Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Whistling Past the Concentration Camp

Link


Elise Stefanik took issue with fellow U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referring to migrant detention camps on the country’s southern border as “concentration camps” last week.

Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, responded by tweeting about a Holocaust education act she co-introduced and saying the congresswoman from the Bronx needs to learn the history.

“I think that she needs to educate herself,” Stefanik said in a phone interview on Thursday. “That was something that I learned in school. I vividly remember reading Anne Frank’s diary in sixth grade. As we see these numbers moving globally with lack of education on the Holocaust … frankly it’s disappointing that clearly in this case the members of Congress themselves needs to be educated.”

Apparently AOC has "educated" herself. Pick up a dictionary, Elise!

While the most common use of “concentration camp” is in reference to the Nazi Germany-era camps where many people were executed, concentration camp is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as any place where “large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities, sometimes to provide forced labor or to await mass execution.”

Many nations before and after Nazi Germany have run concentration camps.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Mea Culpa


My bad. Rep. Stefanik did come out with a statement critical of the president's notice that he is open to information from foreign sources. It is nearly identical to the FEC chair's. What is remarkable is that anyone has to point out the chief executive that it's illegal. So we can only hope ignorance of the law is not an excuse in 2020. It's reassuring to see our rep working to protect the sanctity of American elections.

No such sanctity for congressional oversight. Due to my inexperience with law, I didn't realize obeying subpoenas was optional. Failure to comply doesn't mean jail? The same article said our rep "voted against a procedure that would allow the Judiciary Committee to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings to enforce subpoenas." Her rationale is "this resolution does little to strengthen congressional oversight." Enforcing subpoenas doesn't strengthen it?

She also says it "only furthers House Democrat’s pro-impeachment agenda." There is a minority of Democrats in the House calling for impeachment and Speaker Pelosi has continually tamped it down. I saw recently that Rep. Stefanik has read the Mueller report. She's not curious why the president put forth so much effort into obstructing the investigation into Russian interference in the election? Mr. Trump stated in the Stephanopoulos interview that Don McGahn lied to the grand jury. He resorted to insulting the interviewer when it was pointed out he did not answer Mueller's obstruction questions in his written responses. Seems like enough reason to compel Mr. McGahn to testify. Still time for Republican congress folks to get on the right side of history.

Monday, June 17, 2019

In Defense of Government Employees


I'm responding to Carl Thomas' entreaty to "forget Russia" and focus on the supposed treachery of Barack Obama who apparently spent 8 years trying to destroy the country. That's when he wasn't busy rescuing it from the Great Recession and giving access to healthcare to over 20 million Americans. And "collusion investigators were complicit including Mr. Mueller" in the treachery. Read the report. They didn't investigate collusion. So, who should I trust: Mueller or Trump? Robert Mueller rehabbed his knee in order to serve in Vietnam, directed the FBI after 9/11 and has been married to his wife for 53 years. One wife, same as Obama. Trump? The less said on all of these and more, the better.

In a recent interview, the president said "there's nothing wrong with listening" if the Russians offer help. His cleanup efforts say you still have to look at it. That's after the chair of the Federal Elections Commission released a statement, "It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election." It's illegal to look at it. The FBI director concurs.

Rep. Stefanik has legislation targeting Putin and his minions. Great! But, Trump is inviting all comers to the table and Sen. McConnell is killing any legislation in the Senate designed to protect elections. In addition, there are a large number of people trotting out Deep State conspiracy nonsense about government employees, including former heads of FBI and CIA. I'd gladly match the patriotism and dedication of any of them against our president. Let's extend that to journalists, as well. Your silence implies agreement, congresswoman.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Stefanik on Barr


Because my rep values my opinion so much. 


Awhile back, Rep. Stefanik signed off on a letter to Rep. Schiff that, "your actions ... are incompatible with your duty of Chairman of this committee" and "we have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties in a manner consistent with your Constitutional responsibility and urge your immediate resignation as Chairman."

More recently, she released a statement on the Mueller report, "AG Barr was clear that the process was completed with a high degree of transparency, no executive privilege, limited redactions and resulted in a report of no collusion." Read the report. Collusion is a cliche, not a crime.

During AG Barr's testimony to the Senate, he told Sen. Harris that he'd made the call of no obstruction without looking at underlying evidence and based on the Mueller report which didn't make a determination one way or the other. He also couldn't say whether the White House had suggested investigations for the DOJ to engage in because he was "grappling" with the meaning of the word "suggest." He also couldn't say if campaigns should report foreign interference when they see it. The cherry on top is that, in his opinion, a president can shut down an investigation into himself if he feels he's being falsely accused.

In late March, Mueller wrote to Barr that his summary letter "did not capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusions." And that it "threatens to undermine ... full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations." Yet, on April 10 Barr told Sen. Van Hollen, "I don't know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion." I'm curious if our congresswoman has faith in William Barr discharging his duties in a manner consistent with the Constitution.


