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So Much 2 Say

I wrote this for the Urban News in March 2019.

An outstanding a cappella group, Take 6, once had a tune called “So Much 2 Say.” The tune lasted only one minute. It was fast, it was up-tempo. The harmony and their back-and-forth between each other was almost breathtaking. Now, in 2019, the news is coming at us at a blistering pace almost like the song. There is no time for us to digest what just happened before something else pops up. I will try to distill the important news of the month for you in this column.

Clinton’s emails

I know that this is a bizarre way to start, but bear with me. I just finished a fascinating book by Andrew McCabe, former interim director of the FBI, called The Threat, in which he describes how he became involved in the Hillary Clinton email case. I remember the media frenzy that surrounded Hillary Clinton’s emails at the time. Do you?

Remember that the email “case” came out of the Benghazi investigation. Yes, Benghazi. Republicans asked the FBI to look into Secretary of State Clinton’s emails because the State Department had no cache of emails for Hillary Clinton. This is because Hillary Clinton decided she was going to use a private email server. Although she has admitted that this was a mistake, I am not sure it was. Hillary Clinton knew that every single one of her emails sent from a government account could be retrieved by Republicans. This means that every single word, every period, every phrase could be inspected. Please remember, we are not talking about a rational review of what she did or said: Hillary knew that was not possible. She knew that a jaundiced, partisan eye would overlook everything she did (and she was right!). (Additionally, the State Department’s email server was hacked during her tenure; but her private home-based server never was: it was more secure than the State Department’s!)

At any rate, the House asked the FBI to look at Hillary Clinton’s emails. Through a very laborious process, the FBI retrieved all her emails from all the computers and servers she used. The overall number was approximately 60,000 emails. The FBI then sorted all 60,000 into private emails and work emails.

It appears from my reading that the FBI and Hillary Clinton’s team agreed on which emails were work emails and which were personal. The 30,000 work emails were sent on to the State Department; the other 30,000 were given back to Hillary Clinton, and they were destroyed. These are the 30,000 emails that Trump and others have been screaming about for years now. Guys, this is nuts!! No American citizen should have to undergo this kind of scrutiny. No one. Ever.

North Korea

Donald Trump, at the last minute and in a hurried, unprepared fashion, decided to hold another summit with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un. The first question that a thoughtful American should ask is, Why would the American president want to meet with a North Korean dictator? Well, the possible answer would be to denuclearize North Korea. In theory, we, the American people, would give North Korea something—investment, lifting of sanctions, a formal peace treaty—and we would get disarmament of North Korea in return. This would be normal diplomacy.

But “normal” does not apply to Donald Trump. Normally, the State Department would hold preliminary meetings with their counterparts in North Korea. Groundwork would be laid. First, by lower-level specialists in economics, military issues, and human rights; then higher-level deputies; finally, the secretary or minister level. Only after all the parameters of the deal were put in place and agreed to would the president get involved.

In Donald Trump’s administration, normality is a thing of the past. Like a bull in a china shop he decided to trudge forward. In spite of the pomp and circumstance, the smiling for the cameras, and the warm handshake, we, the American people, got nothing. Donald Trump left the summit with nothing. He looked like Charlie Brown who just had Lucy’s football pulled away at the last minute. Again. Rats! This was nothing more than a colossal diversion and waste of taxpayer money. And to top it off, after he came home, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed to give Kim a gift his country—and China—had only dreamed of: the decision not to resume joint military exercises that have kept South Korea safe from North Korean aggression for 60 years. (It appears that North Korea is rebuilding that key missile facility that torn down several months as a gesture of good faith. Will someone let the grown ups back in the room?)

The Main Event

It is really hard to take in all that Michael Cohen said in three days of testimony before Congress. First of all, we know that Michael Cohen is a liar. We also know that his back is against the wall: he is going to jail. So, in order to shorten his prison sentence, it would behoove him to cooperate with authorities and the tell the truth in front of Congress. I will focus on three areas of his testimony—Trump Tower Moscow, WikiLeaks, and Stormy Daniels.

First, Michael Cohen admitted that he lied to Congress about the timing of his talks with Moscow regarding a Trump Tower Moscow. From my standpoint, Donald Trump has always looked like a man who was constantly after money. He was looking at making several hundred million dollars if he was able to pull off Trump Tower Moscow. Therefore, it is no surprise to me that he continued to try to work the deal while he was running for president. He never really thought he was going to win the White House. Therefore, why not try and make an extra hundred million or so. The thing about this line of questioning that is surprising is that Donald Trump blatantly lied to the American people on multiple occasions about his dealings with Moscow. Not that it’s really a surprise. We all know that Trump lies.


By |2019-07-27T16:12:09-04:00July 27th, 2019|Domestic Issues, Party Politics|Comments Off on So Much 2 Say

Despicable Trump

I wrote this for the Urban News in February 2019.

The Shutdown

Donald Trump, our president, shut down the government for five weeks in order to distract us from multiple ongoing investigations.

The shutdown made no sense on a number of different levels. Republicans held both houses of Congress for the last two years. Yet Donald Trump did not make a big deal out of not getting his funding for his “big, beautiful” Mexican wall. He did not take his best chance of getting funding by pressuring Paul Ryan, then the Speaker of the House. Yet now that Democrats control the House, he wants funding for a wall that most Democrats—and for that matter, most Americans—do not support.

So he invited the new Democratic leadership—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—to the Oval Office and threatened them with a shutdown if they didn’t give him his wall. Unfortunately for Trump, 58% of Americans oppose building the wall. So the Democrats refused to cave to his threats, and after 35 days, President Trump backed down and allowed the government to reopen, without wall funding. To hold 800,000 government employees hostage over a diversion is despicable.

So why did he do it?

