine to force the Ukrainian leader to publicly announce an investigation into the 2016 election interference as well as Hunter Biden's work for the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Both of these were not some sort of broad push to get Ukraine to fight corruption, as Trump has maintained, but rather to dig up dirt on his likely political opponent in next year's election. As such, it is not only unethical and illegal, but also an impeachable offense.

This is all a pretty straightforward case to make. As a matter of fact, the most damning part of this case is Trump's own words in the infamous phone call he made to the new Ukrainian leader. This was reinforced very early on, when William Taylor added a new snippet to his testimony that landed like a bombshell -- one of his staff overheard a phone call that Gordon Sondland had with Trump, where Trump specifically pressed again for dirt on the Bidens.

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Impeachment Curveball In The Senate?

[ Posted Tuesday, November 12th, 2019 – 17:41 UTC ]

I must admit, I'm a sucker for "what if" storylines, especially when they concern little-used sections of the Constitution or congressional rules. Which is why an interesting article in Politico caught my eye today, because it lays out how a curveball move in the Senate could actually lead to Trump's removal from office (assuming that the House does impeach him, which seems like a pretty safe bet at this point).

The story was written by Juleanna Glover, described as "an adviser for several Republican politicians, including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Rudy Giuliani." She also worked on the presidential campaigns of both John McCain and Jeb Bush. So she's not some lefty journalist or anything remotely like that (although she may in fact be a "Never-Trumper" Republican). She begins the article by pitching her parliamentary curveball (and yes, I know that I should be using football metaphors by now, but "curveball" just seemed the most appropriate):

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From The Archives -- For Us, The Living

[ Posted Monday, November 11th, 2019 – 18:17 UTC ]

[Note: I'm taking Veterans' Day off, so please enjoy this previous column, which was originally published on Veterans' Day 2013. It's short, and I've made it even shorter by omitting another old (and lengthy) column which was pasted on at the end.]


Originally published 11/11/13

Today's holiday originally celebrated the end of "the war to end all wars," when the 1918 armistice took place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. No World War I veterans still remain alive, and the holiday has grown to honor all America's veterans of more-recent wars -- so much so that many forget the origins of the holiday itself (which used to be "Armistice Day").

Next week, however, is an even more poignant anniversary: the sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, certainly the most well-known speech in American history. Only 275 words long, Lincoln spoke for mere minutes, following a lengthy two-hour oration given by Edward Everett. But today, only scholars remember Everett's name, and few historians bother to read the text of his remarks. Lincoln's words are still memorized by schoolchildren, even to this day.

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Friday Talking Points -- See You In The 'Burbs, Baby!

[ Posted Friday, November 8th, 2019 – 18:56 UTC ]

Republicans, it seems, are just never satisfied. First, they howled for a full House vote on impeachment. When the Democrats gave them one, they were not happy for some unfathomable reason. Then they demanded the end to "secret hearings" with no public transcripts. This week, Democrats began releasing all the transcripts to the public. When the first two were released, Republicans complained that the transcripts released were "cherry-picked." By week's end, all the major transcripts were released, putting the lie to this notion. Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham, in a snit, said that he wouldn't be reading the transcripts, for some unfathomable reason. Next week, public hearings will begin. So of course now Republicans are decrying the very idea of public hearings, for some unfathomable reason (President Trump: "They shouldn't be having public hearings."). It's almost as if Republicans don't care what they're complaining about as long as they get to complain about something. Hey, it's easier than trying to defend the indefensible, we suppose.

Republicans are really making a pretty poor showing all around. They tried to make the case for weeks that Democrats were somehow hiding things in the closed hearings, and if the transcripts were only to be made public then there would be plenty of exculpatory evidence for Trump. This turned out not to be the case. In fact, the transcripts showed that what had already been leaked to the press weren't even the most damning statements made. Witness after witness after witness all said exactly the same thing: there was indeed a quid pro quo and it consisted of withholding both a White House meeting and the military aid until the Ukrainian president went on television and said three words: "investigations, Biden, and Clinton." This corrupt bargain came straight from President Donald Trump, who was aided and abetted by Rudy Giuliani.

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Post-Trump Does Not Mean Trump-Free

[ Posted Thursday, November 7th, 2019 – 17:41 UTC ]

I realize that the 2020 election is still almost a full year away, but today I'm going to take an even longer view than that. Because it's worth pondering what a post-Trump world will look like, and from what I see so far many Democrats have completely unrealistic expectations for what that world will look like. I say this because a post-Trump world does not automatically equate to a Trump-free world.

Some definition of terms is necessary to explain that statement, of course. A post-Trump world, to me, means what happens in the American political system after Trump leaves office. This could happen in various ways, but it will happen eventually. But this has led many Democrats to assume some sort of "return to normalcy," where the entire Trump experience is like a tumor on the body politic -- once it's removed, we can all breathe easy again and prepare for a healthier future. This may prove to be wildly optimistic, for a number of reasons. The biggest is that Trump will likely still be around for years to come, so removing him from the Oval Office isn't just going to magically erase his existence. A post-Trump world will most decidedly not be completely Trump-free.

