Add me to the Chorus of Voices that Ellen DeGeneres should be allowed to sit next to George Bush without recrimination

Add mine to the chorus of voices that think that Ellen DeGeneres should be allowed to sit next to former President George W. Bush at a football game, and laugh, without any recrimination. In fact, she should be encourage to do so.

It’s important that in this day and age we be able to distinguish between a malignant narcissist like Donald Trump and a bumbling but well-meaning conservative like George W. Bush. We might disagree with him, and even disagree with him profoundly, but at his core George W. is a decent human being. 1 We need to talk to the other decent human beings in our orbit.2

The problem with Donald Trump is not that he’s conservative or that he’s appointing conservative judges. The problem is that he’s a racist and closet-fascist and compulsive liar who will sell out anyone — such as he did most recently to the Kurds — when he thinks the sellout will benefit him.

The problem with Donald Trump is that he is completely dismissive of any restraints or any rules or regulations, believing that they apply only to other people, but never to him. For conservatives who actually love the Constitution — as so many claim — this grifter’s Presidency should be anathema to them.

There is so much healing that will need to go on after this administration is finally removed from power that those of us who are fans of George W. Bush, or Ellen DeGeneres, or Michelle Obama had better be prepared to talk to each other, if we want to continue to have a nation.

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It’s time for the House to invoke Contempt of Congress proceedings

The Trump administration “will not participate” in Congress’ ongoing impeachment inquiry, according to a letter filed by Presidential Counsel Pat Cipollone. The administration’s chief objections seem to be, first, that they view the proceedings as partisan (intended to “undo” the 2016 election), and second, that the House did not formally vote to begin an impeachment process.

Of course, there is no rule that requires the House to begin impeachment inquiries with a formal vote. In fact, impeachment has very little structure to it, which is part of the problem. Clause 4 and 5 of Article 2 of the Constitution simply says this:

Clause 4: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.1

Clause 5: The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

In the meantime, Trumpelthinskin and his administration do not have the authority to simply defy Congress. The House of Representatives could, of course, take all these questions to federal court. That would, however, take a long time to resolve. 2

But the Congress is not powerless. There is something known as Contempt of Congress, and it may be about time that the House actually invoke it’s powers.

As with so many things in the Constitution, Contempt of Congress is not clearly defined. What we do know is:

  1. Contempt of Congress was historically considered an implied power of the legislature;
  2. There are cases decided by the Supreme Court — see e.g. Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109 (1959) and Wilkinson v. United States, 365 U.S. 399 (1961) — that have made it clear that Congress does have the right to compel witnesses and documents, and that refusing to answer can lead to a conviction.
  3. The House does have the ability to ask the Sergeant at Arms for the House to go out and arrest witnesses who refuse to cooperate.

The last time that the Congress directly arrested someone was 1935. Since then it has referred contempt issues to the United States Department of Justice, which is part of the Executive Branch. However, the current Office of Legal Counsel of the DOJ has opined that the President of the United States is protected from Contempt of Congress by executive privilege. So that’s not going to work.

The Congress could also go to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to prosecute a contempt citation, but that also would take time.

If Trump really wants to play hardball, why not go the Sergeant at Arms, arrest those who are refusing to cooperate, and let them cool their heels in jail while they consider whether or not to defy the President.3

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President Trumpelthinskin clearly does not know the difference between being a businessman and being President of the United States.

On Thursday of last week President Trumpelthinskin stepped right in front of the cameras on live television and requested that China also investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Right while the impeachment inquiry is beginning of the same kind of request of Ukraine.

President Trumpelthinskin clearly does not know the difference between being a businessman and being President of the United States.

As a businessman you could clearly ask someone to provide you with dirt on one of your business rivals as part of a quid pro quo of doing business, so long as you’re not engaging in extortion or blackmail or something else which actually qualifies as a criminal offense.

As a President, you cannot do that.

There’s this little thing called the Constitution which requires you to be loyal to the country, and not to your political career.

