(A Savage Comment) So, You Think Russia/Putin Only Interfered In The 2016 General Election, Really?

So, You Think Russia/Putin Only Interfered In The 2016 General Election, Really?

 

This letter to you today is just an opinion piece from my thoughts to your eyes, it is for the purpose of getting us all to think a little bit about the chances of, what if.  For those of you who do not know me I am a 63 year old Christian white guy who lives in the state of Kentucky. I believe my political leanings to be a registered Independent who has voted Republican and Democratic in the past but I honestly can’t see me ever voting for a Republican again because of them backing our current President. I consider myself to be a moderate, sort of right down the middle between being a Conservative on some issues and a bit Liberal on others. So, I don’t agree with either extreme to the left nor to the right. In 2016’s Presidential Election I voted for Gary Johnson, not because I thought he had any chance of winning but because I could not get myself to vote for either Hillary or Trump. I feel the same now as I did then, I could not get myself to vote for a person I totally believe to be a very intelligent, hate filled, habitual liar (Hillary) nor for a totally ignorant, hate filled, ego-maniac, habitual liar (Trump).

 

As most everyone whom has an I.Q. above 2 now knows that President Putin of Russia had his people interfering in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections in an effort to get Donald Trump elected as our 45th President. But I have a question that I would like for you to ponder, do you honestly believe that the Russians only screwed with the General Election in November of 2016? As over 20 U.S. State Election Boards also said that there is plenty of evidence that they were interfered with from the Russian Government. What I believe is that there is a very good chance that Mr. Trump did not win nearly as many of the State Republican Primaries as he was given credit for. He could never have been the Republican Nominee if he didn’t win enough of the Primaries. So, what if Trump via actual American votes did not win a lot of those Primaries that he was given credit for? Would John Kasich have been the Republican Nominee? Just as if the Democratic National Convention had not had the farce of so called “Super Delegates” I believe that Senator Bernie Sanders would have been the Democratic Nominee, not Hillary. Personally I believe that if Senator Sanders had been the Democratic Nominee that he would have beaten Mr. Trump in the November election. What I am saying is that I believe that the American voters totally got scammed in 2016 and to me it is looking like the Republican Party big wigs of today are bound and determined to make sure that we can have another Russian scam election in November of 2020.

 

Another side thought for you, something I just thought of while writing this letter to you. Thinking back to the 2016 General Election, it was a given that the Democrats would win the Congressional Elections but the question was by how much. A bigger question was how many Senatorial Seats would the Republicans lose to the Democrats. Turns out that the Democrats didn’t win near as many Congressional Seats as most Annalists thought they would and the Republicans actually picked up a few Senatorial Seats, not lose them. You know if a person wins the White House from one Party but the opposite Party rules both the House and the Senate the President will be vastly limited in getting anything his Party wants passed into law. So, how many Senate and Congressional Seats did the Republicans ‘win’ that they actually did not win with the American peoples votes? Looking at this issue through an “Independents” glasses it becomes obvious why the Republican Party’s Leadership isn’t concerned about “the Russians” interference. This letter is simply meant as ‘food for your thoughts’.

Author warns that Trump ‘will not exit quietly,’ even if defeated or impeached

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWS)

 

‘Anonymous’ author warns that Trump ‘will not exit quietly,’ even if defeated or impeached

USA TODAY

The anonymous official who has written a scathing account of the presidency of Donald Trump suggests the president might refuse to leave office even if convicted in impeachment hearings or defeated narrowly in the 2020 election – and says Trump is preparing his followers to see either outcome as a “coup” that could warrant resistance.

“He will not exit quietly – or easily,” the author, self-described as a senior administration official, writes in A Warning, a book that builds on an explosive op-ed by the same unnamed author last year. USA TODAY obtained an early copy of the book.

“It is why at many turns he suggests ‘coups’ are afoot and a ‘civil war’ is in the offing. He is already seeding the narrative for his followers – a narrative that could end tragically.”

From ‘Anonymous’:Read key excerpts from inside Trump White House on Putin, Pence, Hillary

As the House of Representatives prepares to open public impeachment hearings Wednesday, the book also says that Trump ordered aides more than a year ago to pursue a “deliberate and coordinated campaign” to obstruct an impeachment inquiry and other congressional investigations. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has said he is considering obstruction of Congress as a possible Article of Impeachment.

The book’s author is identified only as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” and its forthcoming publication has created a firestorm over both its depiction of a dysfunctional president and the decision by the writer to remain anonymous.

Cover of "A Warning" by an anonymous senior Trump administration official.

“The coward who wrote this book didn’t put their name on it because it is nothing but lies,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

Many of the disclosures echo news stories that have portrayed the president as impulsive, sometimes uninformed and regularly willing to defy established norms. There is already no shortage of books by Trump critics, including former FBI director James Comey and others who have served in his administration, that raise questions about the president’s fitness for office.

