Why I’m Worried About America’s Future

Our Founding Father’s worried about the future of the Colonies. King George had to balance his checkbook, and the Seven Years War had put the British Empire deep into debt.

Although six European powers had been involved – and the war stretched over the whole of the Empire – George and his Parliament leaned heavily on the American colonies to pay off their debt. After all, the French and Indian War had been a part of this global conflict.

So Mother Britain looked to the Colonies to pay down the debt.

A series of laws flowed out of Parliament – where the colonists had no representation – placing heavy burdens on the Colonies. For many, the Stamp Act was the final straw.

The Stamp Act placed a duty (tax) on virtually every legal document produced in the Colonies. And on newspapers, playing cards, pamphlets, calendars, and more.

Want to place an ad in the local paper? His Majesty gets two shillings. Are you printing pamphlets of less than one whole page? That will be one penny. Each. Want to play dice? Not till you’ve paid the King’s ten shillings tax on them.

Taxation without representation triggered a rebellion. And, so, our nation was born.

Fast forward 244 years…

Once Again, Liberty Stands at a Crossroads

The election of 2020 was messy. America is polarized. Though he’s wildly unpopular, Donald Trump’s base is solid. His opponent is a respected Washington insider: Joe Biden. Biden’s last job was serving as V.P. under the charismatic Barak Obama.

Trump and his allies did all they could to sway the election. Many GOP-controlled states made early and mail-in voting as difficult as they could.

Key states fell, one after another, to Biden. Trump refused to concede.

Trump’s campaign and his allies mounted dozens of legal challenges. The courts slapped down all but one. Even judges appointed by Trump himself deemed some cases meritless.

Trump’s personal lawyers floated conspiracy theories. Votes were changed while being counted in Spain. Catering vans delivered fake ballots to counting locations. A dead Venezuelan dictator had voting machine software sabotaged. Each claim was crazier than the last. All have been disproved.

State after state certified the results. Even swing states controlled by Republican administrations. Trump’s own Depts. of Justice and Homeland Security noted there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Still, Trump and his cronies continue to claim fraud. And they’re turning to ever more desperate ways to overthrow a duly elected government. Even before that government has been seated.

Meet the Party From Crazytown

In Arizona, Trump supporters chanted, “Count those votes!” in hopes of Trump gaining an advantage. At virtually the same time, in Michigan, Trump’s minions were chanting, “Stop the count,” as Biden pulled ahead.

Some GOP-controlled legislatures blocked counting mail-in ballots before election day… meaning millions of votes were counted after in-person votes. Since Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to vote by mail, this led to large last-minute gains by Biden.

Their own party created this situation. But that didn’t stop many Republicans from claiming this predictable situation proved election fraud.

Seventeen Republican attorneys general signed on to a Texas lawsuit trying to deny four swing  states the right to count mail-in ballots received according to those states’ laws. Laws that are strikingly similar to the laws in some of the states that joined the suit.

Consider what Trump’s lawyers are saying in court.

Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s other minions are quick to claim massive fraud in front of the media. But in front of a judge? Not so much.

  • In a PA case, the judge asked a Trump lawyer if he was claiming voter fraud. The response was, “To my knowledge at present, no.”
  • In an AZ suit, a Trump campaign lawyer said, “We are not alleging fraud in this lawsuit.”
  • And, in federal court, Rudy Giuliani himself told the judge, “This is not a fraud case.”

Why? Maybe because lying to a judge has serious consequences.

More Word from Crazytown

Texas Rep. Louis Gomert tried to overthrow the Constitution by suing V.P. Pence over Pence’s role in the counting of Electoral College votes. This suit was such a stretch, Pence and the Dept. of Justice both asked the court to dismiss the case. Which it did.

And still GOP operatives try to overthrow the will of the people.

Freshman Senator Josh Hawley (R- MO), says he will challenge Biden’s victory when the Electoral College count comes up in the Senate on Jan. 6. He joins more than 100 GOP members of Congress.

