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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Exclusive: New Video Shows Border Patrol Account of Child’s Death Was No...

Joe: This case hits the four corners of what founders wrote on impeachment

Opinion | The American Health Care Industry Is Killing People - The New York Times

Life expectancy continues to rise in other wealthy countries, but not in the United States, researchers just reported. Some of the blame for that can be attributed to our dysfunctional health care system.

"Yes, transitioning to a more equitable system might eliminate some jobs. But the status quo is morally untenable.

Life expectancy continues to rise in other wealthy countries, but not in the United States, researchers just reported. Some of the blame for that can be attributed to our dysfunctional health care system.

Life expectancy continues to rise in other wealthy countries, but not in the United States, researchers just reported. Some of the blame for that can be attributed to our dysfunctional health care system.Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times

Won’t you spare a thought for America’s medical debt collectors? And while you’re at it, will you say a prayer for the nation’s health care billing managers? Let’s also consider the kindly, economically productive citizens in swing states whose job it is to jail pregnant women and the parents of cancer patients for failing to pay their radiology bills. Put yourself in the entrepreneurial shoes of the friendly hospital administrator who has found a lucrative new revenue stream: filing thousands of lawsuits to garnish sick people’s wages.

And who can forget the lawyers? And the lobbyists! Oh, aren’t they all having a ball in America’s health care thunderdome. Like the two lobbyists who were just caught drafting newspaper editorials for Democratic state representatives in Montana and Ohio, decrying their party’s push toward a “government-controlled” health care industry. It’s clear why these lobbyists might prefer the converse status quo: a government controlled by the health care industry. If we moved to a single-payer system, how would lobbyists put food on the table, and who would write lawmakers’ op-ed essays?

Welcome to the bizarre new argument against “Medicare for all”: It’s going to cost us jobs. Lots of jobs. Good, middle-class, white-collar jobs in America’s heartland, where Democrats need to win big to defeat Donald Trump.

The argument is specious and morally suspect. Last week, health researchers reported that American life expectancy is declining for the first time in half a century, and some of the leading causes have to do with the ruinous health care system. Even if it is the case that reforming American health care might eliminate some jobs, it would seem to be a good trade for the likely benefit: More people might gain access to affordable health care and get to keep living.

But I worry that the jobs argument might sway moderate politicians, centrist pundits and much of the establishment, because it plays on one of the major fault lines of health reform: that in fixing the system so that more people benefit, those who now enjoy a privileged slice of American health care might end up worse off than they are today.

As a matter of ethics and equality, this should be O.K.; sticking with a system that is the source of so much death, debt and financial ruin just because you like your doctor or your insurance company or your medical-billing job is not really a defensible position.

On the other hand, in America, “I’ve got mine and I don’t want to lose it” is always pretty good politics.

The jobs argument goes like this: There’s a lot of fat in the American health care industry, and any effort to transform it into a simpler system in which everyone is covered would necessarily eliminate layers of bureaucracy and likely reduce overhead costs. Every year Americans collectively pay about $500 billion in administrative costs for health care — that is, for things like billing and insurance overhead, not for actual medical care.

These costs are significantly higher than in most other wealthy countries. One study on health care data from 1999 showed that each American paid about $1,059 per year just in overhead costs for health care; in Canada, the per capita cost was $307. Those figures are likely much higher today.

Wouldn’t lowering overhead costs be an obviously positive outcome?

Ah, but there’s the rub: All this overspending creates a lot of employment — and moving toward a more efficient and equitable health care system will inevitably mean getting rid of many administrative jobs. One study suggests that about 1.8 million jobs would be rendered unnecessary if America adopted a public health care financing system.

So what if some of these jobs involve debt collection, claims denial, aggressive legal action or are otherwise punitive, cruel or simply morally indefensible in a society that can clearly afford to provide high-quality health care to everyone? Jobs are jobs, folks, as Joe Biden might say.

Indeed, that’s exactly what Biden’s presidential campaign is saying about the Medicare for all plans that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are proposing: They “will not only cost 160 million Americans their private health coverage and force tax increases on the middle class, but it would also kill almost two million jobs,” a Biden campaign official warned recently.