But The New York Times op-ed in 2018 and the new book, being published next Tuesday by Twelve, have commanded enormous attention because the author had an inside view, often participating in small White House meetings where crucial decisions were made.

The author portrays himself or herself as sharing some policy views with Trump and initially having a positive if wary view of the possibilities of his presidency.

The author says the intended audience for A Warning isn’t those who closely follow politics but rather those who don’t, particularly voters from across the country who were drawn in 2016 to Trump’s promise to shake up the establishment.

Dropping Pence from the ticket?

The book says that Trump “on more than one occasion” discussed with staffers the possibility of dropping Vice President Mike Pence before the 2020 election.

“Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley was under active consideration to step in as vice president, which she did not discourage at first,” the author writes, saying some advisers argued that putting Haley on the ticket would help the president bolster his support among female voters.

In an interview Friday with USA TODAY, Nikki Haley dismissed out of hand the suggestion that she might replace Pence. In her new book, With All Due Respect, Haley offers a generally positive portrait of Trump, and the president rewarded her with a friendly tweet urging his millions of followers to buy a copy.

Pathway of impeachment:How it works, where we are

“Anonymous” depicts Trump as impatient, immoral, cruel, even dangerous as he rejects the limits placed on presidents by Congress and the courts.

As the 2018 midterm elections approached, the book says, the White House counsel’s office began to develop a “contingency plan” to shield the administration if Democrats gained control of Congress, and with that the ability to launch investigations and issue subpoenas. New lawyers were hired and internal procedures revamped, the author writes.

“The goal wasn’t just to prepare for a barrage of legislative requests,” the book says. “It was a concerted attempt to fend off congressional oversight. When Democrats finally took the House, the unspoken administration policy toward Capitol Hill became: Give as little as possible, wait as long as possible. Even routine inquiries are now routed to the lawyers, who have found unique ways to say “We can’t right now,” “Give us a few months,” “We’re going to need to put you on hold,” “Probably not,” “No,” and “Not a chance in hell.”

Trump impeachment inquiry:Early findings and how Republicans are opposing them

The author says the administration’s refusal to comply with congressional requests and even subpoenas “go beyond standard practice and have turned into a full block-and-tackle exercise against congressional investigators across an array of Trump administration controversies.”

On the president’s actions with Ukraine, now the heart of the impeachment inquiry, the author writes that the idea Trump was trying to battle corruption abroad – rather than gain some partisan political advantage at home – was “barely believable to anyone around him.”

But the book provides no significant new information or insights into that episode.

‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards

The author’s agent, Matt Latimer, said the author didn’t take an advance payment for the book and plans to donate a substantial amount of the royalties to nonprofit organizations that encourage government accountability and an independent press.

Among other allegations, the book says:

  • Several top advisers and Cabinet-level officials last year discussed a mass resignation, “a midnight self-massacre,” intended to call attention to what they saw as Trump’s questionable and even corrupt behavior. “The idea was abandoned out of fear that it would make a bad situation worse.”
  • If a majority of the Cabinet called for Trump’s removal under the rules of the 25th Amendment, Pence would have been willing to go along with them. But the author provides no evidence to back up that assertion, and Pence in recent days has strongly denied it.
  • Trump told officials that, if they took illegal actions on his behalf, he would give them presidential pardons. “To Donald Trump, these are unlimited ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards on a Monopoly board.”
  • Trump was “particularly frustrated that the Justice Department hasn’t done more to harass the Clintons.” The president suggested to his first Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, that he might “un-recuse” himself from the Mueller inquiry into Russian election interference, presumably so he would feel free to order a more aggressive inquiry into Trump’s 2016 opponent. “You’d be a hero,” the president told him.

Republicans: Trump Is a Mad King — Vote for Us to Give Him Unchecked Power

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INTELLIGENCER NEWS AGENCY)

 

Republicans: Trump Is a Mad King — Vote for Us to Give Him Unchecked Power

All power to this person. Photo: Rick Loomis/Getty Images

Throughout 2018, the Democratic Party has had two core messages for the American people: Donald Trump is a dangerouscorrupt president whose power must be checked — and the GOP are a corrupt, dangerous party thatwants to take away health care from the sick.

Now, as the midterm campaign hits the homestretch, Republicans are making the Democrats’ case for them.

In an anonymous New York Times op-ed published Wednesday, a senior Trump administration official wrote that President Trump has “anti-democratic impulses,” is bereft of “any discernible first principles,” behaves in an “erratic” manner that is “detrimental to the health of our republic,” and is so psychologically unstable, “there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment” (which allows for a president to be removed for physical or mental incapacity). The official went on to insist that all of this “would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House” who “have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.”

