Sunday, May 19, 2019

Whaaa! A Republican Who Not Only CAN Read But Who Did Read!

Rep. Justin Amash, a very conservative Republican who represents the 3rd District of Michigan, read the Mueller report -- all of it as redacted by A.G. Barr -- and made this string of comments below on Twitter yesterday. Beginning about 24 hours ago, Amash wrote what amounts to what surely will become an historical document -- a declaration of logic and principle now missing from the makeup of (pretty much) all other Republican members of Congress (Lindsey Graham, we're especially looking at you).

You've probably seen the 1st comment in this string, but have you read the whole? And can you appreciate the fortitude it took to write it?
Here are my principal conclusions: 1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 4. Few members of Congress have read the report.

I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony, and having discussed this matter with my staff, who thoroughly reviewed materials and provided me with further analysis.

Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice.

Under our Constitution, the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust.

Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.

In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.

Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.

While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.
Those who haven't read the Mueller Report have no right to attack Rep. Amash's conclusions, especially the Non-Reader in Chief. (You haven't read it either, have you, Virginia Foxx?)

Twitterman went full schoolyard bully this morning, calling Amash a "loser" and "a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy." No attempt in that juvenile rejoinder to dispute Amash's logic and his understanding of the Constitution.

"Amash, who has been described as the 'new Ron Paul' due to his Libertarian beliefs, has broken ranks with the Republican party before — and especially against Mr. Trump, whom he did not endorse in 2016. Earlier this year, he was one of 14 Republican representatives who tried to override Mr. Trump's veto over an emergency declaration for the border wall. In March, Amash did not rule out running for president as a Libertarian in 2020." [Caroline Linton]

Saturday, May 18, 2019

No-Appreciation-for-Irony Department

Republicans are clutching their pearls that Kim Strach, the 2013 Republican appointment as Exec. Director of the SBOE, was replaced by a Democrat.

Yes, it was a partisan move.

But if there's one group that lost its right to complain about partisan appointments, it's North Carolina Republicans, who -- give all of us a break! -- can go sit on tacks.

Preferably out of ear-shot.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Republican Richard Hudson (NC-8) Has a Democratic Opponent

Richard Hudson
Congressman Richard Hudson (R), who has represented the 8th Congressional District of North Carolina since the election of 2012, is pretty much a swamp creature. He's been hanging around Washington, DeeCee, and particularly Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer, for many years. He even did a term in hell as Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's chief of staff before moving on to other congressional offices and holding the bag for other congressmen. He knows how the place works -- or doesn't -- and that you go along to get a leg up.

Hudson worked for the now arrested and disgraced Robin Hayes when Hayes was the congressman from the 8th district. Hudson had moved on to DeeCee when Hayes was defeated by Democrat Larry Kissell in 2008. Hudson returned to North Carolina to oust Kissell in 2012. So the worm turns.

Hudson's association with Robin Hayes glows like a neon of his swampiness. Hudson also took lots of money from billionaire Greg Lindberg, the man behind Hayes's arrest for attempted bribery.
Among those associated with the congressman, the largest recipient of money from Lindberg was a joint fundraising committee affiliated with Hudson — the Hudson Freedom Fund. According to campaign finance reports, that group received donations of $44,300 and $33,900 from Lindberg in December [2018] and January [2019], respectively. [Josh Bergeron, Salisbury Post]
Scott Huffman
Hudson gave $15,000 of that to charities benefitting soldiers at Fort Bragg: "The GOP lawmaker says he didn't do anything wrong, but just wants to avoid the appearance of any impropriety" (Politico). The appearance lingers, as does the aroma of influence peddling.

Hudson already has a Democratic challenger in Scott Huffman, who tried once before in 2018 but lost the Democratic primary to ultimate candidate Frank McNeill, who took almost 45% of the vote against Hudson last year. Huffman is a Navy veteran and owner of a "technology business." His greater community involvement has come from founding and leading Indivisible Charlotte.

He has a website, a very active Twitter feed, and a Facebook group.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Bishop Exploits McCready's Cardboard Persona

That was some killer politics in Charlotte yesterday, with Republican Dan Bishop playing off a cardboard cutout of Dan McCready. Effective politics.

McCready better get himself in the game. He needs to be firing bullets himself, rather than dodging them.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

So It's 'Bathroom' Dan Bishop v. Dan McCready

Dan Bishop
State Senator Dan Bishop, author of the notorious "bathroom bill" that earned North Carolina so much spectacular press, won the Republican primary outright yesterday in the NC-9 special election, avoiding a run-off with Boss Hogg impersonator Stony Rushing and real estate PAC-funded Leigh Brown.

Bishop has a Chapel Hill law degree and a full legal career behind him. He served two terms in the House before opting to run for the Senate seat in 2016 when incumbent Bob Rucho gave it up.

Bishop's known in Raleigh as abrasive (obnoxious?). He's best known for the bathroom bill, as chief sponsor and main author. The passage of HB2 led to a national boycott of North Carolina by major employers, conventions, sporting events, and entertainment figures. According to RealFactsNC, "Bishop has been unrepentant." He even sought to criminalize peaceful protests with a five-year minimum sentence after former Gov. McCrory got chased down the street by LGBT protesters at the Trump inauguration. Bishop had faced protests too, and he was fed up. (Can you spell a-u-t-h-o-r-i-t-a-r-i-a-n?)
Dan McCready

Bishop fingers the usual suspects behind all his troubles: "There is a hostile media and a special interest or two that are interested in creating controversy instead of prosperity for all of North Carolina.” If people would only just shut the hell up about being discriminated against!

In late March of 2017, the General Assembly passed a compromise retreat that repealed most of HB2, and Governor Cooper signed it, but Dan Bishop lashed the compromise on the Senate floor. “This bill is at best a punt. At worst it is a betrayal of principle,” Bishop argued. The Senate passed the compromise anyway, 32-16.

