Editor's note: Lots of interesting stuff here and I think the entire statement is worth reading but I'm not sure I see the "smoking gun" that will turn Trump supporters away from supporting the President. I mean, they don't care that he has sex with porn stars and cheats on his wife (or they pretend to think he's innocent of such things because they believe him to be a "Christian," which he is not), they don't care how much he's actually worth (or not), they don't care about his taxes, they don't care about Hilary Clinton (unless they're bashing her). They only care that Trump isn't a Democrat. If the Cohen statement said something like, "I actually have proof Trump is a secret Democrat and has been working in collusion with the Dems to pass a Green New Deal," well - then they'd turn on him! Aside from that, I fear this is all going to revert to business as usual...
 
Cohen's opening statement to Congress: 
"Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today.
I have asked this Committee to ensure that my family be protected from Presidential threats, and that the Committee be sensitive to the questions pertaining to ongoing investigations. Thank you for your help and for your understanding.
 
 
I am here under oath to correct the record, to answer the Committee's questions truthfully, and to offer the American people what I know about President Trump.
I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility. It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.
Never in a million years did I imagine, when I accepted a job in 2007 to work for Donald Trump, that he would one day run for President, launch a
campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance, and actually win. I regret the day I said "yes" to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way.
I am ashamed of my own failings, and I publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the Southern District of New York.
I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty -- of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him.
I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump's illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.
I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.
He is a racist.
He is a conman.
He is a cheat.
He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.
I will explain each in a few moments.
I am providing the Committee today with several documents. These include:
  • A copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account -- after he became president - to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign;
  • Copies of financial statements for 2011 -- 2013 that he gave to such institutions as Deutsche Bank;
  • A copy of an article with Mr. Trump's handwriting on it that reported on the auction of a portrait of himself -- he arranged for the bidder ahead of time and then reimbursed the bidder from the account of his non-profit charitable foundation, with the picture now hanging in one of his country clubs; and
  • Copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump's direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores.
I hope my appearance here today, my guilty plea, and my work with law enforcement agencies are steps along a path of redemption that will restore faith in me and help this country understand our president better.
***
Before going further, I want to apologize to each of you and to Congress as a whole.
The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump.
Today, I'm here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.
I lied to Congress about when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false -- our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign.
Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That's not how he operates.
In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell
me there's no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.
There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me "How's it going in Russia?" -- referring to the Moscow Tower project.
You need to know that Mr. Trump's personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.
To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.
And so I lied about it, too -- because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie. And he made it
clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.
****
Over the past two years, I have been smeared as "a rat" by the President of the United States. The truth is much different, and let me take a brief moment to introduce myself.
My name is Michael Dean Cohen.
I am a blessed husband of 24 years and a father to an incredible daughter and son. When I married my wife, I promised her that I would love her, cherish her, and protect her. As my father said countless times throughout my childhood, "you my wife, and you my children, are the air that I breathe." To my Laura, my Sami, and my Jake, there is nothing I wouldn't do to protect you.
I have always tried to live a life of loyalty, friendship, generosity, and compassion -- qualities my parents ingrained in my siblings and me since childhood. My father survived the Holocaust thanks to the compassion and selfless acts of others. He was helped by many who put themselves in harm's way to do what they knew was right.
That is why my first instinct has always been to help those in need. Mom and Dad...I am sorry that I let you down.
As many people that know me best would say, I am the person they would call at 3AM if they needed help. I proudly remember being the emergency contact for many of my children's friends when they were growing up because their parents knew that I would drop everything and care for them as if they were my own.
Yet, last fall I pled guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with Individual #1.
For the record: Individual #1 is President Donald J. Trump.
It is painful to admit that I was motivated by ambition at times. It is even more painful to admit that many times I ignored my conscience and acted loyal to a man when I should not have. Sitting here today, it seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong.
For that reason, I have come here to apologize to my family, to the government, and to the American people.
***
Accordingly, let me now tell you about Mr. Trump.
I got to know him very well, working very closely with him for more than 10 years, as his Executive Vice President and Special Counsel and then personal attorney when he became President. When I first met Mr. Trump, he was a successful entrepreneur, a real estate giant, and an icon. Being around Mr. Trump was intoxicating. When you were in his presence, you felt like you were involved in something greater than yourself -- that you were somehow changing the world.
I wound up touting the Trump narrative for over a decade. That was my job. Always stay on message. Always defend. It monopolized my life. At first, I worked mostly on real estate developments and other business transactions. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump brought me into his personal life and private dealings. Over time, I saw his true character revealed.
Mr. Trump is an enigma. He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.
Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation -- only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the "greatest infomercial in political history."
He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign -- for him -- was always a marketing opportunity.
I knew early on in my work for Mr. Trump that he would direct me to lie to further his business interests. I am ashamed to say, that when it was for a real estate mogul in the private sector, I considered it trivial. As the President, I consider it significant and dangerous.
But in the mix, lying for Mr. Trump was normalized, and no one around him questioned it. In fairness, no one around him today questions it, either.
A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes.
As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails.
In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump's office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr.
Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of "wouldn't that be great."
Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries "shitholes."
In private, he is even worse.
He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn't a "shithole." This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.
While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.
And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.
And yet I continued to work for him.
Mr. Trump is a cheat.
As previously stated, I'm giving the Committee today three years of President Trump's financial statements, from 2011-2013, which he gave to Deutsche Bank to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to Forbes. These are Exhibits 1a1b, and 1c to my testimony.
It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.
I am sharing with you two newspaper articles, side by side, that are examples of Mr. Trump inflating and deflating his assets, as I said, to suit his financial interests. These are Exhibit 2 to my testimony.
As I noted, I'm giving the Committee today an article he wrote on, and sent me, that reported on an auction of a portrait of Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 3A to my testimony.
Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself. Please see Exhibit 3B to my testimony.
And it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that Mr. Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it.
And yet, I continued to work for him.
Mr. Trump is a conman.
He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly -- and she did not deserve that.
I am giving the Committee today a copy of the $130,000 wire transfer from me to Ms. Clifford's attorney during the closing days of the presidential campaign that was demanded by Ms. Clifford to maintain her silence about her affair with Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 4 to my testimony.
Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. I did that, too -- without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how it would impact me, my family, or the public.
I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later.
As Exhibit 5 to my testimony shows, I am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank
account on August 1, 2017 -- when he was President of the United States -- pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea, to reimburse me -- the word used by Mr. Trump's TV lawyer -- for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf. This $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year -- while he was President.
The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. You can find the details of that scheme, directed by Mr. Trump, in the pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
So picture this scene -- in February 2017, one month into his presidency, I'm visiting President Trump in the Oval Office for the first time. It's truly awe-inspiring, he's showing me around and pointing to different paintings, and he says to me something to the effect of...Don't worry, Michael, your January and February reimbursement checks are coming. They were Fed-Exed from New York and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system. As he promised, I received the first check for the reimbursement of $70,000 not long thereafter.
When I say conman, I'm talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores.
As I mentioned, I'm giving the Committee today copies of a letter I sent at Mr. Trump's direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if Mr. Trump's grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without his permission. These are Exhibit 6.
The irony wasn't lost on me at the time that Mr. Trump in 2011 had strongly criticized President Obama for not releasing his grades. As you can see in Exhibit 7, Mr. Trump declared "Let him show his records" after calling President Obama "a terrible student."
The sad fact is that I never heard Mr. Trump say anything in private that led me to believe he loved our nation or wanted to make it better. In fact, he did the opposite.
When telling me in 2008 that he was cutting employees' salaries in half -- including mine -- he showed me what he claimed was a $10 million IRS tax refund, and he said that he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving "someone like him" that much money back.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump said he did not consider Vietnam Veteran, and Prisoner of War, Senator John McCain to be "a hero" because he likes people who weren't captured. At the same time, Mr. Trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft.
Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery. He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment.
He finished the conversation with the following comment. "You think I'm stupid, I wasn't going to Vietnam."
I find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now.
And yet, I continued to work for him.
***
Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.
Sometime in the summer of 2017, I read all over the media that there had been a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 involving Don Jr. and others from the campaign with Russians, including a representative of the Russian government, and an email setting up the meeting with the subject line, "Dirt on Hillary Clinton." Something clicked in my mind. I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father's desk -- which in itself was unusual. People didn't just walk behind Mr. Trump's desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: "The meeting is all set." I remember Mr. Trump saying, "Ok good...let me know."
What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange between Don Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone -- and certainly not without checking with his father.
I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump's knowledge and approval. So, I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on
Hillary with the Russian representative when he walked behind his dad's desk that day -- and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about when he said, "That's good...let me know."
***
Over the past year or so, I have done some real soul searching. I see now that my ambition and the intoxication of Trump power had much to do with the bad decisions I made.
To you, Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, the other members of this Committee, and the other members of the House and Senate, I am sorry for my lies and for lying to Congress.
To our nation, I am sorry for actively working to hide from you the truth about Mr. Trump when you needed it most.
For those who question my motives for being here today, I understand. I have lied, but I am not a liar. I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man. I have fixed things, but I am no longer your "fixer," Mr. Trump.
I am going to prison and have shattered the safety and security that I tried so hard to provide for my family. My testimony certainly does not diminish
the pain I caused my family and friends -- nothing can do that. And I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump.
And, by coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal, scurrilous attacks by the President and his lawyer -- trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel. Mr. Trump called me a "rat" for choosing to tell the truth -- much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government.
As Exhibit 8 shows, I have provided the Committee with copies of Tweets that Mr. Trump posted, attacking me and my family -- only someone burying his head in the sand would not recognize them for what they are: encouragement to someone to do harm to me and my family.
I never imagined that he would engage in vicious, false attacks on my family -- and unleash his TV-lawyer to do the same. I hope this committee and all members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will make it clear: As a nation, we should not tolerate attempts to intimidate witnesses before congress and attacks on family are out of bounds and not acceptable.
I wish to especially thank Speaker Pelosi for her statements in Exhibit 9 to protect this institution and me, and the Chairman of the House Permanent
Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff and Chairman Cummings for likewise defending this institution and my family against the attacks by Mr. Trump, and also the many Republicans who have admonished the President as well.
I am not a perfect man. I have done things I am not proud of, and I will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life.
But today, I get to decide the example I set for my children and how I attempt to change how history will remember me. I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today.
Thank you for your attention. I am happy to answer the Committee's questions."
Published in U.S.