The op-ed never advises its readers to vote for Democrats this fall. In fact, it suggests that unified Republican government serves the American people’s interests, as it has led to “effective deregulation” and “historic tax reform.” But when GOP strategists were sketching out the ideal message for their party to run on in 2018, they probably didn’t choose: “The health of our republic requires Donald Trump’s power to be checked — but don’t vote to place any additional checks on his power because his insubordinate staff is sometimes successful at blocking his worst ideas, and if you vote Republicans out of office they won’t be able to pass any more corporate tax cuts that you don’t like.

What’s more, it isn’t just a single, anonymous Republican official saying that President Trump cannot be trusted with power. Following the anonymous op-ed’s publication Wednesday, GOP senator Bob Corker told reporters, “This is what all of us have understood to be the situation from day one … I understand this is the case and that’s why I think all of us encourage the good people around the president to stay. I thank General Mattis whenever I see him.”

Corker’s comments echo remarks he made in October 2017, when he told theTimes that the president’s recklessness threatened to put America “on the path to World War III”; that “every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” and that “the vast majority” of the Republican caucus knows these things to be true.

Corker’s Republican colleagues have not moved to expel him from the Senate for telling outrageous lies about the president. Many have declined to even dispute the senator’s account. Which is to say: A large swath of elected Republicans have tacitly conceded that Donald Trump poses a threat to global security, and that this threat is mitigated primarily by the systemic insubordination of officials who serve at Trump’s pleasure.

Once all this is stipulated, the only plausible argument for allowing Republicans to retain full control of Congress (instead of putting a check on Trump that he could not summarily fire) is that the GOP is ready and able to check Trump’s authority itself.

But in recent weeks, congressional Republicans have explicitly assuredvoters that they will not provide effective oversight of the Executive branch. In campaign advertisements, Republican congressional candidates have devoted more airtime to proclaiming their loyalty to Donald Trump than they have to defending their party’s signature tax reform legislation. In recent weeks, many Republicans have reframed their 2018 message around a pledge to protect Trump from overzealous oversight. Last month, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn warned voters that a Democratic Congress would seek “to reverse the election by whatever means possible.”

Around the same time, Republicans on Capitol Hill compiled a list of all the White House scandals that a Democratic House would likely investigate — which is to say, a list of scandals that the current Congress is actively covering up. Among them, per Axios:

• President Trump’s tax returns

• Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the

Constitution’s emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization

• Trump’s dealings with Russia, including the president’s preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin

• The payment to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels

• James Comey’s firing

• Trump’s firing of U.S. Attorneys

• Trump’s proposed transgender ban for the military

• Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s business dealings

• White House staff’s personal email use

• Cabinet secretary travel, office expenses, and other misused perks

• Discussion of classified information at Mar-a-Lago

• Jared Kushner’s ethics law compliance

• Dismissal of members of the EPA board of scientific counselors

• The travel ban

• Family-separation policy

• Hurricane response in Puerto Rico

• Election security and hacking attempts

• White House security clearances

It’s hard to imagine any Democratic consultant putting together a better advertisement for divided government than this.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has been doing everything in its power to bolster the other pillar of Team Blue’s midterm message. It’s long been clear to Democrats and Republicans alike that health-care policy is the House majority’s biggest liability. The Obamacare repeal bill that House Republicans voted for last year proved to be the most unpopular piece of major legislation in America’s modern history. Shortly after the bill’s introduction last spring, the Democratic Party opened a double-digit lead in polls of the 2018 generic ballot, while President Trump’s job approvaldipped. Subsequent surveys showed the public favoring the Democrats over the Republicans on health-care policy by wide margins.

In May, Republican congressman — and longtime GOP strategist — Tom Cole told CNN that he wasn’t worried about the repeal effort hurting his party on Election Day. After all, by then, it would be water under the bridge. “It’s hard to beat you on a vote you didn’t succeed on,” Cole reasoned.

Alas, the Trump administration — and red-state attorneys general — has made that task much easier for Democrats. Earlier this summer, the Justice Department announced that it would not defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from a challenge brought by a group of red states, which claims that Congress’s repeal of the individual mandate rendered the law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions invalid. This claim — that Congress is not constitutionally allowed to eliminate the ACA’s insurance mandate, unless it also repeals the law’s other regulations of the health-care market — is not some sacred principle of originalist jurisprudence. Rather, it’s an ad hoc rationalization for right-wing judicial activism so specious, it makes theNational Review blush. And yet, Attorney General Jeff Sessions concluded that his department could make no honest argument against the plaintiffs’ case, and thus, had no choice but to forfeit its responsibility to defend federal law.

