…and here’s how, as urged by my neighbor Tony Piel, former director and general legal counsel of the World Health Organization:We Democrats may have made a mistake in going for impeachment of Trump in the House of Congress focused on the single issue of violation of US Election Law (which turned into a debate, day after day, over “corruption,” Biden, Burisma and Hunter, which “Trumpists” could distract us with). It was a foregone conclusion, from day one, that Trump would be acquitted by the Republican majority in the Senate.
What we should have done, and could still do, is call for full hearings in the House and go for a motion to censure Trump for his explicit, incontrovertible violation of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. laws of consequence. (Note that House censure motions do not go to the Senate.) These violations include :
(1) Trump violated the constitutional ban on receiving emoluments (things of value ) from foreign governments, agencies, persons or enemies of the U.S. such as Putin’s Russia. (Motivation for taking the emoluments is irrelevant. Trump broke the law.)
(2) Trump violated the U.S .Impoundment Control Act which prohibits the diversion or withholding of funds specifically appropriated by Congress, without the consent of Congress. (Motivation for evading Congress is irrelevant. Trump broke the law.)
(3) Trump repeatedly violated the U.S. Constitutional provision outlawing treasonous conduct “giving aid and comfort to enemies of the U.S.” Note that Trump’s withholding of military assistance to Ukraine was effectively a way of giving military assistance to Putin’s Russia. (Motivation for treasonous behavior is irrelevant. Trump sided with our enemy, Putin’s Russia again and again. Trump broke the law.)
This op-ed from The Hartford Courant is by Ted Doolittle, Healthcare Advocate for the State of Connecticut. He previously served as a senior Medicare official, and before that worked for a major health insurer. He’s my son, too.
The insurance companies have launched an all-out campaign against Medicare expansion, stoking fears that any such plan will take away health coverage from millions of us and destroy health insurance as we know it. The dirty secret the insurers don’t want us to know is that while keeping the gold-plated status quo in place is by far their first choice, the second-best thing that could ever happen to the industry is Medicare expansion.
The history is that major Medicare expansions result in big, stable, lasting growth for the health insurers. This happened when we added drug coverage in 2006, and when Medicare Advantage began in 1997, giving folks the option of getting their Medicare directly from carriers through HMO-like plans. There is no reason to suppose that an even larger future Medicare expansion won’t again produce a boost for insurance companies.
That’s because Medicare never was a classic New Deal-style program run by a large staff of federal employees in the vein of Social Security. Rather, Medicare from the start has been quietly the most successful public-private partnership in American history. The program ever since 1965 has been administered by a relatively tiny federal staff overseeing an army of thousands of for-profit companies, including all the major health insurance carriers.
That’s why, backstage and with makeup off, few savvy insurance executives would stand by the industry’s public position that Medicare expansion will destroy their companies. To the contrary, the best-informed industry leaders know perfectly well that any expansion would mean massive new business for them.
From Anthony Piel:
The public US Postal Service System was established by the Continental Congress in 1775. This was pursuant to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 on the US Constitution which empowers Congress (not the President) “to establish Post Offices and Post Roads” across the nation.
Benjamin Franklin was appointed by Congress as the first Postmaster General of the United States. From day one, the Postal System was created as a public service intended eventually to serve all Americans equally in all states and territories of the United States. Postal rates are the same everywhere for everyone.
Now however, President Trump has announced proposals to “privatize” the US Postal Service, by selling off offices and services to the highest bidders, putting more and more of American assets concentrated in the hands of the few, namely profit-making corporations, so-called “investors,” American oligarchs, and multi-millionaires/billionaires like himself. How self-serving can you get ?
Trump “thinks” he has absolute power, immunity, and privilege to do “Whatever I want” (his words) by means of executive order and/or Presidential “tweet.” No, he cannot. Trump cannot bypass the US Congress (which has the sole power and authority to create, run, modify or abolish the public US Postal Service). In short, Trump lacks both the power and the competence to “privatize” the US Postal System.
Let’s make it clear : The US Mail is NOT for Sale.
From The Herp Digest:
An adorable photograph showing a bearded pygmy chameleon perching on a pencil at Chester Zoo, Cheshire, has emerged. The reptile finally emerged from their eggs following a 70 day incubation period. Found only in the coastal forests of Tanzania, the reptiles can change colour and produce a line down their body to perfectly blend in with leaves in their surroundings.
Here’s Vice President Pence, briefing the press in Rome:
Well, I’m not aware of what — what Mr. Parnas said about the Ukrainian ambassador. But I can tell you what — what he has said — what he had said about me has been completely false. I don’t recall ever having met Mr. Parnas, although I’ve seen a couple of photographs where, apparently, he was in my vicinity.