Trump’s inauguration committee raked in more than a hundred million dollars but spent only a fraction of the total. Investigators are trying to figure out where the money went.

Trump’s over-the-top opulent hotels have been packed full of diplomats and private money- and power-brokers from all over the world ever since he was elected. This seems to be an obvious conflict with the emoluments clause in the Constitution, which prohibits the president from profiting from his high office. This is being investigated by federal attorneys, and House Democrats have also promised to investigate this as well.

Trump’s son and son-in-law and his campaign leadership are being investigated for colluding with the Russians to get him elected. His former and present cabinet secretaries are being called before the House for investigative oversight hearings. And Donald Trump’s biggest worry was what convicted felon Michael Cohen has said to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team—and what he will say to investigators.

Michael Cohen was Donald Trump’s inside man, his personal lawyer, his fixer—his consigliere. Nancy Pelosi’s House is going to question him. Maybe it was time to distract the public with a shutdown.

Roger Stone

Roger Stone is the political insider’s insider. He has worked behind-the-scenes for years in the bowels of the Republican machine. I had never heard of him before a couple of months ago—though he was one of Richard Nixon’s fixers and “dirty-tricksters” in the 1970s. In fact, he and Nixon’s other henchman, Paul Manafort, formed a lobbying and political consulting firm called Black, Manafort, & Stone in the late 1970s to do dirty tricks for other Republicans—beginning with Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1980.

The reason that Roger Stone is more interesting than almost all of the other characters indicted by Robert Mueller is because Stone sent out tweets that oddly foreshadowed what was to come. His tweet, “It will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel” (Podesta was Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman) would have meant nothing—if WikiLeaks had not released John Podesta’s emails just days later.

How did Stone have that knowledge? Where did his information come from? Was it just a lucky guess, as he told the Senate Intelligence Committee?

It appears from the indictment that Roger Stone tried to contact WikiLeaks. It also appears that a high-ranking official in the Trump campaign was in contact with Roger Stone and asked Stone to reach out to the Russians. This appears to be the collusion that we have long suspected.


By |2019-07-27T16:23:28-04:00July 27th, 2019|Domestic Issues, Elections, Party Politics|Comments Off on Despicable Trump

Nancy is Back (Published in the Urban News)

I wrote this for the Urban News in January 2019

Image result for nancy pelosi

We progressives can be a quirky, funny type of people. I am not sure why we do not treat Nancy Pelosi with the same reverence that we show Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Barack Obama. Yet when the dust settled, and it was clear that the Republicans took a shellacking in November, there was a lot of handwringing over Nancy becoming Speaker of the House again.

I guess that is understandable. We, progressives, tend to question everything. On one hand, that trait can be somewhat annoying; on the other hand, asking questions can keep you out of trouble (See Iraq War, in which no thoughtful questions were asked in the Bush administration).

Nancy Pelosi has a long record of supporting progressive causes. During the George W. Bush presidency, Nancy opposed the Iraq war. (She asked the right questions.) She opposed illegal wiretaps, which seemed to be routine during the Bush administration. Bush thought he had a mandate when he started his second term in office and proposed privatization of Social Security. Nancy Pelosi led the charge against that cockamamie idea. She did get sideways with progressive movement when she decided it was not in the country’s best interest to pursue impeachment hearings against George W. Bush. To Nancy, it was more important to fix what was broken than to punish the people who broke it. As she always does, she wanted to look forward, not back.

When she was Speaker during the first two years of Barack Obama’s administration, so much progressive legislation got passed it was dizzying. Remember, we were in the midst of the Great Recession. She helped pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which saved our economy. No, she did not go after the bankers; she did help put America on track for recovery that has lasted almost 10 years. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Credit Card Act which forced credit card companies to explain all of their fees in plain, simple language. She helped extend unemployment benefits to 20 weeks in states with high unemployment.

And, of course, there was the patient protection and affordability healthcare act also known as ObamaCare, which gave 20 million Americans who did not have health insurance, health insurance. This is exactly what we want a progressive leader to do.

Our government has been shut down since December 22 because Donald Trump wants funding for his border wall. According to his latest pronouncements, the president is willing to keep the government shut down indefinitely. One of Speaker Pelosi’s first acts was shepherding two bills through the House to fund the government.

One funds the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, to give legislators and the administration time to negotiate border security. The other funds the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and others affected by the shutdown through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. The Republican Senate and House (under former Speaker Paul Ryan) couldn’t manage to do even that much last year.

Both bills passed the House and now they’re waiting for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, (Donald Trump’s lapdog), to bring them to the Senate floor for debate and a vote. That is not going to happen.

Nancy Pelosi will use all of her skill and power to try to reopen the government as quickly as possible. She understands the problem. Look for her also to begin to pass comprehensive border security legislation that does not include any funding for the wall. This will prove that progressives are interested in border security, because we are.

The very first legislation Pelosi’s House Democrats passed was HR 1, aimed at decreasing the influence of money in politics and expanding voting rights. This is solid progressive legislation. It places a little bit more pressure on Mitch McConnell and the Senate, who again will try to ignore the bill.

Like “The Notorious RBG” (Ruth Bader Ginsberg), Nancy Pelosi doesn’t give great speeches. She will not star in a rap video. She will not vindictively go after opponents—but she will hold malefactors’ feet to the fire. She doesn’t use the coolest lingo, but she will show up every day for work in heels and pearls. She will protect children, women, minorities, the GLBTQ community, and the underserved. She will protect Social Security and Medicare against renewed assaults. She will stand up for health care, education, and our environment.

Most of all, she will stand up to Trump and his nonsense every day. That’s what we need in a House Speaker. Go Nancy Go!

By |2019-07-27T15:15:36-04:00July 27th, 2019|Obama administration, Party Politics|Comments Off on Nancy is Back (Published in the Urban News)
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