The Obama administration Department of Justice had many shady dealing. One I found particularly unsavory was the way they handled cases against some businesses. They would offer to settle if the firm donated money to a liberal nonprofit. Undoubtedly some of that money found its way to democratic candidates.
We are beginning to see evidence of a two part conspiracy to get Hillary Clinton to the White House. Part one was to clear her clear her of any charges related to her mishandling of government secrets. To me the evidence is fairly strong. Key witnesses were not sworn in. The report exonerating her was begun well before the investigation concluded. It was also watered down. After the uproar over the Attorney General meeting with Bill Clinton, she said she would follow the recommendation of FBI Director Comey. I doubt she would have said that if she didn’t know what he was going to say. He way overstepped his responsibilities. His job was to investigate, not reach a conclusion.
Part two was to do harm to Donald Trump’s chances of winning the election. The evidence is much less clear but some tantalizing facts have come to light. We do know that either the campaign or DNC paid a firm to do opposition research. It resulted in the phony dossier about collusion with Russia. We also know that the FBI used some information to allow them to spy on members of the Trump campaign. The campaign was publicly accused of colluding with Russia. Russia did try to undermine Clinton. President Obama knew about it before the election but chose to do nothing.
Everything outlined above did happen. There is no way to prove a conspiracy with connecting them up. Within the last few days two possible links have come to light. Peter Strzok, a senior FBI official, texted his girlfriend, an FBI lawyer, about a meeting they had with Andy (presumably Andrew McCabe, then Deputy Director of the FBI). He mentioned an idea Page threw out at the meeting. It had something to do with a plan to keep Trump from being elected. Strzok compared it to life insurance. We also learned that the wife of Bruce Ohr, an associate deputy attorney general, worked for the firm that ordered the dossier and that he met with the president of that company.
These two facts are certainly are not enough to prove a conspiracy. It is clear that some in the Justice Department and FBI deliberately interfered in the election. Everyone, regardless of party, should be outraged. Promoting our democracy and ensuring liberty and justice for all is far more important than who wins an election.
Just a few months ago the idea of a Democrat winning in Alabama would have been unthinkable. Now it has happened. I have heard some talk about how this portends good news for Democrats in 2018. The only lesson we can take from it is that having accusations of sexual impropriety against you has a detrimental effect on your chances.
The more I think about it, the more I believe it was a blessing in disguise for the Republicans. Of course losing a seat when they already had a thin majority is a huge blow. It will make it much more difficult to pass legislation.
However, consider what it would have been like if Roy Moore had won. Deciding what to do about him would have been extremely divisive. There is no guarantee that they could get his vote. He is a self-righteous grandstander that would have made life miserable for his fellow Republicans.
The impact on next year’s election is even more important. I believe that the main reason Democrats pressed Conyers and Franken to resign was to give them the moral high ground. Last year they relied almost exclusively on demonizing Donald Trump and the Republicans. In addition to being racists, sexists and homophobes, they could add gropers and child molesters to their litany of GOP evils.
I was surprised that President Trump came out so strongly for Moore. He must believe that he will be fine as long as he stays with the hard-core base. He should realize that the main reason he won the election was because the Democrats had a really bad candidate and a terrible strategy.
Note: Unlike the TV networks, I don’t believe in reruns. There is one exception. I will repeat the following post every December 7 as long as I am blogging.
Today marks the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was a devastating strike that resulted in 2,400 deaths. Virtually everyone in the country was affected. Millions traded work clothes for uniforms. Many women went to work in factories. Everyone had to cope with shortages.
We were woefully unprepared. Earlier that year maneuvers were held in Louisiana. Many men carried wooden rifles. A bill to extend the term of draftees was passed that summer by only one vote. It took almost four years but the war was won. Over 400,000 American soldiers never returned home.
Anyone that has the chance to go to Hawaii should go to Pearl Harbor. Visiting the memorial, built atop the Arizona, is an incredible experience. It’s hard not to think about the men permanently entombed below your feet. Nearby is the Missouri, the ship upon which the Japanese surrendered.
When I think of Pearl Harbor, I think of one young man. He was already in the service. He had a 30 day leave starting on December 6. When he reached home, a telegram was waiting ordering him to return. Eventually he caught up with his unit. They were in a California desert since it was feared the Japanese would capture the coastal cities. Soon he was shipped out to Australia. On his second day he was in a truck accident and broke his back.
