Category: Politics

Chinese Censors Leave Audiences Confused After Cutting All Gay References From Bohemian Rhapsody

The Chinese government maintains one of the most extensive censorship operations in history — an effort to hold the world at its physical and virtual borders. It is not only an effort to prevent citizens from reading of civil liberties or government abuses. It is also a ban on such subjects as homosexuality. That effort has taken a ridiculous term with the censoring of gay language and plots from the hit movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The cuts have left audiences reportedly confused by the disjointed dialogue and story.

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Fast and Curious: Holder Demands Full Disclosure of Mueller Report Despite His Own Record Of Contempt

Former Attorney General Eric Holder has declared that the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not the end of the obstruction inquiry but only the “beginning of obstruction.” Holder has demanded that Attorney General William Barr release the report despite the contrary precedent of Holder himself in refusing to disclose critical information in the “Fast and Furious” scandal. Holder previously declared that Mueller was certain to find criminal obstruction by Trump.

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Trump: Accusers Have Done “Evil” and “Treasonous Things”

It would seem that being cleared of collusion and obstruction allegations might be an opportune moment for Donald Trump to take the high road and declare an intent to move the country past the divisive politics of the last two years. Instead, Trump declared that those people who accused him were responsible for “treasonous things” and said they “will certainly be looked at.” Since I was one of those people who denounced others for alleging treason against Trump, it is disconcerting to now hear Trump himself using the same irresponsible rhetoric. Those peddling unsupported theories of criminality over the last two years were also irresponsible and reckless, but their voicing such views was not treasonous. Trump added that his critics were “evil”

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Mueller: No Russian Collusion

The summary of the findings of the Special Counsel is out and, as predicted, it has found no Russian collusion. It declined to make a finding on obstruction and left the matter to the Congress and the public. Frankly, the latter finding seems a bit curious. There is a criminal code on the elements of this crime and we did not wait for two years for Meuller to say “meh.” Attorney General Bill Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein however did look at the evidence and concluded that the evidence does not amount to obstruction.

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HAPPY SPECIAL COUNSEL DAY!

The long-waited release of the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to the Attorney General has left many in the Beltway with a dilemma: how does one observe Special Counsel day?  The problem is not just the lack of Special Counsel bunting and decorations, but many still do not know whether this will be a day of celebration or commiseration.  Wishful critics and supporters are wondering what the Special Counsel will bring for them.  After all, a large number of reputations are on the line. Breathless accounts of “bombshells”
 and “smoking guns” of collusion will now be tested as will the common article of faith that all will be put right if you “just wait for Mueller.”

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The Max Bialystock School of Prosecution: Manafort Charges Flaunt A Disregard For The Constitution

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Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the New York charges brought against Paul Manafort. As I have previously written, double jeopardy protections have been watered down by the Supreme Court through the years. However, this is also a matter of state constitutional protections. Regardless of the outcome, there are troubling concerns raised by this filing. Many New Yorkers often see themselves as civil libertarians, but such concerns seem to be dismissed when the target is an unpopular individual like Manafort.

The New York Constitution has a prohibition on double jeopardy, which is further defined under New York’s Criminal Procedure Law 40.20 which states, “A person may not be twice prosecuted for the same offense.” Section 40.30 sweeps broadly to include any case “filed in a court of this state or of any jurisdiction within the United States, and when the action either: (a) Terminates in a conviction upon a plea of guilty; or (b) Proceeds to the trial stage and a jury has been impaneled and sworn or, in the case of a trial by the court without a jury, a witness is sworn.” That would include not just federal counts but those that were subject to both Manafort’s convictions and guilty pleas.

Here is the column:

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Kushner in the Crosshairs: New Book Ties Kushner To Comey Firing

U.S. Embassy (Jerusalem)

If President Donald Trump has had a couple of lousy weeks, it is still considerably better than the experience of his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Not only has the media reported (and the White House has not denied) that Trump overruled his security and legal advisers in ordering a clearance for Kushner, but Kushner is the subject of a new book and confirms earlier accounts that he was the mastermind behind the disastrous decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey. What is striking about the account in Vicky Ward’s new book, Kushner, Inc. is how clueless Kushner (and by extension the President) seemed about the likely response to the firing. With every other advisor, including Steve Bannon, warning of the inevitable backlash and disaster, Trump went with Kushner and fired Comey. The result was the Special Counsel appointment. Had Trump let Comey finish the investigation and then fired him, the Russian investigation would have likely ended many months ago.

In addition Kushner has been accused this week of using private or personal email for official business despite years of controversies over such use and his own father-in-law’s campaign on the issue against Hillary Clinton.

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Can The Mueller Report Be Released?

With everyone waiting for the expected news of the submission of the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, there remains a remarkably unresolved question of what Attorney General Bill Barr can actually give to Congress. I have previously discussed how giving the report to Congress would require the redaction of a host of information under privacy, classification, and executive privilege rules.  However, the threshold question is what the statute contemplates.  The answer is: not much.

