October 13, 2019

Sunday School 10/13/19

Two of the candidates running to be the blue party's nominee were in the classrooms today - Democrat Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who talked with Jake Tapper for CNN's State of the Union, and Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who chatted with Jonathan Karl for This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Earlier, I guessed that chances were less than 10% that either of the candidates would be asked about anything other than president Trump, impeachment, and Ukraine.  Let's see what happened - Mayor Pete's up first.

First question? Tapper wondered how Buttigieg would handle getting our troops out of Syria, if it were up to him, and how we would also protect our allies, such as the Kurds. He responded that ending endless wards doesn't mean we stop participating and engaging. 
Look at what's happened here. This isn't even a strategy or a policy, it is the president systematically destroying American alliances and American values. And that makes America worse off. 
He went on to say "these kinds of messy, asymmetric conflicts" are going to be going on, and we need to not only defend our interests but also to "live up to our obligations to our allies." And of course, we're not doing that now, he said. And when he hears our soldiers saying they've "lost their honor over this" and they can't look our allies in the eye, it's disturbing to him as a veteran.
And if you take away a soldier's honor, you might as well go after their body armor next. That's what the commander in chief is doing right now.
So, yes, if we need to keep US personnel in Syria, that's what he'd do. Tapper wondered if he'd be willing to threaten or use force against Turkey, a NATO ally, to protect the Kurds. Buttigieg said if he was president, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place; we would use our leverage as an ally, and we could have stopped this, absent Trump's "reckless choice."
Under this president, America is being turned in to just another country, just another country out there scrapping for advantage, not showing leadership, not in an exceptional position to shape outcomes around the world. 
Enough of that, let's go to impeachment. Tapper mentioned a poll showing nearly 6 in 10 Trump's fate should be left up to voters, and wondered why they shouldn't be the ones to decide. Buttigieg pointed out that a majority of Americans in other polls think he should not only be impeached but removed from office, but that polls are not the way to decide this. And, he added.
It's not just about holding Donald Trump accountable... It's about making sure that a future president, 10 years or 100 years from now looks back at this moment and draws the lesson that nobody is above the law. And in a moment like that, public opinion is just going to have to follow the lead of the Constitution, instead of the other way around.
And then, moving to the Biden Issue. And Tapper wondered if Hunter Biden's announcement that he would end foreign business activities if Joe got elected was an acknowledgement of at least an appearance of a conflict of interest. And while I wish Mayor Pete had refused to answer the question,  here's what he said:
I think it demonstrates the difference in standards relative to the White House. I mean... the president of the United States is a walking conflict of interest. You've got family members - you want to talk about family members? In the White House right now, you've got Ivanka Trump benefiting from patents from the Chinese. You've got the president's son-in-law texting with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, while, meanwhile, the president's sons go around the world pretending like the fact that their father is the president of the United States has no impact on the international business dealings that they do.
We don't even know whether Trump financial interests in Turkey contributed to the decision to betray American allies and American values. And they want to talk about conflicts of interest? It's a radically different standard.
Honestly, if you've got to answer the question because the talking heads can't help asking Candidate A about Candidate B's singular problem, I really like that answer.

Moving quickly to LGBTQ issues, he was asked if he agreed with Beto O'Rourke's statement that religious institutions should lose their tax exempt status if they refuse to hire or provide services to LGBTQ folks.  Again, not his position, but what the heck, might as well answer, I guess. He agreed that the anti-discrimination laws should be applied to all institutions, but added
...the idea that you're going to strip churches of their tax-exempt status if they haven't found their way toward blessing same-sex marriage, I'm not sure he understood the implication of what he was saying. I mean, that means going to war, not only with churches but I would think with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do...
 He believes this kind of approach
is just going to deepen the divisions that we're already experiencing, at moment when we're actually seeing more and more people, motivated often by compassion and by people they love, moving in the right direction on LGBTQ rights, which is obviously extremely important to me personally. 
And, that was it - interview over.

Meanwhile, back in Vermont, here's what Sanders and Jon Karl were talking about, starting with his health and his return to the campaign trail. He said he looks forward to going back to a "very vigorous campaign." Karl asked if his docs were good with that. 
Well, let me be very clear and backtrack, and tell you that, probably, there’s nobody who has run a more vigorous campaign than I did. And we’re talking about three or four rallies a day and town meetings and so forth and so on, but I think after a short period of time, we’ll probably be able to return to that. Not the first day back.
And yes, the doctors are OK with that, and yes, he's going to release his medical records, "as soon as we can." Which led Karl to as if  all of the candidates should release theirs. Sanders said it should be the standard that all candidates do that (although I'm sure he's referring to legitimate records, not ones that the candidate may write on their own.)

There were several other questions on his health, and Sanders noted that having stents put in is a fairly common procedure, one that's done hundreds of thousands of times a year, and that he should have put two and two together and realized that he wasn't just tired from campaigning, but that something more serious was wrong. And now, he's ready to get back to work.

Karl wondered if he' drop out if something significant occurred; Sanders didn't bite, refusing to speculate on that but hey, he had good insurance and lots of people don't, so don't go to the hospital when they should or leave with tons of medical debt.
So maybe one of the lessons that I have to tell you I learned is that I'm going to fight even harder than I have for Medicare for All. I am more committed to the struggle than I was a few weeks ago. 
Next, Karl moved to talk about Elizabeth Warren, who's a few years younger than Bernie, and has "pretty close to identical positions" as Sanders. Karl wondered how Sanders would respond to people who would pick her because she didn't just have a heart attack.
Well look, everybody, every American is going to make his or her own choice about the candidate that they want... Elizabeth I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist through her bones. I’m not. I think the situation today that we face in this country of the greed and the corruption that is existing in Washington, that is existing at the corporate elite level...
He referenced drug companies, no guarantee of healthcare to all, fossil fuel companies destroying the planet, before continuing
And I think business as usual, and doing it the old fashioned way is not good enough. It’s not regulation. Now what we need is, in fact, I don't want to get people too nervous, we need a political revolution. I am, I believe, the only candidate who's going to say to the ruling class of this country, the corporate elite, enough, enough with your greed and with your corruption. We need real change in this country.
And when Karl pushed on whether that was what Warren was saying, Sanders basically told him to ask her what her position is, he's here to talk about his position, reiterating that he is not a capitalist -  and she is.