She's such a hack. She was in the paper today, too.


“I have read the report which found that there was no conspiracy or collusion. However, the report is extremely clear that Russia did attempt to meddle in our elections and that cannot be ignored,” she said in a follow-up email.

And

When asked to comment about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s’ comment that Barr had lied during his testimony to Congress, she said she did not see the testimony because she had committee hearings that day.

Stefanik said she did not reach any conclusions from the report different from what Barr said in his summary letter.

Link

Monday, April 22, 2019

Stefanik's Response to Mueller Report


I first want to mention Rep. Stefanik's bizarre legislation requiring the FBI to notify Congress if candidates were under investigation. It would've been a footrace among Republicans on the Hill to see who could inform candidate Trump first. His campaign was warned that foreign actors, including Russia, would try to infiltrate it and that they should, wait for it, tell the FBI.

In the wake of the Mueller report, Rep. Stefanik put out a statement noting "no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign." She's going to focus on "interference in our elections by Russia and other foreign adversaries." It would've been nice to see some mention of obstruction to balance that no collusion mantra. Mueller seemed to say that the only thing preventing those charges were OLC guidelines against indicting a sitting president and Trump's staff saving him by not following orders.

A group of writers at Lawfare blog posted that Trump's campaign, "were aware the Russians sought to help him win. They welcomed that assistance. Instead of warning the American public, they instead devised a public relations and campaign strategy that sought to capitalize on Russia's illicit assistance. In other words, the Russians and the Trump campaign shared a common goal, and each side worked to achieve that goal with basic knowledge of the other side's intention. They just didn't agree to work toward that goal together."

Rudy Guiliani said this weekend, "There's nothing wrong with taking information from the Russians." It kind of sounds like our congresswoman agrees with that. They didn't help Donald Trump in order to MAGA. That's a given. Maybe finding why they did is something she could focus on.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Stefanik Hackery




     I’m writing about Rep. Stefanik joining 8 members of House Intelligence to call on Rep. Schiff to resign because “the findings of the special counsel conclusively refute your past and present exertions.” Odd, since they’ve only seen the Barr letter and not the Mueller report. Rep. Schiff gives rebuttal in which he mentions the Russians approaching the Trump campaign with “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Instead of contacting the FBI, they met with them in Trump Tower and later “lied about that meeting and said it was about adoptions.” He also brings up Paul Manafort sending polling data to the Kremlin, Jared Kushner’s attempt to “establish a secret back channel of communication with the Russians,” Michael Flynn’s conferring with the Russian ambassador about sanctions before the inauguration, Donald Trump’s calling on Russia to hack Clinton’s e-mails and his secret attempt “to consummate a real estate deal in Moscow” all through the campaign. A reasonable person might see moral collusion, if not legal.
     Rep. Stefanik has said, “Policymakers on both sides of the aisle should respect the findings of this investigation: There was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.” Does she have as much of a problem with the president disrespecting the findings by falsely saying he’s exonerated as she does with Rep. Schiff? Obstruction, anyone?
     Some of Mueller’s investigators say Barr, “Failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Barr indicated.” They were silent as the tomb during the investigation, but they’re free to speak now. When they come before House Intelligence, are those who are so troubled by Rep. Schiff, but not the president, going to attempt to get at the truth?
286 words

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Complete Schiff Response to Republican Quislings



“My colleagues might think it’s OK that the Russians offered dirt on the Democratic candidate for president as part of what’s described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that’s OK.

“My colleagues might think it’s OK that when that was offered to the son of the president, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president’s son did not call the FBI; he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help – no, instead that son said that he would ‘love’ the help with the Russians.

“You might think it’s OK that he took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience running campaigns, also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that they concealed it from the public. You might think it’s OK that their only disappointment after that meeting was that the dirt they received on Hillary Clinton wasn’t better. You might think that’s OK.

“You might think it’s OK that when it was discovered, a year later, that they then lied about that meeting and said that it was about adoptions. You might think that it’s OK that it was reported that the president helped dictate that lie. You might think that’s OK. I don’t.

“You might think it’s OK that the campaign chairman of a presidential campaign would offer information about that campaign to a Russian oligarch in exchange for money or debt forgiveness. You might think that’s OK, I don’t.

“You might think it’s OK that that campaign chairman offered polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence. I don’t think that’s OK.

“You might think it’s OK that the president himself called on Russia to hack his opponent’s emails, if they were listening. You might think it’s OK that later that day, in fact, the Russians attempted to hack a server affiliated with that campaign. I don’t think that’s OK.

“You might think it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law sought to establish a secret back channel of communication with the Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility. I don’t think that’s OK.