President Trump has signed a spending bill to avert another government shutdown. House Democrats agreed to some provisional border security money (to build 55 miles of new fencing) but did not fund The Wall the President wanted.

Anyway, the President signed the bill, passed by both House and Senate and that, as they say - is that.

Only … the President didn’t get his wall. Which is a problem for him and so, Friday afternoon, he declared the border a “national emergency” and will fund the wall via executive privilege. It doesn't seem to matter that, via any legitimate newsite and paper, you will find evidence to suggest that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans (which Trumps own administration admits).  

That being said, there is a very real opioid crisis in the country. And the drugs are coming from somewhere. Of course, every intelligence agency worth its weight in salt will tell you that the drugs are coming into the country via mules and carriers in legal ports of entry.

It also doesn’t matter that border security personal, custom personal and leadership involved with both groups want “more technology and additional personnel.” That’s it. That’s what they want. Notice how there was no mention of a wall.

But that’s okay. Because this is a known phenomenon called, “Security Theater.”  Security Theater is very specifically designed to create the illusion of offering security, even though everyone involved knows Security Theater does not actually make anything safer, it just makes the average person feel safer. And as long as folks feel safer, they come out and spend money.

The above linked Security Theater video is all about the TSA and how ineffective it is, but the same general principles apply to the border wall. A wall will not actually make the country safer, it will; however, make you feel safer. The border wall is the exact definition of Security Theater.

And by the way, wasn’t Mexico supposed to pay for it?

 

The Great Wall of Trump: A timeline of “who is paying.”   

 

June 2015: Trump will “build a great wall” says, ”Mexico will pay for it.”

Aug 2015: Trump says “the wall will be 30-50 ft. high,” Mexico will pay.

Dec 2015: "I'll tell you what it's going to be made of. It's going to be made of hardened concrete, and it's going to be made out of rebar and steel."  Mexico will pay.

Jan 2017: Donald Trump takes over office of the Presidency. The Wall does not seem to be any kind of priority.

Jan 2017: Inexplicably, U.S. “might” have to pay.

Later Jan, 2017: Mexico is paying (again).

Even later Jan 2017: Mexico says it is NOT paying for wall

Even later than that, Jan 2017: Trump says Mexico is paying.

Even later than that, Jan 2017: Mexico says, “No, we are NOT paying for the wall.”

March 2017: Pence says, “Mexico will pay.”

March 2017: Mexico says, “Nope, wrong again. We will not pay for the wall.”

March 2017: Republicans say, “Mexican drug cartels will pay for the wall.”

Later March 2017: Mexican cartels don’t bother responding (but probably, laugh).  

Even later March: U.S. is paying but it "won't be that expensive." 

June 2017: Wall is now a “solar powered wall” that will “pay for itself.”

July 2017: Wall is no longer a solar powered wall that will pay for itself. Wall is now a “steel wall with openings” allowing border security to see when “drug dealers throw drugs over the wall.” Wall price skyrockets. U.S. is paying. 

Jan 2018: Wall is now a “fence with windows.” U.S. is still paying. 