As a candidate Trumpelthinskin asked the Russians, “if they were listening,” to find the missing emails that Hillary Clinton had allegedly deleted from her server.1

It’s not clear that the Russians found those, but they clearly found thousands upon thousands of Clinton and State Department emails that they happily made available to Wikileaks.2

The fact that Trumpelthinskin thinks his conversation in July with the Ukrainian Prime Minister was “perfect” — and it seems that he really does believe that — underscores how little he understands about his duties, the requirements of the Constitution, or the basics of diplomacy.3

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People shouldn’t be upset that Botham Jean’s brother wanted to give Amber Guyger a hug

Some of you may have heard the story of the female Dallas police officer who shot a black accountant living in the apartment above her, believe that he was a burgler in her own apartment.

The story is, frankly, a little hard to believe. On September 6, 2018, Guyger, a patrol officer with the Dallas police department returned home, but went to the wrong apartment. She lived on the 3rd floor, the apartment she entered was directly above on the 4th floor. There, she shot the apartment’s sole occupant, Botham Jean, an accountant born in Saint Lucia, who was watching TV and eating ice cream.

In his own apartment.

The story begged a number of questions, like:

  • How did she get into the apartment if she had the wrong key? (Or was it unlocked?)
  • How did could she possibly not notice that she was in the wrong apartment?
  • Why did she shoot immediately, before attempting to find out why this guy was (supposedly) in her apartment if he was not armed?

Last week, Guyger was convicted of murder (not manslaughter). Then three things happened:

  1. She was sentenced to only 10 years in prison.
  2. During the victim impact statement, the victim’s brother asked to hug her.
  3. After the trial, the judge asked to hug her and gave her a bible.

A lot of folks, especially people of color, were upset by these events. They noted that if the scenario had been reversed — if Botham Jean had accidentally shot Amber Guyger — that he would have gotten a lot more than 10 years imprisonment. This is undoubtedly true.1

But people shouldn’t be upset that Brandt Jean, Botham’s brother, chose to give her a hug. That was his choice to make, and it was a beautiful thing. It was completely in keeping with his sincerely held Christian faith, demonstrates that he does not believe that she did it on purpose, and is a remarkable advertisement for the power of forgiveness.

I think the young man should be lauded. We need lots more forgiveness in this world.

However, the judge (Tammy Kemp, also an African American woman) was completely out of bounds when she also gave Guyger a hug as well as a Bible. That was not her role to play. The victim’s brother, sure, he could make that choice. But not a judge.

Amber Guyger will have to live with both her infamy and her conscience for what she did. Brandt Jean, on the other hand, may have moved us a small step closer to healing both the racial and political divide with his unexpected and heartfelt gesture.2

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Singapore enacted a law regulating Fake News, and that is not Good News.

NPR reported the other day that Singapore recently enacted a law which regulates what is and what is not “fake news.” The law went info effect last Wednesday. As reported by NPR:

The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, which passed the country’s parliament in May, requires online platforms — including social networking, search engine and news aggregation services — to issue corrections or remove content that the government deems false. Media companies that fail to comply face a fine of up to a 1 million Singapore dollars (about $722,000). Individuals found guilty of violating the law, both inside and outside the tiny Southeast Asian country, could face fines of up to $60,000 or prison for up to 10 years.

It should go without saying that having a government decide what is and what isn’t fake news is a terrible idea. Luckily, that could not happen under the United States Constitution.

But what has happened in the United States is a very substantial blurring of the lines between what is and isn’t fake news led by our Liar-in-Chief, Donald Trumpelthinskin, who cannot abide it when journalists report honestly on his grifter administration.

That’s bad enough.

What I’d like to see is more people bringing defamation suits, like certain parents from Sandy Hook brought against the despicable Alex Jones. One of those parents recently won his defamation suit, but we won’t know for how much money until the “damages” phase of the trial, which doesn’t happen until October.