SORRENTO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man who repeatedly harassed parents of shooting victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been arrested for possessing the identification of one of the parents, authorities said.
Wolfgang Halbig, 73, was arrested Monday on a charge that he was in unlawful possession of another person’s identification, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office…
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Halbig repeatedly emailed several people and law enforcement agencies the Social Security number, birth date and other information of Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son, Noah, died at Sandy Hook.
From The Associated Press:
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out in anger Saturday at an NPR reporter who accused him of shouting expletives at her after she asked him in an interview about Ukraine. In a direct and personal attack, America’s chief diplomat said the journalist had “lied” to him and he called her conduct “shameful.…”
After the NPR interview, Kelly said she was taken to Pompeo’s private living room, where he shouted at her “for about the same amount of time as the interview itself,” using the “F-word” repeatedly. She said he was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine…
Kelly said Pompeo asked whether she thought Americans cared about Ukraine and if she could find the country on a map.
“I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing,” she said in discussing the encounter on “All Things Considered.” “I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said, ‘people will hear about this.’”
What I want to know is why the F-word does the Secretary of State keep a no-named world map around the office and why the F-word would such a thing even exist?
…snuck under the wire:
From NBC News:
The government has long had authority to block immigrants who were likely to become public charges, but the term has never been formally defined. The DHS proposed to fill that void, adding noncash benefits and such factors as age, financial resources, employment history, education and health.Who knew Cuccinelli was an old Anglo-Saxon name?
The acting deputy secretary of the DHS, Ken Cuccinelli, said the proposed rules would reinforce “the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America.”
WASHINGTON ― Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to make Lawrence VanDyke a lifetime federal judge, despite the American Bar Association rating him “not qualified” because, according to his own colleagues, he is “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules…”
But his most damning indictment came from the American Bar Association, which for years has evaluated the competency of each of a president’s judicial nominees. After interviews with dozens of his colleagues, including 43 lawyers and 16 judges, the national lawyers’ group gave VanDyke an embarrassing “not qualified” rating. The ABA said VanDyke’s colleagues described him as “arrogant, lazy” and “an ideologue,” and couldn’t say if he “would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”
The ABA evaluation cited a theme among interviewees that VanDyke “has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.”
Anthony Piel writes:
While the American public continues to be distracted by the Trump administration’s assassination of an Iranian government official (itself a violation of international law), Trump continues his war on the very concepts of human rights and international law.
As Rafia Zakaria recently pointed out in “The Death of Human Rights,” Trump has continued to crumble the edifice of human rights that began with the 1948 ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To do this, Trump has openly attacked the United Nations, NATO and the EU, as unnecessary international collaboration when a Trump/US unilateral diktat should suffice, with all other nations just falling in line.
Example: Recently, the UN Security Council watched, appalled, as the Trump delegation announced that the United States would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law. In 2019, Trump woke up one morning and announced that he had “decided to give the Golan Heights to Israel.” (Problem, it wasn’t his to give.)
Now, with most Americans thoroughly distracted, Trump is quietly preparing his proposed US National Budget for 2020. The Trump administration is seeking a reduction in regular funding for the UN by 25 %, and still more for Peacekeeping and Family Planning, and is trying to persuade USAID and WHO to spend less attention and money on control of international communicable diseases, such as Malaria and Ebola.
Domestically, Trump would “privatize” Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, if he could. He is further weakening regulation of land, water and air pollution, as well as protections for endangered species, human health, and survival of Planet Earth. Under Trump, even more federal and state funds will be diverted from public schools to private “religious” schools to promote their own religions (an unconstitutional purpose).
We all know, or should know, the obvious solution: Kick Trump and his political cronies and tax avoiding sycophants out of office, one way or the other. Trump is clearly “under equipped,” mentally and morally, for any job of responsibility in the US or anywhere else. Everything Trump has touched has turned into what Rachel Maddow and others have described as “cow puckey.”
If Trump is subsequently proven to have committed specific crimes, then investigate, prosecute, try, convict and sentence him, like every other citizen under the law. Finally, to paraphrase Trump himself, let us chant: “Lock HIM up !”
…explained by Anthony Piel:
President Donald Trump spent yesterday at Mar-a-Lago tweeting and claiming credit for the Dow Jones reaching nearly 29,000, an all-time record. Trump has put out over 100 Tweets making this claim, and saying it will be the central issue in his campaign for re-election in 2020. Trump’s base is delirious !
