Democracy Has Prevailed.

December 21, 2019

My Latest At The Current

You can read it here.

Representative Guy Reschenthaler lied about the Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff when he said:
You know who should be ashamed? Adam Schiff. We gotta remember that Adam Schiff is the one who abused his power. He’s the one who subpoenaed phone records of other members of this body. He’s the one who exposed Devin Nunes’ number and call logs.
No, Guy. Schiff did not subpoena Nunes' phone records. Nunes himself said so when he said that the committee subpoenaed AT&T for the records.  And the only reason Nunes was found in those records was because he'd been communicating with "individuals of interest to the investigation."

So why was Nunes talking to them? Isn't that the question?

Guy's lying when he said:
[The Democrats are] talking about such crazy ideas as banning airplanes.
No one's talking about "banning airplanes." The discussion is about the "Green New Deal" legislation that calls for a removal of:
pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible
And so on.

Here's the ending:
And when he’s not lying, he’s misleading. Owning the local franchise to “Ye Olde Trump Crazie Shoppe” is not doing Rep. Guy Reschenthaler any favors.

Meanwhile, Outside

From the science at NOAA:
The November 2019 global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.92°C (1.66°F) above average and the second highest November temperature in the 140-year record. Only November 2015 was warmer at +1.01°C (+1.82°F). The five warmest November global land and ocean surface temperature departures from average have occurred since 2013. November 2019 marked the 43rd consecutive November and the 419th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average.
And, as always, there's a chart:

See all that red?

It's still getting warmer out there.

December 17, 2019

IMPEACHMENT Message From 750 Historians

Read it in full here.

The opening:
We are American historians devoted to studying our nation’s past who have concluded that Donald J. Trump has violated his oath to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” His “attempts to subvert the Constitution,” as George Mason described impeachable offenses at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, urgently and justly require his impeachment.

President Trump’s numerous and flagrant abuses of power are precisely what the Framers had in mind as grounds for impeaching and removing a president. Among those most hurtful to the Constitution have been his attempts to coerce the country of Ukraine, under attack from Russia, an adversary power to the United States, by withholding essential military assistance in exchange for the fabrication and legitimization of false information in order to advance his own re-election.

President Trump’s lawless obstruction of the House of Representatives, which is rightly seeking documents and witness testimony in pursuit of its constitutionally-mandated oversight role, has demonstrated brazen contempt for representative government. So have his attempts to justify that obstruction on the grounds that the executive enjoys absolute immunity, a fictitious doctrine that, if tolerated, would turn the president into an elected monarch above the law.
The core of the argument:
It is our considered judgment that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does.
If what he did with Ukraine isn't impeachment, then nothing is.

If the Republicans in The Senate let him get away with it, then each time they utter the party line "No one is above the law, not even the president." they will be lying.

Blatantly, hypocritically lying.

December 15, 2019

From Conor Lamb

He's voting for impeachment.


From The New York Times Editorial Board:
In the end, the story told by the two articles of impeachment approved on Friday morning by the House Judiciary Committee is short, simple and damning: President Donald Trump abused the power of his office by strong-arming Ukraine, a vulnerable ally, holding up hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid until it agreed to help him influence the 2020 election by digging up dirt on a political rival.

When caught in the act, he rejected the very idea that a president could be required by Congress to explain and justify his actions, showing “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” in the face of multiple subpoenas. He made it impossible for Congress to carry out fully its constitutionally mandated oversight role, and, in doing so, he violated the separation of powers, a safeguard of the American republic.

To quote from the articles, “President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”

The case now moves to the full House of Representatives, which on Wednesday will decide, for just the third time in the nation’s history, whether to impeach a president.

To resist the pull of partisanship, Republicans and Democrats alike ought to ask themselves the same question: Would they put up with a Democratic president using the power of the White House this way? Then they should consider the facts, the architecture and aspirations of the Constitution and the call of history. In that light, there can be only one responsible judgment: to cast a vote to impeach, to send a message not only to this president but to future ones.

By stonewalling as no previous president has, Donald Trump has left Congress with no choice but to press ahead to a Senate trial. The president insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing, yet he refuses to release any administration documents or allow any administration officials to testify — though, if his assertions are in fact true, those officials would presumably exonerate him. He refused to present any defense before the House whatsoever, asserting a form of monarchical immunity that Congress cannot let stand.

It’s regrettable that the House moved as fast as it did, without working further through the courts and through other means to hear from numerous crucial witnesses. But Democratic leaders have a point when they say they can’t afford to wait, given the looming electoral deadline and Mr. Trump’s pattern of soliciting foreign assistance for his campaigns. Even after his effort to extract help from Ukraine was revealed, the president publicly called on China to investigate his rival. Asked as recently as October what he hoped the Ukrainians would do in response to his infamous July 25 call with their president, Mr. Trump declared: “Well, I would think that, if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer.”

Barring the persuasive defense that Mr. Trump has so far declined even to attempt, that simple answer sounds like a textbook example of an impeachable offense, as the nation’s framers envisioned it.