Let’s hope he bankrupts that son-of-a-bitch. There are some other conspiracy theorists who should long ago have been taken to the cleaners.

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Bernie Sanders is really old, and that’s a problem.

Back in 2015, I was just tickled to be able to vote for a septaugenarian socialist Jew for President of the United States, and have it actually be something more than just a protest vote.1 So I did. And then in November I voted for Hillary, who was the most qualified non-incumbent Presidential candidate who ever lived.

But now Bernie is 78, having just had a birthday, on September 8. And I’m sorry, but he’s too old.

As if to prove that, yesterday Bernie had two stents inserted in an artery after experiencing chest discomfort at an event.

Did he have a heart attack? That isn’t completely clear, but as reported by Slate, one of his two major coronary arteries was so blocked that the stents needed to be inserted immediately.

The Sanders campaign wants to use this as a vehicle for talking about Medicare for All, and certainly we should talk about that, but in this context it reinforces the concern that Sanders is too old.

In any case, lightning doesn’t strike twice, and the electricity that powered his campaign has clearly moved on to Elizabeth Warren, who has taken over the mantle of progressive activism from Sanders.2

I love Bernie for his consistency. He’s been saying the same thing for forty years, and he has been on the right side of (most) issues for the same length of time. He’s no Johnny-come-Lately to progressive causes. But his time has passed, and alas, he won’t be getting my vote in the Massachusetts primary this time around.

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The reputations of Bill Barr, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pompeo are going directly into the toilet.

Bill Barr, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pompeo were once kind of respectable guys. That was before they got into bed with Donald Trump.

  • Bill Barr was the 77th Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush from November 26, 1991 until January 20, 1993. Barr wasn’t without controversy during that time, but he was generally considered to be a competent (albeit conservative) Attorney General.
  • Rudy Giuliani was a former federal prosecutor and eventually the Mayor of New York City. During his mayoralty, Giuliani was considered among the best big city mayor’s in the country. Then, in 2008 he was also considered the early favorite to be the Republican standard bearer in the election that Obama eventually won over John McCain.
  • Mike Pompeo was the Republican Representative from Kansas’ 4th Congressional District before becoming the Director of the CIA, and now the Secretary of State under the Donald Trump administration. He had been considered the last “adult in the room” still standing in the Trump administration.

So what’s happened to these three guys since getting into bed with Donald Trump.

Bill Barr’s reputation has totally tanked in his 2nd engagement as Attorney General. First he was found to have misrepresented the results of the Mueller report. Then he failed to recuse himself in the consideration of the recent whistleblower report relative to Trump’s efforts to have the Ukrainian government dig up dirt on Hunter Biden. Then, just a few days ago, the Washington Post reported that Barr held private meetings with foreign intelligence agencies to try to discredit the work of the CIA and our own domestic intelligence agencies with respect to the evidence that Trump received assistance from Russia during the 2016 Presidential campaign.

Let me say that again: Barr tried to get the intelligence agencies of other countries to discredit the work done by our own intelligence agencies.

At this point it’s become clear that Barr is the “consigliere” that President Trump always wanted, and that Jeff Sessions never was. It may land Barr in jail, along with Andrew Cohen, Trump’s last fixer.

And Giuliani, now Trump’s “personal” attorney, has become the laughing stock of an attorney that nobody wants and nobody needs. Recently he was on with Chris Cuomo claiming that he had not participated in asking the Ukrainians for dirt on Hunter Biden, and then he reversed himself literally 10 seconds later. No one can take this guy seriously anymore.

And now comes Mike Pompeo, who told Martha Raddatz of ABC News that he knew nothing about the call between President Trump and the Ukrainian Prime Minister, and it turns out that he was listening in on the call! (These guys know that they are on television and television is recorded, correct?) Pompeo is now also claiming that the House of Represents is “bullying” the Administration by demanding documents and appearances of officials with relevant information as part of their impeachment inquiry. This is the same guy who pretended on

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

With the Administration, it’s always “opposite day.” Everything the Trump administration accuses others of is almost certainly something the Trump administration is guilty of.