Karl then talked about Warren having a plan for everything, but not yet one for healthcare.
Again, Elizabeth is a friend of mine. Talk to her. I have put out a healthcare plan. It's called Medicare for All. We're going to tell the insurance companies and the drug companies that we will not continue this current dysfunctional and cruel system. 
Moving to Syria, Karl noted that Sanders was "very critical" of Trump's decision to pull out troops.
It's an outrage...what does it say to the entire world that you have a president who gets off the phone with Erdogan of Turkey... We're deserting these people who have put their lives on the line to work with us in fighting against some of the worst terrorists in the world, Send a message to the entire world, you cannot trust the United States of America anymore in foreign affairs.
Doesn't matter what the president says, because tomorrow he may reverse himself. It is outrageous. 
He also noted that figuring out how to deal with Turkey is a whole nother issue, and that he is a "strong opponent" of endless wars.  Karl noted that Trump, too, is not a fan of endless wars.
Yes...But the difference between Trump and me is he lies. And, again, you don't turn your back on an ally that lost 11,000 troops fighting against terrorism through a tweet and a discussion with Erdogan.
Moving to impeachment, Sanders is not concerned that Nancy Pelosi didn't have a vote before moving ahead, and he's glad that the inquiry is moving forward. And?
And I think it's proper that it's going forward. I want it to go forward as expeditiously as it possibly can. I think at the end of the day the evidence is there to impeach Trump. 
And that's not all. Sanders is concerned about what happens if the House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate.  Mitch McConnell is an unknown, it seems.
Will Mitch McConnell do the right thing? Will he have a full trial, where the American people, and Senators...can hear the evidence regarding what Trump did? I am nervous that McConnell will put party in front of country and not do that. 
Either way, if it does get that far, Trump will have strong support for an innocent path and strong evidence for a guilty path in the Senate, Sanders says.
And the Senate will make its decision. It will make its decision as will the American people. That has to take place. 
Yes - that has to take place.

See you around campus.

October 12, 2019

In Case You Missed it (v6)

Another week in the books. Another handful of posts you might not have had the chance to see... Here's a recap for you.

Sunday School brought us a chance to hear from not only a Dem running for president, but two Republicans doing the same:  former Representatives Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh. They're of two different minds when it comes to president Trump and to impeachment, with Wash taking a much harder line, as he did here, posing a question to Sanford.
... Either the Republican party stands up now and says, we oppose this, we oppose collusion, we oppose foreign governments interfering in our election, either we stand up with one unifying voice with that right now, Mark, and we don't get involved in the gobbledygook of censure or impeachment or is it politically prudent. How about we Republicans do what is right, sir?
It was interesting to hear them, and to see one of the Sunday classrooms have a multi-person interview - or, in this case, to have a Republican debate, something we might not see if the president and the RNC have their way.

On Monday, I switched gears a little. I figure everyone now and then someone might get tired of my words, and so I let the president's own words flow, unimpeded, in free (and very shapely) OrangeVerse (and yes, it actually does flow orangely, in case you haven't seen any of his poetry before).

I dropped a Sunday School Extra Credit piece on Tuesday, which was all about interviewers and their subjects - or, more accurately, about interviewers trying to get their subjects to answer questions - featuring Chuck Todd of Meet the Press and Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday. While Wallace tried valiantly to get an answer using the old 'repeat the question' method, Todd took the 'yell at your guest' approach, and became the darling of social media folks all over the left hand side of the dial. Me? Not really all that impressed.
While some are applauding Todd for his efforts, others suggest that giving him kudos for doing his job is kind of like giving everyone a participation trophy or something. And, of course there's the whole other point that this is way too little, way too late. Had he or any other journalists done this back in 2015, beginning with the escalator ride, we might not be sitting here having an impeachment investigation of the president. Why? Because Trump would not have been the nominee, had he faced even the slightest real scrutiny in the beginning - or even the middle - of his campaign. By the time most media outlets started to take him seriously, it was way too late.
We're apt to fall into the same thing again this year, the way coverage is going. Tuesday's debate will be a real test for the moderators, if not for the candidates.

I was Wondering on Wednesday among other things, about how the president is reacting to the whole impeachment thing.
I'm also wondering, thinking about his impeachment binge-tweeting, whether he's really mad that Mueller didn't find any collusion, and so he's been trying to show that he is, in fact, able to successfully collude with another country to interfere in our elections?
Similarly, he's got the Mueller report showing multiple acts of obstruction of justice, for which he's been told he cannot be charged, and so now he's just boldly obstructing everything, including the impeachment inquiry?
Thursday's message from the Update Desk showed us that even though the third quarter fundraising rush was completely over, there's no end to the hustle to get campaign contributions. And, there's little start to policy discussions, generally, although there was a glimmer of hope. 
This week saw only one email related to guns - and it wasn't Beto this time, it was Biden. Bernie mentioned Medicare for All, pointing out that everyone should be entitled to the same great health care he received after suffering his heart attack.  
On other issues, we saw new plans from Warren, who introduced a new worker's rights plan, and Sanders, who rolled out his 'Money isn't Speech' plan.  And, both Buttigieg and Warren released plans for LGBTQ equality.
All of the candidates are talking about the upcoming debate, which will have Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer joining the top ten on stage - I can only imagine, and will start pumping energy drinks tomorrow to make sure I'm ready for the live stream on the veritable pastiche Facebook page.  

