Mitt Romney’s Speech during the Senate

Some quotes:

Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

The results of this Senate court will, in fact, be appealed to a higher court, the judgment of the American people. Voters will make the final decision, just as the president’s lawyers have implored.

I will only be one name among many, no more, no less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong. We are all footnotes at best in the annals of history, but in the most powerful nation on Earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that distinction is enough for any citizen.

I have included biographical summary of Mitt Romney from Wikipedia at the end of this blog.

 

SENATOR MITT ROMNEY, Republican of Utah:

 

The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it. The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of our Congress these many days. We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it. We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.

The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

The House managers presented evidence supporting their case, and the White House counsel disputed that case. In addition, the president’s team presented three defenses, first that there could be no impeachment without a statutory crime, second that the Bidens’ conduct justified the president’s actions, and third, that the judgment of the president’s actions should be left to the voters. Let me first address those three defenses.

The historic meaning of the words “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the writings of the founders and my own reasoned judgment convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they’re not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office. To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove such a president defies reason.

The president’s counsel also notes that Vice President Biden appeared to have a conflict of interest when he undertook an effort to remove the Ukrainian prosecutor general. If he knew of the exorbitant compensation his son was receiving from a company actually under investigation, the vice president should have recused himself. While ignoring a conflict of interest is not a crime, it is surely very wrong. With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavory, but also not a crime. Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the president’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the president’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit. There’s no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the president would never have done what he did.

The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president.

Hamilton explained that the founders’ decision to invest senators with this obligation rather than leave it to the voters was intended to minimize, to the extent possible, the partisan sentiments of the public at large. So the verdict is ours to render under our Constitution. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfill our duty. The grave question the Constitution tasked senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did.

The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The president’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.

What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

In the last several weeks, I’ve received numerous calls and texts. Many demanded, in their words, that I “stand with the team.” I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind: You see, I support a great deal of what the president has done. I voted with him 80 percent of the time.

But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and political biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.

I’m aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I’m sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?

I sought to hear testimony from John Bolton, not only because I believed he could add context to the charges, but also because I hoped that what he might say could raise reasonable doubt and thus remove from me the awful obligation to vote for impeachment.

Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence. I’m convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character. As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We’ve come to different conclusions fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.

I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the president from office. The results of this Senate court will, in fact, be appealed to a higher court, the judgment of the American people. Voters will make the final decision, just as the president’s lawyers have implored. My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate, but irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability believing that my country expected it of me.

I will only be one name among many, no more, no less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong. We are all footnotes at best in the annals of history, but in the most powerful nation on Earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that distinction is enough for any citizen.

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.

 Commentary 

I think this is a speech that should go down in history, as the choice between being loyal to a party verses loyal to the Constitution and obligations of a senator-juror.  Mitt Romney voted for the article of Abuse of Power and against the second article on obstructing the investigation.

Trump’s most recent attacks on his “perfect” phone call have been on House Representative Nancy Pelosi and  Mitt Romney.

Trump hit Romney at Prayer Breakfast

Note: Mitt Romney has been a deeply religious person his whole life, serving in the LDS Church. In the speech Romney declared, “I believe in my Mormon faith and endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs.”[14] Romney added that he should neither be elected nor rejected based upon his religion,[247] and echoed Senator John F. Kennedy‘s famous speech during his 1960 presidential campaign in saying, “I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.”[246]    With Kennedy,  some voters were concerned that because he was Catholic,  he would be under the commands of the Pope.

Wikipedia:  Biography of Mitt Romney

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Coronavirus – The Search for Solutions, Go Gilead and other big pharmacy companies!

It takes years for drugs to be approved.   Yet, through incredible international cooperation, Gilead will be testing their anti-virus drug Remdesivir at ground zero, in the central city of  Wuhan.  Other companies including Johnson and Johnson and GlaxoSmithkline are looking for solutions to the epidemic.   J+J is reportedly looking for a preventative vaccine – I hope they can find one.  These viruses which scientists believe come from animals,  seem to have a horrible habit of returning.     AbbieVie Inc HIV drug Katetra also holds promise.

