Below is my column in The Hill on the recent filings in federal court by the Justice Department opposing the effort of the House Judiciary Committee in seeking grand jury material redacted from the Mueller Report. The Justice Department is relying on the comments of Speaker Nancy Pelosi in arguing that there is no real impeachment investigation proceeding in the House.
For two years, I have written columns about why the Democratic leadership had no intention of impeaching Donald Trump despite winning back the House based in part on that expectation by voters. The problem is that voters still think that the party is serious about impeachment even as the leadership delayed any real moves toward impeachment proceedings. Even with the vote yesterday to commence . . . well . . . something, the Democratic members disagreed on whether impeachment proceedings have begun. The effort still lacks the necessary focus, urgency, and legitimacy to be taken seriously. That point was vividly brought home by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a bizarre and arbitrarily short press conference yesterday.
We previously discussed how Princess Hassa bint Salman Al Saud, the sister of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the latest Saudi royal accused of brutal violence against individuals outside of their country. The Princess was found guilty of the beating of a local craftsman who was renovating her luxury Paris apartment three years ago. However, once again, she will escape any real punishment just as her brother has escaped any repercussions for the savage murder of a journalist in Turkey.
President Donald Trump has tweeted that he has fired National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolton however pointedly contradicted Trump and said that he resigned. What is clear is that another high-ranking Trump official is out — an astonishing turnover of such officials in a single Administration. However, few are likely to object on this one given the unpopularity of Bolton in Washington, which viewed him as someone who has long advocated the use of military interventions and wars. Update: President Trump responded by saying that Bolton was indeed fired and he did not resign as he has stated.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has filed a lawsuit against San Francisco over the resolution denouncing the organization as a “domestic terrorist organization.” I am cited in the brief, which can be read below. The NRA is correct that I have written in opposition to the resolution of the Board of Supervisors as a direct attack on free speech and “the very definition of demagoguery.” However, the quote that is attributed to me is in error. it was in fact from another column by Henry Olson. It is minor matter since the NRA correctly attributes my view that the resolution is an attack on first amendment rights of free speech and association.
In a rare direct rebuke, the Central Intelligence Agency on Monday evening issued a statement calling CNN coverage of a spy story “simply false.” The CNN reported that the CIA pulled out a major Russian spy from Moscow because President Trump had “repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.” However, the CIA is not the only one effectively calling CNN out on the story. A New York Times piece on the story directly contradicts CNN. The Times says that the decision was made before Trump was even in office. If true, that would be a glaring contradiction for CNN and would reinforce criticism of the network as relentlessly anti-Trump.
Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield has called for the end of higher education, which he dismisses as a “liberal breeding ground.” It is a curious view for a politician from a state with world-class universities which fuel the state’s burgeoning high tech industry and bring huge amounts of revenue in the form of tuition, support contracts and tourism. That includes Vanderbilt University, which is viewed as one of the world’s greatest universities. There is also the much beloved University of Tennessee with its statewide supporters of the Volunteers football team.
I have previously written about the controversy over President Donald Trump’s comments on Hurricane Dorian and the latest self-inflected wound in what is being called “Sharpiegate.” The name however masks something more serious. It is not the bizarre decision to mark up a hurricane map with a Sharpie to extend the path to Alabama. It is not even the bizarre refusal to just acknowledge an honest mistake in not acknowledging that path predictions on that day showed the hurricane avoiding Alabama. The more serious problem is what the statement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) effectively rebuking the forecast of its Birmingham office contradicting the President. There are now reports that the Commerce Secretary threatened firings if NOAA did not issue a statement supporting Trump’s untrue statement. When Trump issued his statement no one was predicting that the hurricane would hit Alabama (days earlier there was a possibility that Alabama could be effected). Various scientists and experts denounced NOAA’s statement and the politicalization of NOAA. Now the Inspector General is investigating and Craig McLean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, has called the unprecedented NOAA statement “political” and a “danger to public health and safety.”
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on a week of disturbing false statements from the two leading presidential candidates for 2020. Both stories should give voters pause. Indeed, this week has also seen candidates like Kamala Harris challenged on not one but two statements on her record and, in a way, her selective hearing. Yet, despite Donald Trump’s bizarre conduct in the Hurricane Dorian controversy, the more serious (and less covered) falsehood was Joe Biden’s statement about his claimed opposition to the Iraq War. As someone who opposed the Iraq War, it is frustrating to see former and current senators falsely claiming to have been duped or being opposed to the war. At the time, neither Democratic nor Republicans senators wanted to even hear from those of us who opposed the resolution. Indeed, the key hearing held was absurd with neither party calling opponents to the war. What is striking however is how little press was given to Biden’s false claim in comparison to the Hurricane controversy.
Do you recall the delegation of Chicago Teacher Union members going to Venezuela in a demonstration of support? Many of us were highly critical of Richard Berg (Organizer), strike captains Sarah Chambers (Special Education Educator), Valeria Vargas (Math Educator) and Fabiana Casas (English Educator) for the trip to show solidarity with a blood-soaked regime that has denied free speech, free press and other fundamental rights to Venezuelans. Chambers even expressed approval in a tweet saying “While staying in #Venezuela, we didn’t see a single homeless person.” Another thing Chambers probably did not see were the thousands of murdered Venezuelans just documented by the United Nations in a report of the extrajudicial killings ordered by the Maduro regime. Actually, between the millions that have fled, the thousands murdered, the thousands in jail, and the thousand in hiding, I am surprised Chambers saw many people at all on the streets of Venezuela.
Below is my column in The Hill on a growing tendency to label opposing views as terrorism in our age of rage. Democratic activists have labeled ICE as a “terrorist organization” while Republicans use that term for Antifa. It is also a way to dismiss opposing views as extremism with no need to listen, let alone respond. With the escalation of such rhetoric, millions of Americans are being portrayed as terrorists – a trend that robs the term of any real meaning. Yet, numerous officials, including the Board of Supervisors, in San Francisco supported the ridiculous resolution declaring the NRA to be a “domestic terrorist organization” and, by extension, its five million members domestic terrorists. It is not enough to disagree over the meaning of an individual right, the other side must now be little better than ISIS for disagreeing with you.
Merriam-Webster seems to have found the bizarre controversy over President Donald Trump’s insistence that he was right that Hurricane Dorian was on a path to hit Alabama on September 1st. Trump continues to tweet about being right while the Washington Post is reporting that, despite Trump’s denial, he was the person who altered the hurricane path map with a Sharpie. So Merriam-Webster tweeted the definition of mumpsimus, or “A stubborn person who insists on making an error in spite of being shown that it is wrong.”
Author, Rebecca Makkai, 41, is calling for people to stop wearing red hats. Any red hats. The reason is that she believes that “disenchanchised” people are being traumatized by the color due to its use in Make American Great Again (MAGA) hats. At first I thought that this was another example of derangement in the Trump era, but, as a fellow Chicagoan, I am just assuming that Makkai has found clever way to dissuade people from wearing hats for the Cincinnati Reds and the Nats.