And finally, blissfully, TGIF! I was in a funk, I admit, and it was my own fault for watching clips of Trump's rally in Minnesota. I really should know better.
I see a man unhinged, unglued, unsafe, unsound, and unfamiliar with what America means or stands for. I see young people in the audience behind him, and except for the couple times when the teens appeared shocked at what Trump was saying, it was disheartening to say the least. 
I really should know better.

Next week?  I know for sure I'll have something to say about the debate, as well as a number of our regular features.  Stop by to see what else bubbles to the top.

October 11, 2019

TGIF 10/11/19





I got nothin' (cute liddle hyphen notwithstanding).
I foolishly watched clips of the president's rally in 
Minnesota last night, and I don't even know what to say.  

I see a man unhinged, unglued, unsafe, unsound, and unfamiliar with 
what America means or stands for. I see young people in the audience
behind him, and except for the couple times when the teens appeared 
shocked at what Trump was saying, it was disheartening to say the least. 

It's all disheartening, but there is light.
There's always light, right? 

People will resign, right? 
Not just Shep Smith, or the one guy at State. 
People will have to resign, they will leave the sinking ship,
they will find their lost selves again, and they'll do the right thing.

Yovanovitch defied the State Department.
Sondland says he'll testify - no documents,  but at least he'll testify. 
And Rudy's goons were arrested. 

Donny Jr and his girlfriend earned $50K of college kid money
for doing a speech, but that's not profiting from Daddy's position - 
that's patriotism, I think they call it? 
And we know who they are, right? 

They're the ones who play God Bless the USA 
at their rallies, and other songs they've stolen. 
They're the ones that tell us how righteous they are,
as they pass around the hate, and bile, and discrimination. 
tied up with a redwhiteandblue ribbon

We know who they are. 
They are not us.

TGIF, everyone.

October 10, 2019

The Update Desk: Who Loves Me, Baby? (6)

This is the sixth update on my social experiment with the top ten 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and how they communicate with prospective supporters. (You can read the original post that started all of this silliness here, and prior updates hereherehere , here and here.)

Things slowed quite a bit this week, now that we're past the Q3 deadline. Here's this week's tally:
  • 118 emails received, a drop of 76 compared to last week (and can I tell you, I appreciated that?);
  • 83 (70.3%) were primarily requests for donations, even though there may have been some kind of underlying message;
  • 30 of the emails were in the general/miscellaneous category; as with past weeks, the focus for these tended to be surveys, those darn sticker, merch, and so on. This week, several candidates mentioned LGBTQ rights because of the Supreme Court activity;  and 
  • 5 emails were directly related to the October 15th debate; now that they've all qualified, the emails were looking for issues to focus on, or hosting debate watch parties. 

In order, the top five asking for money the most were Kamala Harris (84.6%), Cory Booker (78.6%), Julian Castro (77.8%), Elizabeth Warren (76.9%) and  Andrew Yang (70%). The other candidates, in descending order:  Amy Klobuchar (66.7%), Bernie Sanders (63.6%), Joe Biden (63.2%), Pete Buttigieg (60%), and Beto O'Rourke (57.1%). 

This week saw only one email related to guns - and it wasn't Beto this time, it was Biden. Bernie mentioned Medicare for All, pointing out that everyone should be entitled to the same great health care he received after suffering his heart attack.  

On other issues, we saw new plans from Warren, who introduced a new worker's rights plan, and Sanders, who rolled out his 'Money isn't Speech' plan.  And, both Buttigieg and Warren released plans for LGBTQ equality.

Not surprisingly, Joe Biden spent a lot of time talking about Donald Trump, including announcing (later than several of his counterparts) that the president should be impeached. 

Andrew Yang, who had a really good Q3 from a fundraising perspective, devoted some time to pointing out media bias, including leaving him out of graphics showing the top money raisers (Booker, who raised a couple million less than Yang, made the list) and how he and his plans are not getting the attention they deserve given his support. Honestly, I don't blame him.

Warren made mention of pregnancy discrimination, reiterating her story of  "being shown the door" when she was a young, visibly pregnant teacher, which has recently come under scrutiny. She asked women to share their stories with her, and if it goes as it has for many news outlets that asked the same question, she's going to get a lot of them.

And finally, our email of the week. I was intrigued by one from the Harris campaign that referenced an app called TikTok and cow videos, but in the end, I chose this one from Mayor Pete's campaign for the win.  
Hi there,
We’re running a massive weekend of outreach this weekend -- we’re calling it “Boot-Pledge-Pledge.”
All across the country, members of Team Pete (that’s you!) are gathering to knock on doors, make phone calls, reach out to your friends and family, and in some cases, collect signatures to help get Pete on the ballot. We’re asking people to pledge their support for Pete. (See what we did there?)
Will you sign up to make calls this Boot-Pledge-Pledge weekend?
We’re making calls all weekend into the early states to identify Pete supporters, and we’d love for you to join. Click here to sign up to share Pete’s bold vision for the future, and we'll be in touch with all the information you need to get started.
We’re so excited for this Boot-Pledge-Pledge weekend, and really hope you can join us.
See you soon, and thanks!!
Yes, I saw what you did there.


October 9, 2019

Wondering on Wednesday (v185)

What a great day to be wondering...