A president “might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression,” James Madison said of the need for an impeachment clause. “He might betray his trust to foreign powers.”

Madison and his fellow framers understood that elections — which, under normal circumstances, are the essence of democratic self-government — could not serve their purpose if a president was determined to cheat to win.

As the constitutional scholar Noah Feldman testified before the Judiciary Committee last week, “Without impeachment, the president would have been an elected monarch. With impeachment, the president was bound to the rule of law.”

At the same time, the framers were well aware of the dangers inherent in impeachment. That’s why they made it a two-step process: First is the House’s vote on impeachment, which is akin to an indictment and requires only a majority to pass. Second is a trial in the Senate, which decides the president’s ultimate fate, and thus has a much higher bar to clear — two-thirds of senators must vote to convict and remove the president from office.

So far, Republican legislators have shown little sign of treating this constitutional process with the seriousness it demands. By stonewalling as no previous president has, Donald Trump has left Congress with no choice but to press ahead to a Senate trial.

Instead, they have been working overtime to abet the president’s wrongdoing. They have spread toxic misinformation and conspiracy theories to try to justify his actions and raged about the unfairness of the inquiry, complaining that Democrats have been trying to impeach Mr. Trump since he took office.

No doubt some Democrats were too eager to resort to impeachment before it became unavoidable. Mr. Trump has been committing arguably impeachable offenses since the moment he entered the Oval Office, including his acceptance of foreign money at his many businesses; his violations of campaign-finance law in paying hush money to a woman who claimed to have had a sexual affair with him; and, of course, his obstructions of justice in the Russia investigation, which were documented extensively by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

Democrats could have pursued impeachment in any or all of these cases, but for various reasons decided not to. That changed in September, when a whistle-blower’s complaint, initially suppressed by the Justice Department, revealed the outline of Mr. Trump’s Ukraine scheme. That made it impossible to ignore the president’s lawlessness because it sounded an alarm that he was seeking to subvert the next election, depriving the voters of their right to check his behavior.

The Republicans’ most common defenses of Mr. Trump’s behavior fall flat in the face of the evidence.

There is, above all, the summary of the July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president. Mr. Trump still insists that summary exonerates him. It doesn’t — which is why White House officials promptly locked it in a special computer system.

Then there is the sworn testimony of multiple government officials, including several appointed by Mr. Trump himself, all of whom confirmed the essential story line: For all the recent claims about his piety regarding Ukrainian corruption, Mr. Trump did not “give a shit about Ukraine.” He only wanted the “deliverable” — the announcement of an investigation into the Bidens, and also into a debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

The argument that Mr. Trump cared about anything other than hurting Joe Biden and helping himself is undercut by several facts. Even though calling on the Ukrainians to fight corruption was part of his prepared talking points, he never mentioned the subject in his calls with Mr. Zelensky; he also didn’t hold up the military aid in 2017 or 2018, even though everyone knew about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine connection at the time. (What changed this year? Joe Biden emerged as his leading Democratic opponent.) By the time Mr. Trump intervened to block the money for Ukraine, the Defense Department had already certified that Ukraine had made enough progress fighting corruption to qualify for this year’s funds. Republicans and Democrats ought to ask themselves the same question: Would they put up with a Democratic president using the power of the White House this way?

Without any substantive defense of Mr. Trump’s behavior, several Republicans have taken to arguing that he committed no actual crime, and so can’t be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Putting aside a strong case that Mr. Trump has, in fact, broken at least one law, this isn’t how impeachment works. “High crimes” refers to severe violations of the public trust by a high-ranking official, not literal crimes. A president can commit a technical crime that doesn’t violate the public trust (say, jaywalking), and he can commit an impeachable offense that is found nowhere in the federal criminal code (like abuse of power).

Republicans’ sole remaining argument is: “So what? It wasn’t that big a deal.” Or, as acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney said in October, “Get over it.” This stance at least has the virtue of acknowledging the president’s vice, but that doesn’t make it O.K.

Assuming Mr. Trump is impeached, the case will go to the Senate, where he will have the chance — on far more friendly territory — to mount the defense he refused to make to the House. Rather than withholding key witnesses, he should be demanding sworn appearances by people like Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and John Bolton, the former national security adviser.

As recently as a few weeks ago, some Republicans seemed to want to get to the bottom of things. Even Trump’s footman, Senator Lindsey Graham, said, “If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”

The time for such expressions of public spirit has, apparently, passed. “I’ve written the whole process off,” Mr. Graham said during the impeachment hearings. “I think this is a bunch of B.S.”

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, says there will be “no difference between the president’s position and our position in how to handle this,” as he told Sean Hannity of Fox last Thursday. Before the House had cast a single vote on impeachment, Mr. McConnell said there was “no chance” the Senate would vote to convict.

For now, that leaves the defense of the Constitution, and the Republic, to the House of Representatives.