Oral arguments in that case began this week — and a Republican-appointed judge in Texas signaled that he buys the red states’ case. Judge Reed O’Connor “gave only cursory treatment to the baseline question of whether the individual mandate without an accompanying penalty could stand as constitutional,” according to Modern Healthcare’s Susannah Luthi, devoting most of his questions to the matter of precisely how much of the Affordable Care Act he is constitutionally obligated to strike down. On Wednesday, the judge indicated that he expects to deliver a ruling soon on whether the ACA’s consumer protections can remain in force.

It’s hard to overstate how inconvenient such a ruling would be to the GOP’s electoral strategy. The only thing Republicans want to discuss less than repealing Obamacare is repealing that law’s most popular provision. Last year, the idea of letting the market decide who can get chemotherapy without having to declare bankruptcy proved so politically toxic, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell retained versions of the ACA’s protections for people with preexisting conditions in all of their health-care bills. Even for a House Speaker whose signature policy idea is privatizing Social Security, scrapping those protections outright was a bridge too far.

Now, as voters head to the polls, Republicans may be forced to defend the god-given right of insurance companies to deny coverage to anyone who’s ever seen a psychologist. In fact, in some of 2018’s most competitive Senate races, Republicans nominated state attorneys general who brought the lawsuit to begin with.

In general, the relevance of messaging to midterm election outcomes is greatly exaggerated. But to the extent that campaign themes influence voter behavior, the Republican Party is doing its best to turn the long-forecasted “blue wave” into a tsunami.

Texas poll a warning sign for Biden

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Texas poll a warning sign for Biden

Joe Biden’s Southern-focused primary strategy may be in danger, with a new poll of Texas Democrats showing his lead narrowing to rival Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

According to a survey released by Texas Lyceum, the former vice president leads the rest of the Democratic pack with 28% support. Sanders, however, is right behind him at 26%.

The rest of the field had half of Sanders’s support or lower, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in third place at 13%. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came in fourth at 9%.

Those numbers will certainly set off alarm bells for Biden, whose path to victory relies on running up large delegate counts in the South. Poised for early losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden has been telling supporters and donors that the South remains his firewall.

The last reputable poll of Texas conducted in December by CNN found Sanders with 15% of the vote — behind Biden at 35%.

On March 3, Super Tuesday, when Texas holds its primary, the map is nearly evenly split between Northern and Southern states. The demographics of states like Minnesota and Colorado, with heavy pockets of urban liberals, favor a candidate like Sanders. But states with large black populations, such as Alabama and Virginia, are slated to go for Biden.

A principle reason former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was able to fend off Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary was her ability to win by double digits in the South. That cycle, Clinton earned 65.19% of the vote to Sanders’s 33.19% of the vote.

Should Sanders and Biden split Texas’s 228 pledged delegates, Biden would be forced to try and compete more competitively in states such as Maine, which Sanders won handily in 2016.

On Tuesday, Sanders announced a $2.5 million TV campaign in California and Texas, his first major expenditure in Super Tuesday states. The day before, Sanders announced a Spanish ad campaign in Nevada in an effort to shore up Hispanic support.

Sanders, a Brooklyn native, has also started a campaign to win the New York primary, with an email to supporters sent Wednesday titled “The race to win New York.”

“There are 274 delegates up for grabs there on April 28,” the email reads. “And as a supporter of Bernie’s campaign, you’ve done more than most to help us win.”

In 2016, Clinton, a former New York senator, won the state’s primary by nearly 16 points, with 57.54% of the vote.

Although Texas Lyceum found that both Biden and Sanders lost to President Trump in a hypothetical match up, Sanders was 1 percentage point stronger than Biden, at 47% support. Those numbers will undoubtedly be used to strengthen Sanders’s argument that he is actually the more electable candidate in the field.

The firm asked 1,200 adults from Jan. 10-19 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.83 points.

Will Republican Senators See The Light And Do What Is Right

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS)

 

This week the Democrats laid out the case for impeaching and removing President Trump from office. House impeachment managers serving as prosecutors did a masterful job of weaving a damning narrative against Trump as they described in pernicious detail how Trump abused the power of the presidency, obstructed Congress, attempted to cover it all up and in the process put our national security and the integrity of our elections at risk — all for his personal political benefit.

The presentations were eloquent, impactful and exacting. They summarized what has been weeks of investigation, testimony, press coverage, documents, emails and texts from former administration officials with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his plot to withhold military aid to Ukraine until Zelensky publicly announced an investigation into the Bidens in an effort to hurt the person Trump saw as his greatest political threat.

In the end, however, the question for all of us must be, does any of it matter? In this age of a “see no evil, hear no evil” Republicans who acquiesce to a delinquent president for their own political self-preservation and who fall back on lies, defamation of character (see Sen. Marcia Blackburn’s (R-Tenn.) shameful smear of decorated veteran Colonel Vindman) and promulgation of debunked conspiracy theories to justify their support of Trump, does truth and right still matter?