In last week's Wondering, for example, I suggested that we didn't need Hillary Clinton talking about anything other than her new book, and that she should ignore questions about the president, about impeachment, about 2016 and related topics, or she should defer to the 2020 candidates because their opinions matter, during this primary season, while Clinton's do not. That didn't happen last night in an interview on the PBS Newshour, or on her own Twitter account, where she's been quoted on any number of subjects. Meanwhile, actual 2020 candidates are starving for air time. What is that, I wonder?

I also wonder, how does the president pretend that he has anything to say about what Turkey does or doesn't do in Syria? First, he takes a mysterious call with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, (I say mysterious because we haven't seen the readout of the call on the White House web page, and we don't know whether it's on the 'regular' server or the "dear God, don't let this crap see the light of day" server), and then we pull out our troops leaving the Kurds in the lurch, and then he says they weren't ever our allies, we paid them well for the job they did, and then he binge-tweets about impeachment but then circles back around to let us know about his great and unmatched wisdom at which point we heard the world laughing, and wondering #whattheactualhelliswrongwithUS and stuff.

I'm also wondering, thinking about his impeachment binge-tweeting, whether he's really mad that Mueller didn't find any collusion, and so he's been trying to show that he is, in fact, able to successfully collude with another country to interfere in our elections?

Similarly, he's got the Mueller report showing multiple acts of obstruction of justice, for which he's been told he cannot be charged, and so now he's just boldly obstructing everything, including the impeachment inquiry?
Today, on behalf of President Donald J. Trump, Pat Cipollone, Counsel to the President, sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Chairmen Engel, Chaff, and Cummings.  The letter demonstrates that the Democrats’ inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, and even the most elementary due process protections.  Democrats are pursuing purely partisan goals, including influencing the upcoming 2020 election.  In the process, they are violating civil liberties and the separation of powers, threatening Executive Branch officials with punishment simply for exercising their constitutional rights and prerogatives.  All of this violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent.  For these reasons, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to, and will not participate in, this exercise of partisan political theater.
Acting with impunity sounds a lot like having immunity, right?

There was lots of wondering yesterday about the status of former South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy and whether he had actually joined the Trump impeachment legal team, or not. First it was reported that he had declined, and then it was reported that he had in fact joined the team.
Where it stands: As the president faces an impeachment inquiry, Gowdy can offer Trump another opinion on where legal theory meets political reality, a person familiar told Axios' Margaret Talev, adding that his Benghazi experience is seen as an asset. Gowdy is expected to advise the White House behind the scenes and appear on TV to advocate on behalf of the president.
If your wondering, this should be a LOT of fun when Gowdy goes on TV on behalf of Trump. He made his name, you'll remember, getting stymied by Clinton in the multi-million-dollar BENGHAZI! investigations, and for getting stymied by Peter Strzok in the House FBI Conspiracy Theory hearings. And, of course, by saying things like this.
The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you’re the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles.”
And, for saying things like this.
Too often, things seem to be a vicious cycle where very little is accomplished and a lot of folks are negatively impacted, reputations are tarnished, and that's just hard to be part of.
Or this.
The fact that someone disagrees with me does not make me challenge their love of the country. It doesn’t make me believe they are corrupt. I don’t think the end justifies the means.
Which makes his going to work for Trump well worth the wondering, don't you think?

October 7, 2019

Sunday School Extra Credit: 10/6/19

There was a lot going on yesterday, mostly about impeachment on the talk shows, but today the talk was all about MTP's Chuck Todd and Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace and how they're pushing their guests to answer questions more than they have in the past.

Here's a link to video of a portion of Todd's interview with Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, where the question on the table is why Johnson 'winced' when he heard that the aid to Ukraine was being held up because Trump wanted the Bidens, and the DNC, investigated.

While some are applauding Todd for his efforts, others suggest that giving him kudos for doing his job is kind of like giving everyone a participation trophy or something. And, of course there's the whole other point that this is way too little, way too late. Had he or any other journalists done this back in 2015, beginning with the escalator ride, we might not be sitting here having an impeachment investigation of the president. Why? Because Trump would not have been the nominee, had he faced even the slightest real scrutiny in the beginning - or even the middle - of his campaign. By the time most media outlets started to take him seriously, it was way too late.

I think there's a respectful way to get questions answered, and this was not that, but I do understand the frustration - I just don't know that it needs to be applauded. I mean, you can always just end the interview, can't you? "I'm sorry, sir, but clearly we're on different missions today. Thanks for coming in."

Meanwhile, here's Chris Wallace interviewing Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah.

Wallace started by asking Stewart whether he's concerned that a second whistleblower had come forward, with firsthand corroborating knowledge. Stewart said he wasn't concerned at all, since they've known "a little bit" that someone else was likely to come forward. And,
...one of our concerns has always been there hasn't been firsthand knowledge of this. The first whistleblower, virtually everything that he accused was second and third hand knowledge. But, Chris, it does not matter. This person is going to come forward and say, yes, the president had this phone call and, yes, that's the transcript. I mean why should I care at all what his perspective or his opinion and judgment of this transcript is? You and I can read it.
Um, we can't read the transcript, because what was released is specifically NOT a transcript of the call. And if Republicans were concerned about there not being firsthand information, - meaning, as they've been saying, the stuff was made up, completely unreliable or both - why aren't they concerned that there's now firsthand information?