December 10, 2019

Rep. Reschenthaler Hearts Trump's War Crime Pardons

This was published today at the Pittsburgh Current:
Representative Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) recently went on record approving Donald Trump’s decision to pardon three people who are accused or convicted war criminals. The word he used, by the way, was “applaud.” He applauded Trump’s decision.
I stand with the PGNewsguild.


You can read the articles here.

December 7, 2019

Letter to Congress from Legal Scholars

Read it here.

The text:
We, the undersigned legal scholars, have concluded that President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct.

We do not reach this conclusion lightly. The Founders did not make impeachment available for disagreements over policy, even profound ones, nor for extreme distaste for the manner in which the President executes his office. Only “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” warrant impeachment. But there is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress. His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.

We take no position on whether the President committed a crime. But conduct need not be criminal to be impeachable. The standard here is constitutional; it does not depend on what Congress has chosen to criminalize.

Impeachment is a remedy for grave abuses of the public trust. The two specific bases for impeachment named in the Constitution — treason and bribery — involve such abuses because they include conduct undertaken not in the “faithful execution” of public office that the Constitution requires, but instead for personal gain (bribery) or to benefit a foreign enemy (treason).

Impeachment is an especially essential remedy for conduct that corrupts elections. The primary check on presidents is political: if a president behaves poorly, voters can punish him or his party at the polls. A president who corrupts the system of elections seeks to place himself beyond the reach of this political check. At the Constitutional Convention, George Mason described impeachable offenses as “attempts to subvert the constitution.” Corrupting elections subverts the process by which the Constitution makes the president democratically accountable. Put simply, if a President cheats in his effort at re-election, trusting the democratic process to serve as a check through that election is no remedy at all. That is what impeachment is for.

Moreover, the Founders were keenly concerned with the possibility of corruption in the president’s relationships with foreign governments. That is why they prohibited the president from accepting anything of value from foreign governments without Congress’s consent. The same concern drove their thinking on impeachment. James Madison noted that Congress must be able to remove the president between elections lest there be no remedy if a president betrayed the public trust in dealings with foreign powers.

In light of these considerations, overwhelming evidence made public to date forces us to conclude that President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct. To mention only a few of those facts: William B. Taylor, who leads the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, testified that President Trump directed the withholding of hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid for Ukraine in its struggle against Russia — aid that Congress determined to be in the U.S. national security interest — until Ukraine announced investigations that would aid the President’s re-election campaign. Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified that the President made a White House visit for the Ukrainian president conditional on public announcement of those investigations. In a phone call with the Ukrainian president, President Trump asked for a “favor” in the form of a foreign government investigation of a U.S. citizen who is his political rival. President Trump and his Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made public statements confirming this use of governmental power to solicit investigations that would aid the President’s personal political interests. The President made clear that his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was central to efforts to spur Ukrainian investigations, and Mr. Giuliani confirmed that his efforts were in service of President Trump’s private interests.

Ultimately, whether to impeach the President and remove him from office depends on judgments that the Constitution leaves to Congress. But if the House of Representatives impeached the President for the conduct described here and the Senate voted to remove him, they would be acting well within their constitutional powers. Whether President Trump’s conduct is classified as bribery, as a high crime or misdemeanor, or as both, it is clearly impeachable under our Constitution.
Something to remember next time a Trumper claims that there's no evidence.

December 3, 2019

Read The Impeachment Inquiry Report

It can be found here.


The President Conditioned a White House Meeting and Military Aid to Ukraine on a
Public Announcement of Investigations Beneficial to his Reelection Campaign

December 2, 2019

SEE? The Zombie-Thanksgiving Story STILL LIVES

Recently,  in The Pittsburgh Current, this appeared:
No, the colony of Pilgrims in what is now Massachusetts was not an example of a failed socialist experiment. I mention that because it’s Thanksgiving week and that means it’s time for that stinky rightwing landfill gas (that the Pilgrims were socialist failures) to burp up into the conversational air that everyone else has to breathe.
I have it on pretty good authority that the verb originally used in this piece was the far more onomatopoetically pleasing "blurp" instead of the still-acceptable but far less interesting "burp."

Copy editors, whatareyagonnado?

Anyway, the current Current piece outlines how the settlement was paid for by some wealthy landowners in England and that the settlers were simply tenant farmers who had to pay the landowners back - hardly socialism, to be honest.

And still, John Stossel over at our favorite conservative paper, the Trib, could not help blurping up the rightwing swampgas:
The Pilgrims were religious, united by faith and a powerful desire to start anew, away from religious persecution in the Old World. Each member of the community professed a desire to labor together, on behalf of the whole settlement.

In other words: socialism.

But when they tried that, the Pilgrims almost starved.
But let's play out Stossel's story anyway. Take a look at how he described how the Pilgrims were "united by faith" and "professed a desire to labor together."

What Stossel states is socialism was an act of faith for the Pilgrims.

Is he really pushing the notion that a secular governor (in this case William Bradford) has the authority to veto faith-based acts even for a private religious community?