The question is, do stock market price trends actually measure trends in the real economy, or something else ? The answer is, something else. So, what do the stock market prices actually reflect ? The answer : The continuing rise in stock markets results mainly from the continuing increase in disparity of wealth and income in the US. The typical already-wealthy few, who own and earn more that the bottom half of all Americans, have limited ways of investing their new wealth in economic development initiatives, so month after month and year after year, they routinely put part of their new-found (often untaxed) wealth in the stock and bond markets. It is this, and not economic growth, that accounts for the continuing rise in the markets.…Read on
“When we were kids, a lot of us were kids, growing up, oceans separated us from danger. We were confident in our ability to resist evil because evil could never make it to our shore, unless it was created internally.No, not that president. This was George W. Bush in September of 2002, practicing his English on the students of Nashville’s East Literature Magnet School.
“There’s a lot of talk about Iraq on our TV screens, and there should be, because we’re trying to figure out how best to make the world a peaceful place. There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
I can’t argue with Chris Hedges on this, and so I won’t. The message of the 2017 Million Women’s March and the 2018 mid-terms wasn’t that the Democratic Party should double down next time on presidential candidates from the Republican wing of the party. Quite the opposite. It pointed to a fundamental change in the voters, away from the Bidens and Buttigiegs. Picture either of them on the debate stage, smothering Vladimir Trump with powerful displays of competence, knowledge, reason, ability, civility, sweet reason and simple decency. Might as well toss roses into a cesspool. This is America, not Oxford.
So here goes Hedges:
The liberal class and the Democratic Party leadership have failed, even after their defeat in the 2016 presidential election, to understand that they, along with the traditional Republican elites, have squandered their credibility. No one believes them. And no one should…
From Anthony Piel:
Lord forbid that President Trump gets re-elected in 2020. As it is, Trump and the Trump-dominated GOP have tried to undo everything the Democratic Party has long stood for and tried to accomplish to benefit “ordinary” Americans, notably the saving of Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, public education, labor rights and the environment.
While we have all been distracted by Trump’s endless distractions, and most recently by the un-controvertible evidence that “Vladimir Trump” committed the impeachable “ high crime” of attempted bribery of a foreign government, using taxpayer money ($391 million of it) to entice Ukraine to endorse a public lie (planted by Russia) intended to undermine Trump’s domestic political opponent Joe Biden, while at the same time serving his Russian puppet master Putin, and allowing Russia to keep its annexation of Russian-speaking Crimea and Eastern Ukraine (vital to Russia’s oil & gas industry) without fear of sanctions or other actions by the West. Trump’s actions are a clear “abuse of office” and border on the impeachable high crime of treason.
Trump and “Moscow Mitch” and the GOP have been quietly eating away at funding for essential programs, such as family planning (by giving NIH family planning money to groups opposed to family planning). Meanwhile, Democratic primary candidates have been trying to set themselves apart from each other by debating various reforms (such as Medicare for all) which they would sponsor, if elected. Candidate Biden is right about one thing: None of these would-be reforms could possibly be developed, legislated and implemented unless Democrats first take back the Senate and Oval Office. That’s why priority one has to be to kick “Vladimir Trump” out of office, and only then should a Democratic Congress debate the more controversial reform details.
Here below is just one example, from the Associated Press, of how Trump and the Trump GOP (having seemingly given up on “Obamacare” for which they have no replacement because they don’t really want one) are maneuvering to destroy after 2020 the essential “Welfare” programs the Democratic party has always stood for, in this case the Affordable Care Act (ACC). If we thought we had won the battle to preserve “Health fo All,” we had better think again, because the Trump GOP doesn’t “think” so:…Read on
Legal Absurdities | Public Health and Welfare | Regulation for the Benefit of Public Health, Safety and Welfare
On Thursday, leading psychiatrists and I, along with more than 650 other mental health professionals, submitted a “Petition to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives,” to include our statement on the psychological dangers of the president. Excerpt:When a powerful person, especially a leader, suffers from mental pathology, a substantial portion of the population can be affected by a phenomenon called “shared psychosis.” Common in households where an individual suffering from severe mental illness goes untreated, we observe that, rather than the sick person getting better, the healthy members of the family take on the symptoms of the afflicted individual. At large scale, individuals who are paranoid or delusional are often very effective at garnering irrational, fervent support.
