subpoena

Guppies Eat Their Young


Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote a forehead slapper on December 3 entitled:

The media treats Biden as badly as — or worse than — Trump. Here’s proof.

Paul Krugman had a similar message in his piece:

The Bogus Bashing of Build Back Better

Biden has accomplished so much already, even in the face of the blistering torrent of lies and an unrelenting negative attitude by pundits and faithless politicians. Plus, don’t forget that Biden hasn’t been caught in 16 lies per day. nor has he been caught doubling down on any lie. That should count for something, but clearly, it doesn’t. We’re left to wonder where that negative media coverage comes from.

Numerous examples of Biden bashing have arrived in my Inbox since Milbank’s post (that’s on top of the many that arrived before then) to reinforce the message. Here’s a headline from The Economist’s email listing of their stories this week:

The article effectively calls President Biden an Omicron wimp, but that just doesn’t make sense. Our scientists are working every day to learn what we need to know to deal with this variant. At this point they believe Omicron is far more transmissible but likely less lethal than the Delta variant. That’s better news than had been feared, but why the hatchet job on Biden?

There is a lot of talk about inflation now and the woe it’s causing workers. But economists have shown that those same workers are actually better off because of rising wages, even with inflation. Nevertheless, Biden is taking a bashing over the economy. It seems to me that this is common, not just for the media, but even for Democrats and Progressives themselves.

Long time readers of these posts have endured my regular bashings of Democrats for their world class ability to produce terrible communication. Here’s the contrast: Republicans deliver snappy, compelling bumper sticker slogans (“Stop the Steal!”) while Democrats issue three pages of shades-of-gray treatises that not even their authors can remember 10 minutes after writing them. Republicans get in line with one voice and a clear message, while Democrats cheer their big tent under which they are pummeling one another in a chaos of conflicting messages and undermining the Democratic president in the process.

Don’t believe it? Just look at the craziness over the Build Back Better Bill.*

Sausage making is always ugly, but, to mix metaphors, it’s only Democrats who hang their dirty laundry to flap in the public breeze. It’s only Democrats who publicly criticize their own tribe. Meanwhile, the Republicans are saying and doing reprehensible, hateful, anti-democratic things and their leadership can’t seem to utter a word of correction. But at least they aren’t confusing everyone.

Perhaps you’d like to help Democrats with their messaging – they surely need your help. Try your hand at writing a bumper sticker, a slogan that will ring with validation for the true believers and be compelling to the fence sitters. Give it your best shot and then send it to the DNC (click here for their Contact page). Post it in the Comments section below, too.

When you send your offering to the DNC be sure to include a note letting them know that they need to smarten up their communication because they’re boring an entire nation and its democracy to death.

And tell them to turn the lights off while they’re infighting over the sausage. Nobody but the opposition wants to see their ugly.

In an effort to be clear about this and to mix metaphors yet again, only Democrats eat their young – just like guppies.

Now, that’s a bumper sticker!

Floods

In 1993 there was catastrophic flooding throughout the Midwest. It was early spring and much of the ground was still frozen. Then came torrential rains and every major river and every little creek rose way past flood stage. The Mississippi, the Illinois, the Missouri – all of them breached their banks, as rain water flowed across barren fields and into the rivers much faster than the water could flow downstream to the Gulf of Mexico. Dirt levees collapsed one after another. Indeed, I recall seeing Harry Smith on assignment near a levee as a section of it behind him collapsed into the torrent of water.

Just days later I had a business appointment in Nebraska. I am a pilot and had an airplane then, so I took off for my meeting. My course took me over the Mississippi River, over Des Moines, IA and past the Missouri River. The Mississippi was so far beyond flood stage that I was unable to determine where its former banks had been. The river now covered corn and soy bean fields miles wide. Flying over Des Moines I saw the entire downtown area under several feet of Des Moines River water. Looking to the north, the tree tops stuck out looking like heads of broccoli where the river had become an inland sea. The Missouri River was like that, too.

I tell you this so that you can understand what I realized on that flight. No matter the skill of the camera personnel, no matter the eloquence of reporters on the ground, the TV screen cannot begin to communicate the magnitude of the devastation caused by floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, nor can it make real the depth of the human suffering.

Think about that as you take in coverage of the 275 mile long path of last Friday’s super tornado and the 49 other tornadoes that night as they ripped up parts of six states. Think about what they have done to thousands of our fellows. Unless we’re there, we really don’t get it and it’s way worse than we think. Here’s a link to a way you can help those beaten up folks in Kentucky.