Hawley’s challenge will trigger debate in both Houses… but should have little effect. First, all the evidence points to Biden winning by over 7 million votes. Second, the grown-ups in the House and Senate are generally opposed to undermining our democracy.

So, Hawley and his co-conspirators appear to be doing this just for political points. And you really have to be from Crazytown to risk our Republic for personal political gain.

But that’s exactly what Donald Trump did when he called Georgia’s Secretary of State, Republican Brad Raffensperger.

Trump spent an hour begging and bullying Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to turn the election his way. After the votes had been counted and recounted… twice.

Trump offered a list of already-disproven rumors as excuses. But it all came down to this:

“All I want to do is this,” Trump said. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

Flattery, threats, pleading… Trump tried it all. It was pitiful, but there it is.

What About the Aftermath?

Here’s where I really worry. Because the only effective solution is a painful one. It’s tempting to “let bygones be bygones.” But that teaches a destructive lesson:

If you get away with it long enough, they’ll let you off scot-free.

To preserve our Democracy, Trump and his cronies must face the music. All the lies… the ethics violations… the crimes. They have to be laid bare. And they must have consequences.

Robert Mueller found 10 instances of Trump possibly obstructing justice. Prosecutors should evaluate each. The Georgia phone call. Profiting from his lease on the Old Post Office in DC. The list goes on and on.

Plus the state investigations. Did the Trump Organization manipulate values for favorable loans and tax rates? That’s potential bank and tax fraud. Why did Deutsche Bank loan Trump so much money when nobody else would? And why did the executives in charge of Trump’s accounts suddenly resign on Dec. 22, 2020?

We need a full accounting and a resolution to these – and many other – questions before we can move on as a nation.

America’s future hangs in the balance. The resolution lies in laying bare all of Trump’s antics. And that’s why I’m worried.

Because it will involve exposing all Trump’s cronies in Congress.

Can it happen? Yes. But only if Joe Biden’s Department of Justice is ready to yank the bandage off a particularly nasty scab.

Sources:

Peters, C., “The Supreme Court rejects Texas’s undemocratic election lawsuit,” msn(dot)dom. Dec 12, 2020.

Kruzel, J., “GOP lawmaker sues Pence in bid to overturn Biden win,” TheHill(dot)com. Dec 28, 2020.

Berenson, T., “Donald Trump And His Lawyers Are Making Sweeping Allegations of Voter Fraud In Public. In Court, They Say No Such Thing,” time(dot)com. Nov 20, 2020.

Scannell, K., “Trump’s private bankers resign from Deutsche Bank,” CNN(dot) com. Dec 22, 2020.

Answering Republican Impeachment Talking Points

GOP leaders like to bring up Hunter Biden’s business relationships in Ukraine and China. You can counter with these little gems:

  • In April 2016, Donald Trump applied for multiple trademarks in China. At the time, his campaign was attacking Chinese trade policies. Suddenly, after the election, the Chinese government approved 38 Trump trademarks.
  • In the midst of the 2018 trade talks with Trump, China granted his daughter, Ivanka, five trademarks.
  • The Mongolian government retroactively issued a hunting permit to Donald Trump, Jr. The permit – to kill an endangered argali sheep – was issued only after Trump met with Mongolia’s president. The permitting process is said to be highly political.

All three suggest conflicts of interest… and hint at the possibility of corruption. Yet Donald Trump – who personally profited – showed no interest in the appearance of these events.

Republicans make a lot of noise about impeachment as an attempt to undermine the will of the people. The voters, they say, have spoken. Dems should accept it and move on.

  • Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes. That means the will of the people was to have Hillary in the White House; not Trump.
  • Impeachment is enshrined in the Constitution as a way to counter presidential malfeasance. Here are just a few of the grounds Congress could have used to impeach Trump:
    • The Mueller investigation found at least ten instances where Trump may have obstructed justice.
    • Court rulings thus far support the claim Trump may have violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
    • Trump has consistently obstructed Congress’s Constitutionally mandated oversight obligations.
    • Several times Trump has sought foreign help against his political opponents.