Note the word “kill” in the statement. That word might better describe not what could happen to jobs under Medicare for all but what the health care industry is doing to many Americans today.

Last week, the medical journal JAMA published a comprehensive study examining the cause of a remarkably grim statistic about our national well-being. From 1959 to 2010, life expectancy in the United States and in other wealthy countries around the world climbed. Then, in 2014, American life expectancy began to fall, while it continued to rise elsewhere.

What caused the American decline? Researchers identified a number of potential factors, including tobacco use, obesity and psychological stress, but two of the leading causes can be pinned directly on the peculiarities and dysfunctions of American health care.

The first is the opioid epidemic, whose rise can be traced to the release, in 1996, of the prescription pain drug OxyContin. In the public narrative, much of the blame for the epidemic has been cast on the Sackler family, whose firm, Purdue Pharma, created OxyContin and pushed for its widespread use. But research has shown that the Sacklers exploited aberrant incentives in American health care.

Purdue courted doctors, patient groups and insurers to convince the medical establishment that OxyContin was a novel type of opioid that was less addictive and less prone to abuse. The company had little scientific evidence to make that claim, but much of the health care industry bought into it, and OxyContin prescriptions soared. The rush to prescribe opioids was fueled by business incentives created by the health care industry — for Purdue, for many doctors and for insurance companies, treating widespread conditions like back pain with pills rather than physical therapy was simply better for the bottom line.

Opioid addiction isn’t the only factor contributing to rising American mortality rates. The problem is more pervasive, having to do with an overall lack of quality health care. The JAMA report points out that death rates have climbed most for middle-age adults, who — unlike retirees and many children — are not usually covered by government-run health care services and thus have less access to affordable health care.

The researchers write that “countries with higher life expectancy outperform the United States in providing universal access to health care” and in “removing costs as a barrier to care.” In America, by contrast, cost is a key barrier. A study published last year in The American Journal of Medicine found that of the nearly 10 million Americans given diagnoses of cancer between 2000 and 2012, 42 percent were forced to drain all of their assets in order to pay for care.

The politics of Medicare for all are perilous. Understandably so: If you’re one of the millions of Americans who loves your doctor and your insurance company, or who works in the health care field, I can see why you would be fearful of wholesale change.

But it’s wise to remember that it’s not just your own health and happiness that counts. The health care industry is failing much of the country. Many of your fellow citizens are literally dying early because of its failures. “I got mine!” is not a good enough argument to maintain the dismal status quo."

Opinion | The American Health Care Industry Is Killing People - The New York Times

Opinion | What Kamala Harris’s Campaign Teaches Us - The New York Times

Senator Kamala Harris in the spin room after the Democratic debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, in October.

"It is worth exploring the election system in this country and who benefits from it.

Kamala Harris entered the presidential race with a bang.

She announced her candidacy on Martin Luther King Day and not only raised $1.5 million in its first 24 hours, according to Politico, but also “in the first 12 hours made $110,000 in revenue from its online merchandise store that sells T-shirts, hats and tote bags — breaking the single-day, single-candidate record for sales by the vendor, Bumperactive.”

Her campaign material used similar colors and typography as did Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and the first to see a major party nomination for the presidency.

Soon after her announcement, FiveThirtyEight published a story under the headline, “How Kamala Harris Could Win The 2020 Democratic Nomination,” with a linked analysis by the site’s Nate Silver, who built a model of each contender’s “ability to build a coalition among key constituencies within the party” and wrote that “the coalition-building model has made me more skeptical about the chances for Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar, for instance, but more bullish about Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker.”

About a week after her announcement, Harris held her kickoff rally outside the Oakland City Hall, and 20,000 people showed up and packed the plaza.

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Harris’s campaign was ablaze with potential and possibility.

Now, less than a year later, Harris has suspended her campaign. And, the inevitable autopsy articles are flying, attempting to diagnose what went wrong, or what her campaign did wrong.

But, it seems to me that the questions here are bigger than missteps, real or perceived. Every campaign has missteps. It is hard to look at this field of candidates and not remember a cascading list of missteps. And many of them have things in their past for which they have apologized. But one question is why missteps are fatal to some campaigns and not others.

It is fair to ask what role racism and sexism played in her campaign’s demise. These are two “isms” that are permanent, obvious and unavoidable in American society.