Just came across this 2005 posting in the archives:
A Democratic polling memo released yesterday found that women, who voted for President Bush last year in large numbers, have begun migrating back to their traditional home in the Democratic Party as the public's agenda has shifted from homeland security and terrorism to domestic concerns such as jobs and the economy…
Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway said that she could not comment on the specifics of the polls but that she agreed with the general thrust of Lake’s findings. “Women, if left to their own devices, are going to tend and trend Democratic. That is absolutely the case,” she said. “Women are still congenitally Democratic — and I’m the Republican pollster saying that.”
…It's "Bribery," pure and simple, says Tony Piel:
“Quid Pro Quo” is NOT the term to use when describing President Trump’s current Ukraine fiasco. The correct term is “Bribery,” pure and simple. It makes a Constitutional difference.
“Quid Pro Quo” is a first-year law school term to describe when a supposed agreement is or is not a legally enforceable “contract.” It is a short-hand way of saying that something is to be given or received, and both parties expect to be legally bound by “performance” of contract. For larger sums or values, a legally enforceable contract must usually be written, signed and dated by both parties. Without “Quid Pro Quo” there is no contract. In the Ukraine fiasco, no one has suggested that Presidents Trump and Zelensky had intended, made or signed a legally enforceable contract. Contract law is not what it was all about.
“Bribery,” by contrast, means offering something (a “bribe”) in order to solicit or influence the actions (i.e. misbehavior) of an official or other person in violation of law or public duty. Bribery is itself a crime, and even if it fails it’s still the crime of attempted bribery. In the Ukraine fiasco, Bribery is exactly what is alleged, namely Trump’s withholding of $ 391 million worth of Congress’ appropriated military aid (intended to protect Ukraine from invasion by Putin’s Russia) in order to influence Zelensky to make a public announcement of a (frankly non-existent) Ukrainian investigation of (equally non-existent) “corruption” by Trump’s personal campaign opponent, Joe Biden, in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. Soliciting (by Trump) or making (by Zelensky) such a false statement violates international as well as US national election law. It’s a perfect example of “Bribery.”
Article II of the US Constitution anticipates the problem and provides the clear solution: “A President shall be removed from office on impeachment and conviction of Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes.” There’s nothing about “Quid Pro Quo.” It’s all about “Bribery.” The remedy: Removal from office. If not by impeachment, then by vote. Why ? (1) For unsuitability for high office, (2) for abuse of presidential power, and for violation of US law and the US Constitution. It’s that pure and simple.
By now the idea that I had planted only a moment before had become completely his. It’s always a treat to watch a sociopath at work. For a man like Thurman Boucher, memory as the rest of us understand it just doesn’t exist. The past is rearranged and reinterpreted every second, to satisfy the organism’s changing needs. So once the idea had started to look good to him, it became his.Thurman is a newspaper publisher, and the quote is from a 1995 mystery Kill Story, by my favorite author, me.
For the full article and video, go here.
“They are conducting the first ever female spacewalk to replace an exterior part of the space station,” Trump said. After a lag (there was a four second delay according to someone in the room), Meir chimed in to offer a correction.
“First of all, we don’t want to take too much credit, because there have been many other female spacewalkers before us,” Meir said from a location Trump accurately described as “a very high altitude.”
“This is just the first time there have been two women outside at the same time.”
It is at this point in the call, as video evidence clearly shows, that Trump raises his middle finger to the bridge of his nose, strokes his T-Zone, edges the aforementioned derisive finger along the outside of his eyebrow, and then uses it to curl some stray hairs behind his ear.
From the New York Times:
William B. Taylor Jr., the top diplomat in Ukraine, gave “damning” testimony Tuesday about President Trump and the effort to pressure Ukraine’s government for political gain, according to a Democratic lawmaker and another person familiar with the opening statement Mr. Taylor delivered behind closed doors in the ongoing impeachment inquiry…
The State Department tried to block Mr. Taylor from appearing for Tuesday’s deposition, or to limit his testimony if he did, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry who insisted on anonymity to describe the negotiations. So early Tuesday morning, in keeping with a pattern that has allowed investigators to extract crucial information from numerous administration witnesses, the House Intelligence Committee quietly issued a subpoena to compel Mr. Taylor to testify, and he complied.
I urge you to read this New York Times article to the end. The story it tells is squalid almost beyond belief. “Almost” because we know by now that nothing is beneath the soldier-sniffing, draft-dodging little prick in the White House — a specimen so cowardly that he hides behind Twitter to do his firing.
Here we see him hoping to look brave by sucking up to the most sadistic bully boys in his schoolyard. But the only one seen to have any actual balls in this story turns out to be a girl: Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar. Unfortunately her next promotion will have to wait until Elizabeth Warren chases Bone Spurs out of the White House.