Wait, I thought John Stossel was a libertarian.

Oh, and then there's this:
In America today, religious groups practice different rites but usually don’t demand that government ban others’ practices.


November 28, 2019


Again, while you CAN get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant, I'm not sure Cinder Calhoun approves:

Basted in Blood from Goodly guy on Vimeo.

November 26, 2019

My Latest Column At The Pittsburgh Current

It's posted.

It begins thusly:
No, the colony of Pilgrims in what is now Massachusetts was not an example of a failed socialist experiment. I mention that because it’s Thanksgiving week and that means it’s time for that stinky rightwing landfill gas (that the Pilgrims were socialist failures) to burp up into the conversational air that everyone else has to breathe.
When I submitted this, the verb was "blurp up" - onomatopoeially superior to "burp up" if you ask me.

November 24, 2019

A Follow-Up To Yesterday's DEVIN NUNES Post

From The Washington Post:
A high-ranking House Democrat said Saturday it’s “quite likely” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will face an ethics investigation over allegations that he met with an ex-Ukrainian official to obtain information about former vice president Joe Biden and his son.

Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, appeared on MSNBC where he was asked whether Nunes could face a House inquiry. “Quite likely, without question,” Smith said.

The allegation that Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, met with a former Ukrainian prosecutor last year to discuss the Bidens came from the attorney for Lev Parnas, one of two Soviet-born associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani who were indicted on charges they broke campaign finance law.
So if Nunes is part of the Biden-Ukraine story his committee is actively investigating, he needs to explain to the nation why he didn't say so before OR explain how he isn't part of the story.

November 23, 2019

Representative Devin Nunes Needs To Explain Himself

This past week, during an House Intelligence Committee hearing seen across the country, Rep. Eric Swalwell read this into the record:
Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe for Rep. Devin Nunes in 2018, Parnas’ lawyer Ed MacMahon told The Daily Beast.

Nunes aide Derek Harvey participated in the meetings, the lawyer said, which were arranged to help Nunes’ investigative work. MacMahon didn’t specify what those investigations entailed.
You can see it here.

As for some background, there's also this about Nunes: 
Nunes has been at the center of the broader story about foreign influence in President Donald Trump’s Washington. When congressional investigators began probing Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, Nunes made a late-night visit to the White House and announced the next day he’d found evidence of egregious wrongdoing by Intelligence Community officials. The move appeared to be an effort to corroborate a presidential tweet claiming that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. Nunes then stepped back from the committee’s work scrutinizing Russian efforts. Instead, he ran a parallel probe looking at the origins of Mueller’s Russia probe. The undertaking made him a hero to the president and Sean Hannity, and a bête noire of Democrats and Intelligence Community officials. That work was still underway when he traveled to Europe in 2018.
If you're so inclined, Wired has more on Nunes' private intelligence service here.

CNN has more:
A lawyer for an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani tells CNN that his client is willing to tell Congress about meetings the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee had in Vienna last year with a former Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden.

The attorney, Joseph A. Bondy, represents Lev Parnas, the recently indicted Soviet-born American who worked with Giuliani to push claims of Democratic corruption in Ukraine. Bondy said that Parnas was told directly by the former Ukrainian official that he met last year in Vienna with Rep. Devin Nunes.

"Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December," said Bondy.

Shokin was ousted from his position in 2016 after pressure from Western leaders, including then-vice president Biden, over concerns that Shokin was not pursuing corruption cases.
So was Devin Nunes part of the story?

He needs to explain to the nation why he was or how he wasn't.

November 20, 2019

Meanwhile, Outside...

From NOAA:
The global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average for October 2019 was the second highest for the month of October in the 140-year NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880. The year-to-date temperature for 2019 was also the second warmest on record for the January–October period.
The October temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.76°F above the 20th century average of 57.1°F and the second highest October temperature on record. This value was only 0.11°F shy of tying the record warm October set in 2015.
The 10 warmest Octobers have all occurred since 2003; however, the five warmest Octobers have all occurred since 2015.
Trump and the GOP may be eroding the democratic foundations of our society but it's still getting warmer out there.

November 19, 2019

I Stand With The PG News Guild



(Click on the image if you want to read it in full.)

November 14, 2019

Representative Guy Reschenthaler on The Impeachment Hearings

Yesterday, in response to the first day of the House Impeachment Hearings, Representative Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) tweeted:
Holy crap, there's a lot to unpack here. Let's take them one-by-one.
No quid pro quo in call transcript
Perhaps Guy was looking to give himself some rhetorical wiggle room when he added the "in call transcript" to his tweet. Perhaps since the exact phrase "quid pro quo" is nowhere to be found in the so-called transcript, he thinks he can simply say that there was no quid pro quo in the phone call. The text, however, says otherwise:
President Zelenskyy:...We. are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. specifically we are almost. ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

Trump: I would like you to do us a favor though...
If the representative needs an explanation for the "a favor" part, here's Rolling Stone:
Though Trump has repeatedly directed Americans to “READ THE TRANSCRIPT” of his July 25th call with Zelensky, the partial readout of the call released by the White House in September is actually pretty damning. After Zelensky mentions that Ukraine is willing to “cooperate” regarding military aid, Trump says, “I want you to do me a favor though,” before detailing the investigations he wants carried out. The “though” is a pretty explicit indication that the aid in question is contingent upon Ukraine launching the investigations details by the president.
Both leaders said there was no pressure
Well, of course Trump would say there was no pressure. But what about Zelensky? Why would he say that there was no pressure?