It is fair to ask how those features impacted media coverage, or the lack of coverage.

It is fair to ask about the Democratic debate rules and how they prioritize donations in addition to polls, thereby advantaging the opinions of people who can afford to give over those who can’t.

It is fair to ask about the Democrats’ schedule of caucuses and primaries that begin with two states — Iowa and New Hampshire — that are overwhelmingly white, so that candidates who poll best there get the benefit of momentum even before a ballot is cast and also before the contests move to states with more minorities.

It is fair to ask why, as of now, only white candidates have qualified for the next debate, even though the field began as one of the most diverse.

All of this must be explored and discussed and learned from.

But there is something else that we learn — or relearn — from Harris’s run: the enduring practicality of black voters. They, in general, reward familiarity, fealty and feasibility.

Joe Biden just fits that bill for the plurality of black voters. When it comes to picking a nominee, black people don’t adhere to racial tribalism, broadly speaking. They want their votes to matter; they want to pick a winner.

It is possible for these black voters to be exceedingly proud of the presence of candidates like Harris and Booker while simultaneously supporting another candidate as their first choice.

It is possible to feel a profound sadness that Harris would have to leave the race before Iowa and simultaneously believe that other candidates were likely to win the early contests.

This practicality has repeatedly been on display in presidential politics. In 2008, Hillary Clinton held a 24-point lead among black Democrats over Barack Obama before Iowa, but after Obama won the state he held a 28-point lead over Clinton among black voters. He had proven his viability. Harris will never get that chance.

If Harris had Biden’s level of support in the polls among black voters she would still be in the race. But, they chose a different course, in part because the system increasingly appears stacked against her, making her candidacy look more and more like a long shot.

But also, white people made a different choice. Everyone seems to have settled, for whatever reason, on the notion that a white person has the best chance of beating Trump, that a racial minority is too risky this time around.

But, that is a horrible place to be: courting the voters who abide racism rather than trying to excite the voters who despise racism.

There is absolutely no reason Harris should be out this race so early.

You can blame her exit on her past and her execution of her campaign, sure, but if you do so without examining the system the Democrats have built and the way that even black people feel that it’s stacked against the black candidates, you are not being honest."

Opinion | What Kamala Harris’s Campaign Teaches Us - The New York Times

Chris Hayes On William Barr's ‘Disgusting, Despicable View’ | All In | M...

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

What if Democrats Have Already Won Back Enough White Working-Class Voters to Win in 2020? Since the 1980s, Democratic candidates have proven that they can win elections while losing whites without a college degree by a significant margin.

‘In September, Cook Political Reports elections guru David Wasserman argued that Democrats would be foolish not to court non-college-educated white voters in 2020. That group may make up 45 percent of the electorate nationwide, he wrote, but it represents a majority of the electorate in key battleground states—Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania—and casts almost half of the ballots in North Carolina.
That set off another round of debate about whether and how the Democrats should “win back” the non-college-educated whites who played a crucial role in delivering the Rust Belt, and ultimately the Electoral College, to Donald Trump in 2016.
Some analysts argue that progressives who urge Democrats to focus on turning out their core base—people of color, unmarried women, and younger voters—are too cavalier about the consequences of continuing to lose less-educated whites. Those progressives in turn worry that the pundits and moderate Dems who obsess over working-class whites rarely define what appealing to those voters would look like in practice. Does it mean shifting the party closer to the center and putting less emphasis on issues that matter to the base, like discriminatory policing, reproductive health care, and LGBTQ rights?
But these debates miss quite a bit of evidence, direct and indirect, that Democrats have already “won back” enough white working-class voters to compete next year. Since the 1980s, Democratic candidates have proven that they can win elections while losing whites without a college degree by a significant margin. Obama won 36 percent of their votes in 2012. Bill Clinton averaged 41 percent in his two victories. And in 2020, the candidate will likely need to win a smaller share of white people without a degree, because that group has long been declining as a share of both the electorate and the broader population. According to Gallup, their share of the population has declined by three percentage points since 2014. And a study released by the Center for American Progress in October projects that next year their share of the electorate will be 2.3 points lower than it was in 2016.
The reality is that the Democratic candidate is unlikely to do as poorly with this group as Hillary Clinton did. In 2016, despite winning the national popular vote by a significant margin, she won just 28 percent of these voters, according to Pew, and that wasn’t enough to deliver Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. According to a data set that combines survey and voter registration data with election results, Clinton lost non-college-educated whites by a 28-point margin in 2016, significantly worse than Obama’s 10-point deficit in 2008 or his 21-point gap in 2012.
similar analysis looking back further found that Al Gore lost working-class whites by 17 points in 2000, and they went for George W. Bush over John Kerry by 23 points in 2004. Clinton also fared significantly worse among this group in 2016 than Democrats did overall when Republicans crushed them in midterm waves in 2010 (by 23 points) and 2014 (by seventeen points).
There are three reasons to believe that Clinton’s performance with non-college-educated whites in 2016 was an outlier, and that Democrats’ support among this group has already reverted to its longer-term trend line—one of gradual decline that has been offset by demographic shifts in the electorate.’