If Wallace had been pushing, that should have been the question he asked. But he moved on to talking about corroboration of the allegations in the first whistleblower's complaint, saying that "it's more than just a phone call." Stewart disagreed.
But, Chris, that's just not true. I mean all of these accusations he makes about linkage after he just pulled from "The New York Times" and from "The Washington Post." There's no classified or secret information in that. It all comes down to this one thing. It comes down to one sentence in one phone call. And when you read that in its entirety, it's very clear, he doesn't ever link it to military aid. It's never even mentioned. He doesn't ever offer a quid pro quo. He never even mentions the upcoming election. He talks about one thing, we want to investigate corruption. And I think that's a reasonable thing for him to ask. And these other assumptions are things that some people, in their judgment, are concerning, but it's simply not found in this phone call
Again, Stewart said "anyone can read it" and again, that's a lie. People in the government can't even read the transcript of this call, and others, we're told, because it's on a secure server to protect the president, the country, and our allies. So again, Wallace could have pressed on that issue.

Instead, he showed a clip of Trump talking about not only Ukraine but also asking China to investigate allegations against Biden, and asked Stewart
Congressman, can you tell me of any other instance during the time President Trump has been in office where he asked a foreign leader to investigate a specific American on the issue of corruption?
Stewart's answer? "You bet. Attorney General Barr is doing it right now." Except that Snitty Snitty Bill Barr is not Donald Trump, and so Wallace did push back.
No, no, no. I asked -- I - forgive me. I said President Trump -- can you tell me of another instance where President Trump, on a conversation, a call, has publicly or privately asked for a foreign leader to investigate a specific American.
And again, here's Stewart pretending to answer.
Yes. Absolutely. Now look, he may have done it personally, but it doesn't matter, Chris, there's no difference between the president making the call or the president saying to Attorney General Barr or other of his subordinates, you make the call and investigate this. And he's been very clear on that. 
Wallace took that to mean that Stewart cannot give another example, and pushed again.
You -- I mean -- I don't mean to interrupt, but you can't tell me of another case where we have a record of the president specifically asking for  foreign leader to investigate a specific American? 
Stewart again pointed to Barr.
I'm saying he's -- he's willingly and -- and acknowledged that he's doing that through his attorney general. 
 Wallace, again, pushing:
And - and other than Joe Biden, can you tell me of another - I mean there are millions of Americans who do business overseas, all kinds of activities.
 Stewart agreed - "yes" - so Wallace tried again.
Do you think it's just a coincidence that the one person that he has asked for a foreign leader to investigate, specifically by name, "investigate this person," just happens to be his chief rival for the 2020 campaign?
Stewart's answer is a thing of beauty.
But - but, Chris, you're missing the whole reason for why. He did that because he has knowledge of possible corruption. I mean Vice President Biden and his son -- he was dragging his son to the two countries that the vice president had primary responsibility for, Ukraine and China. And he's taking his son to those two countries with him.
And while he's doing official business, his son is signing, in some cases, $1.5B deals. And I think that a lot of people when they -- Americans, when they hear that, they think, you know what, that doesn't sound right to me. Maybe it's worth asking a few questions about that. That's all the president is doing here. 
Instead of going all Chuck Todd on Stewart, Wallace just asked the question again, with the added facts that there have been no crimes alleged against either of the Bidens.
And you think it's just a coincidence that -- I mean there are a lot of businessmen doing a lot of business a lot bigger than a billion dollars and the only person that he asked for - incidentally, we should point out, there has never, never been a specific allegation of any crime committed - does it look bad? Of course it does. But there's never been an allegation of a specific crime that Joe Biden or Hunter Biden committed. 
 And - and - neither in China nor in Ukraine. You think that it's just a coincidence that he's talking about Joe Biden?
Stewart, again, does his best to defend the president, no matter what.
Well, but Chris, you keep using that word 'coincidence.' It's not a coincidence at all. It is just that those are the facts presented to him and he's responding to those facts. If someone else brought other accusations against other Americans and - and they had reason to investigate that, I -- I'm sure the president would as well. But these were the facts that were brought to him and these were the individuals that were associated with those facts. 
At that point, Wallace turned the conversation to the Congressional hearings, and things wrapped up a few questions later.

And speaking of questions, I have a few of my own, about the Sunday Shows:
  • Do you see a difference in how Chuck Todd handled his interview and how Wallace handled his, and do you have a preference?  
  • Do you think there should be more of this type of questioning, this probing to get an answer, or is it a waste of time?
See you around campus. 

OrangeVerse XLVI: Lies, Damn Lies, Poetry

The president gave us another lie-filled poetry reading this week, speaking before he headed off to Florida to speak at The Villages, the largest retirement community in our solar system.  Let's take a look. 

Absolute Perfection
If you look at the whistleblower's
complaint, it's totally inaccurate
because the conversation I had
was absolutely perfect. The
whistleblower never saw the
- saw the conversation. He got
his information, I guess second-
or third-hand. He wrote something
that was total fiction and now when
people see that they're not happy.
China by the Numbers
We're going to have a meeting with them. We'll see. But
we're doing very well. Some of the numbers I
think are being affected by all of the non-
sense of all of the politics going on...
by the Democrats I call them the
"Do-nothings...." But the
numbers really are
looking very good
going into the
future I have
a lot of
options
on
China
 but if they
don't do what we want
we have tremendous - tremendous power.

I Hoped Zelensky Would China
If they were honest
about it they'd
start a major
investigation
into the Bidens.
It's a very simple
answer. They should
investigate the
Bidens because
how does a
company that's
newly formed -
and all these
companies if you
look at - and
by the way
likewise China
should start an
investigation
into the Bidens
because what
happened in
China is just
about as bad as
what happened
with -- with
Ukraine.

On Subpoena Compliance
Well
I leave that
to the lawyers.
I can say though
that Schiff has now
been proven to be a liar.
We've known it for three years
because they've been trying to impeach
for three years. He's a li - he's a stone-cold liar
So I leave that up to the lawyers. That's up to them
to decide but the
 whole investigation
is crumbling Yeah.