BlizzardsBlizzard3 - NOAA.jpg

Republicans continue to provide a blizzard of cover for Trump, the insurrectionists and the members of Congress who were complicit in the attempt to overthrow our government. The prominent snow job currently underway is to prevent Mark Meadows from being criminally charged for contempt of Congress. But here are the facts and the real deal.

Facts:

  1. Mark Meadows received a legal congressional subpoena to appear before the January 6 Committee. Subpoenas create a legal obligation to comply.
  2. Meadows refused to appear and has promised that he will not appear. That is to say, Meadows has knowingly, intentionally broken the law.
  3. “Subpoena” means “under penalty.” That means that there is a price to be paid for breaking the law.
  4. If this is to be a nation of laws and not a nation designed to serve only the select few, Meadows must be referred to the Justice Department with a complaint of criminal contempt. And Merrick Garland’s Justice Department must mount a vigorous prosecution of this obviously guilty man. The same must apply to all who refuse a subpoena. They must be held “under penalty” for their lawlessness.

The Real Deal:

We don’t need any more right-wing snow jobs. We need justice.

Must Read of the Week

Read Bart Gellman’s cover story in The Atlantic, Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun. Better: buy a copy of the January/February 2022 issue at a newsstand and subscribe. That’s how we keep journalism – and especially investigative journalism – alive.

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* Sens. Manchin and Sinema are the primary obstructionists to passing the Build Back Better Bill and two voting rights bills. That prompts me to wonder how Lyndon Johnson would have handled these road blocks. He was well known both in Congress and as president as a guy who knew how to get things done, like the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. There was enormous opposition to both, but he got them passed. Here’s how.

He horse traded. He cajoled. But most of all he twisted arms way past the “That hurts!” point and senators got in line.

I don’t know what leverage President Biden has available to him to persuade Sens. Manchin and Sinema to see the light, but he better find it and use it fast. This is no time to be Mr. Nice Guy if we’re to keep the anti-democracy crazies out of power.

Read this.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Movie Message For . . .


Senate Republicans who hold hostage this nation and the world, solely for their own political benefit

The people who show up at school board meetings to be verbally abusive and hateful

Those who tear down mobile Covid test stations

Those who abuse healthcare workers

Those who shout down doctors and scientists

Those who refuse vaccines, regardless of their reasons

Those who attack others who wear a mask

Those who give credence to conspiracy spouters

Those who manipulate truth into lies solely to get viewers and clicks

Those who try to intimidate parents as they walk their kids to and from school

Those who seek to marginalize people, especially politicians crushing people’s rights

The screamers at town hall meetings

The political delusionists who explain away clearly illegal, immoral behavior with absurd fictions

Those who threaten and intimidate election officials and volunteers

Those who attempt to disrupt vaccination centers

Those who vote for politicians who act to take rights from others

Just get this: As you deny the reality that is right before you and as you hurt others, you’re hurting yourself. And your kids. And your parents and sisters and brothers and friends and neighbors from sea to shining sea.

The only people who benefit from your actions are people who don’t give a damn about you. They’re just using you to get what they want and would sell you out for a nickel.

They’ll never respect you until you respect yourself.

This message comes to you from the 1987 film Moonstruck. In the clip below, you are the Nicholas Cage character on the right. The rest of us are Cher’s character, speaking to you from the heart.

.

Note: In composing this post it was dispiriting to recognize how easy it was to come up with the list above. Sadly, we see this stuff every day.

Special January 6 Commission Q & A

Q: Is contempt of Congress a violation of the law?

A: Yes

Q: Is obstruction of justice a violation of the law?

A: Yes

Q: Is failing to produce records subpoenaed by Congress both contempt of Congress and obstruction of justice?

A: Yes

Q: Is there any reason not to refer Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino (wherever he’s hiding) and Kash Patel for criminal prosecution?

A: No

Q: Do the Democrats in Congress have the cojones to refer these miscreants for criminal prosecution?

A: Maybe

Q: Does the Justice Department have the cojones to prosecute these bums?

A: Maybe

Q: If the roles were reversed and Republicans were investigating an insurrection associated with the Democratic Party and 4 witnesses ignored their subpoenas, what would the Republicans do?

A: They would have those guys in jail so fast they’d have to do a perp run instead of a perp walk.

Q: Has the Democratic Party learned its lesson about failing to be bold and recognized that they must do what must be done?

A: Hope springs eternal, but it ain’ no strategy for success.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up. Do something to make things better.

Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

How Did We Get Here? and “The Wag”


Reading time – 3:58; Viewing time – 5:40  .  .  .

  • How did we get to the point:

– where ripping babies from their mothers’ arms is tolerated?