Opinion | Black Scholars Are Not ‘Rare Creatures’ - The New York Times

Clockwise from top left: Michael Drake, president of Ohio State University; Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation; Cecilia Conrad, a managing director at the MacArthur Foundation; and Henry Louis Gates Jr., a professor at Harvard.

"LOS ANGELES — In late November, the president of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels, told students that he will soon “be recruiting one of the rarest creatures in America — a leading, I mean a really leading, African-American scholar.” 

“Creatures?” a student asked. “Come on.”
“It’s a figure of speech. You must have taken some literature,” Mr. Daniels said. “One of the rarest, let me say, rarest birds, rarest, rarest, rarest phenomena.”

In just a few sentences, Mr. Daniels seemed to question the possibility of sustained black excellence. In response to the uproar that swiftly followed, he complained that he had “never felt so misunderstood” and that he had simply used a “figure of speech.”
When I learned about Mr. Daniels’s words from another African-American scholar on my own campus, I felt indignant but also constrained. The standard etiquette for college presidents, like me, is to let the remarks of another leader pass on by. 

I can’t do that. The idea that scholars of color are rare is a damaging fiction. Yet it’s pervasive in academia, causing untold damage. It allows some faculty deans to simply throw up their hands and give up on their recruitment efforts. It leads to small recruitment budgets for minority candidates. 

It means some disciplines structurally ignore the presence of brilliant candidates of color, believing, contrary to their own eyes, that none exist. It means that another generation of younger scholars may think it’s impossible ever to lead. It means lost creativity, delayed discoveries and fewer transformative ideas of the kind our world desperately needs. And for those who want to maintain the status quo , mission accomplished. 
It’s true that the number of black scholars is smaller than one would like. But they’re also suppressed by the fiction that black leadership is an impossible dream — a rare bird. 
Paul Morigi/Getty Images
After Mr. Daniels’s remarks, Purdue faculty members said in a statement that “the idea that there is a scarcity of leading African-American scholars is simply not true.” Indeed, one might look to scholarly societies for leading figures: Alondra Nelson, president of the Social Science Research Council; Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation; Cecilia Conrad, a managing director at the MacArthur Foundation; and Claude Steele, chair of the board of the Russell Sage Foundation. Or leaders at American colleges and universities like Jonathan Holloway, provost of Northwestern; Raynard Kington, president of Grinnell College; and Michael Drake, president of Ohio State University.
Figures of speech matter, because they may shape our thoughts, set our expectations and quickly lead us to dangerous places as a society. When a group is stripped of their humanity through language, they are easier to exclude or hate.
I know my colleague intended only to make a single point. But which point? There are truly leading African-American scholars. There are in fact whole societies of African-American scholars who work on just about every area under the sun. Take Andre Fenton, whose work in neuroscience explores the mechanics of memory; or a rising star like Sanmi Koyejo at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose work on neural networks has been recognized by the Kavli Foundation. Political science? Omar Wasow at Princeton. Math? Edray Goins at Pomona. Or on the rise, John Urshel at M.I.T. Literature? Saidiya Hartman, Columbia. Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard. Art history? Richard J. Powell, Duke.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
This is in no way a comprehensive list of leading African-American scholars, but I have to stop somewhere. The talented scholars leading historically black colleges have underscored this point for nearly 200 years. As colleagues, we must commit to an honest and rigorous review of the evidence before us and, as scholars, we uphold a simple standard: When we don’t know, we have the curiosity and humility to ask.
As an English professor, I also know that metaphors are intended to have multiple meanings and that hurt and belittling are among them. Animal metaphors can simultaneously assert the dominance of the declarer while diminishing the declared: Women? Dogs. Black people? Monkeys. Immigrants? Vermin. 
Pointing this out is not an exercise in hypersensitivity. Telling the truth — without hiding ugly realities in polite silence — is the very thing that some critics of higher education claim to do. However, speaking out is only the beginning of an education. The most insidious metaphors have a way of getting into the walls, corners and attics of our discourse. The least we can do is switch on the lights.