The Innocent Project
...I read Mitch McConnell's statement yesterday,
and he read my phone call and as you know he put
out a statement that said it was the most innocent
phone call he's read and I spoke to him about it, too.
He read my phone call with the president of Ukraine.
Mitch McConnell - he said "that was the most innocent
phone call that I've read." I mean, give me a break any
body that reads it says the same thing and the only
people who don't understand it is when they look
at the false fabricates fraudulent statement
made by Shifty Schiff.

Oh, Sweetheart!
Well I think Biden                  is going down and I.
think his whole situation -    because no you may very
well find that there are other countries that they scammed just
like they scammed China and Ukraine. And basically who are they
scamming? The USA. And it's not good. And that's probably why
China, for so many years has had a sweetheart deal where
China rips off the  USA - because they deal like
people with Biden, where they  give their son
a  billion and a half  dollars and that's prob-
ably why China has such a sweetheart
deal that, for so many years
 they've been ripping off
our country.

Honesty
Thank you I'll
see you in Florida.
I'll see you all in Florida.

October 6, 2019

Sunday School 10/6/19

For the first time, I've got a classroom update that includes not only one of the Democrats running for president in 2020, but two Republicans who are doing the same.  

Jake Tapper, on CNN's State of the Union, was the one who had had all three of them. 
So, here are excerpts from his interview with former Republican Congressmen Mark Sanford (SC) and Joe Walsh (IL).

Sanford has said that an impeachment inquiry is justified; Tapper asked if he would vote for moving forward with one if he were still in the House. 

You know, I don't know. I suspect so...  Again, I think we need to take this incrementally. I mean, I think, to your point, there ought to be a vote before we go into the inquiry. If you look at the last three impeachments - and in fact, one in which I actually took the vote -- you formalize the process, as opposed to having an open-ended process, which is the route that Pelosi is taking right now.
He admitted, after additional questioning that he would take the inquiry, but
I would ultimately, as I have said previously, I don't know that, ultimately, impeachment is the best way to go. I think probably censure is, given the fact that we're this close to an election. But that's a larger conversation. Would I want to investigate this? Yes.
Walsh exhibited no such hesitation.
I don't understand that, with all due respect, Mark. This president deserves to be impeached... Would I vote if I were in Congress on the inquiry? There is enough we know now to vote to impeach this president.
 He stood on the White House lawn this week, Jake, and told two additional foreign governments to interfere in our election. That alone is impeachable. This is a strong term I'm going to use, but I'm going to say it on purpose: Donald Trump is a traitor... Our founders were very specific as to what treason is. But when you look at traitor more broadly defined, this president betrayed our country again this week. And it is not the first time he did it.
Excuse me. I don't know that we should move forward incrementally. This president needs to be impeached, Jake, just based on what he himself has said. And Republicans better get behind that.
Sanford 'respectfully' disagreed, saying the point is not to come to a conclusion at the beginning, but they should follow the process laid out by the founders. And he referenced a David Brooks column, saying
...do we want to completely wipe out the Democratic debate that is taking place amongst the Democrats and some degree of Republican debate that we're trying to have, Joe, as to what we believe as a country, where we want to go, what is important to us, because the giant sucking sound will be this impeachment inquiry sucking every other piece of debate, both in Washington and outside of Washington, out the door?
Tapper wondered about the precedent of doing nothing, and asked if Sanford was worried about if Trump gets away with it, every future president gets away with asking foreign countries to interfere in our election. Sanford's answer?
Let me be 100% clear. I don't think it's right, end of story. The question is, what do you do about it? And that is a more complex question, which is, do you look at censure? Do you look at impeachment?
Walsh chimed in a couple of times, including with this comment
... Either the Republican party stands up now and says, we oppose this, we oppose collusion, we oppose foreign governments interfering in our election, either we stand up with one unifying voice with that right now, Mark, and we don't get involved in the gobbledygook of censure or impeachment or is it politically prudent. How about we Republicans do what is right, sir?
Tapper ended this segment by asking if they'd vote for Trump in 2020. Walsh is on record as a not; Sanford previously had said he'd vote for Trump over Biden and Tapper wondered if that had changed..
I don't know. Again, what I have said is, I'm an issue guy...I'm going to base my decision based on who is closest to me with particular regard to debt and deficit and government spending, where I think we have gone off the tracks in Washington, D.C.
Walsh got the last word.
Jake, I'm running against President Trump because he's unfit and he's a clear and present danger to this country. There is no way in hell I would vote for him in November. The election is about Trump, period.
Klobuchar was up next. Tapper asked if she would vote to "convict" president Trump right now, and of course I'm sure he meant "impeach" not convict. 
I think this is impeachable, that the case should be heard by the House, and it should come over to the Senate...my focus is on the fact that you have got a president that is acting like a global gangster. He is basically going to one leader after another trying to get dirt on his political opponent...
She said she was really focused on putting the evidence before the people, and on
really calling on our Republican colleagues to take this on in the serious matter, to put the country in front of their own partisanship, as we get this very serious case that I believe will come over from the House.
On whether the full House should vote on the issue of the impeachment inquiry, she said it's not necessary. What really matters, she said, is that people who have information come forward - because she said this is just like Watergate.
You had a president that was paranoid. An election was coming up. He wanted to get dirt on his political opponent... 
Tapper asked whether Klobuchar would be comfortable with the child of her VP sitting on the board of a foreign company. She said no, but reminded Tapper that
The issue here is what the president is doing, because we have the Ukrainian prosecutors saying that there's no evidence... multiple people looking at this...what really matters is that the president was repeatedly trying to get dirt on a political opponent. That is the issue here. 
We need a president, she said, that's going to put the interest of the people of the US in front of his own "political and business and partisan interests."
This guy hasn't done that. That is why the House is looking into this, because it is a security interest for our country, a violation of the law. It is very straightforward.
And so, there you have it: three potential presidential candidates, and not a SINGLE QUESTION about anything unrelated to impeachment. David Brooks said that was going to happen. And he's right.  But they can stop it.