Does this apply to us? You could argue that Deep Tan Don’s America suggests the opposite. What think?
The upper and middle classes in Germany during the 1920s-1940s were almost twice as likely to join the Nazi party than those with lower social status. So it may be that those who have the most to lose and/or are keen to climb the social ladder are particularly likely to conform. And, of course, if other members of your social circle are conforming, you may think it’s the “appropriate” thing to do.
More than 2 million Americans are in the country’s prisons and jails now, giving the United States both the largest number of prisoners and the highest per-capita incarceration rate in the world. For the U.S., the rate is well over 700 prisoners for each 100,000 of population. According to a recent BBC report, the only close contender is Russia, with an imprisonment rate of over 600 per 100,000 population.What did I tell you.
In case you missed this back in 2002. They seem to have in Florida, in North Carolina — well, you get the point…
One of every seven people in Brazil is illiterate, voting is obligatory and every office from president down to state representative was on the ballot. Yet less than 10 hours after the polls closed on Oct. 6, and again in last Sunday's presidential runoff vote, all of the more than 90 million votes cast had been tabulated.
There was no muss, no fuss and no hanging chads, thanks largely to a new computerized voting system that experts describe as perhaps the most advanced and efficient in the world…
The heart of the Brazilian system is a plain $420 computer with a keyboard much like that of an automatic teller machine. Voters punch in the number of the candidate they want to vote for, wait for the candidate's picture and name to appear on the screen, confirm their choice or correct any error by pressing another button, and then move on to the next office on the list.
Brazilian officials said the new system also makes tallying the vote easier and more reliable once the polls have closed. Instead of relying on election judges who are vulnerable to error or political pressures, the results are transmitted on a secure line to the state capital and then to a national center in Brasília.
Fears that the system would be vulnerable to fraud appear to have been unfounded.
From the New York Times:
There’s a suspicion in Washington that a lot of Senate Republicans would be happy to turn on the president if there were some kind of super-secret impeachment ballot. This is probably true. How many of them would even want to have lunch with Donald Trump if he were, say, a school custodian. Not even Lindsey Graham.
…you don’t need an enemy. Tony Piel explains:
As the American people have now learned, an (unnamed) whistleblower,” that is, a concerned US intelligence officer, has filed an official complaint that President Trump & Giuliani, in violation of several US laws, have been repeatedly calling and putting pressure on a foreign leader, believed to be President Zelensky of Ukraine, in order to get him to find “dirt” on potential 2020 Presidential rival candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, in return for the reputed US release of some $ 250 million worth of military arms shipments. (???)
If true, then Trump and Giuliani have conspired (a) to violate US election laws, (b) to abrogate the US Constitution’s ban on foreign source “emoluments” (meaning something like money or information “of value”), (c) to engage in criminal corruption, and, in short possibly (d) to commit treason against the US, putting personal political and financial interests before the policies, principles and interests of the US and the American people. So much for duty, integrity and patriotism. Trump, of course, is asserting his imagined “executive privilege” to do “whatever I want,” including the blocking of whistleblower material being forwarded to the US Congress as the law requires. So, what is the actual (not imaginary) law governing this situation ?
The accusing whistleblower in this case is rightly relying on the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 which requires intelligence employees to submit such complaint to the Inspector-General (which he did), and then, if found “credible” and “urgent” (which it was) then it is to be forwarded to the Director of National Intelligence, not for final decision, but to be sure the material does not contain other national security secrets that should be “redacted” before on-sending.
The Act then states (i.e. requires) that within seven days the Director of National Intelligence shall forward the material to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees of the US Congress. There is no wriggle room left here to escape this law, unless the words “shall forward” no longer mean “will forward” in the age of Trump. Is a sitting or lying President no longer subject to the rule of law ? Or to plain English ?
When Rudi Giuliani now steps forward to defend Trump with words and actions even more outlandish and stupid than Trump himself could “think” up, you know that the White House is in a “deep state” of trouble.
From Charles Mann’s history of the Pre Columbus Americas, 1491:
Carried on a golden litter, Thupa Inka appeared with such majesty that “people left the roads along which he had to pass and, ascending the hills on either side, worshipped and adored him by pulling out their eyebrows and eyelashes.” Minions collected and stored every object he touched, food waste included, to ensure that no lesser persons could profane these objects with their touch. The ground was too dirty to receive the Inka’s saliva, so he always spat into the hands of a courtier. The courtier wiped the spittle with a special cloth and stored it for safekeeping. Once a year everything touched by the Inka — clothing, garbage, bedding, saliva, feces — was ceremonially burned.