March 2018: Wall is concrete (again) with no openings. Wall price skyrockets. U.S. is still paying but again, wall doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Nov 2018: Two days before the election, Trump warns if you don’t vote Republican the U.S. will be overrun with Mexican invaders.

Nov 2018: Election day. Democrats to retake control of Congress.

Dec 2018: Wall is now a “steel slat barrier.” U.S. - still paying. It’s now a priority. Many begin to report that Russian steel will be involved in building the wall. Russian steel belonging to a Trump/Kushner family friend.

Later Dec: Wall is mostly concrete (again) with some steel areas that will have openings. It’s a priority.

Jan 2019: Democrats take control of Congress.

Later Jan 2019: The wall is coming! (Trump tweets.) US - still paying. Wall price skyrockets. It might even be a national emergency! Will probably use Russian steel.

Feb 2019: Trump declares National Emergency to fund Wall. U.S. taxpayers will pay for it all. It might be concrete, it might use Russian steel. Maybe both.  

Published in U.S.

There will be a temporary deal to open parts of the government for a few weeks, mainly for critical issues. Of course, there will be no wall. Which is fine. Walls are medieval and not terribly effective, but whatever. There will be; however, additional money to increase the current level of fencing and assist with said fence repair costs (about $1 billion). There will also be some back pay available to specific workers (but as far as I can tell - as of yet, it’s unnamed as to which workers will receive back pay and which will not). And, I guess, finally there will be a State of the Union.

And it’s this last point that makes me go, “Hrmmmmm.” (Just like in the old Arsenio days). A few days ago when the President announced he won’t have a State of the Union until after the shutdown ends. BUT it is also clear that Nancy Pelosi kind of .. uninvited him from delivering the State of the Union in the House chambers.

And then, Trump agreed to delay with this Tweet:

“As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative — I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the near future!”

Okay. This immediately made me wonder, “Wait. Is it actually her prerogative?” I mean, obviously, she does not, nor did she ever say she was denying the President to have a State of the Union - she is denying him use of House Chambers. Um, okay. But aside from that - so what? Can Nancy Pelosi deny him use of House chambers? Can the Speaker, actually do that? I’m honestly not sure. I read over lots of online sources today from CNN, to the NYT and Fox News and all of them keep mentioning “according to House Rules,” but none of them linked to any House Rules.

And then I found the House Rules. And now I know why no one linked to them, because it’s a nightmare 50+ pages of tightly fonted legalese. Ugh. It’s bloody painful to read. And confusing. Anyway. Let me dive into it.  

First, let’s check the Constitution and see what it says about a “State of the Union:”  

“The President shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.”

The key phrase seems to be my emphasized, “convene both Houses, or either of them.” Convene, as you may or may not know means, “come or bring together for a meeting or activity; assemble. Summon. Order.” In other words, the President may “summon/order” either or both houses to a State of the Union.

Seems clear.

Now, the reason that the State of the Union is in the House chamber is because, well - it’s large. And fitting. And so now we ask the question - can a Speaker of the House prevent a President from delivering a State of the Union in House chambers?  

As far as I’ve been able to determine the answer is very clearly - no. But the Speaker DOES have a lot of power over what can and can not happen on the floor of House chambers. You see, not just anyone can walk onto the House floor and have a speaking role. That privilege is restricted to the usual suspects one would assume - current members of Congress, House staffers, invited VIPs, dignitaries, ambassadors, delegates, etc. and, of course, the President / Vice President. Former members of Congress and former Presidents may also enter the House chamber and deliver speeches, if invited.  

So, the Speaker can’t prevent an acting President from entering House chambers BUT according to House Rules, and as much as I understand the 50 pages of legalese I just waded through, a Speaker is, in fact, in charge of several key House chamber factors including (but not limited to):

Use and Admittance. 1. The Hall of the House shall be used only for the legislative business of the House and for caucus and conference meetings of its Members, except when the House agrees to take part in any ceremonies to be observed therein.”

Okay, fair enough. So, it’s possible the Speaker can just decide  to not agree to take part in the State of the Union, and if the Speaker decides this, congress will not attend. And if congress does not attend,  then the chamber is technically not “in session,” and can not be used.

Does this supersede the Constitution’s statement that the President may “convene both houses?” Maybe. Maybe not. I guess it’s all debatable, but even if the President could order congress into session for the State of the Union, I did find a couple of picky (perhaps juvenile) things a Speaker could do to make the State of the Union, (if held in House chambers) a disaster. For example, according to House Rules:

BROADCASTING THE HOUSE. 1. The Speaker shall administer, direct, and control a system for closed circuit viewing of floor proceedings of the House in the offices of all Members, Delegates, the Resident Commissioner, and committees and in such other places in the Capitol and the House Office Buildings as the Speaker considers appropriate. Such system may include other communications functions as the Speaker considers appropriate. Any such communications shall be subject to rules and regulations issued by the Speaker.

  1. (a) The Speaker shall administer, direct, and control a system for complete and unedited audio and visual broadcasting and recording of the floor proceedings of the House. The Speaker shall provide for the distribution of such broadcasts and recordings to news media, for the storage of audio and video recordings of the proceedings, and for the closed-captioning of the proceedings for hearing-impaired persons.”

This all means the Speaker of the House could order all close circuit cameras turned off so the speech wouldn’t be broadcast to anyone in the building. AND the Speaker could order that no cameras or press would be allowed onto the floor (although, I believe that currently only C-SPAN is allowed on the House floor). So, sure, the President could still deliver the State of the Union, but the Speaker could make sure that no one ever heard it or recorded it. In fact, it sounds as if the Speaker could, literally, order the lights shut off. So the President would have to deliver the speech in the dark, to no one. And this all may be juvenile tactics but “juvenile tactics” seem to be the ways and means of politics in the last several years.

Anyway, I’ll leave it up to you to further dig through the House Rules for more information because that is some sucky reading, let me tell you (and I’m done with it).

Finally, and again, I am not suggesting that House Rules should always supersede the Constitution. I am only suggesting there does appear to be clear reasons why a Speaker of the House can make a State of the Union, at best - difficult, assuming the President decides to address the nation in House chambers.

A Speaker of the House, obviously, can not stop the President from delivering the address elsewhere, or to Congress or directly to CNN or Fox News or, in the probably case of our current President - on Twitter.

Imagine that. A SOTU address. On Twitter.

Published in U.S.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s previous attorney, has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple allegations stemming from Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller, as we all know by now, is special prosecutor looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election. President Trump isn’t too happy about the entire ordeal, claiming hundreds of times, that the investigation is a “witch hunt.”