GOP legislators complained the initial Congressional hearings were held “in secret.”

  • GOP members of Congress sit on the committees holding the hearings.
  • GOP members were given equal time to question witnesses… but some members failed to attend all the hearings.

GOP legislators complained the public hearings didn’t allow for them to produce rebuttal witnesses.

  • Many of the witnesses who testified were Trump nominees. Confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate.
  • Most of the other relevant witnesses were blocked from testifying by Trump himself.

Some Republicans say, “Maybe Trump was wrong, but what he did doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment.”

  • Trump withheld money Congress had approved – and the Pentagon had okayed – for no reason. Until the whistleblower report revealed Trump was holding the money hostage.
  • Trump nominees testified it was clearly the Trump’s intention to use the money as a bargaining chip to force Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens.

These steps show a clear attempt to recruit a foreign government to interfere in an election. They also suggest Trump has put his own interests above our national interest.

GOP stalwarts also regularly misrepresent the findings of the Mueller investigation. And now the Dept. of Justice’s Inspector General’s report. Here are just a few key findings to keep in mind…

  • Mueller may have found no collusion with the Russians, but not for lack of trying. Trump’s team made multiple contacts with the Russians – in some cases, specifically looking for “dirt” on his opponents.
  • Mueller didn’t “absolve” Trump. He specifically said he couldn’t clear Trump of at least 10 potential obstruction charges.
  • The IG report found the investigation was begun on a solid basis. And there was no political bias involved.
  • In spite of “spying” claims from the GOP, the IG found no evidence anyone was planted in the campaign to “spy.”

The bottom line: The GOP’s defense of Trump is built on a false narrative and distractions. Was there a quid pro quo? Absolutely. To quote Trump’s own chief of staff, “We do that all the time… Get over it.”

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Kinetz, E., “China grants preliminary approval to 38 new Trump trademarks,” Associated Press. Mar 8, 2017.

Kinetz, E., “China Grants Ivanka Trump 5 Trademarks Amid Trade Talks,” USNews. Jan 21, 2019.

O’Neil, L., “Donald Trump Jr killed rare endangered sheep in Mongolia with special permit,” TheGuardian(dot)com. Dec 11, 2019.

Chait, J., “We Do That All the Time, Get Over It,’ Mulvaney Boasts About Ukraine Plot,” nymag(dot)com. Oct 17, 2019.

Once Again, the GOP Denies Reality

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) just released his long-awaited report on the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties.

The IG found the investigation was justified. The procedures followed were largely proper. And there was no political bias involved. Case closed, right?

Hardly. The ink was barely dried on the paper when both the President – and his Attorney General (AG) – attacked the report. Just weeks after AG Barr sang the IG’s praises, he went on the attack.

Barr questioned the IG’s report and suggested his own hand-picked investigator would find different results. Except that man, federal prosecutor John Durham, has already said he can’t dispute this key finding of the IG report.

Neither the inspector General, nor Barr’s hand-picked investigator, can find any evidence of a “set-up.” In other words, the GOP “deep state” theory is dead in the water.

Case closed… maybe? If you thought so, you don’t know the GOP.

This Is Your “Independent” Attorney General?

In late November, AG Barr praised the DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, for his independence and abilities. Then, in December, Barr completely misrepresented Horowitz’s findings.

“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear,” Barr claimed, “that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

“It is also clear that, from its inception,” Barr wrote, “the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory.”

Former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah called Barr’s statements “wildly inappropriate” referring to them as “political spin.”

This should be familiar ground. Robert Mueller wrote to Barr about Barr’s summary of the Mueller Report. And it wasn’t flowery praise.

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24,” Mueller wrote, “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.”