“You might think it’s OK that an associate of the president made direct contact with the GRU through Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks, that is considered a hostile intelligence agency. You might think it’s OK that a senior campaign official was instructed to reach that associate and find out what that hostile intelligence agency had to say in terms of dirt on his opponent.

“You might think it’s OK that the national security adviser designate secretly conferred with the Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions, and you might think it’s OK that he lied about it to the FBI.

“You might say that’s all OK, that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s OK. I don’t think it’s OK. I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic and, yes, I think it’s corrupt – and evidence of collusion.”

“Now I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy was another matter. Whether the special counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt the proof of that crime would be up to the special counsel, and I would accept his decision, and I do. He’s a good and honorable man, and he is a good prosecutor.

“But I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is OK. And the day we do think that’s OK is the day we will look back and say that is the day that America lost its way.”

“And I will tell you one more thing that is apropos of the hearing today: I don’t think it’s OK that during a presidential campaign Mr. Trump sought the Kremlin’s help to consummate a real estate deal in Moscow that would make him a fortune – according to the special counsel, hundreds of millions of dollars. I don’t think it’s OK to conceal it from the public. I don’t think it’s OK that he advocated a new and more favorable policy towards the Russians even as he was seeking the Russians’ help, the Kremlin’s help to make money. I don’t think it’s OK that his attorney lied to our committee. There is a different word for that than collusion, and it’s called ‘compromise.’

“And that is the subject of our hearing today.”

And one of those quislings is my own rep. Rep. Stefanik. We are so proud of her. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Crying Wolfe Over Trump



 This is in response to John Wolfe who seems upset about alleged criminals being investigated. I appreciate his concern over former President Clinton. His impeachment was for perjury and obstruction of justice, not dalliances, though. Can anyone imagine our current president testifying without perjuring himself?

The Mueller investigation hasn't cost "nearly $40 million." That's a Trump number. The roughly $27 million it has cost is being recouped from penalties on Paul Manafort due to his plea bargain. And he's not going to prison for lying or looking at Mueller "cross-eyed." He was convicted of tax and bank fraud, failure to report foreign bank accounts, conspiracy and obstruction. I wonder if Trump supporters believe that, along with lying to the FBI, those shouldn't be crimes either. Likely when the state of New York finishes, many of those charges will also be applied to Mr. Trump.

As far as congressmen pontificating about impeachment, Speaker Pelosi said the president "wasn't worth it." I await his tweet, "I am too worth impeaching!" It would be easy to speculate over "collusion" when every person in the campaign was engaged with Russians. Junior, Kushner and Manafort meeting them in Trump Tower. Kushner's back channel with them secure from American intelligence. Manafort sending polling data to the Kremlin. No, not everyone in Washington is under investigation for lying. There are good reasons for those who are, though.

Do truth, justice and the American way mean anything anymore? The president has over 9,000 "false statements." His supporters attack the American system of justice. Russian and North Korean dictators are our pals and Canada and Europe our enemies. Reagan's shining city on a hill is now just a shuttered Trump casino in Atlantic City.    

Friday, March 15, 2019

In Defense of Chuck Schumer

And in response to this:

Link


I'm responding to Rhea Greene's criticism of Sen. Schumer for being silent on freshman Rep. Omar. Mr. Schumer said, "Rep. Omar's use of an anti-Semitic stereotype was offensive and irresponsible. This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress-or anywhere in American society. No one should invoke anti-Semitic tropes during policy disagreements." It sounds good to me. I wonder if Ms. Greene has been critical of the silence from Republicans over Rep. Steve King's 13 years of racism. Yes, they finally worked up to a quiet censure. Democrats punish their own. Ask former Sen. Franken.

Maybe we should be urging Rep. Stefanik to condemn President Trump over his recent remarks where he channels Benito Mussolini. "I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of Bikers for Trump-I have the tough people, but they don't play it tough-until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad."

Awhile back, Maggie Alitz wrote glowingly of Tucker Carlson. I can't quote much of what Mr. Carlson said on Bubba the Love Sponge's (yes, really) radio show. So, I won't. I assume neither Ms. Greene nor Ms. Alitz have much problem with the things he said. I guess many on the right don't, since he has a very highly rated show on Fox News. But, he's not a Democrat. That's sad, too.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Persist

Letter from Clayton Burgess:

As a United Methodist clergyman, I wish to apologize to the LGBT community and to the community as a whole for the disgusting and immoral decision of the United Methodist denomination to not only continue, but strengthen its ban on the ordination of homosexuals and the right of United Methodist clergy to perform marriage services for the gay community. The bottom line ethic of the Christian faith has been, for 2,000 years, love of God and love of neighbor. This action by the United Methodist denomination does not express a love of neighbor and is one more nail in the coffin of a dying church. Young people who have noticed the hypocrisy of the church are staying away in droves. Is this the future of a church that has lost sight of its founder?
As a retired Methodist pastor, I will continue, with many other clergy, to ignore this unholy prohibition. I know the action of the general church does not reflect the attitude and will of most local churches. It took many years to eliminate officially sanctioned segregation from our denomination. The above ban will be eliminated too.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Stefanik Hypocrisy Letter