Now, the term “witch hunt” amuses me. Especially, when applied to this particular investigation. The exact meaning of the phrase “witch hunt” comes from the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts between Feb 1692 and May 1693. Nineteen people, mostly women, were found guilty of “witchcraft” and executed by hanging. Obviously, none of them were witches - because witches don’t exist. But the religious lunatics in 1600 believed in them and hunted them, tortured them and murdered them. So in the 1600’s “witch hunt” we have to go hunt down some witches!

BUT NOW - hundreds of years later, we know that witches don’t exist. So the phrase “witch hunt” has evolved to mean that you are hunting for something that does not exist. So, when President Trump screams “witch hunt” all over Twitter, he is saying that there is no collusion evidence to be found, because he is innocent and that the entire Mueller investigation is hunting for something that does not exist. Hence, it’s a “witch hunt.”  

Which would be a fine argument - if it was remotely true.

To date, because of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian meddling and the conspiracy to protect the Russians, here are the people that have already pled guilty to a huge variety of federal crimes relating to the conspiracy /  lying to the FBI about the conspiracy / federal fraud about the and / or election financing charges in related to the conspiracy: 

  • George Papadopoulos: Member of Trump’s Presidential Election Campaign pled guilty to "willfully and knowingly "making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI in relation to the conspiracy.
  • Michael Flynn: Director of Trump’s Defense Intelligence Agency pled guilty to "willfully and knowingly "making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI in relation to the conspiracy.
  • Paul Manafort: Chairman of Trump’s Presidential Election Campaign found guilty on 8 counts of conspiracy in relation to the Russian conspiracy.  
  • Rick Gates: Top official in Trump’s Presidential Election Campaign pled guilty to "willfully and knowingly "making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI in relation to the conspiracy.
  • Richard Pinedo: The man who ran an online service called Auction Essistance, a company that would open bank accounts in his name and sell them online to specific purchasers. He sold accounts to Russians and helped them illegally move money around and do things like buy Facebook ads (for the Russians) to manipulation the election. He pled guilty to identity fraud in relation to the conspiracy.
  • Alex van der Zwaan: A Dutch attorney that had meetings with Rick Gates about the conspiracy - pled guilty to "willfully and knowingly "making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI in relation to the conspiracy.
  • Michael Cohen: President Trump’s former attorney. Pled guilty to multiple allegations about the conspiracy.   

And that’s just the people that have pled guilty! We’re not even yet counting the dozens of people who have been charged but have not yet had their time in court and / or pled out (yet). We’re also not talking about the other hundred (or more) people that are still under investigation!

So, President Trump is factually inaccurate when he calls the Russian meddling conspiracy a “witch hunt” because there is clearly a huge amount of evidence to suggest conspiracy. Up to and including the folks that have already pled guilty to the conspiracy. AND - the investigation is not over (far from it)!

Remember, a “witch hunt” - hunts for something that does not exist. Robert Mueller’s investigation has already produced enormous amounts of evidence that the Russians meddled in the 2016 Presidential Election. So, the Mueller investigation is clearly NOT a witch hunt. In fact, his investigation is pretty much the opposite of a witch hunt.

Mueller’s investigation is more like, ummm, how can I say it? Oh, I know! It’s more like an investigation into the fact that a hostile foreign government illegally interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election handing the election to Donald Trump and that the Trump family, the Trump campaign, Trump top aides, Trump top advisors and several other individuals all willing and knowingly went along with it and now are all lying to the FBI and trying to cover it up.

Which, is the exact definition of conspiracy.

Finally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Hillary Clinton but I voted for her, against Trump. I will say that Donald Trump sure was right about this one thing: He warned the American people, countless times on the campaign trail that if the people voted for Hillary they would end up with a President who was under federal indictment from day one.

Turns out - he was right! I voted for Hillary Clinton and I ended up with a President under federal indictment from day one!

 

But something about her emails, though. Right? *sigh*

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in U.S.
“When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal."

It’s unfair to Richard Nixon to be compared to Donald Trump. Nixon was ashamed of his behavior and proved it when a British game show host got the best of him in an interview that resulted in the incredibly incorrect statement Nixon uttered above. I’m not sure Trump is capable of feeling shame, but we can’t ignore how similarly the Trump Administration is unraveling like the Nixon Administration did as a result of Watergate.

The Trump/Nixon Differences

Nixon was more popular than Trump is or has been. Trump limped into the White House thanks to the Electoral College. He lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by two percent (48.18 percent to 46.09 percent). Nixon, however, won reelection in 1972 in one of the biggest landslides in American political history (60.67 percent to 37.52 percent). So these two Presidents started from vastly different measures of popularity.

After winning reelection, Nixon’s job approval rating according to Gallup was 50 percent. Trump entered his first term as President with a job approval rating of 45 percent, but his post-midterm job approval rating is just 38 percent—falling six percentage points in less than a month. That sudden drop is no doubt in response to Trump coercing the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s potential participation in Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Trump replaced Sessions with former ambulance chaser and potential defrauder of veterans, Matt Whitaker, Sessions’ former Chief of Staff, which is apparently legal, even though the order of succession at the Department of Justice doesn’t include the Chief of Staff on the list. The executive order Trump signed on March 31, 2017, doesn’t list the Chief of Staff as a potential successor either, but does state that “the President retains discretion, to the extent permitted by law, to depart from this order in designating an acting Attorney General,” which was the case when Barack Obama was President, too.  

Nixon’s job approval rating dropped eight points between Dec. 11, 1972, and Jan. 12, 1973, as a result of The Washington Post’s continued reporting on the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel that occurred June 13, 1971. But it wasn’t until Nixon’s Attorney General, Richard Kleindienst, resigned, along with top White House staffers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, on April 30, 1973, that Nixon’s job approval rating reflected his guilt.

Attorneys General can Smell Guilt

It’s generally not a good sign for Presidents when U.S. Attorneys General resign amid scandal, whether coerced to do so or not. Attorneys have a pretty good sense of people’s guilt and tend to be pretty good at covering their asses. Kleindienst wrote the playbook Sessions is simply following in an attempt to avoid the fate of John N. Mitchell, the Attorney General who ran Nixon’s 1968 and 1972 Presidential campaigns and was imprisoned for 19 months due to his involvement in the Watergate break-in and cover-up. And Trump is trying to improve upon the playbook Nixon wrote on covering up election fraud, but Trump is leaving his friends out to dry just as Nixon did.

Gordon Liddy, leader of the group of five men who broke into the DNC headquarters, told Attorney General Kleindienst that the break-in was directed and funded by the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), and that Kleindienst should arrange the release of the burglars to reduce the risk of exposing CREEP’s involvement in the break-in. But Kleindienst refused and ordered the Watergate burglary investigation to proceed like any other. He resigned April 30, 1973. Nixon's approval rating had dropped 19 points in roughly three months.