Some victims have mild symptoms and are able to recuperate.   Taking a cocktail of various anti-viral medicines also has shown some promise in Thailand.

I don’t care who wins this race to find a solution.  The doctors who come from all over the world to China to conduct their tests are my heros.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Bloomberg: Can Coronavirus be cured?

Business Insider: Thai doctors have been using a cocktail of flu and HIV drugs to treat coronavirus cases

 

Bolton’s Book “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir”

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton has written his third book, entitled, “The Room Where It Happened” which according to  Amazon.com will be published in hard copy and on Kindle on March 17, 2020.   Amazon is accepting pre-publication orders.  I bought a copy from Amazon.     It isn’t my normal reading.  I disagree with his basic philosophy of using the threat of  military power in every way possible to promote US interests.   In one editorial in the New York Times,  he was aptly described as the least diplomatic diplomat.   I have posted his biography from Wikipedia under links.

Thanks to the impeachment hearings, John Bolton has now gotten heaps of criticism from the party he has always supported – the Republicans.   It has guaranteed that his hawkish views will be heard – either in his book or on social media. He appeared very often on Fox News during the Obama era.   It seemed he was critical of almost every initiative undertook by Obama with respect to international policy and cooperation.   At every turn, he would fall back to the idea that America would be better off going it alone.

But, I bought the book, because I am certain he will corroborate the testimony of others in the impeachment trial.  I’m sure Bolton feels a sense of betrayal from Trump, who could not separate his role as president, setting incredibly important policy decisions  from that of a candidate for re-election.

The current controversy is whether the manuscript can be published without changes.    A restraining order, preventing Simon and Schuster from publishing the book is possible, but likely to be ineffective, as I am certain  excepts will appear in the press.   A restraining order will only make the book more popular.

The Supreme Court case, “The New York Times v.  United States” was decided 38 years ago (I remember it, wow am I that old!) in favor of the New York Times publishing excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, a leaked government document reviewing the history of the Vietnam War, as prepared by the Department of Defense.   Three conservative judges (Burger, Harlan and Blackmun) dissented.  See links.

The lead story in today’s New York Times is: “Attacking Bolton, Republicans Push to Swiftly Acquit. Confident they can block witnesses.   The White House and Senate Republicans worked aggressively on Wednesday to discount damaging revelations from John R, Bolton and line up the votes to block new witnesses from testifying in President Trump’s impeachment trial, in a push to bring the proceeding to a swift close.”  A vote on witnesses may occur tomorrow, Friday January 31.  Without witnesses, the trial could end next week, before the State of the Union address.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Amazon, The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir, accepting pre-publication orders, available March 17, 2020

Wikipedia:  John Bolton

Wikipedia:  New York Times v.  United States (1971)

(yes- I know the actual case name is a bit longer and includes the case against the Washington Post.   The case was part of the C-Span series on Landmark Supreme Court cases. See

C-Span Landmark Supreme Court Decisions:  New York Times v United States

At issue was whether our First Amendment rights of a free speech could be limited by the government’s claim of harming to national security, because it relied on confidential information.  I believe after publication, it became clear that Pentagon Papers were an excellent historical account of events leading to our involvement in the Vietnam war.

 

 

 

A tie vote on witnesses? Republican witnesses? A few Q+A.

If the Senate votes are a 50-50 split on witnesses,  Chief Justice Roberts could decide.  I agree with commentators who say he will simply rule that with neither party having a majority, the motion to call witnesses fails.  So it takes 4 Republicans to jump the fence.

Ok, who would testify for the Republicans? It’s a good question.  In a real courtroom trial, the defense does not have to call witnesses.   The defense can simply rest its case, saying the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond “a reasonable doubt” or a “shadow of a doubt”  depending on the crime.