Does anyone really think Trump is going to "go gentle into that good night"? As Dylan Thomas so aptly put it, what Trump will instead most likely opt for is to "rage, rage against the dying of the light." In fact, there's a lesser-well-known line in that poem that comes between those two that is even more appropriate for predicting Trump's post-office behavior: "old age should burn and rave at close of day." That sounds like it was specifically written as a playbook for Trump, doesn't it?

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Flipping The 'Burbs

[ Posted Wednesday, November 6th, 2019 – 17:53 UTC ]

That headline is quite obviously a pun on the phrase "flipping the bird," I will fully admit. But more on bird-flipping in a moment, though. Instead, let's begin with what inspired the pun in the first place: last night's off-off-year election results. The results for the 2019 election cycle are now (mostly) in, and what they show is that the big blue wave which arose in 2018 shows no signs of ebbing. Democrats not only won the governor's race in a state that Donald Trump won by 30 points back in 2016, but they also achieved the "trifecta" in Virginia, flipping both houses of the legislature in a single election (they already held the governor's office, completing the trifecta of one-party control). But the biggest news is how they achieved such gains, and the answer is -- as it also was one year ago -- that they flipped the suburbs that Republicans used to routinely count on as strongholds.

This does not bode well for the Republican Party, obviously. Some of them know this, but many are still -- at least publicly -- denying the new reality. They argue that they lost the Kentucky governor's race because their candidate was weak -- even though he governed and campaigned as a mini-Trump. Donald Trump himself led a rally in the final days of the campaign in the state, to no avail. This seriously dents the prowess of his coattails. Interestingly enough, he didn't even bother to hold a rally in Virginia, because Republicans there told him it would actually hurt their chances, not help them.

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Watching Virginia's Returns

[ Posted Tuesday, November 5th, 2019 – 17:53 UTC ]

Tonight, I will be watching the election returns from Virginia come in. There are other races happening today that the national pundits will be watching more closely (namely, the governors' races in Kentucky and Mississippi), but while they may provide some exciting news for Democrats, the outcome in Virginia is more interesting to me. Democrats winning a governor's race in a deep red state is certainly newsworthy, but in terms of long-term political shifts, Virginia is the one to watch.

I don't mean to be dismissive of the news that Democratic gubernatorial candidates even have a chance in three Southern states -- that is big news indeed. Kentucky and Mississippi voted today, while there will be a runoff governor's election in Louisiana on November 16 -- and all three races are too close to call at this point. While Kentucky and Louisiana often still elect conservative Democrats, the fact that there's a close race in Mississippi is pretty stunning. The outcome of these races could determine whether millions of their citizens will benefit from Medicare expansion (or continue to benefit from them, in the case of Kentucky). And that's just one big issue out of many.

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It's Actually A Four-Person Race At Best, Mayor Pete

[ Posted Monday, November 4th, 2019 – 18:22 UTC ]

Once again we're going to take another deep dive into the polling for the Democratic presidential field. We were inspired to do so because this weekend we passed a milestone -- we are now less than a full year away from the 2020 general election. And we're only about three months away from when the first voters get to have their say on the frozen tundra of the Iowa plains.

So let's just dig in to the numbers, to see where things stand, shall we?


Campaign News

Two candidates have exited the contest since the last time we examined the full Democratic field. First, Tim Ryan left the race, surprising many who hadn't even been aware he was in the running in the first place. The second exit was a little more prominent, as Beto O'Rourke hung up his spurs last week in dramatic fashion (his announcement was totally unexpected by anyone on his staff, reportedly). While it does seem like a lot of folks have now left the race, we are still left with 17 (!) candidates -- which, even without all the candidates who have already dropped out, still equals the biggest field the Republicans ever had back in 2016.

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Friday Talking Points -- Infair To Rupublicans!

[ Posted Friday, November 1st, 2019 – 18:02 UTC ]

Does President Trump's phone even have a spell-checker? One has to wonder, when he tweets so many idiotic misspellings on such a regular basis. This week's gem came directly after the House voted on impeachment inquiry procedures, which Trump wasn't exactly happy about:

Republicans are very unified and energized in our fight on the Impeachment Hoax with the Do Nothing Democrats, and now are starting to go after the Substance even more than the very infair Process because just a casual reading of the Transcript leads EVERYBODY to see that.....

.....the call with the Ukrainian President was a totally appropriate one. As he said, "No Pressure." This Impeachment nonsense is just a continuation of the Witch Hunt Hoax, which has been going on since before I even got elected. Rupublicans, go with Substance and close it out!

Rupublicans? How infair!


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Two Bone-Chilling Hallowe'en Tales For Left And Right

[ Posted Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 – 17:59 UTC ]

It's time once again to enter the Crypt, shine a flashlight up onto our face in the dark, and spin two ghastly tales of horror and mayhem for both sides of the aisle.

Gather 'round and prepare to quiver in fear, kiddies, because Hallowe'en comes but once a year. Think things are bad now? Hah! Think they couldn't possibly get any more spine-chilling or frightful? Think again!

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