Just like Trump failed to ask Sessions if he would be willing to undermine Mueller’s investigation prior to appointing him Attorney General, Nixon failed to ask Kleindienst’s replacement, former Secretary of Defense Elliot Richardson, if he would do what Kleindienst wouldn’t and undermine the Watergate investigation. When ordered to fire the top lawyer investigating the Watergate scandal, Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, Richardson responded by resigning on Oct. 20, 1973—five months into his tenure as Attorney General. Like Sessions, Richardson had promised Congress he would not interfere with the special prosecutor’s investigation. At this point, Nixon's approval rating was 27 percent—down another 21 points since Kleindienst's resignation.

Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox, the original Mueller. He refused and also resigned. Nixon then ordered the third-most-senior official at the Justice Department, Solicitor General Robert Bork, to fire Cox. Bork considered resigning after firing Cox, but Richardson convinced him not to in order to ensure proper DOJ leadership. Bork served as acting Attorney General until Nixon appointed William B. Saxbe to the position on Jan, 4, 1974, his approval rating still hovering at 27 percent.

You could say Trump has avoided some of the mistakes Nixon made, but he’s still mired in scandal and using any opportunity afforded him as President to undermine Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s potential participation in Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election. The appointment of Whitaker is to Trump as Bork was to Nixon; Whitaker just hasn’t fired Mueller yet, and might not have to if his idea to slow the investigation to a halt by cutting its funding works.

Sessions smelled guilt on Trump when he recused himself from the Mueller Investigation. That was Sessions covering his ass, and that odor has only worsened as Mueller’s investigation has resulted in indictments or guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies...so far. Some suspect a big announcement coming from Mueller, as eight members of his team worked Veteran’s Day—a paid day off for federal employees.

Barring White House Reporters a Tell-Tale Sign of Guilt

On Wednesday, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House press pass was suspended indefinitely. Acosta asked Trump whether he thought his calling a migrant caravan in South America an “invasion” demonized immigrants. The President answered “no,” adding that he wanted the immigrants to come to this country but do so legally, and that Acosta’s definition of invasion differed from his. Trump then went on to tell Acosta that he should focus on running CNN and let him run the country, and if he did, their ratings would be much better.

Trump attempted to take a question from NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander, but Acosta withheld the microphone from a White House intern and asked if Trump was concerned about the Russia investigation, to which Trump responded by calling it a “hoax” and told Acosta to “put down the mic,” stepping away from the podium when Acosta asked if he was worried about indictments. Acosta yielded control of the microphone to the intern, and Trump told Acosta that “CNN should be ashamed” to have him working for them, calling him “a rude, terrible person.”

Alexander defended his fellow free-press member: "In Jim's defense, I've traveled with him and watched him, he's a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us.” Trump responded by saying, “Well I'm not a big fan of yours either.” Trump continued to insult reporters during the press conference, calling a question from PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor “racist.” She asked if Trump thought calling himself a nationalist emboldened white nationalists. Trump also told April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks to “sit down” repeatedly.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is now being accused of circulating a doctored video of Acosta’s interaction with the White House intern. Sanders originally cited Acosta “placing his hands on” the woman as reason for his barring, but in defense of a lawsuit brought by CNN, the White House is now citing Acosta’s “disruptions” as reason for the suspension of his press pass.

If these aren’t the nervous actions of a guilty man’s administration, I don’t know what is. Nixon barred Washington Post reporters from the White House for everything but press conferences on Dec. 11, 1972. This was long after he sued The New York Times for publishing stories citing the leaked “Pentagon Papers,” a classified study of the Vietnam War that revealed the Nixon Administration had escalated the war despite knowing it couldn’t win the war. The Post came to The Times’ defense and published stories from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 18, 1971...just like NBC News and even Fox News is coming to the defense of Acosta and CNN today.

It took a year and a half for The Post to wear out its welcome at the White House with its Watergate coverage. Mueller’s investigation has been ongoing for a year and a half.   

How Long Until the End of Trump?

Democrats will have the votes to impeach Trump in the House of Representatives when the new Congress is convened on Jan. 3. House Democrats already introduced five articles of impeachment in November 2017, and only need a majority vote on one to force a Senate trial overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts. Impeachment doesn’t mean Trump is removed from office, however.

Nixon’s Senate trial lasted two months, and it was a full two years between the Watergate break-in and his resulting resignation, so if Trump’s timeline is as similar as it has been thus far, if he’s to be removed or if he’s to resign from office, it’s likely to happen sooner rather than later, but unlikely to happen at all. In fact, Congressional Democrats and Democratic Presidential candidates would likely prefer to run against a Trump White House rather than a Mike Pence White House, who is beloved by the Koch Brothers.

It’s not likely that Congress will remove Trump because two-thirds of Senators would have to find the President guilty in order for Vice President Pence to take over. Unless Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2020 (there are at least 20) feel they’d be better served running under a Pence Presidency than the Trump Administration, don’t expect Congress to remove the President. But Congress didn’t need to vote for Nixon to resign, and similar pressure on Trump—like criminal charges brought by Mueller—might bring similar results.

The more Mueller digs, the more he seems to be digging Trump’s political grave, so don’t be surprised if come February or March of 2019, Trump is doing what Nixon did on Aug. 9, 1974—resigning. But if there’s any shame to be pried from Trump’s soul to give us what we all need to heal as a nation, it’s going to require one hell of a game show host.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show

Published in Politics

With a crucial midterm election on the way, early voter turnout is breaking all sorts of records here in the US. Multiple sources are reporting that, as of Wednesday Oct. 31st, the early votes had exceeded 24 million. By comparison, the 2014 midterms had approximately 13 million early votes.

 

According to this NBC News report, it looks as if the early votes are fairly evenly split - 43 percent going Republican and 41 percent going Democrat, which is almost identical to the 2014 numbers. But remember, early voting doesn’t show exactly which candidate has been voted for, only how many voters have cast ballots and what their party affiliation is. So it’s reasonable to assume that if you’ve registered as a Democrat then you’re probably going to vote for the Democratic candidate. But technically we don’t know for sure. Vice versa with Republican early ballots.

 

Lots of folks seem to be stumping for their political allies. Which is fine. President Trump is on a whirlwind tour of something like 15 states pushing for conservative candidates. Former President Obama is stumping for Dems all over the country. Oprah Winfrey’s pro voting / pro Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) was apparently so good that even Fox News panelists raved about it. I haven’t heard the speech but I’ve read multiple quotes, including this awesome gem:

 

“For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote and you are choosing not to vote wherever you are in this state, in this country, you are dishonoring your family,” Winfrey said.

 

Yeah. I agree.

 

Even Taylor Swift got into the action when, for the first time ever, she used her social media platform urging her fans to register to vote and vote. She spoke out heavily in favor of, and has already cast her early votes for her hometown candidates Phil Bresden (Senate) and Jim Cooper (House), both Democratic candidates. Her fans listened too and she got 65,000 people to register within 24 hours of posting her “go vote” Instagram. If Tennessee miraculously turns blue, Taylor Swift is probably single handedly responsible.