Calling House Manager Adam Schiff,  Hunter Biden or  Joe Biden would be a disaster for Republicans.   I will explain why:

Adam Schiff 

Adam Schiff will be asked about his comment that there was no contact between the whistle blower and his committee, when in fact there was contact.   He has already explained this many times,   When the whistle blower decided there was sufficient reason to reveal inappropriate demands on the Ukraine as a condition for military assistance, this individual did not know how to go about an official complaint.   A staff member on Schiff’s committee recommended to him to get a lawyer and the lawyer would explain to him the proper means of filing a complaint.  The complaint would not be immediately turned over to the House Intelligence Committee, but had to be first reviewed by the National Security Council,  to be deemed sufficiently urgent and important for the Committee to examine.

Despite Trump’s tweets that Schiff probably wrote the whistle blower’s complaint,  the bottom line is that the Intelligence Committee acted properly in telling the whistle blower to get a lawyer.

If Adam Schiff is asked to divulge the name of the whistle blower, he would simply respond that the identity of the whistle blower is protected by law.

Hunter Biden + Joe Biden

Democrats would immediately object to calling Hunter Biden on the basis of foundation and relevance.   There has been zero evidence introduced to support the  allegation that Hunter Biden did anything wrong by serving on the board of Burisma.  However, Trump has pushed a false allegation that Joe Biden was involved in a scheme to benefit his son  as follows: Vice President Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to dismiss their General Prosecutor Shokin  so that the corrupt practices of Burisma could continue, hence his son could continue his lucrative position on the Board.

Just the opposite is true and the facts are all on Joe Biden’s side.  The firing of Shokin made it more likely that Burisma’s investigation would continue.    It is part of the testimony record of witnesses that the Shokin was not reforming the corrupt system in the Ukraine and numerous organizations including the International Monetary Fund  and the leaders of the  European Union wanted him out.  Any claims of wrongdoing  by Joe Biden are really limited to a barrage of tweets and Fox News commentary.

Calling Hunter Biden to testify would backfire.    No one is sure of the exact payments he received, and any revelation would be immediately objected to as irrelevant.    It is very common for a corporation to bring in individuals from outside the company  who can help the company establish its image and reputation.  President Ford was on dozens of corporate boards, making a lot of money in director fees.  He did nothing wrong and neither did Hunter Biden.

Republicans, I think, like more of talking about Hunter Biden than actually calling him to testify.   His past drug problems and infidelity are irrelevant to the Senate hearing, but great for the tabloids.

So,  I’ve yet to hear of a witness that Republicans seriously could call to testify.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Zeroing in on John Bolton

Chuck Schumer has no real say in the impeachment trial.  Same goes with Adam Schiff.  Senate rules according to the majority.   The Senate has 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats.

The trial is actually just beginning.  However, everyone  knows exactly how this trial will end – 53 for acquital, and 47 for guilty. There is no chance in hell to convict the president.  It is not a matter of the evidence not being strong enough; it is a matter that the Republicans control the Senate and it takes a two-thirds majority to convict a President.  Never been done in our history, and this will be the third time impeachment has ended in acquittal.

It takes 4 Republican Senators to leap over the fence and join Democrats in calling for witnesses.   There’s a ton of speculation out there, and personally I don’t think it will happen.   I can see very well why Democrats are pushing for witnesses.  Adam Schiff provided a history of impeachment trials against federal judges and two presidents (Clinton and Andrew Johnson), and every trial had witnesses.  I think the average was around 20 witnesses.  I think Schumer recognized  he had to cut back his list so Mulvaney, Blair and Duffey (see last post)  no longer seem front and center.  If called to testify, Mulvaney would have to walk back his  press conference comment admitting to a quid pro quo when asked, making it even worse with “We do it all the time.”  Mulvaney is Trump’s right hand man,  getting Michael Duffey to alert the Defense Department of the hold on Ukrainian aid and for them to keep the hold secret  immediately following Trump’s call.

Bolton’s testimony will be a lot more straight forward.   Every conversation that Bolton had with Trump and his staff including Fiona Hill, Tim Morrison,  Marie Yovanavitch, David Holmes, Bill Taylor  and Ambassador Sondland would be collaborated.   His testimony would  further corroborates Rudy Giuliani involvement.   Both Mulvaney and Bolton were in the room with Trump, but only John Bolton appears to willingly testify.   The hold was orchestrated by Mulvaney despite being  opposed by John Bolton.