G. Gabrielle Starr is the president of Pomona College and a professor of English and neuroscience.

Opinion | Black Scholars Are Not ‘Rare Creatures’ - The New York Times

Opinion | Democrats, Don’t Overreach on Impeachment - The New York Times

Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Tuesday discussing impeachment hearings.

"Like Nixon, Trump is accused of many things. But only one matters.

The summer of 1998 was not an auspicious time for me to start work as a young White House lawyer. I was in the Office of Legislative Affairs — but all legislative work had ground to a halt with President Bill Clinton facing impeachment in the House. Instead, we compiled a daily catalog of statements by members of Congress about Mr. Clinton’s actions and their possible consequences.

While it wasn’t a great way to start a career, that experience offered an accidental insight into the current impeachment process — and a warning about overreach by the Democrats.

Back in 1998, House Republicans put together a fairly straightforward case against the president: Mr. Clinton was accused of having an affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, and then lying about it. The Republicans took full advantage of this simple story to advance their claim that a president of questionable morals should not remain in office. The statements we tracked divided into easy categories; some members thought the affair was enough to sink the president, while others thought the lying was the impeachable offense.

President Trump’s White House no doubt has a similar operation. But while our job was simple because the narrative of Mr. Clinton’s sins was easy to grasp, today’s allegations are all over the map and could amount to a lengthy list of articles of impeachment.

Unfortunately for House Democrats, the complexity of this story does not help their cause. Mr. Trump has destroyed so many norms, has been credibly accused of breaking so many laws and has otherwise engaged in such a dizzying array of possibly impeachable behaviors that any intelligible story line has been blurred, if not obliterated. The enormity of his alleged transgressions works, perversely, to his advantage.

Right now Democrats are debating whether to focus articles of impeachment solely on the Ukraine scandal, or to add multiple other charges, ranging from obstruction of justice and other illegal or unethical actions detailed in the Mueller report, to personal enrichment in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. The latter, however satisfying, would be a mistake.

Even though it means leaving out actions many members believe independently merit removing this president from office, which would frustrate many, there may be virtue in keeping the focus narrow at least in how they talk about the case against Mr. Trump.

The impeachment case of Richard Nixon offers a fruitful example. There are many obvious parallels between Mr. Trump and Nixon, including their venal behavior, demonization of the news media and the fact that both investigations have included evidence of break-ins into the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Both presidents also sought to persuade a foreign power to interfere in our elections — Mr. Trump with Ukraine and Nixon with South Vietnam.

The list goes on, and yet the impeachment case against Nixon was founded on a simple, straightforward story: his role in the cover-up of the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington.

What made the public sit up and take notice was the release, on Aug. 5, 1974, of a transcript of the so-called Smoking Gun Tape, which made it impossible for Nixon to argue that he was unaware of and uninvolved in the cover-up. The president’s support in Congress crumbled. Representative John Jacob Rhodes, a Republican Nixon loyalist who served as the minority leader in the House, stated it most directly: “Cover-up of criminal activity and misuse of federal agencies can neither be condoned nor tolerated.”

Donald Trump is the master of diversionary tactics. Every day through tweets and press statements, he spreads falsehoods, attacks his opponents on made-up grounds and sometimes even gives congressional committees new avenues of illegality to follow for impeachment or prosecution. Each of these new story lines must be ignored. The best story line is the simple one: Mr. Trump tried to bribe a foreign official with American government dollars to announce an investigation of unfounded charges against a domestic political rival. There is more, much more. But that’s enough."