Of course it does. It must.

Videos, quotes, texts, testimonies and Trump’s own words paint a picture of a president obsessed with harming former Vice President Joe Biden and using the powers of the presidency to do it.

We also see that Republicans really aren’t arguing the merits of the case. They simply either argue with lies such as that Trump was concerned with our national security or rooting out corruption, or they argue that what he did may have been inappropriate but it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment. (Sadly, very few Republicans have even acknowledged that what Trump did was inappropriate).

I agree with lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) who, in his moving closing remarks Thursday night, stated that when the Democrats are done prosecuting the case against President Trump there will be no room for doubt as to Trump’s guilt.

So, if Trump is guilty of what he is charged with, does that warrant his removal from office?

Schiff argues that it does. He makes the case that Trump not only put our nation at risk, but that he also put our whole value system in jeopardy. Frighteningly, if he gets away with it, we can be sure that he will do it again.

So, if Trump is guilty, and everyone knows he is capable of repeating these abhorrent actions, his removal becomes not only necessary but the only way out for a party that is already in peril of becoming a shell of what it once was.

Schiff’s questions for Republicans are: Does the truth still matter to them? And does doing the right thing still matter to them?

As Schiff says, it must. It must for all of us. The most frustrating thing is that we all know there are many Republicans who are repulsed by what Trump is, what he represents and the damage he has done to their party and to our country. Many have said so in private, but most dare not say anything in public.

As Chairman Schiff said so eloquently and emotionally on Thursday, “No constitution can protect us if right doesn’t matter anymore.” We have all learned that we cannot trust that Trump will do what is right for the country. We can only trust that Donald Trump will do what is right for him.

Now is the time for Republicans to step up and do right. That doesn’t necessarily mean coming out with how they really feel about Trump, as it would be political suicide. But it’s time for them to vote with the Democrats to have witnesses and more documents come to light. Most Americans believe that is critical. It is the only way to have at least a semblance of a fair trial and not a coverup.

With witnesses on the stand and additional documents out in the open, it is very possible that the truth will shine so brightly that it will be impossible for any sensible Republican senator to ignore. Maybe even impossible for 20 of them to ignore.

We shall see. Truth and right have a way of overcoming efforts to eradicate them. Sadly, that is where we are in the United States, the greatest democracy in the world. At least it will be once again, either when Republicans see the light and do right, or when voters hold them to account in November.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.

Law professor writes Kentucky newspaper op-ed accusing McConnell of breaking two oaths

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS PAPER)

 

 

Law professor writes Kentucky newspaper op-ed accusing McConnell of breaking two oaths

A Kentucky-born law professor went after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in an op-ed Friday, saying that the senator broke two of the three oaths in the U.S. Constitution.

The Boston College law professor, Kent Greenfield, criticized McConnell’s comments about an impeachment trial for President Trump.

“We Kentuckians know that our word is our bond. Oaths are the most solemn of promises, and their breach results in serious reputational — and sometimes legal — consequences,” Greenfield wrote in his op-ed published by the Courier Journal.

“President Donald Trump will soon be on trial in the Senate on grounds that he breached one oath,” Greenfield wrote. “Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is about to breach two.”

The first oath McConnell is breaking, Greenfield states, is the oath that he took when took office. It’s an oath that all state and federal officers take, an “Oath … to support this Constitution.”

The second oath pertains to the impeachment trial that will take place sometime after the new year.

“In Article I, the Constitution gives the Senate the ‘sole’ power to ‘try all impeachments,’ and the Constitution requires that ‘when sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation,’ ” Greenfield wrote.

Continuing, he wrote: “The framers wanted to make sure the Senate would never take such a trial lightly — this oath requirement is over and above the oath each senator has already taken to support the Constitution.”

McConnell has openly said that he plans to coordinate with Trump’s defense team and that he doesn’t view himself as an “impartial juror.”

Greenfield, a sixth-generation Kentuckian, targeted those comments in his op-ed.

“McConnell’s loyalty to Trump should not overwhelm his loyalty to the Constitution,” he asserts. “If he fails in this, he is not only violating his Article I oath but his Article VI oath.”

Greenfield concludes his piece by stating that history will be a “harsh judge,” and urges the longtime Kentucky senator to take his “obligation of faithful impartiality seriously.”

Which One Would It Be?

Which One Would It Be?

 

This title is something that I just had cross across my mind a few moments ago. Turns out it is a short thought but with a very real possibility of coming true, maybe. And, is the thought here, what if is the answer to the question, what if, one of these Democratic candidates for President was going to be our Nations next President whether we like the person at all, or not, which one would you choose? I know that it is still months away, this Presidential voting season, yet eventually we are all going to have to choose someone, even if we choose to not vote at all, that is still a vote you gave away to someone else to do for you.