Schumer and Schiff are using cable TV broadcasts to argue for the necessity of witnesses, most notably CNN and MSNBC.   Meanwhile,  Republicans Senators and the White House Legal Counsel generally goes on Fox News and OAN (One American News) to blast Democrats on this issue.   One argument is that the Democrats failed in the House to get all witnesses, so now they are trying to get them in the Senate.  Of course, they tried to have many more witnesses in the House, but the invited witnesses, such as Bolton,  declined the invitation or subpoenas.

Schumer is under pressure also to conclude the trial because Sanders, Klobuchar and Warren must attend the trial and cannot campaign in Iowa.   I believe this is the real motivation right now to zero in on getting  Bolton to testify in one short explosive session.  Four hours of Bolton beats 12 hours of Schiff on cable TV.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Who are Schumer’s four witnesses?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has referred to the Senate hearings as a sham trial, as McConnell in the initial rules, rejected calling witnesses or issuing subpoenas for documents.  Yet, after the Bolton’s unpublished manuscript was leaked to the New York Times, the pressure to call him was definitely on.

There are two names I think everyone recognizes:  Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the White House’s Chief of Staff and John Bolton, former National Security Adviser.  Then there are two lesser known officials :  Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, both working for Mulvaney in different capacities.     I think if Schumer has his way, he would start with Blair and Duffey.  It would put pressure on Mick Mulvaney to tell the truth.   Just working up the food chain, of course.

Robert Blair: An assistant to the President, appointed by Mick Mulvaney as Trump’s Chief of Staff 

Blair, who was associate director for national security programs in the Office of Management and Budget, followed Mulvaney in January to the White House when Mulvaney became acting chief of staff. Mulvaney made Blair an assistant to the President. Blair serves as Mulvaney’s senior adviser for national security issues.  Blair’s hiring allowed Mulvaney to have a hand in national security issues without having to go through former White House national security adviser John Bolton. After Bolton was fired, one administration official said that Blair could be a favorite to replace Bolton because of his support from Mulvaney.

Blair was one of just a small group of officials on the line during Trump’s controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mulvaney was not.  During the July 25 call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden — despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, in Ukraine. The phone call was part of a whistleblower’s complaint that alleged Trump sought “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied doing anything improper.

Before joining the Trump administration, Blair worked for the past 14 years as a staffer for several committees in the House of Representatives. His last position was staff director on the House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations. He previously worked as a regional adviser for Africa at the US State Department of State from 2001-2003.  According to his LinkedIn profile, he received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and two master’s degrees from Tufts University. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa during the mid-1990s.

Michael Duffey, OMB, associated director of national security programs  

Michael Duffey, a politically appointed Office of Management and Budget official, was given authority by the White House to keep aid to Ukraine on hold after career budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the funds.  Duffey previously served as executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.  “While career civil servants put an initial hold on the aid, Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in OMB, was given the authority for continuing to keep the aid on hold after the career staff began raising their concerns to political officials at OMB, according to people familiar with the matter,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Duffey also began overseeing the process for approving and releasing funds for other foreign aid and defense accounts, according to the report.  Trump’s order to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine in July is at the heart of House Democrats’ move to launch an impeachment inquiry into allegations that Trump used U.S. foreign policy powers to benefit himself politically.  Duffey, 41, left Wisconsin’s Republican Party in December 2016 when he was named to then-President-elect Donald Trump’s national security team at the Pentagon. He joined the administration when another prominent Wisconsin politician, Reince Priebus, was Trump’s chief of staff. Priebus held that post until July 2017.

What makes Michael Duffey’s testimony so important, is an email he wrote about 90 minutes  following   Trump’s  phone  call  to  Zelensky,   notifying  the  Department of  Defense,  that  a hold had  been  put  on  the  Ukraine military  aid,  and  given  the  sensitive  nature  of  this  hold,  this  information  limited to those with a need to know.  It further confirms the testimony of Sondland and others,  that it was a “dollars for dirt” deal.