Well, what would you do if you were at war with a huge military and dependent on another country's huge military to survive?
Ukraine unaware aid was held
Ukraine took no action to receive aid

Ukraine only learned that the aid had been on hold with the publication of this Politico piece published in August. The aid was released only after the world learned that it was being held. It doesn't change the fact of the extortion.
I'll let another member of the house, Representative Adam Schiff (CA-28) explain:
Some have argued in the President's defense that the aid was ultimately released. That is true. But only after Congress began an investigation; only after the President's lawyers learned of a whistleblower complaint; and only after Members of Congress began asking uncomfortable questions about quid pro quos. A scheme to condition official acts or taxpayer funding to obtain a personal political benefit does not become less odious because it is discovered before it is fully consummated.
Guy needs to do his homework better before he tweets.

November 12, 2019

Hey, Look What I Wrote!!

My latest from The Pittsburgh Current.
[H]ave you ever wondered what the phrase “quid pro quo” actually means? Well, it’s latin and Google translate tells us it means “something for something” while Merriam-Webster goes a bit further, that it’s “something given or received for something else.” Simply speaking, it’s an exchange. I do a favor for you and you do a favor for me. An exchange of something for something else — a quid pro quo.
And to the end, comparing impeachments - Clinton to Trump:
Then, the impeachment cleanse was triggered by a president lying about fellatio. Now, it’s about a different president withholding military aid (already approved by Congress) for another country until that country agreed do him “a favor” regarding a potential political rival of his.

November 11, 2019

Eat Shit, Bob (Murray)

Make sure you watch till the end.

A Veterans Day (Armistice Day, Kurt Vonnegut's Birthday) Repost -

Happy Birthday, Stanley Tucci, Lee Haney, Demi Moore, and Calista Flockhart.

And of course, a Happy Birthday to Kurt Vonnegut who wrote this:
I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.

So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things.

What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

And all music is.
All music is sacred.

So it goes.

November 1, 2019

RESOLVED - By A Vote Of 232-196

H. Res. 660

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

October 31, 2019.

Resolved, That the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committees on Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means, are directed to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America.

SEC. 2. Open and transparent investigative proceedings by the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

For the purpose of continuing the investigation described in the first section of this resolution, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (referred to in this resolution as the “Permanent Select Committee”) is authorized to conduct proceedings pursuant to this resolution as follows:
(1) The chair of the Permanent Select Committee shall designate an open hearing or hearings pursuant to this section.

(2) Notwithstanding clause 2(j)(2) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, upon recognition by the chair for such purpose under this paragraph during any hearing designated pursuant to paragraph (1), the chair and ranking minority member of the Permanent Select Committee shall be permitted to question witnesses for equal specified periods of longer than five minutes, as determined by the chair. The time available for each period of questioning under this paragraph shall be equal for the chair and the ranking minority member. The chair may confer recognition for multiple periods of such questioning, but each period of questioning shall not exceed 90 minutes in the aggregate. Only the chair and ranking minority member, or a Permanent Select Committee employee if yielded to by the chair or ranking minority member, may question witnesses during such periods of questioning. At the conclusion of questioning pursuant to this paragraph, the committee shall proceed with questioning under the five-minute rule pursuant to clause 2(j)(2)(A) of rule XI.

(3) To allow for full evaluation of minority witness requests, the ranking minority member may submit to the chair, in writing, any requests for witness testimony relevant to the investigation described in the first section of this resolution within 72 hours after notice is given for the first hearing designated pursuant to paragraph (1). Any such request shall be accompanied by a detailed written justification of the relevance of the testimony of each requested witness to the investigation described in the first section of this resolution.

(4) (A) The ranking minority member of the Permanent Select Committee is authorized, with the concurrence of the chair, to require, as deemed necessary to the investigation—
(i) by subpoena or otherwise—
(I) the attendance and testimony of any person (including at a taking of a deposition); and

(II) the production of books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents; and
(ii) by interrogatory, the furnishing of information.
(B) In the case that the chair declines to concur in a proposed action of the ranking minority member pursuant to subparagraph (A), the ranking minority member shall have the right to refer to the committee for decision the question whether such authority shall be so exercised and the chair shall convene the committee promptly to render that decision, subject to the notice procedures for a committee meeting under clause 2(g)(3)(A) and (B) of rule XI.

(C) Subpoenas and interrogatories so authorized may be signed by the ranking minority member, and may be served by any person designated by the ranking minority member.