 

So, just where can you vote early, anyway? Well, all voters have at least one location where you can vote early with an absentee ballot and those locations vary, depending on where you live. You can check out Vote.org’s very own “Find your early vote” calendar here.

 

Election day is Tuesday, November 6th.

 

Published in Politics

Kanye West is no stranger to controversy. His music talent assures him hall of fame status as a hip hop artist. His marriage to Kim Kardashian is a thing of pop culture legend. And boy does he like to spread his opinion. And his opinions are … well ...

 

You see - Kanye West loves Donald Trump. His wife does not but whatever. There it is. But now, some of you are saying - “Why is this controversial? Thirty million white people adore Donald Trump.” There being, the rub. Kanye West is a black man who grew up in Atlanta and Chicago with a middle class family. Now he’s a filthy rich hip hop artist. So, obviously - there aren’t too many black hip hop artists that are pro Trump. Why is that? Because many can make the strong case that the modern Republican party doesn’t give a rats ass about people of color. Which is why the crushing, overwhelming majority of black Americans vote against the Republican party and voted against Trump.

 

Now, Kanye West, rightfully so, responds, “Whatever. No one tells me what politician I can or can not support.” And he’s right. Of course, he is also the famous musician who stood up in front of millions of viewers and said, “George Bush doesn't care about black people” during a live fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina. And he was right then too.

 

Which belabors the question why Kanye West thinks that George Bush doesn't care about black people but Donald Trump does. Jimmy Kimmel asked him this very question and West’s silence spoke volumes (Kimmel had to cut to commercial due to the silence). When Kimmel came back from commercial, West never bothers to respond and moves on to other topics. About three weeks later at a Chicago radio station West was asked the same question and came up with this:

 

“I feel that he (Trump) cares about the way black people feel about him. He would like for black people to like him like they did when he was cool in the rap songs and all this, and he will do the things that are necessary to make that happen because he’s got an ego like all the rest of us. He wants to be the greatest president and he knows that he can’t be the greatest president without the acceptance of the black community so that’s something he’s going to work towards.  

 

Um, okay. So Kanye's answer is - Trump doesn’t really care about black people except for their value as a prop to help him gain more power. Well, um, yeah, I agree with you Kanye! Trump doesn’t give a rats ass about black folks except how he can exploit that relationship for personal gain. Which means he doesn’t care about black people!  

 

Does West know this? Is Kanye trolling the world? Is this all a marketing scam to remain in the public eye? I mean, as long as he kicks the hornet's nest he sells more records?  Or something?

 

Maybe. But his love for Trump does seem sincere.

 

But that’s not all. A few months ago he said this about slavery to the folks at TMZ,  “you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 hundred years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years with all ya’ll? (Kanye laughs at this point).”  

 

Now, I don’t care how much of a “free thinker” you claim to be, laughing that slavery was a choice is just butt ass stupid. Thankfully, the entire internet beat him up until he backtracked the comment.

 

And then, just last week he stepped in it again and tweeted a picture of himself wearing a MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat and wrote:

 

“This represents good and American becoming whole again. We will no longer outsource to other countries. We build factories here in America and create jobs. We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love”  

 

Ugh. So much to unpack.

 

First of all “America becoming whole again.” This is a fine idea. And all good folk should want this. Better said than done, but still.

 

“We will no longer outsource to other countries. We will build factories here in America and create jobs” This is a fine idea but Kayne West is as fucking nieve as a tiny baby if he thinks his buddy Donald Trump will build American factories.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I know that Donald Trumps has said over and over that he will bring factories back to the U.S. and nieve folks all across America screamed, “Trump, Trump, Trump!” It was a main platform for Trump in the campaign. MAGA = bring American jobs back!

 

But guess what?  

 

Didn’t happen. Won’t happen. Not with Trump in charge.

 

The vast majority of Trump products are currently manufactured overseas in China, Bangladesh, Canada, Honduras, Germany, Taiwan, Mexico, Slovenia, South Korea and Vietnam. But mainly, in China.

 

Here is Jimmy Kimmel ordering a bunch of product from Trump.com and having a hard time finding anything made in the U.S.  But he did find some illegal product that violated U.S. import laws. So, at least there’s that.

 

In fact, back in July, Trump hosted a White House event to promote American made products and, as you can imagine - the vast majority of Trump products could not be featured at his own event that he hosted to promote goods manufactured in the country where he’s the president.

 

How bullshit is that?  

 

And you will still find millions of Trump supporting jobless factory workers from small towns all over the U.S. who have been financially devastated when a big corporation closed down the only manufacturing plant in town and moved it overseas to pay workers in Bangladesh ten cents per hour. These are the very same people that chant, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” about Hillary because of - I don’t know, something about her emails.

 

So, to be clear. If you approve of Trump because you think he’s the president that, as Kanye tweets, will, “Build factories here in the U.S. and create jobs” you’re only fooling yourself.

 

And finally we get to the last part of West’s tweet, “We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love.”

 

Abolish the 13th amendment? The, um, amendment that … you know - abolished slavery? West wants to get rid of that? WTF?

 

Well, as you can imagine - the internet went bonkers. Here is a rich, black man writing to abolish the amendment that got rid of slavery. Well, that kind of sounds like something a white, nationalist Nazi would write. You know?

 

Of course, West immediately corrected himself saying he “misspoke” and that he wants to “amend” not abolish the 13th amendment. Well, fair enough. This makes a bit more sense. His beef with the 13th amendment is with the “unless you are in prison” portion.

 

As you may or may not know the 13the amendment specifically says,

 

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

 

I added the bold, italic as emphiss. To clear up what he meant by the 13th amendment West later tweeted, “In order to make a freed man a slave all you have to do is convict them of a crime.” This, I feel, is a fair point. Kevin Dickinson writing for bigthink.com kind of agrees too in his very nice piece, Kayne West’s 13th amendment outburst was baffling, but worth considering.

 

A few points he brings up:

 

“Arizona's Tent City prison was infamous for its inhumane conditions. It was overcrowded, prisoners remained outdoors at all times in the Arizona heat, and many were forced to work in chain gangs for no compensation. Although closed last year, Tent City remained operational for more than two decades...”

 

He also talks about how enormous amounts of unreported rape happen behind bars and posits that this could be considered a form of sexual slavery especially if the prison guards know about it and don’t do anything to interfere. Well, the 8th amendment provides protection against cruel and unusual punishment. So, maybe it should all tie together and the 13th amendment could be revised slightly to end for profit prison slaves. Agree with it or not, it’s a fair point.