 

I am not saying that Donald Trump won’t be our next President, or some yet unannounced candidate Or even Mr. Putin. What I am saying is what if, what if one of those top dozen of so candidates running for the office of President, which one would you honestly say is your first choice? Maybe even who would then be your choice for VP? I guess I am just not fully satisfied with the choices, I am not fully sold on anyone of them, are you? I guess my leanings are as an independent that leans toward the conservative/moderates in the Democrats direction. I have turned my face from the Republican side of the Isle mainly because of folks like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and Fox News. Hate, hate and more hate, very sad. This is not the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan.

 

Mr. Biden they say is probably the most ‘conservative’ yet for me I just don’t trust him and as far as I believe, to old, and I am a 63 year old saying that. I don’t know who is going to win, I certainly have not been shown such a thing. What if, just what if now, what if (already to old) Bernie Sanders was our next President and lets say, Senator Warren as the VP? What if? I am being serious, what if one of the folks was going to be our next President, who would you choose? This short article was designed to be a little snack for your inner thoughts, I hope you enjoyed this food for your thoughts on this matter. May God have mercy on us all, no matter what flesh and bones sits in That Chair.

Trump top adviser: ‘Traditionally, it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Trump top adviser: ‘Traditionally, it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes’

The campaign aide, who was recorded at a private event, said later he was referring to false allegations against the GOP.
Image: President Donald Trump listens to questions in the Oval Office on Dec. 17, 2019.

President Donald Trump listens to questions in the Oval Office on Dec. 17, 2019.Evan Vucci / AP

By Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — One of President Donald Trump’s top re-election advisers told influential Republicans in swing state Wisconsin that the party has “traditionally” relied on voter suppression to compete in battleground states but will be able to “start playing offense” in 2020 due to relaxed Election Day rules, according to an audio recording of a private event obtained by The Associated Press.

“Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places,” Justin Clark, a senior political adviser and senior counsel to Trump’s re-election campaign, said at the event. “Let’s start protecting our voters. We know where they are. … Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.”

Asked about the remarks by AP, Clark said he was referring to false accusations that the GOP engages in voter suppression.

“As should be clear from the context of my remarks, my point was that Republicans historically have been falsely accused of voter suppression and that it is time we stood up to defend our own voters,” Clark said. “Neither I nor anyone I know or work with would condone anyone’s vote being threatened or diluted and our efforts will be focused on preventing just that.”

Clark made the comments Nov. 21 in a meeting of the Republican National Lawyers Association’s Wisconsin chapter. Attendees included the state Senate’s top Republican, Scott Fitzgerald, along with the executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party.

Audio of the event at a country club in Madison obtained by the liberal group American Bridge was provided to AP by One Wisconsin Now, a Madison-based liberal advocacy group.

The roughly 20-minute audio offers an insider’s glimpse of Trump’s re-election strategy, showing the campaign is focusing on voting locations in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which form the the so-called “blue wall” of traditional Democratic strength that Trump broke through to win in 2016. Both parties are pouring millions of dollars into the states, anticipating they’ll be just as critical in the 2020 presidential contest.

Image: Justin Clark
Justin Clark discusses the tentative ruling by a federal judge to halt a California law that’s aimed at forcing the president to release his tax returns, in Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 19, 2019.Rich Pedroncelli / AP file

Republican officials publicly signaled plans to step up their Election Day monitoring after a judge in 2018 lifted a consent degree in place since 1982 that barred the Republican National Committee from voter verification and other “ballot security” efforts. Critics have argued the tactics amount to voter intimidation.

The consent decree was put in place after the Democratic National Committee sued its Republican counterpart, alleging the RNC helped intimidate black voters in New Jersey’s election for governor. The federal lawsuit claimed the RNC and the state GOP had off-duty police stand at polling places in urban areas wearing armbands that read “National Ballot Security Task Force,” with guns visible on some.

Without acknowledging any wrongdoing, the RNC agreed to the consent decree, which restricted its ability to engage in activities related to ballot security. Lifting of the consent decree allows the RNC to “play by the same rules” as Democrats, said RNC communications director Michael Ahrens.

“Now the RNC can work more closely with state parties and campaigns to do what we do best, ensure that more people vote through our unmatched field program,” Ahrens said.

Although the consent decree forced the Trump campaign to conduct its own poll monitoring in 2016, the new rules will allow the RNC to use its multi-million dollar budget to handle those tasks and coordinate with other Republican groups on Election Day, Clark said. State directors of election day operations will be in place in Wisconsin and every battleground state by early 2020, he said.

In 2016, Wisconsin had 62 paid Trump staff working to get out the vote; in 2020, it will increase to around 100, Clark said.