(5) The chair is authorized to make publicly available in electronic form the transcripts of depositions conducted by the Permanent Select Committee in furtherance of the investigation described in the first section of this resolution, with appropriate redactions for classified and other sensitive information.

(6) The Permanent Select Committee is directed to issue a report setting forth its findings and any recommendations and appending any information and materials the Permanent Select Committee may deem appropriate with respect to the investigation described in the first section of this resolution. The chair shall transmit such report and appendices, along with any supplemental, minority, additional, or dissenting views filed pursuant to clause 2(l) of rule XI, to the Committee on the Judiciary and make such report publicly available in electronic form, with appropriate redactions to protect classified and other sensitive information. The report required by this paragraph shall be prepared in consultation with the chairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Oversight and Reform.
SEC. 3. Transmission of additional materials.

The chair of the Permanent Select Committee or the chair of any other committee having custody of records or other materials relating to the inquiry referenced in the first section of this resolution is authorized, in consultation with the ranking minority member, to transfer such records or materials to the Committee on the Judiciary.

SEC. 4. Impeachment inquiry procedures in the Committee on the Judiciary.

(a) The House authorizes the Committee on the Judiciary to conduct proceedings relating to the impeachment inquiry referenced in the first section of this resolution pursuant to the procedures submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the chair of the Committee on Rules, including such procedures as to allow for the participation of the President and his counsel.

(b) The Committee on the Judiciary is authorized to promulgate additional procedures as it deems necessary for the fair and efficient conduct of committee hearings held pursuant to this resolution, provided that the additional procedures are not inconsistent with the procedures referenced in subsection (a), the Rules of the Committee, and the Rules of the House.

(c) (1) The ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary is authorized, with the concurrence of the chair of the Committee on the Judiciary, to require, as deemed necessary to the investigation—
(A) by subpoena or otherwise—
(i) the attendance and testimony of any person (including at a taking of a deposition); and

(ii) the production of books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents; and
(B) by interrogatory, the furnishing of information.
(2) In the case that the chair declines to concur in a proposed action of the ranking minority member pursuant to paragraph (1), the ranking minority member shall have the right to refer to the committee for decision the question whether such authority shall be so exercised and the chair shall convene the committee promptly to render that decision, subject to the notice procedures for a committee meeting under clause 2(g)(3)(A) and (B) of rule XI.

(3) Subpoenas and interrogatories so authorized may be signed by the ranking minority member, and may be served by any person designated by the ranking minority member.

(d) The Committee on the Judiciary shall report to the House of Representatives such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper.

October 31, 2019

Franklin and Marshall Poll Data On Impeachment

I'm not sure you caught this in today's Tribune-Review.

It's poll data produced by Franklin & Marshall College.

Here's the money shot:
More than half (57%) of registered voters in the state support an impeachment inquiry, with nearly half (47%) expressing “strong support” for the inquiry. Supporters of the inquiry believe the President has broken the law (36%), has participated in a corrupt or criminal act, or that the inquiry is needed to uphold the Constitution (14%). One in seven (16%) supports the inquiry because they want to discover the truth. On the other hand, nearly two in five (37%) registered voters “strongly opposes” the inquiry. These opponents believe the inquiry is partisan politics (28%), fake news or anti-Trump propaganda (17%), a waste of resources (12%), or that the President did nothing wrong. Few Republicans (21%) or conservatives (18%) support impeachment, while almost all Democrats (84%) and liberals (97%) do. At the moment, majorities of independents (61%) and moderates (67%) support impeachment.
The next paragraph is interesting in itself:
Notably, only one in five (21%) registered voters in the state believes it is acceptable for a president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent, although Republicans and conservatives are most likely to believe it is acceptable.
Elsewhere in the report, we learn that 71% think it's unacceptable for a president to ask such a thing.

There's also another question that asks:
What, if anything, do you think should be done about the president requesting this political help from a foreign leader?
52% said impeachment.

Granted this is poll data and poll numbers always change but this is a picture of what Pennsylvanians think in late October, 2019.

October 26, 2019

Meanwhile, Outside...

Even while the orange vulgarity in the Oval Office is eroding the foundations of our democratic republic, the warming continues.

From the scientists at NOAA:
The global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average for September 2019 tied with 2015 as the highest for the month of September in the 140-year NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880. The year-to-date temperature for 2019 was the second warmest January–September on record.
The 10 warmest Septembers have all occurred since 2005, with the last five years (2015–2019) being the five warmest Septembers on record.
Of course, the vulgarity's administration, seemingly, just wants to watch the world burn.

From Time:
The Trump administration on Wednesday sued to try to block California from engaging in international efforts against climate change, charging that the state exceeded its constitutional authority by joining with a Canadian province in a program to cut climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions.

The suit, filed in federal court in California, is the latest Trump administration push to stymie state efforts aimed at contesting the administration’s rollbacks of environmental and climate protections. California says it’s being punished for its advocacy.
Here's another question for the Trump-supporting conservatives: Whatever happened to State's Rights?