Barr, in other words, is spinning findings to favor his boss. And he’s doing so at the expense of reality. Even to the point of calling the investigation “completely baseless.”

Even though his own Inspector General found this wasn’t true.

Barr denies the facts to favor his boss. Just as many of Trump’s GOP allies do…

Stand by Your Man

Trump has called the Horowitz’s report “a disgrace,” “an embarrassment to our country,” and “Far worse than I would have ever thought possible…”

Not surprising, since the report basically justified the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign.

Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Ronna McDaniel, and Stephanie Grisham all had their own twisted takes on the report…

  • Cruz claimed the report showed the DOJ “spied on” an opponent of the current administration
  • Graham called the FBI’s actions “criminal”
  • The report, according to McDaniel, showed the FBI “spied” on Trump’s campaign
  • And Grisham said the report proved an attempt to “overthrow the president.”

Of course, the report supports none of these claims.

But the GOP is closing ranks. Denying reality once again. To defend a man who’s siphoned off millions of dollars of taxpayer funds for personal gain… defended racists… handed billion to the rich – at the expense of ordinary Americans. A man who’s told over 40,000 lies since his election.

Once again, Trump’s apologists are closing ranks. The IG’s report clearly exonerates the FBI. Yet, once again, Trump’s allies are attacking our intelligence services in favor of a proven liar. And, in the process, furthering the efforts of the Russian government to destabilize our democracy.

This is no mishap or sideshow. It’s a key battle in the effort to save the Republic. If we don’t stand up to the GOP’s assaults on this report, we’ll be one step closer to a Russian-style oligarchy.

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“AG Barr’s handpicked prosecutor says he doesn’t have evidence Russia probe was a setup, per report,” kgun9(dot)com. Dec 4, 2019.

Lemieux, M., “Former Federal Prosecutor Blasts AG Barr’s ‘Political Spin’ of IG Report: ‘So Wildly Inappropriate’,” Newsweek(dot)com. Dec 9, 2019.

Corn, D., “William Barr’s War on Reality, Truth, and the Law,” MotherJones(dot)com. Dec 10, 2019.

Benen, S., “Republicans turn to gaslighting in response to Justice Dept report,” msn(dot)com. Dec 10, 2019.

Are Underlings Enriching Trump?

The Left is up in arms over recent developments. And – at first blush – they seem to have ample cause.

Mike Pence stayed at Trump’s golf resort in Doonbeg, Ireland during his one-day trip to Dublin. Well, part of one day. Lunch and a meeting, really.

And Bill Barr booked a $30,000 holiday party at Trump’s Washington hotel.

Both moves sound like naked suck-ups. But the truth is a little more complex. And if we’re going to be honest – which we should – we can’t ignore any of the facts.

So, let’s dig in a bit to see if these moves are as awful as the Left has making them sound.

Back to the Emerald Isle

True fact: Mike Pence has Irish roots. And he worked at a pub in Ireland for a short while in his early 20s. Guess where that pub was?

A little village called Doonbeg.

What an odd coincidence!

Here’s another one: Mike Pence’s great-grandmother came from a little village in Ireland.

You guessed it: Doonbeg. That’s how he ended up at the pub.

It’s also part of the reason he stayed there during his recent European junket. His original plans called for a dinner at the pub where he’d worked so long ago.

It may be a coincidence, but it’s real. Still, it leaves some questions unanswered.

How Much Did This Cost Taxpayers?

Doonbeg is in the far west of Ireland. Dublin sits in the extreme east. So, staying in Doonbeg would involve a 3-hour drive – or 1-hour helicopter trip – to reach the meetings in Dublin.

Plus, Pence brought his wife and mother with him.

The White House says Pence paid for his relative’s expenses out of his own pocket. But there are other questions…

Could he have stayed in Dublin for less? Trump’s resort reportedly charges over $450 a night for a room. And what about the cost of the helicopter transport? It was only necessary because Pence stayed so far out. Did he pay for these extra costs?