That man will turn 97 next week. He feels the effects of his injuries every day. Most call him Perry. I call him Dad.
President Trump has been able to get almost anything he wants from the House. The Senate is a different matter. We have seen the effort to repeal Obamacare fail while the Senate passed the tax bill. Although it is too early to make any predictions, I’d like to take a look at the midterm elections.
Right now all of the attention is on next week’s Alabama election. A Democrat win was once unthinkable but Roy Moore and checkered past changed that. The real question is whether President Trump gets bad news or really bad news. Someone as self-righteous as Moore will be less of a team player than Ted Cruz. A Democrat taking the seat is even worse.
The odds look pretty good for the GOP next year. They have only eight seats to defend compared to twenty-five for the Democrats. They only have two seats at risk. Nevada first term senator Dean Heller is trying to win reelection in a state Hillary Clinton won. The other is the Arizona seat being vacated by Jeff Flake.
Meanwhile the Democrats must defend ten seats in states that Trump won. Michigan and Pennsylvania seem safe. The real question in Florida is whether Governor Rick Scott will enter the race. If not, incumbent Bill Nelson should win. The GOP lost Indiana last time by selecting a weak candidate. They could take the seat back if they choose the right person.
Missouri’s Claire McCaskill is in for the political fight of her life. Democrats are likely to keep their seat in Montana and stand a better than 50% chance in North Dakota. Right now Ohio seems fairly safe. Republicans are gunning for West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. It should be a tight race. Finally, Democrats should be able to keep Wisconsin.
Democrats will need a miracle to take the Senate. The most likely outcome is the GOP getting two or three seats, far short of a filibuster-proof Senate.
Needless to say, a lot can happen in the next eleven months. Please stay tuned.
There is an old saying that Congress has workhorses and show horses. While the latter group grappled for air time, the workhorses would learn all of the ins and outs of a particular area. They would then be the ones to craft legislation.
While there still are some workhorses, more and more legislation is based on political dogma. These beliefs are never scrutinized to see if they are based in reality. Whether legislation is beneficial is less important than whether or not it is ideologically pure.
The entire premise of the Affordable Care Act was that the main problem was evil health insurance companies. This doesn’t square with the facts. The bulk of people under sixty-five are covered by self-funding employers and Medicaid. Medium and large companies pay the claims themselves and hire the insurance to handle the administration. Provision after provision is based on that bias.
This incorrect thinking applies to both parties. The fundamental premise of the Republican tax bill is that tax cuts pay for themselves by stimulating growth. This doesn’t make any sense. It larger tax cuts get more revenue, we would maximize revenue by eliminating all taxes. There is just no way to make up the loss. If McDonald’s taxes are cut in half, they are not going to be able to double their business. To make matters worse, most employers will use the savings to increase profits.
This reliance on dogma coupled with a refusal to compromise is not a healthy trend. Bill Clinton was the last president that tried to appeal to moderates. Since then each president has moved farther from the center, been more divisive and relied on the base to win. After they don’t produce the utopia they promised, the other party takes over. My guess is that the next president will be a Bernie Sanders socialist.
Those of us in the middle hope that someday a moderate will come to the rescue. Until then, the country will continue to suffer.
At one time states were responsible for immigration. Many of my ancestors went through Castle Garden at the lower tip of Manhattan. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had jurisdiction. That was when Ellis Island was constructed.
Many cities and the state of California have decided that can ignore federal law by not cooperating with immigration authorities. I don’t see a problem with telling police not to ask people about their immigration status. Refusing to hold people being released from jail is another matter. I fail to understand why they go to such lengths to keep convicted criminals in their midst. One city includes killers unless it was first degree murder. Their desire to help these criminals outweighs their concern for the safety of its residents.
Of greater concern is the idea that a state or local government can pick and choose what federal laws they have to obey. If this is the case, then presumably they have the right to violate our constitutional rights or arrest federal employees for carrying out their responsibilities.
This is a totally separate issue from immigration reform. Personally, I think there is a solution somewhere between the Trump hardline approach and those that want to open the floodgates. Unfortunately, both sides are more interested in fighting each other than coming up with an effective compromise.
The Democratic Party likes to talk about rich vs. poor, male vs. female and black vs. white. Both parties have plenty of millionaires and billionaires. Unfortunately, sexism and racism are still with us but we have made tremendous strides in the last fifty years.