Doesn't matter. The world is still warming up.

October 24, 2019


From The Washington Post:

Republicans’ defense of President Trump grew more frantic and disjointed Wednesday, with House members storming a closed-door meeting, delaying the testimony of an impeachment witness as the GOP grappled with a growing abuse-of-power scandal centered on the president.
And a few paragraphs later:
“I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said Wednesday morning on Twitter, referring to the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. “Still inside — more details to come.”
That's the part that's trouble. From Manu Raju of CNN:
This is a serious breach of security. Now that the last in a long line of investigations into the nearly empty charge of Clinton's emails has ended with "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information," now can we see an investigation into this breach of national security by the republicans?

There were a couple dozen house republicans who gained unauthorized access to the SCIF. I have a few questions:
  • Who exactly were those house republicans? We only have a few names.
  • How many had unauthorized cell phones?  
  • How and when will the unauthorized (both with cell phones and without) be punished? 
These questions must be answered.



October 20, 2019

But Her Emails...

Read the report of the State Department investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

It ends with this sentence:
There was no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information.
How many times did Trump (and his MAGA-cultists) screech about her emails? How many times did they scream to "lock her up!"?

How many times have we since been told, in effect, that there is no there there?

Instead we have this tweeting from The White House.

Mark Esper estas la Sekretario pri Defendo. Trump akiris sian nomon malĝusta. Trump estas malklera rasisto, kiu probable finos mortigi nin ĉiujn.

October 18, 2019

How Is This NOT A Violation Of The Emoluments Clause? UPDATED

Now class, let's all refresh our memories as to what the emoluments clause is.

It's from Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
And what's happened to violate this clause?

President Trump has decided to host the Group of 7 meeting next June at the Trump National Doral near Miami, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, said Thursday, a decision that prompted immediate questions about whether it was a conflict of interest for him to choose one of his own properties for a diplomatic event.
And then there's this from Andrew Napolitano:
The network's legal analyst reacted Thursday after the White House announced the 2020 meeting of world leaders would be held at the president's Doral golf resort, calling this a violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the president from accepting "any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."

After quoting from this clause, Napolitano noted its purpose is to "keep the president of the United States of America from profiting off of foreign money," and so Trump holding the summit at his private resort is "about as direct and profound a violation of the emoluments clause as one could create."

The White House has claimed the resort was simply the best venue for the event and that Trump will not profit from it. Napolitano, however, dismissed this defense.

"The president owns shares of stock in a corporation that is one of the owners of this, along with many other investors," Napolitano said. "He also owns shares of stock in the corporation that manages it. Those corporations will receive a great deal of money from foreign heads of state because this is there. That's exactly what the emoluments clause was written to prohibit."
How is this NOT a violation?

Trump wimps out:
President Trump announced abruptly Saturday night that he would no longer host next year’s Group of Seven summit at the Trump National Doral Miami resort in Florida, bowing to criticism for having selected his own property as the venue for a major diplomatic event.
But you'll note from the text:
I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders. It is big, grand, on hundreds of acres, next to MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, has tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms, and each delegation would have . . . its own 50 to 70 unit building. Would set up better than other alternatives. I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!
Therefore, based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020. We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately. Thank you!
He still doesn't see it as a violation of the Constitution.

October 15, 2019

My Latest Column In The Pittsburgh Current

Read it here.

And excerpt:
For this column, I was originally planning on looking at the 2017 Trump tax cuts, specifically how some members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation described and defended them over the past few years. I was planning on contrasting those statements with how the Congressional Research Service analyzed those tax cuts. I was planning on showing how the GOP descriptions of those cuts were wrong, wrong, wrong.

But then the news of Donald Trump’s phone calls to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hit the news and the idea of fact-checking a mere multi-billion dollar tax cut that skewed wealthy seemed rather quaint compared to a sitting President of the United States actively corroding the foundations of the republic for his own political gain.

My HUNDRED AND THIRTIETH (And Last) Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter (my last) to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail today:
Dear Senator Toomey:

It's me, again - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

When will you be upholding your oath to The Constitution and and by that I mean when will you be putting your country above your party and holding the man you voted for for president accountable for his actions?

That's the only question that really matters these days.

Thank you and I await your response.
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.


October 14, 2019

Message For A Monday Morning

From CNN:
A retired four-star Marine general on Sunday bluntly criticized President Donald Trump over the ongoing Turkish military offensive in northern Syria, saying, "There is blood on Trump's hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies."
And from Fox:

Donald Trump paid a Oct. 12 visit to Trump National Golf Club, Washington, D.C. in Potomac Falls, Va., representing the 236th time the 45th President has visited one of his 17 golf clubs (and, for most of them, presumably played some golf) since becoming President on Jan. 20, 2017. He has now paid 238 visits to any golf course as President.