This memo was released in December 2010 as part of a FIOA requestl

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Globalization – Not an option

Donald Trump tells his loyal base in his rallies that he is a nationalist, and does what’s best for our country. This distinguishes himself from the Obama era, which looked for global cooperation, usually ending in a compromise.  I mean putting American interests first really does  sound good..   But then something comes along like coronavirus,  a terrible contagious disease and we have a crises that needs international cooperation like never before.

The broad drop off in the stock market yesterday was at least in part due to the announcement that the  incubation period (time until the disease displays symptoms)  of coronavirus could be about 14 days and during that time, the person infected with the virus could be spreading it to others.  Previously, it had been reported that the disease could only be spread through close contact, which sounded like good news.  France officially became the first European country to be touched by the viral pneumonia, which has already contaminated almost 2,000 people and killed 56 others, mostly in Wuhan. Small number of cases have also been reported in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Thailand, United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Nepal. Yes, the World Health Organization has to be very busy.

My point is this attitude of “We can take care of our own problems”  and the rest of the world should do similar, just doesn’t seem to be working on so many levels.  I like the saying more over, “What goes around, comes around.”   We’ve seen the horrors of climate change in Australia and the immense forest fires in the Amazon forests of Brazil.  Our dry periods have become longer increasing our vulnerability to devastating fires.  We have seen equally terrifying fires in California and the increase in hurricanes in the Caribbean and Gulf Coast states.  Yet,  Trump was among other world leaders downplaying the impacts (can that seriously be done!),   criticizing Greta Thonberg and others as “prophets of doom.”   Constructive steps to working with others was not on Trump’s agenda.

Under Trump,  we seem to be involved in a series of trade wars, which result in almost an immediate retaliatory tariffs imposed on the US.   Most notably is the current trade war with China.   I view the current Phase 1 agreement as simply an agreement to delay the trade war escalation.  After the election, should Trump win, things could get very grim as Trump will not be constrained by the need to be re-elected.   The US in the past, relied on the World Trade Organization to resolve disputes, which wasn’t always effective.  However, this going it alone, with increasingly higher tariffs, seems not only fail, but with real economic consequences for US businesses (primarily agriculture, but also primary materials)  and Chinese companies which rely on exports.

The list of what doesn’t work with the nationalistic approach is pretty long.  I could add pressuring North Korea to abandon its intent to abandon its nuclear program, has truly backfired.   Yes,  North Korea had no problem meeting with Trump and agreeing to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in general terms, but it was all for show.   We hardly can expect China’s support as we engage in a trade war with them.   The uncompromising position of the US on the electronic firm, Huawei, seems just another bargaining chip, rather than a real security risk, as the Trump administration claims.  From Wikipedia:  “In September 2019, Microsoft’s top lawyer and president Brad Smith expressed concern about the continued US ban of Huawei products and services. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he remarked that the ban shouldn’t be imposed without a “sound basis in fact, logic, and the rule of law”. Microsoft Corporation, which supplies Windows 10 for Huawei PCs, says the allegations by the Trump administration that Huawei is a genuine national security threat to the US are not supported by any evidence.”

And I’ve saved the worst for last – the Iran Nuclear Deal.  It appears to be falling apart, and the last thing I want to see, is Iran joining the list of nuclear nations.  Iran argues it is no longer bound by the agreement along with inspections and limits on enriched uranium, because the US re-imposed sanctions on Iran.   The US will not be able to put pressure Iran through sanctions, the way Obama did, through cooperation of China and Russia.  It looks bad.

Nationalism sounds good, but fails really to fix the problems.  Globalism may seem at times to be slow, and not fully solve problems,  but it at least makes progress in the right direction.  Health issues involved in the coronavirus really must be addressed as a global problems.  Similarly climate change, trade issues and nuclear non-proliferation (Iran and North Korea at present, there will be more to come) are global in nature, and there isn’t any other choice on how to solve them, except by international cooperation on a very large scale.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Excellent Presentations in Senate Impeachment Trial

“Dollars for Dirt” – Congressman Jason Crow nailed it.  So did Adam Schiff.   What Trump’s people were up to and why, became so clear yesterday.   Through one phone call, Trump put himself as the director of the dirty and illegal scheme of using his authority to corrupt the 2020 election.   Trump was circumventing his own administration. “Talk to Rudy” was a way of keeping the “investigation announcements”  out of the way of normal channels – including the National Security Council,  FBI,  CIA, and Foreign Service.  It did not go unnoticed.