Klobuchar talked about the courage we need from people in the Administration, in the CIA, and the House and Senate. We need a whole lot of courage from the media to separate the issue of Trump and impeachment from those who want to replace him.

You know, we need them to walk and chew gum at the same time...

See you around campus.

October 5, 2019

In Case You Missed it (v5)

Another jam-packed week of news, sports, weather, and veritable pastiche.

In case you missed anything, here's a recap.

Sunday School this week was all about Cory Booker, because he was the only 2020 Dem hitting a classroom. Most of the question he got had nothing to do with his campaign and everything to do with the current president, impeachment, the former vice president.. you know.  Here's an excerpt about ethics, and Trump.
Look, I have a lot of beliefs about ethics rules and the needs for our government of the United States to go far further in the rules than we have. But the fact that the Republicans right now are trying to use this and distract from the president of the United States and his own actions is to me incredible.
Need some Sunday School Extra Credit? Chris Wallace chatted with former Trump Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert, who also served as Deputy Homeland Security Advisor under Dubya. Among other things, he offered some insight into the method, or the madness, of Trump:
...I honestly believe this president has not gotten his pound of flesh yet from past grievances on the 2016 investigation. I believe he and his legal team have been looking into this, probably even prior to Joe Biden announcing that he would run for president.
Western New York was in the spotlight in a couple of posts; unfortunately, not in the best light. We had news from the Update Desk on the sad tale of Rep. Chris Collins, the first member of Congress to support the president.
A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her office received Collins' resignation letter Monday. The aide said Collins' resignation will become effective Tuesday.
Why did  he resign, you ask? So he could plead guilty to charges in his insider trading case, of course.

The second post was a Quick Take on multiple investigations looking into how things are being done at the WNY Off Track Betting (OTB) office. Not on the gambling end, but on how the Board does business, and who benefits.
New York has a history of good intentions gone bad, and sadly we seem to excel when it comes to situations where public corporations, boards, and authorities are given freedom to do their own thing - because that almost always ends up with politically connected companies and people receiving benefits they are probably not entitled to, or that are way beyond what's reasonable for the work done, and that regular folks have no way to access
In this Poll Watch entry, we learned that, no matter what he tells us, the president is underwater not only on his personal likeability, but also on his policies. He must be reading different polls?

The other takeaway from this question?  Approval of his policies is underwater by 10 points (54% don't approve, 44% do). And, this will pain Trump I'm sure, but his predecessors - Obama (64%), Bush II (57%), Clinton (55%) Bush I (78%), and Reagan (66%) were all better liked than he is. Data on Abraham Lincoln is not immediately available.
And in a Sidebar on the same poll, the news wasn't all that great for the Democrats' policies, either.  None of their big ideas have strong support from a majority of voters, and they're struggling with Democratic voters, too.
Only a handful of the issues - DREAMers, the Medicare opt-in, student loan forgiveness tied to a repayment plan, and tuition-free college - have strong support from a majority of Dems; all the rest of the issues fall below 50% on the strength of support.
In the blink of an eye,  it was Hump Day, and time for some Wondering about Joe Biden's campaign acting badly, and Mike Pompeo's chest-thumping to protect his employees, even as the president maligns them, and about Hillary Clinton, too, and whether she understands her role these days.
 I get it - she couldn't have known that there was going to be an impeachment inquiry starting just days before she and Chelsea hit the road, but she has to know that we're in the middle of a Democratic Primary, and that we don't need her to be on the stage talking about why she lost, or policy, or Trump, or impeachment, or about anything other than Gutsy Women.
The Update Desk was busy this week; in addition to the Collins post, we got caught up with the Democratic candidates via my ongoing social experiment. In addition to counting the emails and the requests for money, I've added a new feature to this: the email of the week, which this time around was sent by Be to O'Rourke's team. Here's a snippet.
Maybe I could do a Facebook live stream with a kitten in hand and say, “You know, we wouldn’t want anything to happen to this kitten now would we… Send your $5 now and Miss Whiskers will be fine.”
To be clear, we’re not planning on harming any kittens. But we do need your help...
Someone should get Miss Whiskers a Twitter account, don't you think?

And finally, blissfully, TGIF. Among other things, we heard from the candidates on their fundraising efforts for the 3rd quarter.
Third-quarter fundraising totals are out for the Democratic candidates. Here's how it look, according to the campaigns: Sanders ($25.3M), Warren ($24.6M), Buttigieg ($19.1M), Biden ($15.2M), Harris ($11.6M), Yang ($10M) and Booker ($6M). Big losers? Biden, down $6.8M and Buttigieg, down $5.8M compared to last quarter's official FEC filings. Time to thin the herd, I think?
That's it -- a busy week for sure. I still owe you some poetry, an Albany update, and more. Let's see if I can fit everything in next week!

October 4, 2019

TGIF 10/4/19

Good week? Bad week?  Why does it seem it's all one and the same?

Don't believe me? I have concrete evidence, things I've seen with my own two eyes on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or the Google.

Or heard first hand through my radio. Or saw on the news. Or watched unfold live.

Essentially, like a good whistleblower, I can check both of the boxes on the form, where the rules have not changed: "I have direct personal knowledge" and "I heard it from others."

So, you tell me: is this indicative of a good week, or a bad week?
  • The folks at Merriam-Webster offered to had to help us with simple definitions: impeachment, treason, bribery, perjury, and maladministration - which is a great word, and fitting. 
  • The president went before the press and asked China to interfere in our election. 