The real war is between wealthy, elite Democrats living on the coasts vs. those with less income and education living in the interior. Of the fifteen states along the Pacific and Atlantic north of Virginia, Hillary Clinton won every state except for Alaska. Of the remaining thirty-five states, she only won Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada and New Mexico.
Once upon a time farmers and blue collar workers were core constituencies of the party. Now their focus is almost exclusively liberal elites plus groups they accuse Republicans of victimizing.
They are not content with abandoning them. They absolutely hate them. Hillary Clinton called them deplorable and irredeemable. An MSNBC host said rural Americans are the “core threat to our democracy”. They even delight in people’s misfortune. Another MSNBC host called the assault on Rand Paul her “favorite story”.
I am a politically independent, college educated person that held a high level white collar job. Since I live in Indiana, I am an evil racist in their eyes. That is a strange way to try to get my vote.
One of the key debates during our founding was whether we would be a pure democracy or let the wealthy elite run things. If they were around then, we know which side they would be on.
It has been more than a year since Donald Trump won the election. Democrats’ disappointment is certainly understandable as is their dislike of Trump’s policies and personality. However, enough is enough.
Hillary Clinton has been making more millions going around the country selling her book. She has offered dozens of reasons why she lost. Somehow being a bad candidate and having a bad strategy didn’t make the list.
Meanwhile, many on the Left have organized a Resist Trump movement. Somehow holding demonstrations and secret conferences is supposed to hurt President Trump. Instead, they hurt their cause as long as people care more about venting their rage than working on a path to recovery.
A recent poll showed that Democrats favor impeaching President Trump by a 49-41 margin. I am certainly not one of his fans, but he hasn’t done anything remotely close to “high crimes and misdemeanors” as required by the Constitution. Even if they regain the House, there is no way they could get the required sixty-seven votes in the Senate. I’m not sure if these people are delusional or are ready to give up on our democracy.
Democrats had more reason to be upset in 2000. A 5-4 Supreme Court decision kept Al Gore from the Oval Office. They went to work. Eight years later they had the White House and a filibuster-proof Senate. Rather than rebuilding the party, they want to keep doing what hasn’t worked.
Congress is working on the greatest change to the tax code in several decades. They are looking to cut back on tax deductions so they can lower rates. Most people are in favor of this approach as long as they don’t lose their deductions. I would suggest that they look at whether the deduction encourages beneficial behavior and who is subsidizing it. Here are some of the major deductions and my thoughts:
1. Medical expenses – Many people, myself included, have incurred significant out of pocket medical expenses. Although lifestyle can be a factor, many became ill through no fault of their own. I think giving us a little help is a good idea.
2. State and local taxes – I see no reason why people in low income states should subsidize those in high income states.
3. Real estate taxes – Owning a home is a worthwhile goal but I don’t think apartment dwellers and low income homeowners should subsidize high income homeowners.
4. Charitable contributions – Encouraging people to give is definitely in our interest. The deduction should stay.
5. Retirement savings – Many people are unprepared for retirement. Encouraging them to save lessens pressure to increase Social Security. Besides, the taxes are only deferred.
It would be nice to think that Congress is thoughtfully looking at tax policy. Unfortunately, decisions will likely depend on who does the best job of lobbying.
Minnesota Senator Al Franken is the latest politician to find himself in hot water over charges of sexual harassment. There have been calls for him to resign. Some are putting him in the same category as Roy Moore.
A few are bringing up tasteless jokes he has told during his career in entertainment. The most serious charge relates to a 2006 USO tour. A woman claims he forcibly kissed her while rehearsing for a skit. There is a picture of him appearing to grope her while she was sleeping on a plane. The real question is where we draw the line in dealing with these accusations.
As a moderate, neither Franken nor Moore is my cup of tea. Of course that shouldn’t be a factor but it often is. First of all, there is a world of difference between the two cases. The charges against Moore are much more serious. He has eight accusers and many were teenagers at the time. Franken has one accuser, a grown woman.
Franken says the picture was a lame attempt at humor. Since the woman was wearing a garment capable of stopping a bullet, I think she was pretty probably grope-proof. The two disagree on the kissing incident. It is clear that he was certainly no gentleman. He deserves all the embarrassment he is getting. However, he should not have to lose his seat over this.
It is high time that Harvey Weinstein and his kind are exposed. However, I am concerned that a single undocumented accusation can be deemed as sufficient proof to take action. They tried that in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. It didn’t work out so well.