It was Trump’s scheme to  demand that Ukraine’s  President Zelensky help Trump to smear Joe Biden and the Democrat Party in return for desperately needed military assistance.

Trump wanted to cheat in the elections, even before a Democratic candidate was nominated at the convention.

I believe now “Drain the Swamp”  must be replaced with “Dirt for Dollars.”

The acquittal of Trump is almost certain, but I so hope he loses in his second trial, in November 2020, where the American electorate can vote him out.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Impeachment

Comments and responses

Alice Steward: Democrats need to realize they had their chance to make an overwhelming and bipartisan case for impeachment — and they failed.

My Response:  House Manager Adam Schiff  made it clear months ago, that to win in an impeachment trial is a very difficult, even if all the facts are solid and in your favor.  I and others believe Adam Schiff used his time very effectively to lay out the case against President Trump based just on evidence given at the hearing.   I fully expect an acquittal, because Trump is the Republican candidate for re-election and the voting will be along party lines.  The Republicans and Donald Trump will champion the acquittal as some kind of victory for justice and fairness.  I think most Americans will see through this as a trial absent of witnesses will likely be perceived as a coverup.    Americans are more likely to be aware  of the dishonesty and disrespect of the electoral process by soliciting the help of the Ukrainian President to support false accusations against his rivals – even if the Senate acquits Trump.

 Alice Steward: But then Rep. Adam Schiff, lead impeachment manager, touting crushing evidence to support the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — said additional testimony and documents are needed. If House Democrats had met their constitutional threshold for a conviction, they would not need additional information. They realize the only potential for an impeachment game-changer is additional evidence — and, ideally, witnesses.

My Response:  I don’t see the contradiction.  Yes – the House Managers stated there was already clear and convincing evidence and they wanted more collaborating testimony from 4 – 5 witnesses.  Anyone who has ever served in jury duty understands there isn’t a threshold of proof based on written law, but it is in the minds of the jurists, in this case, 100 senators with 53 of them Republicans, whose threshold for violations of the constitution is sky high.  Democrats wanted a new series of high level witnesses such as Mick Mulvaney to  come forward and firmly collaborate in detail the plan to delay badly needed military aid to Ukraine solely improve Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020 to show how tightly all their evidence fit together.   If this failed to convince the 53 Republican Senators, then there would be an appeal in the form of an election in 2020.

Anyone who sat in a jury, knows that if a prosecutor shows DNA evidence, fingerprint evidence, and even video recordings (obviously clear and convincing evidence), they still present eye witnesses.  Mulvaney and Trump were in the meetings with Trump and they are the best eye witnesses of what happened.

Alice Steward: Here’s the thing, though, House members could have subpoenaed Bolton already. They did not, and they should not expect the Senate to do the job they failed to do.

My Response:  I agree.  The House should have subpoenaed Bolton to appear.  But they could see a lengthy court process as Bolton’s assistants were fighting the subpoenas.  It seemed that Bolton was complying with the President’s order not to testify.   Mick  Mulvaney was subpoenaed.

Alice Stewart is a CNN political commentator, Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University and former Communications Director for Ted Cruz for President.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link: Schiff Brilliantly Crushes Trump’s Defenses

What’s next (from Vox’s news, their best guess):

A rough outline of the schedule is below: (managers and counsel may decide not to use all the time allocated.  It may be on Monday that Alan Dershowitz will make his presentation defending Trump because he did not break the law. No crime, no impeachable offense).

Wednesday:    House impeachment managers have roughly eight hours for opening arguments.
Thursday:        House impeachment managers have roughly eight hours for opening arguments.
Friday:            House impeachment managers have roughly eight hours for opening arguments.