Emperor Trumpelthinskin has no clothes left. And neither does anyone in his administration. One would have to take these guys seriously if they weren’t so remarkably incompetent and shockingly obvious about what they’re trying to do. Trumpelthinskin is already starting to unravel under the pressure of an impeachment inquiry, and nothing real has actually happened yet.

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Sorry Conservatives, there is no Trump Derangement Syndrome

Trump supporters have coined the clever little term “Trump Derangement Syndrome” which is (according to Wikipedia) “a derogatory term for criticism of, or negative reactions to United States President Donald Trump. . . used by Trump supporters to discredit criticism of his actions, as a way of ‘reframing’ the discussion by suggesting his opponents are incapable of accurately perceiving” the man.

Trump’s supporters would have you believe that the efforts to impeach Donald Trump are just a way of “relitigating” the 2016 elections, which liberals and progressives do not accept. 1

But for those people who thought that Trump should be impeached early on in his Presidency, it was primarily because they could see from the get go that this guy is a grifter. He clearly — and this was obvious early on — had received illegitimate help from Russia, and he clearly had every intention of filling up the swamp with his family and cronies and enriching himself to the maximum extent possible. 2

You didn’t have to be a fortune teller to see that one coming.

While Obama had a scandal-free Presidency that did the country proud, this guy has been a walking indictment from before he took the oath of office. There is no comparison between the two men.

It doesn’t mean that those of us who have been opposed to him from the start have any kind of derangement syndrome. It just means that we had our eyes open, and could see the evidence from the beginning.

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If you Can’t Answer a Simple Question, then We have to Doubt your Credibility

Last Thursday Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before the House Intelligence Committee. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff asked him about the now famous whistleblower complaint, and why Maguire had not sent the complaint up to Congress within seven days, as required by the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act.1

Maguire — who, to be fair, had just started the job on August 16 as the Acting Director — went to both the White House and the Justice Department first to make sure that the complaint did not violate executive privilege.

But that was not what he was supposed to do.

And instead of just saying, yes, that’s where I went first, he tried to avoid answering the question by talking about the importance of executive privilege.

If you compare that to Hillary Clinton’s 11 hours of testimony before the Benghazi Committee back in 2015, one can see the difference between forthright answers and evasive answers.

To his credit, Maguire at least admitted that he believed that the (still unnamed) whistleblower acted “honorably” and without any obvious political intent.2

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The Ukrainian President that Donald Trumpelthinskin tried to pressure is mostly a make-believe President himself.

One of the whole ironies of the whole Ukrainian imbroglio is that Volodymyr Zelensky, the new Ukrainian President, is essentially also a fake President.

  • Starting at the age of 17 Zelensky began working as a comedian and eventually an actor (although he did earn a law degree but never practiced).
  • Zelensky became, in 2015, the star of the television series “Servant of the People,” where he played the role of an anti-corruption crusading President of Ukraine.
  • In 2018 he helped create the political party “Servant of the People,” named after his television show.
  • Zelensky was elected in April 2019 with nearly 73% of the vote, and his party won 43% of the vote in July of 2019 in the Ukrainian parliament.

It’s like as if we elected Marin (“West Wing”) Sheen to be our President, or Julia (“VEEP”) Louis-Dreyfuss. Both of them are good actors and would likely make a better President than the one we’ve got.

But who would take us seriously?

Politically, Zelensky is reported to support the free distribution of medical cannabis, free abortions, and the legalization of prostitution and gambling.

Unlike Trumpelthinskin, he has not yet proven himself to be a liar and a narcissist.

And given the awkward joint press conference at the United Nations, where he met Trumpelthinskin for the first time, he handled himself reasonably well.

But still, this is the best we can do? We now need to elect actors and entertainers to lead us, because there aren’t enough charismatic politicians to go around?

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