Meanwhile, Democrat Dan McCready has had time to raise money. He had no primary, and he's already well known from his close second-place finish to Rev. Mark Harris last November (before that election was thrown out for fraud). I've had my doubts about McCready, and disappointments with his lack of fortitude (ex-Marine!). With Bishop now the official opponent, they're coming after McCready as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's BFF and a "socialist rubberstamp." McCready should laugh in their face, but he'll probably cringe.

The election vote will be September 10.

So -- yep! -- Dan Bishop comes out swinging at McCready's own campaign office in Charlotte today, accusing him of being a closet socialist, etc. When is McCready gonna show some Marine resolve and clean this clown's clock? He's gotta stop flinching.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Kim Strach Will Be Replaced at State Board of Elections on Monday

Gov. Pat McCrory appointed a new Republican-dominated Board of Elections after his election in 2012, and that Republican board chose Kim Strach as the new SBOE Executive Director, replacing Gary Bartlett who had held the job for many years. Like any Democratic blogger worth his bile, I was suspicious of Kim Strach and paid close attention to her decisions. I have to admit now, with a newly ascendant Democratic Board of Elections moving irrevocably toward replacing her on Monday, that she's been a good executive director.

Oh, I criticized her for her failure to stop the appointment of Matt Snyder as local director of the Watauga BOE, and I was doubtful she could be wholly independent from her aggressively partisan husband, lawyer Phil Strach (the independence of George Conway from his aggressively partisan wife Kellyanne Conway has rewritten that template), but Kim Strach has shown plenty of even-handedness and even political courage in many matters I have followed since 2013 (the following list not in any chronological order):
The detailing of inappropriate behavior by SBOE member Paul Foley, shortly before Mr. Foley got removed from the board. 
The schooling of UNC System General Counsel Thomas Shanahan on what the college "attestation" form required for certifying student IDs for the purposes of voting. 
Her refusal to allow Stacey C. "Four" Eggers, working remotely through his brother Luke Eggers as chair of the Watauga BOE, to combine the Boone 1, Boone 2, and Boone 3 precincts into one mega-precinct with a polling location at the Agricultural Conference Center. 
Her overruling of Watauga BOE Chair Bill Aceto in the November 2017 municipal elections, when Aceto wanted the Boone 2 polling place at the Legends nightclub. Strach said it had to be in the Student Union. 
Her conduct throughout the investigation into balloting fraud in the NC-9 and her examination of witnesses at the February hearing this year.
When Governor Roy Cooper finally regained control of the SBOE, it was an inevitability that Strach would be replaced as executive director, and the news is out this morning that the Democrats on the SBOE will make that move in a teleconference Monday morning.

I'm conflicted about that, given Strach's strong record of performance, and I hope the Democratic majority choose a replacement with professional credentials and no whiff of partisan odor. Nothing less would be acceptable.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

We're Skeptical But Also Prepared to Be Amazed by Sen. Richard Burr

For the first time a subpoena has been issued to a member of the Trump family, to Don Junior, by Senator Richard Burr's Intelligence Committee. Burr's already announced he will not be running for reelection in 2022 when his term ends. He perhaps feels a little freer to exercise those atrophied personal integrity muscles.

Because ... evidently (and according to the Mueller Report) Don Junior lied to Senator Burr's staff when he appeared for an interview last year, lied about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. According to the reporting of Ashley Parker et al., "...the Intelligence Committee has been trying to schedule a second interview with Trump Jr. for weeks, according to people familiar with the negotiations .... As negotiations over Trump Jr.’s testimony dragged on, committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) became increasingly frustrated and believed that Trump Jr. was defying the committee’s authority and not honoring his original agreement...."

Increasingly frustrated and pissed enough to issue a subpoena to the Crown Prince. Impressive.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Thom Tillis Draws a Primary Challenger. Oh My!

The Raleigh News and Observer (specifically, Brian Murphy) broke the news yesterday that Raleigh businessman Garland Tucker III, senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation, and author of "Conservative Heroes: Jefferson to Reagan," filed paperwork to run in the March 2020 Republican primary against incumbent Senator Thom Tillis. Of note: Carter Wrenn, conservative strategist who was at Jesse Helms's elbow for decades, has signed on to advise the Tucker campaign.

Here's where it gets immediately intriguing: Tillis instantly attacked Tucker as an "anti-Trump activist." Bold words there, Senator, from the man who opposed Trump for his position on immigration, protecting the special counsel, and Trump’s national emergency declaration. (Murphy does point out that Tillis has voted with Trump 94.7 percent of the time. But still.)

Tucker does look pretty anti-Trump, and the Tillis people are fanning that coal:
Tillis’s team pointed to a 2016 News & Observer column in which Tucker said he was begrudgingly voting for Trump, whose nomination he had “stoutly resisted” during the primary. 
“Trump is a twice-divorced, self-acknowledged adulterer who has, in the course of this campaign, uttered some of the most unkind, disgusting comments ever made by any American politician,” Tucker wrote in the piece. “Sadly, Clinton offers no personal moral superiority.” 
In May 2015, Tucker hosted a 250-person luncheon in his backyard for then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign for the Republican presidential nod.
Tucker's hiring of Carter Wrenn is another signal of anti-Trumpism, as Wrenn has made no secret on his blog of his disdain for Twitterman. And Wrenn efficiently drilled his stubby finger into Tillis's weak spot: "...Tillis is a Washington politician, who talks a good game, but when you look at how he votes, it doesn’t match up,” Wrenn told a reporter from The Hill. “He has his finger to the air and he flip flops” on the issues.

At the moment no big name Democrat has announced a campaign for the Tillis seat. We hope that changes. And soon.