Opinion | Democrats, Don’t Overreach on Impeachment - The New York Times

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Sex tourism in The Gambia | What Gambians think about sex tourism in the...

Adam Schiff speaks after House Democrats release impeachment report

AG Barr Questions Findings From IG Report | Morning Joe | MSNBC. The most crooked Attorney General since John Mitchell during the Nixon Administration. He has lied and perjured himself repeatedly and now this continued thuggery.

Trump cannot be investigated, prosecuted or impeached, even if he shoots someone, the president’s lawyers say - The Washington Post

President Trump speaks to reporters at the White House on Monday.  (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

"No, the following headline is not from the Onion. “In court hearing, Trump lawyer argues a sitting president would be immune from prosecution even if he were to shoot someone,” The Post reported Wednesday. This is an even more shocking assertion of executive impunity than it initially seems.

The hearing involved Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s attempt to obtain President Trump’s financial records from Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA. The president’s personal lawyer William S. Consovoy argued that Trump should be shielded from investigation and prosecution on the part of federal and state authorities for the duration of his presidency, calling this principle “temporary presidential immunity.”

The Post reports:

Judge Denny Chin pressed Consovoy about the hypothetical shooting in the middle of Manhattan.
“Local authorities couldn’t investigate? They couldn’t do anything about it?” he asked, adding, “Nothing could be done? That is your position?”
“That is correct,” Consovoy answered emphasizing that the immunity applied only while Trump is in office.
Implicitly or explicitly, lawyers who make arguments such as these rely on the notion that there is another, proper way to punish a criminal president: impeachment and removal from office. But Trump himself rejects the legitimacy of impeachment. He has called the Democrats’ exercise of their authority to conduct impeachment proceedings — a power the Constitution plainly grants the House — a “coup,” “crap” and a “lynching,” declaring Monday that “it’s so illegitimate. This cannot be the way our great founders meant this to be.”

This is not just Trump freelancing before the cameras. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the president approved a plan among ultra-partisan House Republicans to storm a secure impeachment hearing, which they did on Wednesday, stopping the testimony of a Pentagon official. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), White House counsel Pat Cipollone declared earlier this month that the executive branch would not cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry because “the President cannot allow your constitutionally illegitimate proceedings to distract him and those in the Executive Branch.” Cipollone argued that the president’s actions have been so “completely appropriate” that the House could have no legitimate reason to conduct an impeachment inquiry.

So the president’s position, as described by his and his administration’s lawyers, is that law enforcement at all levels of government may not investigate or prosecute him and that the president gets to decide when impeachment proceedings against him are constitutional. In other words, there are no checks on presidential behavior between elections every four years.

Then again, Trump has also joked about seeking an illegal third term. So who knows what he would say if he lost the 2020 election. He has effectively declared that the United States has an elected king. He is not far off from claiming that he gets to decide whether an election result is legitimate — or the product of “fake news” and massive, invisible voter fraud."

Trump cannot be investigated, prosecuted or impeached, even if he shoots someone, the president’s lawyers say - The Washington Post

Monday, December 02, 2019

Impeachment: We're drawing near the endgame — and, man, is it gonna get ugly |

House Judiciary Committee will begin to frame articles of impeachment this week. Republicans won't go quietly