Air Force Two costs $13,000 an hour to operate. Did the cross-island plans add to its operational hours?

Of course, Pence doesn’t travel alone. There’s staff and security to consider. If they all stayed at Trump’s property, how much more did that cost taxpayers over a Dublin stay?

This visit may not be quite as bad as the Left is trying to make it, but it’s still fishy at best.

Now… about that holiday party.

Is Bill Barr Just Sucking Up to the Boss?

OMG! The Attorney General booking a party at the President’s hotel? Talk about your conflicts of interest. Could there be a more blatant case of sucking up?

As it turns out, yes.

You see, A.G. Barr actually booked his party at the Willard Hotel. But the Willard had to cancel… because they discovered they had double-booked. When that happened, Barr called the – No, not the Trump International – the Mayflower. But they were also booked.

Barr didn’t try Trump’s hotel until after he’d consulted with ethics specialists at the Dept. of Justice. When they didn’t ban it outright, he booked the party at Trump’s hotel.

Here’s another little detail most accusers overlook: This isn’t a one-time event. Barr hosts a holiday party every year. So, it’s not something special to boost the boss.

This isn’t quite as sinister a move as some on the Left have tried to paint it.

But neither is it as innocent as the Right would like you to believe.

Don’t Do Business With the Boss

The Dept. of Justice (DoJ) is currently involved in lawsuits regarding the so-called “Emoluments Clause.”

Watchdog groups have sued the President over his profiting from enrichment through business dealings with foreign governments. The issue is complex, but here’s a simplified run-down…

The Constitution prohibits the president from enriching himself through gifts, bribes, etc. from foreign governments. It also bans undue influence from the various states.

The DoJ has been involved in several lawsuits regarding the Emoluments Clause. So, when the Attorney General – our top law enforcement officer – spends a minimum of $31,500 at a property owned by the president, it should raise a red flag.

Here’s the thing: Foreign nationals have clearly tried to influence Trump through his properties.

You see, unlike previous presidents, Trump refused to put his holdings in a blind trust. He says he handed over control of his companies to his sons… but he’s still the boss.

So, when a Saudi-backed lobbyist booked 500 nights in the Trump International Hotel, it set off alarms. As it should. It’s a clear attempt to influence the president… and seems to have worked.

The only problem? It didn’t set off any alarms for the President or his team.

Nor did Bill Barr’s party planning.

I don’t know what the DoJ ethicists were thinking… but they should take a clue from the Bible.

Avoid the Appearance of Evil

1 Thessalonians 5:22 is pretty clear. “Abstain,” it says, “from all appearance of evil.”

In other words, don’t do anything that looks fishy.

Both of our situations here look plenty fishy. Even when you add in all the mitigating circumstances.

Mike Pence – a devout Christian – should know better. I can’t say for Bill Barr. But there’s enough “appearance of evil” in both situations to give ordinary voters pause.

The Left, however, loses the moral high ground when they pounce – and mis-represent the situation. This shifts the debate from the actions of the perpetrators to the claims of their attackers.

To the Left: Don’t spin. You don’t need to spin. Haven’t Trump’s 12,000+ lies proven that already? Don’t his defenders – without a leg to stand on – show how weak their position is?

Stick to the truth. No exaggeration… no spinning. Don’t give the Right an opening to break down your arguments. You know they’ll find the flaws you create.

But they can’t fight the truth. It may not be as sensational as spin… but when they can’t defend against it, you win.

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Colvin, J., “Pence defends stay at Trump property in Ireland,” Associated Press. Sep 3, 2019.

Shortell, D. and Polantz, K., “Attorney General William Barr planning private holiday party at Trump’s DC hotel,” CNN. Aug 27, 2019.

Fahrenthold, D.A. and O’Connell, J., “Saudi-backed lobbyists paid for 500 nights at Trump’s D.C. hotel just after 2016 election,” The Los Angeles Times. Dec 6, 2018.