 

Of course, West doesn’t suggest out “how” the 13th amendment should be amended only that it should be. Which is fine. There are lawyers for that. But still I mean, that’s the whole point of the Constitution having amendments - so that it can evolve over time.

 

Okay. So, despite some of the crazy things Kanye has said in the past (and will say in the future), I’m giving him a pass on his 13th amendment tweet. I believe he honestly meant amend and not abolish.

 

But, Kanye - all that other “Trump is going to bring factory jobs back to the U.S.” - what bloody alternative universe do you live in, man?

 

Published in Opinion

Last month, as you may or may not know, Nike released a new Just Do It campaign starring a variety of young athletes as well as Lebron James and Colin Kaepernick. The ad is great. Before I get back to Nike, a bit about Colin Kaepernick:

 

Colin has been in and out of the news since 2011. First as a backup QB for the San Francisco 49ers as his team went to the Championship game in 2011. Then Colin took over as the starting QB and led his team to the Super Bowl (where they lost 31-34 to the Ravens). Then in 2012 Colin led them right back to the NFC Championship game in 2013 (which they lost).

 

Kaepernick's productivity dipped slightly during the next few years, mainly due to an injury that lasted into the 16 season and he never seemed to fully recover and was not named a starter again; however, his 4-2 play off victories and the fact that he’s only one of four quarterbacks to get 3 passing touchdowns and a 100 yards rushing in a single game means that while he might no  longer be an elite starter in the NFL, it’s pretty obvious he would make an exceptional backup QB.

 

But then something happened. Colin decided to protest racism - by silently sitting during the national anthem. And folks took note. And the red, rage conservative aneurysms began. And fake news sites spread the word that Colin Kaepernick was “protesting the flag and disrespecting American troops!”

 

Also, Kaepernick had grown out his hair into an afro. Which makes conservative Americans uncomfortable. No, seriously. As black comedian Paul Mooney says, “If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.”

 

And suddenly - redneck white rage was all over the NFL. And Colin Kaepernick took note. He heard that NFL watching white Americans were angry. Kaepernick didn’t want to appear disrespectful to soldiers and he didn’t want his message mixed so he spoke with former Seattle Seahawks player and U.S. Army veteran Nate Boyer about his idea of “sitting down” during the anthem.

 

Kaepernick says about the meeting with Boyer:

 

“After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player, we came to the conclusion that we (Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid) should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.”

 

Snopes has a nice write up of the full event here.

 

Well, as you can imagine - conservative white Americans still lost their shit and wrote all sorts of inflammatory, untrue, hit pieces about Kaepernick calling him everything from “ungrateful” to “traitor.” But the hatred focused on the same false narrative over and over - that Kaepernick’s kneeling was purposely disrespectful to the troops and the flag.

 

It didn’t matter how many times Colin would eloquently speak up and remind people his protest was about police brutality against people of color; redneck Americas still reared up as fast as possible to call him a traitor, a soldier hater, ungrateful and, of course, the oft used, ni***r!

 

It didn’t matter that, time and again, Colin would put his money where his mouth was as he donated (and raised) money to and for, what he called, “oppressed communities.” In 2016 he gave a million dollars to charities and neighborhoods all over the country to help with homelessness, community-police relations, prison reform, hunger, etc, etc.  

 

If that wasn’t enough he put together his #10For10 pledge where he asked fellow athletes and artists to donate money to a similar cause. Then Colin agreed to match their donation. Here is what was raised and by whom:

 

1. Kevin Durant: $20k to Silicon Valley De-Bug in San José, California

2. Jesse Williams: $20k to Advancement Project in Washington, DC

3. Steph Curry: $20k to United Playaz in San Francisco, California

4. Snoop Dogg: $20k to Mothers Against Police Brutality in Dallas, TX

5. Serena Williams: $20k to Imagine LA in Los Angeles, California

6. T.I.: $20k to Angel by Nature in Houston, Texas

7. Jhene Aiko and Chris Brown: School on Wheels in Los Angeles, California

8. Nick Cannon and Joey Badass: $40,000 to Communities United by Police Reform in New York, New York

9. Meek Mill: $20k to Youth Service, Inc. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

10. Usher: $20k to H.O.M.E. in Lithonia, Georgia

Some familiar names to me, some not. But whatever. Money for good causes is still money for good causes (though, I’m not sure what the F! The “Silicon Valley De-Bug” charity is. I’ll have to look into that one a bit further). But I would say for the most part - worthy causes.

 

And now let’s come full circle. Colin Kaepernick has been universally vilified by conservative white America. And he’s been blackballed by the NFL for “controversy.”

 

And Nike does not care.

 

Colin Kaepernick is now the face of Nike’s new long running Just Do It campaign. And, just like when he took a knee - redneck America is in an uproar. Head over to YouTube and search for hilarious videos of people burning Nike product in protest. See if you can find some of the truly genius ones where folks run out and buy hundreds of dollars of Nike products only to come home and burn them!

 

You read that right. They give $$ to Nike and then burn the product. So, um, Nike already has their money.

 

Some people are so dumb.

 

Anyway. Because of the “controversy” of Nike casting Colin, shares for company dropped the day after that ad released by 3%. Conservative fools everywhere whooped their joys of racism! Hell, even our President chimed in via (where else) Twitter:

 

The President’s Tweet:

 

“What was Nike thinking? Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!”

 

But not so fast!

 

After an initial minor backlash here we are three weeks later and Nike is reporting - all time record sales. Reuters is reporting a huge increase in sold out Nike material (up approx 60%) and anyone can jump online and see that Nike’s market value has surged by $6 billion.

 

Look, I’m not a Nike guy. At all. This is not a paid advertisement. I’m all with RUN DMC - me and my Adidas! (And Vans). I am however a free speech guy. And, despite the ignorant, racist Kaepernick backlash - he’s clearly one of the good guys.

 

That being said, I will leave you with Lebron James gloating over President Trump’s “Nike is getting absolutely killed…” Tweet.



Well I mean I guess WE’RE on ????????????????????????????????. ???????????????? #JokesOnYou #NikeLifer✔️

 

Darren Rovell‏Verified account @darrenrovell

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Nike stock closes at $83.47, an all-time high for the company.

 

Published in Money
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In defense of "dumb" country lawyers.

I have a confession to make. And President Trump is not going to like it. I’m a southern country lawyer. Darn proud of it. In the President’s words, I may be a “dumb southern country lawyer.”  I just hope the President does not have a sneering contempt for all of us Louisiana lawyers who cut our teeth practicing law in the rural areas of the Bayou State.

If you are unaware of the President’s supposed pot shots at those of us who ply our trade in the more pastoral boroughs of the state, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward has out a new “tell all” book entitled “Fear: Trump in the White House.” Woodward you recall was the reporter who dropped the bombshell on the Nixon White House back in 1972, and was portrayed by Robert Redford in the film, “All the President’s Men.”

