New Yorker piece on Al Franken

I should write a follow-up to my earlier piece on Al Franken, but time flies, writers plod.

In the meantime, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker has an excellent piece on the entire fiasco, albeit she’s more sympathetic to Leeann Tweeden than I am.

Senators who regret their hasty and pandering decision: too damn late.

A remarkable number of Franken’s Senate colleagues have regrets about their own roles in his fall. Seven current and former U.S. senators who demanded Franken’s resignation in 2017 told me that they’d been wrong to do so. Such admissions are unusual in an institution whose members rarely concede mistakes. Patrick Leahy, the veteran Democrat from Vermont, said that his decision to seek Franken’s resignation without first getting all the facts was “one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made” in forty-five years in the Senate. Heidi Heitkamp, the former senator from North Dakota, told me, “If there’s one decision I’ve made that I would take back, it’s the decision to call for his resignation. It was made in the heat of the moment, without concern for exactly what this was.” Tammy Duckworth, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, told me that the Senate Ethics Committee “should have been allowed to move forward.” She said it was important to acknowledge the trauma that Franken’s accusers had gone through, but added, “We needed more facts. That due process didn’t happen is not good for our democracy.” Angus King, the Independent senator from Maine, said that he’d “regretted it ever since” he joined the call for Franken’s resignation. “There’s no excuse for sexual assault,” he said. “But Al deserved more of a process. I don’t denigrate the allegations, but this was the political equivalent of capital punishment.” Senator Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, told me, “This was a rush to judgment that didn’t allow any of us to fully explore what this was about. I took the judgment of my peers rather than independently examining the circumstances. In my heart, I’ve not felt right about it.” Bill Nelson, the former Florida senator, said, “I realized almost right away I’d made a mistake. I felt terrible. I should have stood up for due process to render what it’s supposed to—the truth.” Tom Udall, the senior Democratic senator from New Mexico, said, “I made a mistake. I started having second thoughts shortly after he stepped down. He had the right to be heard by an independent investigative body. I’ve heard from people around my state, and around the country, saying that they think he got railroaded. It doesn’t seem fair. I’m a lawyer. I really believe in due process.”

Trump didn’t collude with Russia because Trump didn’t want to win in 2016

Trump rally in Arizona

Robert Mueller released his final report to current AG William Barr who then, in a surprisingly short period of time, released a four-page summary of the findings.

The two points of the investigation were: did Trump or his campaign collude with the Russian government to effect the 2016 election; did Trump commit obstruction attempting to influence the Russian investigation. Mueller seemingly punted on the obstruction charge, but did reach a conclusion about the Russian collusion: Trump and his campaign did not actively conspire with the Russian government in order to win the election.

Continue reading “Trump didn’t collude with Russia because Trump didn’t want to win in 2016”

Trump and Republicans are counting on Democratic empathy and compassion

Trump giving speech

Neither Trump nor Congressional Republicans would continue with the shutdown debacle except for one thing: they’re counting on Democratic empathy and compassion.

They assume that, at some point, Congressional Democrats won’t be able to ignore the hardships federal employees are enduring by not getting their regular paychecks. They’re counting on Congressional Democrats being concerned about the average citizens who are as equally impacted. They believe they can ‘hold the line’ because Democrats are empathetic and compassionate.

And they are correct:  Democrats do care about the people.

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No National Emergency but the faux crises and shutdown continues

Trump giving speech

Trump did not declare a national emergency last night. I strongly suspect he had planned to, though. After all, the staging was there.

A prime time Oval Office formal speech. The President, grave and solemn as he sets the stage for an emergency declaration.  Days of hints (in order to bolster the audience numbers). Minions out and about ponderously declaiming how everything is going to hell on the southern border.

I suspect the networks also bet on his declaring a national emergency. If they knew he was just going to dish out the usual, they wouldn’t have given up their ad revenue.

Continue reading “No National Emergency but the faux crises and shutdown continues”

It’s not about the wall, it’s about control

Soldiers laying wire on wall

The government is partially shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal employees aren’t being paid, and all major networks are about to let Trump kick off his 2020 campaign with a faux declaration of emergency, aired live, and in prime time.

In ‘negotiations’, not only has Trump not been willing to budge on his wall, he’s actually added to the demands. The general consensus is that the only reason Trump is doubling down on the wall is because of criticism from Fox talking heads. That people will suffer matters little to him, unless he finds out they are ‘his’ people, and then he’ll just tell his staff to do whatever needs to be done, regardless of the law.

Law. That’s something that doesn’t matter much nowadays. Keep the national parks open, because that’s what his people want. And then when they trash the parks, (Freedom!) raid entrance fee funds, even though doing so is against the law. Go ahead and issue tax refunds, even though doing so is likely illegal. Oh, and no worries on those gas and well permits. Or that the clock tower at the Trump International Hotel is still staffed.

Ostensibly this is about a wall, a stupid wall that no one really wants. A wall that actually came about as a mnemonic. A wall that will tear land from private owners, destroy nature preserves, endanger both our environment and vulnerable animal species, and cost many more times that $5.7 billion Trump is currently fixated on. A wall that won’t add to our nation’s security, will have minimal impact on an influx of immigrants, and no impact on securing our borders from terrorists.

That damn wall.

Continue reading “It’s not about the wall, it’s about control”