Trump supports the effort, he said in the audio recording.

“We’ve all seen the tweets about voter fraud, blah, blah, blah,” Clark said. “Every time we’re in with him, he asks what are we doing about voter fraud? What are we doing about voter fraud?’ The point is he’s committed to this, he believes in it and he will do whatever it takes to make sure it’s successful.”

Clark said Trump’s campaign plans to focus on rural areas around mid-size cities like Eau Claire and Green Bay, areas he says where Democrats “cheat.” He did not explain what he meant by cheating and did not provide any examples.

“Cheating doesn’t just happen when you lose a county,” Clark said. “Cheating happens at the margin overall. What we’re going to be able to do, if we can recruit the bodies to do it, is focus on these places. That’s where our voters are.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin.

“If there’s bad behavior on the part of one side or the other to prevent people from voting, this is bad for our democracy,” Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said in reaction to Clark’s comments. “And frankly, I think will whoever does that, it will work to their disadvantage. It will make them look, frankly, stupid.”

Wisconsin’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Kaul, represented the Democratic National Committee in a 2016 New Jersey lawsuit that argued the GOP was coordinating with Trump to intimidate voters. Kaul argued then that Trump’s campaign “repeatedly encouraged his supporters to engage in vigilante efforts” in the guise of ferreting out potential voter fraud. The Republican Party disputed any coordination.

“It is vital that Wisconsinites have free and fair access to the polls, and that we protect the security and integrity of our elections,” Kaul said in a statement in reaction to Clark’s comments. “The Wisconsin Department of Justice has been and will continue working with other agencies to protect our democratic process.”

Mike Browne, deputy director of One Wisconsin Now, said Clark’s comments suggest the Trump campaign plans to engage in “underhanded tactics” to win the election.

“The strategy to rig the rules in elections and give themselves an unfair partisan advantage goes to Donald Trump, the highest levels of his campaign and the top Republican leadership,” Browne said. “It’s clear there’s no law Donald Trump and his right-wing machine won’t bend, break or ignore to try to win the presidency.”

Gordon Sondland’s impeachment testimony was beyond damning. Will it matter?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

Editorial: Gordon Sondland’s impeachment testimony was beyond damning. Will it matter?

U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, has emerged as a key figure in the House impeachment inquiry.
(Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA/Shutterstock )

Even before Gordon Sondland testified publicly Wednesday in the House impeachment inquiry, investigators had assembled a persuasive if circumstantial case that President Trump abused his power to prod Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit Trump politically — just as the unnamed whistleblower contended. But Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, strengthened that case immeasurably with his testimony, which had added weight because he is a Trump political appointee who can’t be accused of being part of a sinister “deep state.”

The events Sondland recounted dovetailed with what previous witnesses had revealed. He testified that there was indeed a “quid pro quo” involved in Ukraine policy: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would not get the coveted White House visit he was promised unless he announced investigations into a Ukrainian energy company for which former Vice President Joe Biden’s son served as a director and into a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. In an important revelation, Sondland said he also concluded from all he was hearing that, as surely as “two plus two equals four,” U.S. security aid was being held up as well in order to pressure Ukraine into announcing those investigations.

There was more: Sondland made it clear that Trump had expressly directed him and other U.S. officials to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, who has agitated for a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens and who was Trump’s emissary on the demand for a quid pro quo. “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani,” Sondland testified. “Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt.”

Finally, Sondland testified that his efforts and Guiliani’s weren’t the result of a rogue foreign policy. Instead, he said, important officials in the administration — including Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — were “in the loop” about the pressure campaign.

What emerges from his testimony and that of other witnesses is an all too believable picture of a foreign policy process hijacked by the president’s willingness to use the powers of his office to benefit his domestic political interests.

Republicans on the Intelligence Committee argued that Sondland’s testimony wasn’t a smoking gun because he couldn’t cite any conversation in which Trump had told him that there was a quid pro quo. The president himself pointed reporters to a Sept. 9 telephone call in which Trump, Sondland testified, told him that “I want nothing” from Ukraine and forswore any quid pro quo. But that call took place after the whistleblower complaint was filed, and on the same day Congress announced an investigation of whether there was a quid pro quo. The timing of Trump’s denial makes it suspect, to say the least.

Moreover, the idea that Trump wanted nothing from Ukraine conflicts with what remains the most incriminating evidence against the president: the reconstructed transcript of the president’s July 25 telephone call with Zelensky in which, after noting that “we do a lot for Ukraine,” Trump suggested that Ukraine “do us a favor.” He asked Zelensky to investigate a conspiracy theory linking Ukraine to hacked Democratic emails and suggested that he talk with Atty. Gen. William Barr about rumors that Biden as vice president had forced the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor widely viewed as corrupt in order to protect Hunter Biden. Both ideas emanated from discredited Ukranian sources, some of whom have since recanted the allegations that Giuliani had fed to Trump.