Trump arrived at approximately noon Eastern, as Trump continues to receive bipartisan criticism for his decision to remove American troops that had been assisting and protecting Kurds in Syria. The withdrawal, favored by dictators in Turkey and Russia, signaled a willingness to let those countries' troops attack and kill in an effort to take over the territory.
There is blood on Trump's hands.

October 11, 2019

George Will On Congressional Republicans

From The Washington Post:
Trump’s gross and comprehensive incompetence now increasingly impinges upon the core presidential responsibility. This should, but will not, cause congressional Republicans to value their own and their institution’s dignity and exercise its powers more vigorously than they profess fealty to Trump. He has issued a categorical refusal to supply witnesses and documents pertinent to the House investigation of whether he committed an impeachable offense regarding Ukraine. This refusal, which is analogous to an invocation of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, justifies an inference of guilt. Worse, this refusal attacks our constitutional regime. So, the refusal is itself an impeachable offense.
While there are certainly many many other positions of Will's that people can rightfully dispute (marriage equality, climate science), he is at the very least a thoughtful conservative - even if he gets some really important stuff really really wrong.

He's right about Trump.

And then there's Representative Guy Reschenthaler:
I'll give the floor back to Will:
Trump is not just aggressively but lawlessly exercising the interests of his place, counting on Congress, after decades of lassitude regarding its interests, being an ineffective combatant. Trump’s argument, injected into him by subordinates who understand that absurdity is his vocation, is essentially that the Constitution’s impeachment provisions are unconstitutional.
In 13 months, all congressional Republicans who have not defended Congress by exercising “the constitutional rights of the place” should be defeated. If congressional Republicans continue their genuflections at Trump’s altar, the appropriate 2020 outcome will be a Republican thrashing so severe — losing the House, the Senate and the electoral votes of, say, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina and even Texas — that even this party of slow-learning careerists might notice the hazards of tethering their careers to a downward-spiraling scofflaw.
Thus spake the conservative, equality- and science- denying George F. Will.

October 10, 2019

Sure, Be Nice To George W. Bush

I'm sure we've all seen this:
A few things (among others) to remember:
  • The Torture:
  • In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an admission the human rights experts say could one day have legal consequences for him.

    In his book, titled "Decision Points," Bush recounts being asked by the CIA whether it could proceed with waterboarding Mohammed, who Bush said was suspected of knowing about still-pending terrorist plots against the United States. Bush writes that his reply was "Damn right" and states that he would make the same decision again to save lives, according to a someone close to Bush who has read the book.

  • Iraq War:
  • As of Wednesday, Sept. 29, at least 4,424 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Torture is a war crime and those 4400 US Servicemen and women died for Bush's lie.

But yea, it's real important to be nice to him at a football game.

We'll all be better off for it.

October 8, 2019

My HUNDRED AND TWENTY-NINTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail today:
Dear Senator Toomey:

It's me, again - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

Impeachment inquiries are back in the news.

We all know the details. He asked a foreign country (Ukraine) for "a favor" and that favor was help regarding his own political future. He admitted to it. He's on tape hoping yet another country (China) will do him that same favor.

You've said that the call to Ukraine was inappropriate but not impeachable. So let me ask, at what point would this become impeachable? How much more of the Constitution will he have to ignore for you to stop supporting him?

Thank you and I await your response.
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.


October 4, 2019

Judge Andrew Napolitano From FOX NEWS, On Donald Trump

Take a look.

Some highlights:
Has Trump committed any impeachable offenses?

A CIA agent formerly assigned to the White House – and presently referred to as the "whistleblower" – reported a July 25, 2019 telephone conversation that Trump had with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. That conversation manifested both criminal and impeachable behavior.
And then, after describing the nature of the military aid promised to Ukraine, Napolitano goes on:
It is easy to see why all of the senior members of the Trump administration involved in security – all of them – advised the president to release the military hardware, which was ready to be shipped, and the foreign aid, which Congress had appropriated.

Trump rejected that advice. Instead, in the Zelensky phone call, he told the Ukrainian president that he needed a personal "favor." The clear unmistakable inference is that the $391 million in aid would be held up until the favor was delivered. The favor he sought was dirt on Biden.
And so far, the bulk of the GOP in The Congress - representing all those gun-toting, freedom-loving, Constitution and/or bible-quoting patriots - have been silent.

October 2, 2019

Hey, Look What I Wrote!

From The Pittsburgh Current:
What the P-G’s board doesn’t seem to understand that impeachment is part of the process. It’s a correction when all else has gone bad. And they have gone bad, haven’t they?
Go read the rest, it's pretty good.

My HUNDRED AND TWENTY-EIGHTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail today:
Dear Senator Toomey:

It's me, again - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

This week, Donald Trump accused Adam Schiff, a sitting member of Congress who heads the House Intelligence Committee of committing treason and called for his arrest. As you know, Schiff's committee is investigating Trump for his dealings with Ukraine.

So far, as far as I can tell, you've been silent on the President's threat.

Can I ask why?

Thank you and I await your response.
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.