"House Democrats said they planned to move quickly on impeachment and it appears they really meant it. It's hard to believe that the process has come this far in just eight weeks, but Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the House leadership seem determined to get this thing over with as soon as possible, so it's rushing toward completion before we can even catch our breath. (I'm on record disagreeing with that strategy if it means ignoring the gigantic body of evidence pointing to corruption and the obstruction of justice documented in the Mueller report. But nobody asked me my opinion, so ...)
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has said his committee will have a full report on its findings in Trump's Ukraine bribery scandal ready for review by the House Judiciary Committee this week. The hearings, depositions, text messages and contemporaneous notes from the witnesses, as well as the White House "transcript" containing what amounts to a presidential confession, are all public knowledge. So the report is unlikely to contain any surprises. But Schiff did not rule out other information "coming to light," and it's certainly possible. It seems as if there is a new crime revealed every day.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., will gavel his committee's first hearings on Wednesday morning. Members plan to first hear from various experts about the impeachment process itself and then begin the process of evaluating the evidence. That certainly means the Intelligence Committee report, and possibly more information from the Mueller report and other committees engaged in oversight. If they determine the evidence meets the constitutional criteria they will draw up articles of impeachment and put them to the House for a vote.
Republicans have been whining for the past two months about "the process," rending their garments over the fact that the president wasn't allowed to have lawyers present to defend him during the Intelligence Committee hearings. (One might have thought that the Republicans on the committee might have felt injured by that, but they played along, unaware or simply not caring that the president was essentially calling them chopped liver.)
It's still unclear exactly how Nadler plans to proceed, but it's possible he had thought to follow the Bill Clinton impeachment model, under which hearings would first establish the constitutional grounds for impeachment, followed by appearances by the chairs of relevant committees presenting evidence of impeachable offenses, and culminating with a presentation by the president's lawyers giving their side of the story. It doesn't look like that's going to happen.
Nadler offered the White House the opportunity to participate in the Judiciary Committee hearings, but late Sunday night White House counsel Pat Cipollone issued another incomprehensible, word-salad letter to the committee refusing to have anything to do with what he claims is an unfair process. It's far more likely that the White House doesn't care to participate because it can offer no reasonable defense. It's one thing to have GOP congressmen blathering on about Joe Biden and conspiracy theories, and quite another to have a professional attorney excuse Trump's behavior under oath. We have yet to see anyone effectively make a coherent case in his favor, beyond fatuously claims that the president is a crusader against corruption, which is ludicrous but still would not excuse his bribing a foreign leader to help sabotage a political rival and smear the opposing party. It is indefensible on the merits and one can certainly understand why none of his lawyers would want to go there.
So it looks like it's going to be up to Republican members on the committee to make his case for him. Judging from what we've heard from various prominent Republicans over the weekend, we can expect that this next phase will see a ratcheting up of resistance to the proceedings and more antics from the backbenchers on the Judiciary Committee. They have some real characters who are ready to turn this into a wild and crazy trip down the rabbit hole.
We don't yet know how Nadler plans to run the hearings but I think everyone hopes he follows Schiff's example. A draft of possible impeachment proceedings from September indicates that Nadler plans to allow committee staffers "designated by the chairman and ranking member" to "ask questions of witnesses for a total of one hour, equally divided across the parties (in addition to the normal questions from members)," so it's likely that the hearings will at least have an hour or so of meaningful exchanges.
But that's going to be tough. This committee is one of the most rancorous in the House and it has twice as many members as the Intelligence Committee. Many of them are showboating egomaniacs on a good day. Both Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, who were highly combative during the Intelligence Committee hearings, also sit on Judiciary, so we can expect more of their red-meat performances. And we can be sure that Trump's most loyal guard dog, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, along with borderline crackpot Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, will be looking for ways to upend the proceedings.
As Judiciary member Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told Fox News on Sunday, “it’s a bunch of brawlers sometimes on the Judiciary Committee, so it should get pretty hot and under the collar as we go along. I don’t think things have been done the way they’ve been done in the past, Mike, and so it causes some rancor and it should be pretty — much more feisty, I would say than the Intel Committee was.”
Nadler has his hands full, to say the least. But if anyone thinks that the circus atmosphere will be over once the House votes on impeachment and it moves to the more staid and dignified Senate, they should think again. Republican senators are behaving little better than Gaetz and Gohmert. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has vowed to call Hunter Biden to testify on the premise that “we're not going to live in a country where only one party gets investigated." (Which must have made Bill Clinton shake his head in wonderment, considering that Graham was one of the House managers of his impeachment trial.)
But Graham has to battle another Southern senator for the role of most outrageous Trump defender. That would be Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, who has been currying favor with Trump by appearing on the Sunday shows making rash claims about Ukraine interfering in the 2016 election.
This is crazy talk, but it's very likely where the impeachment process is headed both in the House and the Senate. The most sober and dignified part of the process is probably behind us, unfortunately."
Impeachment: We're drawing near the endgame — and, man, is it gonna get ugly |