Saturday: Trump’s defense counsel has roughly eight hours for opening arguments.
Next week: Defense counsel could continue to build their case on Monday and Tuesday. Senators will also have up to 16 hours to ask questions of both the impeachment managers and Trump’s counsel.
A vote on hearing more evidence isn’t expected until sometime next week, and then the pressure will be on a subset of moderate Republicans and Democrats yet again. That vote will ultimately determine if any additional witnesses will even be considered or if Republicans will be content wrapping up the trial without this testimony.

 

 

Reporting Fake News

Facebook is asking help in removing false postings.  A false or fake posting is one that is presenting information or content, which one can prove to be false.  Particularly alarming are images or videos, which have been altered.  How do you find out if a Facebook post is false?   The easiest way is to search the fact checking sites on the Internet.

See Facebook help link: 

There are many comments made everyday that many might disagree with, but are nevertheless, can not be considered false.  It is not helpful to Facebook to report comments which one finds to be disagreeable.

I have said in the past, I never reference any news story from social media.  This is my first link to Facebook, and very likely will be my only one.   I watch cable news, and my favorite at the moment is the BBC news.

I am working on a longer post on the impeachment proceedings.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Real news

I want to hear from the real journalists who provide real news because they are there on location.  I don’t get my news from people sitting on couches or social media.  I want it timely and accurate.

Warren Buffett typically reads six newspapers each day: The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The USA Today, The Omaha World-Herald and American Banker.  Warren Buffett, of course, is  one of the richest men in the US.

I try to get through the New York Times every day.  The central headline is pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia, obviously a highly charged issue, but it is clear that the Times reporters were there, interviewing the people at the rally.   Thankfully, it ended without violence.  I want to know more, because it will be, like it or not,  a big election issue.

Impeachment preparations are front and center with the headlines “McConnell plans for Senate Trial on a tight pace” outlining the Republican strategy of defending the president.   I heard bits and pieces of this last night on CNN, but a much more comprehensive discussion is in today’s paper.  There is thoughtful news analysis in a column entitled, “An Analysis of No Crime and No Case” further discussing Trump’s defense.  The next article was news to me, “Criticism stifled in a Boeing crash” really questioning the openness and thoroughness of Boeing internal investigations of crashes.

There’s a lot more in today’s Times.  I am particularly interested in the mysterious respiratory illness in China. There is the coverage of the outrage in Puerto Rico over the discovery of aid that wasn’t being distributed.  How could people be so callous?  I’m just getting started.   The World Economic Forum is starting in Devos, Switzerland and the climate crisis will be center stage.  There will be intense posturing, to be sure.  The fires in the Amazon and Australia are obviously too big to ignore.  And I’m still catching up on the Phase 1 China Trade Deal.  It sounds like negotiations have stalled out, and Trump has decided it isn’t the right time to escalate.

I don’t tweet. I don’t do messaging on Facebook.  I read.  I cringe every time I hear our President talk about the fake news, because it gives people an excuse for not being well informed.

It’s all about the joys of learning.  It can be seen in children raising their hands, to ask a question.   It has to flow from natural curiosity about what is happening in the world.  Learning new things keeps you young.  I really believe in this.

Because we elect our leaders, and their decisions affect our lives,  it is so important to be informed.

Real news is out there.  It generally isn’t free.  It takes time.  It requires reading.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Democratic candidates

The Democratic challenger will officially be known on July 16, the last day of the Democratic convention.   It will likely be known months before this.   It will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Donald Trump will officially be a candidate for the Republican party on August 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Conventions are not where candidates are chosen anymore.  It is where the party celebrates their candidate,  And along the way,  others make some unflattering remarks (“lock her up”) about the opposition candidate.   That’s just the way it goes.

