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.
President Donald Trump has caused another firestorm with a menacing statement to conservative outlet Breitbart that things will get “very bad, very bad” if his supporters among the military, police, and bikers are pushed too far. Once again, while one can come up with a non-threatening meaning, the President’s comments were widely interpreted as countenancing violence. These are the type of comments that are driving a deep wedge into the electorate with roughly half of the voters saying that they are resolved to vote against the President.
I previously wrote about the dilemma in which Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings finds himself with the widely viewed perjury of Michael Cohen before his committee. Cummings repeatedly asserted that he would refer Cohen for prosecution for any false or misleading statement. Cohen proceeded to do just that. Now, Cohen and some Democratic members are struggling to avoid the obvious. Cohen has again made himself useful and now it is the Democrats who are protecting him from prosecution. This includes the decision of New York Democrats to hit Paul Manafort with a series of new charges while conspicuously ignoring Michael Cohen’s possible state offenses. Cohen is again useful and thus immune. It appears to have worked. Despite his dramatic promises of swift and certain action, Cummings is now saying that he will not pursue any charges. It is wonderful to be useful.
The sentencing of Paul Manafort in Washington, D.C. has extended his low prior sentencing to seven and a half years. While that is no walk in the park for a frail person about to turn 70, it is far less than the 35 years that he was faced with in the two cases. It is hardly an overwhelming sentence and, absent his age, it would be viewed as relatively light. That raises the question address in my earlier column in USA Today. Of course, the addition of the state charges could now make all of this a moot point if Manafort is convicted on the new 16 counts.
We have been discussing the incredible courage of women activists in Saudi Arabia and Iran who are being arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for claiming the most basic civil liberties. One of the most inspiring activists is Nasrin Sotoudeh, a world renowned human rights lawyer jailed in Iran for her representation of women who removed their mandatory headscarf. In an act of unspeakable brutality and savagery, an Iranian court has sentenced her to 38 years and 148 lashes in a trumped up charge of spying, spreading propaganda, and insulting Iran’s supreme leader. In the meantime, ten women are being tried in Saudi Arabia which continues to repress women and girls under its strict Islamic code.
The former chair of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort, has received his second sentence from U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, D.C. Jackson sentenced Manafort to 73 months in prison with 30 months of the sentence running consecutively with his Virginia sentence. That would leave an addition of 43 months to run consecutively. That would extend his sentence to seven and a half years. In the federal system, there is an allowance for 15 percent good behavior (there is no parole) plus his time served (9 months). That could result in a release around November 2024.
According to the Baltimore Sun, a Maryland man is now under investigation following a disturbing video in which he jumps on a pelican floating in the water in the Florida Keys. Hunter Hardesty of Davidsonville posted the video to his Facebook account and appeared surprised that a wide array of readers condemned his harmful and juvenile conduct.
The dilemma posed to the West by the returning “ISIS brides” was on display this week as the last group of die-hard women were transported by anti-ISIS forces to safe areas away from the final holdout in Syria, Baghouz. The burka-wearing women were shown in a video shouting abuse at female reporters and even grabbing them by their hair in anger of the failure to comply with Islamic strictures. One woman yells at a female reporter “Have you not read the Koran, are you not ashamed?” Another simply says “We will seek vengeance, there will be blood up your knees.” The scene is unfolding in Syria as we brace for litigation in the United States over the return of Hoda Muthana, an ISIS bride who once supported the terrorist organization but now wants to return. Muthana has an intriguing claim to citizenship.
Well-known fitness coach and Vogue contributor Russell Bateman is under fire this week after videos on his Instagram show his fitness group Skinny Bitch Collective using tribal Maasai people as props for a work out video. It is truly a disgrace as these affluent white women do lunges and squats around tribal women like they are mannequins. It is hard to image that neither Bateman nor his SBC women saw the scene as troubling and jarring.
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.
For those of us worried about climate change and the Administration’s environmental policies, there is a disheartening poll this month about the disconnect between environmental aspirations and the willingness to sacrifice to achieve the needed progress. An AP-NORC survey found that 68% of Americans wouldn’t be willing to pay even $10 more a month in higher electric bills to combat climate change. It reflects the calculus of President Donald Trump that voters still prioritize jobs and financial concerns over countervailing environmental values.
There are times in operating any business when one needs to walk away else levy a deafening rebuke against a vendor. After one just likely cost me a grand in lost income due to their incompetence and making promises they could not keep, I found myself at a bit of a crossroads. I could either drive East read him the riot act or I could drive West and take in some photos and save my heart the aggravation.
Despite missing Mardi Gras and coming to New Orleans at Lent, I have had a wonderful time in the Big Easy. In the immediate aftermath of New Orleans, the trees were still full of beads and the restaurants full of open seats. Now to augment the travel blog with some hits and misses.