Significantly in light of Sondland’s testimony, Trump in that call said it “would be great” if Zelensky would speak to Giuliani.

An array of witnesses, including Sondland, have provided the larger context in which that conversation — which Trump has defended as “perfect” — must be viewed. The fact that the administration has blocked the testimony of witnesses in close contact with Trump, such as Mulvaney or former national security advisor John Bolton, is outrageous. Trump himself should testify, as he suggested this week he might.

But let’s be clear. Even without such testimony, the House committee has pieced together a plausible and damning narrative, and Trump’s defenders are forced to rely on utterly incredible arguments. They include the laughable idea that Trump might have a principled objection to corruption in Ukraine (or anywhere else) and the “all’s well that ends well” defense: The administration ultimately released the aid for Ukraine — after the whistleblower complaint was filed and Congress started looking into the delay.

The testimony will go on, and some point the House may decide that Trump’s abuse of power justifies the extraordinary step of impeachment. But even if the president is impeached, the servility of congressional Republicans makes it unlikely that he would be convicted by the Senate and removed from office before the end of his term. That means his corrupt and chaotic presidency must be brought to a merciful end next year, at the ballot box.


Vote To Federally Legalize Marijuana Planned In Congress

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES)

 

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Vote To Federally Legalize Marijuana Planned In Congress

A key congressional committee plans to hold a historic vote on a bill to end the federal prohibition of marijuana next week, two sources with knowledge of the soon-to-be-announced action said.

The legislation, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and set aside funding to begin repairing the damage of the war on drugs, which has been disproportionately waged against communities of color.

Those programs—such as job training and legal aid for people impacted by prohibition enforcement, loans for small cannabis businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and efforts to minimize barriers to licensing and employment in the legal industry—would be paid for with a new federal five percent tax on marijuana sales instituted under the bill, and some of them would be administered by a new Cannabis Justice Office in the Department of Justice.

The proposal, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, would also provide for resentencing and expungement of records for people previously convicted of cannabis offenses and would shield immigrants from being denied citizenship status over marijuana.

Today In: Business

It currently has 55 cosponsors, all but one of whom are Democrats.

A Senate companion is being led by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a 2020 presidential candidate, though it has not yet been scheduled for action in the GOP-controlled chamber.

Wednesday’s planned Judiciary Committee vote on the far-reaching cannabis reform legislation—which hasn’t yet been officially listed but is expected to be announced on Monday—comes about two months after the full House overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill to increase marijuana businesses’ access to banks.

Politico reported on Saturday that Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who is not a member of the panel, vaguely mentioned upcoming committee consideration while speaking at a conference in Southern California.

The congresswoman reportedly didn’t clarify that the legislation would be formally “marked up,” or voted on, a detail that sources shared with Marijuana Moment in recent days. A Judiciary Committee spokesperson hasn’t responded to several inquiries about the pending vote.

The planned action on the bill, which would also block federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances over marijuana use, follows a hearing a Judiciary subcommittee held in July that examined the connection between marijuana legalization and racial justice.

The markup will provide the opportunity for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to file amendments to the bill, and could shed further light on an emerging divide between cannabis reform supporters who feel it is essential to address past drug war harms and equity in the cannabis industry immediately and those who believe it makes more sense to advance more limited, states’ rights-focused legislation that could stand a better chance of advancing through the Senate and to President Trump’s desk.

Those tensions surfaced both during the Judiciary hearing this summer as well as in the lead up to the House floor vote on the cannabis banking legislation. Some pro-legalization groups went so far as to ask leadership to delay the scheduled vote on the financial services bill because they took issue with what is seen as an industry-focused proposal moving ahead of one containing restorative justice provisions such as the MORE Act.

In response to those concerns, top Democrats such as Nadler and House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) pledged that while they were moving ahead with the banking vote, they also saw the importance of following up by advancing more comprehensive cannabis legislation.

Advancing the MORE Act or a similar rescheduling proposal through committee and onto the House floor would make good on that pledge.

It’s less certain how the Senate would react to House passage of a far-reaching bill to end federal marijuana prohibition. Some advocates believe that only a more modest proposal to exempt state-approved cannabis activity from federal prohibition stands a chance in the Republican-controlled body.

That bill, the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, would not formally deschedule marijuana under the CSA and doesn’t include measures aimed at ensuring equity in the legal industry for communities most harmed by the drug war.

President Trump has voiced support for the less far-reaching bill, which is led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO).

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m a 15-year veteran of the cannabis law reform movement, and I know where to look to spot the most interesting legalization developments. I’m the editor of the cannab…

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