I’m certain Wisconsin and North Carolina (Democrat and Republican conventions) were chosen because they  are one of the 7 to 9 toss up states.  The 7 states with electoral votes (EV’s) in parentheses are:   AZ  (11), FL (29),  MI (10), NC (15), NH (4), PA (20), WI (10).   I consider NH (4), ME (4) and NE (5) are “semi toss ups” because they permit the EV’s to be split.   While every vote counts, I don’t think these 3 states really are going to swing the election.    The 3 biggies (FL, NC and PA) are all on the east coast.

The best site so far on the prediction of the 2020 election is www.270towin.com


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

Trump has a distinct advantage.  While the Democratic candidates focus on the primaries, Donald Trump will focus his campaign rallies on swing states.

Early Democratic primary battles in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa may not be the best way to spend contributions.  The Democratic party needs to appeal to the sometimes voter, not that interested in the issues.  The month of March will greatly narrow the field.   Joe Biden is now out in front, and by March, he may have enough primary votes, for the other candidates to concede.  March 3 is Super Tuesday which ends primary voting in 14 states.  If none of the candidates have sufficient pledged candidates,   then it is a contested convention.  I don’t see this happening, as the Democrats lose their chance to laud praise on one candidate.

The most informative  link on the primaries is from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Democratic_Party_presidential_primaries

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Boeing Crash in Iran

Iranian investigators rushed to the scene of the accident for a reason, the evidence must be preserved.  They reported that the black boxes were found.  This was very important.   Boeing offered to help in the investigation, and they have very good reason for this, as it was a Boeing 737-800 which crashed.  Iran responded that it will not share the black box with Americans.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board are the ones who should be assisting Iranian authorities.    Bloomberg News posted this opinion on their website:

“NTSB experts are widely recognized as among the best crash investigators in the world and they regularly participate in investigations at the behest of foreign governments, under a process outlined in Annex 13 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation.”

However, as pointed out in their post, US sanctions against Iran makes it difficult for the NTSB to act immediately.   The Bloomberg blog states:

American sanctions on Iran require NTSB investigators to procure a license from the Treasury Department in order to work with Iranian counterparts—such clearances can take as long as a year to be issued.

That’s terrible!   There are obvious safety concerns with sending Americans to Iran, but they would have to be invited to help in the investigation.   I suspect the details of the investigation will be shared with Canada and Ukraine, so through these countries, NTSB can gain important information.  Of the 176 passengers who died,  20 were Ukrainians, and 11 were Canadians.    The nationalities  of those who died is not really relevant when countries solicit the assistance of the NTSB.  but unfortunately in this case, the sanctions have interfered with the  highly technical matter of plan crash investigation.

It is a chance to cut through all the hostile rhetoric and help Iran with our expertise.    If the crash is due to a problem with the Boeing 737-800, then the knowledge gain can help improve the US fleet of aircraft.

A win-win situation.

See link below

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link:

An Opportunity in Iran’s Latest Tragedy
Trump should allow American experts to join the investigation into the crash of the Ukrainian airliner.

 

Delay in Impeachment

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi made a tactical decision not to immediately deliver the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, in hopes of adding pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call witnesses.   Two key witnesses were former National Security Advisor John Bolton and Director of Office of Management and Budget, Mike Mulvaney.  I did not think either would actually appear if subpoenaed.

McConnell said on the floor: “Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the articles for some kind of ‘leverage’ so they can dictate the Senate process to senators. I admit, I’m not sure what ‘leverage’ there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want!”

Did Pelosi’s ploy fail?  Maybe not.  McConnell needs a majority of Senators to vote for the impeachment rules.  There are only 51 Republican senators.   So,  McConnell needs all Republicans to be in agreement on the rules.   He will be not be negotiating with Pelosi but members of his own party.   The Senate will re-convene on January 7, 2020 and there will intense pressure to get the impeachment done.   The outcome is a foregone conclusion.   The Republicans will claim victory, and the Democrats will claim a totally sham Senate trial.

Pelosi’s tactic may backfire, if this drags out.  Trump will not waste a minute in shifting attention to the Nancy Pelosi as the one who is obstructing justice.  As least his kind of justice.  It will be followed by a chorus of Republicans.

The evidence Trump is very strong.  But, this must be decided in November by voters.

Stay tuned,

Dave