  • Third-quarter fundraising totals are out for the Democratic candidates. Here's how it look, according to the campaigns: Sanders ($25.3M), Warren ($24.6M), Buttigieg ($19.1M), Biden ($15.2M), Harris ($11.6M), Yang ($10M) and Booker ($6M). Big losers? Biden, down $6.8M and Buttigieg, down $5.8M compared to last quarter's official FEC filings. Time to thin the herd, I think?  
  • And, this happened: a journalist was made to 'confess' that he writes propaganda by a CBP agent at Dulles International Airport. If true, it follows a long string of similar harassment of reporters by CBP officials. The whole 'enemy of the people thing', I guess.
  • A House Intelligence Committee staffer received outreach from the whistleblower looking for guidance on how to file a complaint. As was completely appropriate, the staffer advised the person to contact the Inspector General and to obtain legal counsel - and then the staffer told Committee Chair Adam Schiff that what had transpired. So then Adam Schiff goes on multiple talk shows and obfuscates and avoids and yes, lies, unless you can't tell whether when he used the word 'we' he was using the editorial we, as all politicians do, or if he was speaking specifically about the Committee as a whole. We (and by that I mean you and me and everyone else) still doesn't know the answer to that. And so Schiff, one of the leaders of the impeachment effort, earns four pinocchios from the WaPo fact checkers.  
And if you're experiencing some kind of 'gang that couldn't shoot straight' flashback, we're with you. Or, at least, I am.

Woe is we.

TGIF, everyone.

October 3, 2019

The Update Desk: Who Loves Me, Baby (5)

This is the fifth update on my social experiment with the top ten 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and how they communicate with prospective supporters. (You can read the original post that started all of this silliness here, and prior updates here, here, here and here.)

And, if you do read the prior posts, or if you remember where we left off last week, you can tell that we've kind of hit a rut. Actually, not just a rut - a pit. A money pit, like the one you get when you buy a hose.  A giant, sucking money pit, that steals all of the conversation that could be happening around policy and what differentiates the candidates from each other, and instead forces them to talk only about money.

My money. My zip code's money. My state's money. The universe's money. All the money ever invented, and even money not yet invented. OK, I made those last ones up, but it felt like that's what was being requested.

Now, this was not unexpected - Monday was September 30th, the last day of Q3 fundraising, so the push was on, right up until 11:22 PM, which is when I received the last email of the quarter, from Joe Biden's campaign.  Beto O'Rourke gave up first, sending his last Q3 email to me at 7:17PM.

Speaking of Biden, I'm not sure whether he's running for president anymore, or building a legal defense fund. I say that at least half in jest but the tone of his emails since the noise about his son Hunter's lack of qualifications for pretty much everything started hitting the fan have been all about Trump attacking his family, and how he needs to fight back. Here's a sampling.
We’ll be honest: Joe won’t have as much cash as Trump when the fundraising deadline hits. But we’d love to tell Joe that his team rallied to his side after Trump's baseless attacks. It’d mean a lot. (Note: I received this wording at least three times)
We still need $190,000 before Monday’s end-of-quarter deadline to elect Joe Biden and fight back against (Trump's) lies. If we fall short, the consequences could be dire. 
Please, can we count on your help? Chip in now to defend Joe Biden.I think you get the drift here. We are not 'rallying to Joe's side' - he can start a GoFundMe page for that. We're trying to find someone to be president, for heaven's sake. Do better, Joe - do better.

To make life easier for me, I changed the counting methodology just a bit. The first few weeks, I tracked emails by subject, including general emails, and separately categorized how many direct requests for money were received. So, that made me categorize most emails twice. Going forward, an email that is primarily an ask for money is now counted as just that. General emails are those which discuss something in depth other than just "I need your cash."  Nothing nefarious here, just a bookkeeping change.

Here's this week's tally:
  • 194 emails received, 35 more than last week;
  • 171 (87.6%) were primarily requests for donations, compared to 82% last week;
  • 21 emails were in the general category, focusing on things like surveys, new advertisements, new merchandise, what they've been doing on the campaign, and whatnot; and 
  • 2 emails were directly related to the October 15th debate, mostly about making sure the candidate made the stage. 

Who asked for money the most? Elizabeth Warren; 96% of her emails were about money. Amy Klobuchar (92.8%), and Kamala Harris and Biden (92.3% each) also were in the top echelon. At the bottom of the pack was Cory Booker, with 72.2% direct requests for money. This is interesting; you might recall, he went public that if he didn't meet his fundraising goal, he'd get out of the race. Having exceeded the goal, Booker plans on being around for at least a while longer.

A couple of emails did touch on issues -- trying to solve childhood poverty was one, from Booker, and there were some references to the NRA and gun control, but nothing on the other big issues such as climate change or immigration.

Kamala Harris hit out at the potential for a Biden Super PAC, and at Tom Steyer for buying $12M in advertising, and she hit at Rudy Giuliani a couple of times, too, showing little fear in her goal to raise money.

Finally, to our email of the week, there was this one from Beto O'Rourke, with the subject line 'Miss Whiskers' - take a look.
Campaigns are really upping the ante when it comes to fundraising for the FEC deadline. Two candidates said this week they would drop out if they don’t meet their goals. Now, we’re not going to do that. But, I am starting to run out of ways to show how important this deadline is.
Maybe I could do a Facebook live stream with a kitten in hand and say, “You know, we wouldn’t want anything to happen to this kitten now would we… Send your $5 now and Miss Whiskers will be fine.”
To be clear, we’re not planning on harming any kittens. But we do need your help...
They're going to have to up their game to top that one next week.