Woodward writes of many revelations claiming he received insider information from current White House operatives who listen to the President on a daily basis.  And, according to the book, Donald Trump makes it clear there is no love lost between him and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He is quoted as saying that: “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. . . . He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer.”

Now I’m reading this to mean that “a one-person country lawyer” is about as simple and elementary as you can get if legal guidance is required.  No real talent or expertise required.  Just a little folksy off the shoulder opinion will do.

Do you have to be an Ivy League barrister to have the knowledge and expertise to make sound and compelling legal decisions? It’s a fact that all the current members of the U.S. Supreme Court attended either Harvard or Yale. But maybe that’s part of the problem with a number of questionable high court decisions. As Alabama law professor Ronald Krotoszynski wrote recently, “Are an attorney’s perspectives and capabilities “defined by the three years he or she spent in law school? Shouldn’t professional experience and judgment matter too? “

I graduated from Tulane Law School back in 1966 and moved to the rural town of Ferriday, Louisiana with a population of 5000. There were a few other lawyers in the surrounding parishes, most of who graduated from LSU. No specialized legalese in these rural courthouses.  Lawyers had to know a good bit about all phases of the law, both criminal and civil.

I handled civil cases ranging from divorces and small claims and stood toe to toe with big shot eastern attorneys representing General Motors and a number of major oil companies. On the criminal side, I was often appointed by the local judge to represent a cross section of those accused of robberies right up to capital cases. Many readers will remember the notorious Jim Leslie murder case that happened in Baton Rouge back in the 1970s.  Leslie’s killer was gunned down in Concordia Parish and I was appointed to defend this killer. I can tell you the whole sorted story.

Here’s my point. Country lawyers, particularly in the South, rarely take a narrowly defined career path. Sure, an attorney has to know the law. But there also is a need to comprehend the practicalities of how the law should be applied and how such application affects and impacts the average citizen.

I’ve come across a number of outstanding lawyers who graduated from Tulane, LSU and Southern law schools. They often have both solid legal aptitude and a good bit of plain old common sense.  Our judges, by and large, stack up with barristers anywhere in the country, and we certainly have the legal talent that is qualified to stand shoulder to shoulder with any justice presently on the U.S. Supreme Court.

So give us a break Mr. President.  We might surprise you down here in the deepest of the deep southern states. Yes, some up north may call us dumb southern country lawyers. But I have worked with many Louisiana attorneys, particularly in smaller towns, that can go eyeball to eyeball with any Ivy Leaguer. Simply put Mr. President, we wear our southern country lawyer title proudly.

 

Peace and Justice

 

Jim Brown

 

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Jim Brown is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own. His column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show, Common Sense, each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Communication Network.

 

 

Published in Opinion

Multiple sources around the country are reporting on the NY Times Anonymous Op-Ed published on Wed September 5th titled, “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.”  You should take a few minutes to read it over or watch the video in which CNN’s Kate Bolduan reads the entire piece. I'm not going to speculate who wrote it, but I do want to discuss it in general.

 

The Op-Ed has stunned many and,  apparently - enraged President Trump.

 

Um. Okay. I get why President Trump is angry. But why is everyone else stunned by this admission?

 

The Op-Ed basically says, “Hey, there are people within the White House that are actively trying to stop President Trump from fucking up the country. I should know. I’m one of them.” Conservatives are up in arms. Even Liberals are like, “This is not how the country works Mr. Anonymous - no one voted you into office so shut your piehole and obey!”

 

Huh?

 

What about this Op-Ed is controversial? It basically says that - politicians and officials are working against each other. Don’t we already know this? I mean, don’t we have two parties publicly working against each other on many issues, all the time? Hell, didn’t the House and the Senate run 6 extremely vocal years of obstructionism against President Obama? It wasn’t even a secret. They went on TV and shit, and were like, “We’ll just not ever pass a budget and threaten to shut down the government every year and just not do our jobs and never vote on things - ever - as long as Obama is in office.”

 

Is the fear now supposed to be that “we didn’t elect” the person who wrote the Op-Ed who claims to be working against the President from the inside? Okay. I guess I can understand why that seems a bit awkward. Except that our elected President(s) get undermined by billionaires and officials both elected and / or appointed like, all the time.

 

I mean, I guess it’s controversial because finally someone came out and admitted it. Fair enough. The idea of the Deep State Conspiracy is that there is a body of people, typically - influential folks with powerful positions, that are secretly manipulating government policy. Some people believe in the Deep State actually runs the government. Some people think the entire idea of a Deep State is ludacris.

 

I don’t actually understand why the Deep State idea is even controversial.

 

Don’t get me wrong - I don’t believe for one second that the Deep State is a secret alien run Illuminati conspiracy. That’s fucking nonsense. But, as to the idea that influential (rich) folks and Corporations get politicians to do their bidding! Well - duh.  Everyone knows this happens. That’s what lobbyist do. It’s not even a secret and it’s legal. And they are out in the open. All over Washington. They don’t need a secret conspiracy to coerce the government into being their bitch. It pretty much just happens out in the open. With colossals amounts of cash. The manipulation of elected officials is nothing new and has been happening for … well, probably since folks invented government.

 

And now we have someone saying, “Hey, we’re working against the President. But, like - from within and in secret.”

 

Okay. Well, lots of people work against the President. But I guess this time it’s controversial because Anonymous is supposed to be on the President’s side. Therefor the whispered “soft coup” keeps popping up in the press. Well, a coup is an attempt to seize power from the government which I think we can all agree that is usually a bad idea but … but …. but it happens all the bloody time!

 

Lobbyists and their Corporate masters get our elected officials to do and say all sorts of asinine things that only help Corporations and will never, ever, ever help the people of the country. Sure, if a politician is publicly outed as being 100% in the pocket of Evil Corporation A, you can try and vote them out of office but the insane amount of $$ thrown into elections makes it very difficult for the people to seize any sort of power back from career politicians. Especially, when those politicians are in the pocket of Corporations.

 

It certainly doesn’t help that extremely popular conservative news organizations and even some moderately popular fringe liberal websites - just make shit up and spread fake news everywhere. Without accurate information it sometimes makes it hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys.

 

But I digress.

 

Look, I can see why the word “coup” frightens people. But I hardly feel this is a legitimate coup attempt. Perhaps Anonymous is overstepping his or her boundaries (it reads to me as if it was written by a man).  Are people not allowed to over step their boundaries in order to do things that are just and moral?

 

I certainly think so. Perhaps you don’t.


Anyway. If you want to make the argument to me that “but, maybe this kind of “soft coup” isn’t how it should be in our Republic” then I would probably agree with you. But if you say, “this just isn’t how things operate in our Republic” then, um - what the F! are you even talking about?

 

Published in U.S.
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