– where we refuse those kidnapped kids soap and a toothbrush and there isn’t universal outrage?

– where disrespecting our allies and cozying up to adversaries is thought to be good foreign policy?

– where allowing fossil fuel exploration in Monument Valley is considered a good idea?

– where pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement is deemed sound policy for our children and grandchildren?

– where there could be a discriminatory citizenship question on the national census? The Constitution calls for no such thing.

– where Russia could invade and disrupt our national election and the president refuses to confront, much less punish the offender?

– where the president refuses to do anything to stop further cyber assault on our country and even invites it – and somehow we aren’t all enraged?

– where we yawn when yet another Cabinet Secretary resigns in disgrace?

– where birthright citizenship – you know, the 14th Amendment – would be under attack? Note: The 14th Amendment is probably why you are a United States citizen.

– where we tolerate reversing EPA standards, such that fossil fuel extractors no longer have to report or reduce methane emissions? Methane is 84 times more powerful at global warming than carbon dioxide.

– where picking fights with other countries is considered a good negotiating strategy?

– where a continuing presidential attack on freedom of the press is somehow held to be patriotic?

– where defying subpoenas is in any way a debatable thing?

– where arbitrary tariffs slapped on friends is tolerated?

– Where witnesses before Congressional committees can avoid testifying by claiming “absolute immunity,” an immunity that doesn’t exist in law?

This list could be far longer and likely you can add to it.

We’ve always had divided government, with impassioned politicians at times saying stupid stuff.* This isn’t about that. This is about the amazing reality that we got to the point where, for example, ripping babies from their mamas as a tool to discourage immigration is open for debate.

KEY POINT: Not one of the items on this list is a whine about Trump being crude, disrespectful, ignorant and an assault on decency. They aren’t even a complaint about his well over 10,000 lies since taking office. And every one of them has substantive impact on Americans – like you – and on our nation as a whole.

KEY OTHER POINT: It’s so very easy to pin all that on Trump, but he only has the power to do those things because of a supportive – or at least compliant – citizenry and, correspondingly, a meek and cowardly Republican Congress.

KEY QUESTION: In order to get out of this craziness we have to be able to both define it and identify what brought us here. What’s your notion? Post it in the Comments block and we’ll help one another learn.

FUN FACT: Roughly 63 million people voted for Trump (or they voted against Hillary) in 2016. On that same day, over 90 million voting age Americans stayed home.

FUN FACT QUESTION: Can you think of something you can do so there isn’t a repeat of that in 2020? I knew you could.

Late Addition

I’ve warned repeatedly (here and here, for example) that we are at risk of Donald Trump pulling a “wag the dog” scam to ensure he gets reelected. Now it appears that he’s doing it.

He has backed Iran into a corner with enough sanctions to hobble its economy and withdrawn from the JCPOA. Then Trump complained because Iran said that it would restart its uranium enrichment program, the very thing the JCPOA prevented.

So, he sent a carrier group and 2,500 troops to the area. Then on Thursday he ordered military strikes on Iran in response to Iran having downed a U.S. reconnaissance drone. He called off the attack before damage was done, claiming that killing 150 people with his attacks wouldn’t be a proportional response. We don’t know if that cancellation was actually just a stunt to make Trump seem to be a humanitarian, but since Trump is all about the theater of things, it very well could have been just that.

Recognize that Trump is constantly opaque in his dealings, leaving everyone wondering about his motives and goals, and almost certainly he sees the situation with Iran as a pissing contest that he has to win. A lot of his supporters like his kind of brainless muscular response, which drives the danger meter pointer closer to catastrophe.

You better make sure your senators and Congress people stand up to what looks like the newest Gulf of Tonkin fraud, or we’ll get involved in yet another unending middle east war and a lot of people will die.


*Stupid stuff is the blatantly obvious false or misleading statement. It’s the filibustering of a reporter to avoid his/her question. It’s the whataboutism that is designed to avoid having to deal with the truth or to denigrate an opponent. It’s the whole cloth fabrication that comes in a small throwaway line or a sweeping, dramatic denial of reality. Stupid stuff.



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Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

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Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Pounding and Flip-Flopping


Reading time – 4:51; Viewing time – 7:30  .  .  .

It’s a fundamental courtroom practice:

If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts.

If they aren’t on your side, pound on the law.

If the law isn’t on your side, pound on the table.

The House Judiciary Committee met last week to debate issuing a citation of contempt of Congress to Attorney General William Barr for his failure to produce an unredacted version of the Mueller Report and the underlying evidentiary materials, as well as for his failure to appear before the committee. Of course, the debate was bifurcated along party lines and what I found most interesting is what the Republicans did to make their case against contempt citations.