I'm responding to Rep. Stefanik's call for Rep. Omar to be removed from the House Foreign Relations Committee. Ms. Omar made the tweet, "It's all about the Benjamins baby" in reference to AIPAC. I'm wondering why a freshman member of Congress should be held to a higher standard than House Minority Leader McCarthy. He tweeted, "We cannot allow Soros, Steyer and Bloomberg to BUY this election" in November 2018. Anti-Semitic tropes are acceptable about Jewish liberals, but not lobbyist organizations for Israel? Ms. Omar has apologized, Mr. McCarthy hasn't. Speaker Pelosi, "A newcomer to Congress has apologized for her remarks; it took them, what, 13 years to notice Steve King?" Congrats to Republicans for finally mustering a censure of him.

Slander of George Soros is a cottage industry among Republicans. President Trump suggested Soros might be funding caravans from Central America. The shooter at the synagogue in Pennsylvania latched onto conspiracy theories involving the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and caravans. The president is only responsible for spreading nonsense, of course. That House resolution Rep Stefanik supports condemning anti-Semitic hatred is going to be working overtime in the GOP. Is there one for Native Americans so we can condemn Mr. Trump for his continual use of "Pocahontas" to refer to Sen. Warren?

I suggest that our rep focus her efforts on the beam in her own party's eye. Democrats criticized Rep. Omar and she apologized. Has there been the slightest contrition ever from a Republican politician?  Just crickets there.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Response to Carlton Tucker

Who I keep wanting to refer to as Tucker Carlson.

Link


I'm replying to Carlton Tucker who notes that, "some...on the left, want to blame the president for the interruption in government services." I would think that's all of us on the left. And we call it a shutdown. So does the president. He said he would "shut down the government" if he didn't get money for his wall, a rare episode of honesty. In addition to quotes, the internet has videos of campaign rallies with Mr. Trump asking, "Who's paying for the wall?" The crowds would call back, "Mexico!" There's not much argument over who's supposed to be paying.

The president's latest argument for the monument to Trumpism is that it's going to stop all the drugs from coming in. It won't. The Coast Guard makes over half the seizures. Here's a quote from Rep. DeFazio (D- Oregon), "If the president really wants to talk about intercepting drugs, and he wants to talk about real border security, he should be talking about giving more resources to the United States Coast Guard, and not stiffing them on their paychecks, and not making them fly ancient helicopters and use 50-year-old cutters." The president could at least stand up to Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and end the shutdown so that branch of the military could get paid.

The $5 billion he wants for the shrine to his presidency would go a long way toward supporting drug interdiction at sea and providing customs agents to stop them at legal points of entry where most of the bulk of them come in. Democrats know that. The president's new chief of staff does, too. He called the border wall "simplistic" and "absurd and almost childish."

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Man the Trebuchets!

Just gotta link to this Dana Milbank piece.

Link

"Some have suggested a barrier is immoral," he said, but it's really an expression of "love."

He has a point. The trouble with the wall isn't that it's evil, but that it's medieval.

If the plan is to bet the United States' national security on the siege-warfare technology of the ancient and medieval worlds, which is what a wall does, then our strategy has to be much more Byzantine.



Lives Well-Lived

I love a good obit. It's sad to see these folks pass, but I do love to read about lives well-lived.

Samuel Snipes

Samuel Snipes, a white lawyer who held off an angry mob while representing the first Black family to move into the all-white development of Levittown, has died. He was 99.

Snipes died Dec. 31 at his family farm in Morrisville, according to family members.

In 1957, he represented Daisy and Bill Myers when the Black couple and their three young children quietly moved into Levittown.

“He felt they had every right to live there,” said David Kushner, author of the 2009 book “Levittown” that explored the ordeal. “He played a pivotal role in helping the first African-American family move into Levittown and left a really wonderful legacy in that regard, in taking on the system and doing what was right.”

And got 99 well-deserved years. Sounds like that could've gone otherwise.

Howell Begle

Howell Begle, a Washington lawyer who found a second career crusading on behalf of underpaid black R&B stars of the 1950s and ’60s, leading to industrywide royalty reform and the creation of the charitable Rhythm & Blues Foundation, died on Dec. 30 at a hospital in Lebanon, N.H. He was 74.

His wife, Julie Eilber, said the cause was injuries he sustained in a skiing accident on Dec. 24. 

Way too young, but he lived long enough to untarnish the reputation of lawyers. There are some very nice ones.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Obituary

This may be the greatest, most inspiring thing I'll read all year.

Link

And for good measure he lived to be 108.