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British Columnist Criminally Investigated For “Misgendering” In Debate With Transgender Activist

I have been a critic of the alarming criminalizing of speech in Great Britain through hate speech laws.  Such laws create an insatiable appetite for greater and greater speech regulation and create a sense of empowerment among citizens to silence those with whom they disagree.  We have yet another example of how religious and political speech is being rapidly curtailed in Great Britain under expanding speech codes. Carolina Farrow, a Roman Catholic columnist, is now being investigated because, on Twitter, she referred to the biological rather than identified gender of the child of a transgender rights activist. She is accused of referring to Green’s daughter as a boy. For that, the activist, Susie Green, filed a complaint under Malicious Communications Act, which bars offensive, threatening and abusive content online. Police wanted a “taped interview with caution” on possible charges for transphobic conduct on social media. After criticism, Green decided to drop her demand for a criminal investigation but the point is that such references are now treated as criminal matters. The chilling effect on free speech is obvious.

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Poll: Support For Trump Impeachment Drops Significantly

Despite the unrelenting bad press and worse news for President Donald Trump from the allegations of Michael Cohen to the sentencing of Paul Manafort, a new  SSRS poll has found a sharp drop in support for his impeachment including among Democrats. Overall support for impeachment dropped from 43 percent in December to 36 percent today. This would help explain why Nancy Pelosi is saying that Trump has committed impeachable offenses but impeachment is not part of the Democratic agenda. While I do not see a current basis for impeachment on the public evidence, I disagree with the position of the Democratic leadership. Putting aside the bait-and-switch from the midterm elections, members should feel compelled to seek impeachment if they believe impeachable offenses have been committed regardless of what they think the other house or other members might do in fulfillment of their own constitutional oaths. Notably, while Pelosi does not think the Senate will overturn Trump’s veto over the wall emergency declaration, she still wants to do so in the House.

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“Husband From Hell”: Trump Launches Twitter Tirade Against Husband Of Kellyanne Conway

I have said it before, but I am again confused this morning after President Donald Trump launched into another self-defeating and unpresidential tirade on Twitter. The target of the tweets is the husband of Kellyanne Conway. (For the record, she is a former student of mine). George Conway has published the criteria used to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder and has suggested that Trump is clearly mentally ill. By attacking Conway, Trump has only magnified the allegations and drawn attention to the NPD criteria. While various White House officials struggled for months to keep Trump from responding directly to George Conway, Trump finally had enough after daily attacks. However, the result is manifestly bad for Trump. As should have been obvious, Conway responded by highlighting his prior allegation of mental illness and tweeted “You. Are. Nuts.”

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Washington’s Bump-Fire Stock Buyback Program: Is $150 Worth The Risk?

Image Courtesy “WASR” via Creative Commons License

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Last year Washington State government’s knee-jerk reaction to a mass shooting resulted in a legislated ban of “Bump-Fire” modifications to semi-automatic firearms. A few legislators submitted an amendment to the impending legislation allowing for a buy back program where residents of the state could receive a voucher for up to $150.00 per stock if they surrendered the stocks either directly to the State Patrol or received a receipt issued for one by a local law enforcement agency.

While some, including myself, had objections to the government’s taking of property without just compensation, which was in some fashion allayed by a price offered that was reasonable considering the market cost for such rifle stocks, the implementation of the buy-back program was not well thought out–which is usually the case with quickly crafted laws.

While some residents having these stocks might find the offer from the state attractive, I do not believe the amount offered is sufficient to offset potential risks associated with turning in these stocks and expecting payment. The buy-back program is also widely open to profiteering and manipulation.

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Why Nancy Pelosi Hates Impeachment

Below is my column in The Hill on Nancy Pelosi announcing that she is opposed to impeachment and that it is simply not part of “our agenda.” During the campaign for the midterm elections, I wrote that the drumbeat for impeachment was another bait-and-switch in American politics and that Democrats would quickly move away from the calls once they secured a majority. The reason was (and is) obvious. While Democrats continue to insist that Trump is harming the country and committing impeachable offenses, his removal would not serve the interests of the party for 2020. Both parties continue to play the public as chumps and this is the latest example. Even Beto O’Rourke is now backing off of his call for impeachment.

There is no compelling evidence for impeachment at this time. If Pelosi also believes that there is insufficient evidence, she should say so. That would be a principled and frankly courageous position. However, Pelosi continues to suggest that Trump is committing impeachable offenses but still opposes impeachment absent the assurance that Republicans will join in the effort. That is a bit too convenient and ignores the individual obligations of members to act if they believe that there are impeachable offenses.

Here is the column:

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Crucifixion or Freedom? Cohen Forces Cummings Into A Most Unwelcomed Choice

Below is my column in The Hill on alleged perjury committed by Michael Cohen before the House Oversight Committee after being warned that any repeat of his earlier perjury would trigger an immediate referral for prosecution. This week, a leading Democrat said that she thought a referral was likely given the conflicts in Cohen’s testimony. For Cohen, it could be the greatest miscalculation seen on Capitol Hill since William J. Jefferson thought his freezer was a good repository for bribes. Cohen did what he has always done. He found a way to be useful to people who could do him some good. That is what he did for Trump as a legal thug. He then did it for Mueller as a cooperating witness and now he is trying to do it again as a turncoat for Congress. The problem is that Cohen remains unencumbered by truth or ethics. Cohen viewed his interest in being indispensable in giving Democrats what they wanted the most: Trump. The problem is that he has now put the Democrats, and particularly Chairman Elijah Cummings, in a glaringly hypocritical position if they do not refer the matter for prosecution.

Here is the column:

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