They brought up all manner of what they decried are unfair or unethical issues, including Hillary Clinton’s emails, FBI leadership, FBI spying and investigating (isn’t that what they’re supposed to do?), Barr’s courage to obey a law that actually doesn’t apply to the contempt of Congress issue, the Steele Dossier (none of which has been disproven), Christopher Steele’s having talked with Russians, various officials lying under oath, James Comey’s perfidy and other real or fantasy offenses.

NONE OF THAT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH WILLIAM BARR FAILING TO RESPOND TO CONGRESSIONAL SUBPOENAS. IT’S ALL WHATABOUTISM.

That’s what people do when they don’t have a leg to stand on.

Don’t let their passion or the intensity of their fatuous bloviating or the panoply of unrelated issues distract you. This is solely about obeying the law. That sounds very conservative, don’t you think? How come the Republicans don’t like it? Try this.

The Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee likely feel duty bound to protect the Republican administration, regardless of what some individuals in that administration have done. That’s one of the more odious parts of party politics and it’s one of the things that causes voters’ blood to boil or drives them to simply tune out, believing, “They’re all crooks.”

Here’s what’s at stake in this subpoena/contempt citation case:

The important thing: The oversight function of Congress is impossible to conduct without the necessary information. The purpose of a subpoena is to elicit that information from reluctant witnesses. Which is to say, it doesn’t matter whether the president or his lapdog attorney general like it; Barr has to obey the subpoena and the law in order for our system to work.

The critical thing: What is at stake is the rule of law itself! If Barr and Trump get away with refusing subpoenas, then our rule of law is finished. So is justice in America, because it will be clear that obeying the law no longer matters. Say hello to tyranny.

Here’s the current reality:

Those Republican committee members don’t have the facts on their side. Barr has plainly and obviously stonewalled his subpoenas. That’s a punishable no-no. So they can’t pound on the facts.

Those committee members also don’t have the law on their side. The law is clear that citizens must obey a subpoena. So, those representatives can’t pound on the law.

All they have left is pounding on the table. And that’s what they did during the House Judiciary Committee contempt citation hearings and what they’re doing still.

You can expect the same behavior from Republican senators if a resolution of impeachment arrives in their chamber. That’s pretty much what we saw during the blizzard of filibusters the Republicans mounted to fight anything Obama promoted. They didn’t have the facts and they didn’t have the law, so they pounded on the table.

Critical note to Democrats: if positions were reversed, we’d see the same behavior from Congressional Democrats, although they’d probably smile more and be ever-so empathetic. Nevertheless, forget about feeling smug and disdainful about the other guys. This is party politics S.O.P.

Impeachment update  .  .  .

In 2017 I had the simple clarity that Trump should be impeached because he is a criminal, that he’s obviously guilty of violating the Emoluments Clause, obstruction of justice and possibly of treason for conspiracy with the Russians and for his refusal to take any action to prevent ongoing attacks by Russia. Then I considered what a President Pence might do and I wasn’t so sure that impeachment was best.

The first thing Pence would do is pull a Gerald Ford and pardon Trump and his entire crime family for felonies they have or may have committed. It’s unthinkable that they might get away with their self-aggrandizing criminality, so I changed my mind on impeachment. Now, though, there’s another worry.

Trump has started a march to war with Iran. Separating out his wag-the-dog gambit, starting that war will result in a lot of people dying and suffering and it likely will be a war that will last for many years, just like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, because there’s no way out. It appears that the only way to prevent that is to remove Trump from office before he can fire the first shot. That calls for impeachment, so back we go.

One price of doing that, though, is the probability of angering a lot of Americans who will see Trump as a victim and will vote in a Congress that might continue to dismantle the things we care about, a Congress which will deny climate warming. They will continue the assault on Roe v. Wade, on voting rights and will enact yet more wealth inequality measures. All of that and more are existential threats to liberal democracy and to our entire planet. That price is so large that it augers for leaving Trump in office until the end of his term in order to prevent a backlash Congress, even knowing that he will issue anticipatory pardons to all his co-conspirators.

Yes, I realize that I’m flip-flopping on the issue of impeachment and I don’t like it any more than you do.

This impeachment business is more complicated and has more consequences than I want it to have. I believe in the rule of law and apologize not one bit for being a Boy Scout about my horror over the assault on our moral character that we continue to endure.  But frustrating as it would be to refrain from stopping the subversive criminal in the Oval Office, preempting Trump with impeachment might do more harm than good. Clearly, this is a hold your nose moment in American history.

Click the pic for the report in The Onion

                                                     ————————————

Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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