Trump’s Inner Nixon: Is It Possible To Have a Cover Up Without An Actual Crime?

Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the Comey termination and comparisons to the Nixon presidency.  Those analogies deepened this weekend after the President repeated that he thinks that they should just get rid of the daily press briefings that have been such a central part of White House operations for decades.  What is most striking is how, again, the White House has engineered its own undoing.  Many people had called for Comey to be fired, particularly Democrats. However, the timing and manner of the termination has created yet another scandal for the Administration. Only 27 percent of citizens support the decision according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.  The growing credibility crisis has made the appointment of a Special Prosecutor (or even the resurrection of the Independent Counsel Act) a priority for many. While I have been a dissenting voice regarding the need for a Special Prosecutor, the Comey debacle has changed my view.  The public deserves an independent investigation into these allegations and related issues.  Perhaps people will be satisfied with the FBI investigation under a new director, but the last week has been so damaging to public confidence that the need for an independent investigation is obvious. Having said that, I am still unsure of the major crime being investigated under the facts that are currently known.  For the moment, this Administration appears intent of self-incriminating actions in the absence of an actual crime.

Here is the column:

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Videotape of the Assault Of Elderly Woman At Pool Leads To Arrest Of Prime Suspect

imagesThere is an extremely disturbing videotape below of an elderly woman in Florida being abused and assaulted at a pool as teenagers cheered and jeered.  At one point, Leon Balfour Jr., 16, picks up Nancy James, 68, and throws her to the ground.  He then picks her up and tosses her into the pool.  It is a level of unprovoked and spontaneous violence that is truly shocking.  The question is how to deal with a teenager with his level of rage.

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Oregon County Mandates 2,000 Acre Organic Farm Sprayed With Chemical Herbicides

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A 2,000 acre organic farm in central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides, such as Roundup, to eradicate weed growth.

The mandate would bring to an end nearly 18 years of organic farming, placing a significant loss of organic food to the public.

Azure Farms is a certified organic farm located in Moro, Sherman County, Oregon. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.

Sherman County could issue a court order on May 22, 2017 to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the entire farm with poisonous herbicides contaminating them with Milestone, Escort, and Roundup.

Such a unilateral action on the behalf of the few individuals representing county government could set a precedent in damaging perhaps one of the few remaining healthy alternatives to mass-market agribusinesses.

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Sally in Wonderland: The “Curiouser and Curiouser” Position of The Former Acting Attorney General

Below is my USA Today column on the testimony of Sally Yates, former acting Attorney General, on her unprecedented order to the Justice Department not to assist President Donald Trump in the defense of his immigration executive order.  While the hearing was focused on her warning with regard to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, some of us were more interested in how she would respond to criticism over the order that led to her being fired.  Both Democratic and Republican lawyers have raised serious ethical misgivings over her decision.  The hearing however only magnified the questions over the basis for her actions. Here is the column.

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James Comey and Posthumous Acclaim In Art and Politics

With the firing of FBI Director James Comey, politics seems to be following art in one important fashion: your work becomes more popular after you’re dead. Jim Croce was barely known as a singer until his plane crashed and burned. Van Gogh sold only one picture in his lifetime . . . until he shot himself. Comey’s work appears to be on the same track of retrospective popularity. He is now the rage. Democratic Senators and liberal commentators who only recently denounced him as a political hack and manipulator were suddenly speaking of Comey as the second Publicus. More importantly, news outlets like CNN went into a virtual echo chamber with their experts, like Jeff Toobin, declaring that the President was lying and that there was no other explanation for firing Comey other than that fact that the Russian investigation was “getting too close” to Trump. One CNN guest historian, Douglas Brinkley,  even declared, from a purely historical perspective of course, that the firing shows that Trump acts like a “tyrant.”

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The Supreme Salient: Decades Of Static Ideological Lines On The Court Could Vaporize With A Kennedy Replacement

Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the implications of a rumored retirement by Justice Anthony Kennedy.  If nothing else, it allowed me to discuss the anniversary of the Ypres Salient explosion in World War I — the mining of the German line with massive bombs.  While we often discuss how a nominee could change the Court on issues like Roe v. Wade, the replacement of either Kennedy or Ruth Bader Ginsburg would potentially collapse the long static lines on the Court.  Like trench warfare, the 4-4 split on the Court has moved little in areas like abortion. It could now evaporate in the flash of a confirmation (assuming that Chief Justice John Roberts does not step into the role of swing vote on the Court).

Here is the column:

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Houston Judge Accused Of An Array of Misconduct From Hiring Prostitutes To Drug Use To Ruling In Case Involving Lover

Houston Judge Hilary Green is the subject of an extraordinary report from the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct.  The Texas Supreme Court was given a detailed account that alleges that the justice of the peace used illegal drugs like ecstasy and marijuana as well as abused the cough syrup Tussionex. Some of the marijuana had been confiscated by the court bailiff.  It also alleged that she engaged in extramarital affairs and hired prostitutes.  She is also accused of sexting a court employee. Finally, she is accused of ruling in favor of a convicted conman despite her personal relationship with the defendant.  There is an interesting technicality being claimed by Green to bar consideration of much of her misconduct.

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