When Was Last Time President Monitored For Inciting Violence?

We have crossed so many red lines and been deposited so often into the basement in our country that nothing really surprises me anymore. But the news yesterday about a media company needing to review the material posted by a former president, so to make sure violent or insurrectionist material is not online, does make me again aware of how much worse we are due to Donald Trump.

YouTube will reinstate Trump’s channel once the “elevated risk of violence” has passed, the Google-owned video-sharing site said in a news release. YouTube first suspended Trump’s account on January 12th for one week due to concerns “about the ongoing potential for violence” in the wake of the Capitol riot six days earlier and later extended the restriction by one week. After that period elapsed, the company said on the 26th that it was again extending the suspension but offered no timetable for it to be lifted, leaving its status indefinite.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton works on solving worldwide problems with his global initiatives.

YouTube will rely on a mix of indicators to assess the level of violence Trump may upload, including statements by government officials, the readiness level of law enforcement, and any violent rhetoric YouTube may observe on its own platform.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter, up until a few months ago, was still helping build homes with Habitat for Humanity.

I have argued repeatedly that we needed to remove Trump from office and elect a new person so to restore the dignity of the office. I made this statement for the benefit of all Americans, regardless of partisanship or political ideology. I made the plea as I have had deep concerns about Trump’s irreverent and aberrant behavior in the Oval Office. He has cheapened the dignity of the office, and now needs to be monitored so as not to cause more violence or damage to our democracy based on lies and conspiracy theories.

Meanwhile, George Bush paints and does volunteer work.

Trump needs to be watched so he does not cause injury to the nation by inciting his base.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has used film projects to advance a national dialogue on race and class, democracy, and civil rights.

Presidential Powers Checked, Trump Loses Like Nixon At Supreme Court

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In 2016 Mitt Romney said there may be “a bombshell” in Donald Trump’s tax forms, and that was why they had not been released.  For a top Republican to have made such a statement, during an intense and highly bombastic election, was nothing short of startling.

Romney suggested either the tax forms would show Trump is not nearly as wealthy as he claims or that he had paid such a paltry tax rate that it would show he is what all know him to be.

Or as I term it, a grifter.

The continuing saga of Trump’s taxes, and the weaving and dodging that his lawyers take to make sure no one ever sees them, took a dramatic turn at the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court in two 7-2 decisions, with Cheif Justice John Roberts writing both rulings, made the goal of prosecutors in New York easier with their efforts to see Trump’s financial records.  It was a loss of stunning proportions for Trump, but a major victory for the foundations of what our civic books taught us about law and justice in our nation.

In the other ruling, the court decided Congress could not, at least for now, see many of the same records. It said that case should be returned to a lower court to narrow the parameters of the information being sought for their investigations.  I wish the power for congressional oversight and our system of checks and balances had been allowed a firmer hand in today’s ruling.

The last time there was a court case of this magnitude, dealing with presidential power of the scope presented regarding these tax forms, was when President Richard Nixon wanted to further obstruct justice by denying access to the famed Watergate tape recordings.  Then, as we witnessed today, the court sided with restrictions on presidential power.  We all can claim a huge win because the decision said Trump had no absolute right to block the release of the papers.

The words from the ruling were precise and carry the gravitas the nation needs at this time when Trump has foisted illiberal democratic actions upon the republic.

In our judicial system, “the public has a right to every man’s evidence,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.  “Since the earliest days of the Republic, ‘every man’ has included the president of the United States. Beginning with Jefferson and carrying on through Clinton, presidents have uniformly testified or produced documents in criminal proceedings when called upon by federal courts.”

He added: “(W)e cannot conclude that absolute immunity is necessary or appropriate under Article II or the Supremacy Clause.”

“No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding.”

Trump may still raise objections to the scope and relevance of the subpoena for the papers. Litigation over those new objections will last many months or longer, but we have the grifter on the run.  And that is no small thing.

This blog has long contended many of the answers to Trump’s actions on the international stage would be revealed with the tax forms.  The citizens of this nation have to ask why Trump attempts so vigorously to hide his tax returns?   We should put this matter into historical terms.  No other president in the last 50 years has felt that they needed to keep all their tax returns secret.

Just consider the last election cycles, and it is easy to laugh at Republicans who have cheered Trump on over his had behavior at a time when both President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton,  along with President Obama released decades of tax returns. Yet Trump has fought in court, appeals to ever-higher levels, in a maddening determination to keep his tax returns secret.

It is no small thing to claim that the rule of law is still the guardrails on our republic.  These are trying times, as we all know too well.  While I would have liked to see an even harder knock on the concept of a unitary executive, I know that court cases are made at the margins many times.  I wish the oversight power of Congress had been provided the foundation it deserved in a nation that is to have three separate and powerfully effective branches.

But having said what I wished had happened does not detract from what was won.  A solid win that limited presidential power and a stunning loss for Trump who has done more to undermine our republic than anyone since Andrew Johnson severely botched reconstruction.

And so it goes.

Donald Trump And Lack Of Unity In Pandemic America

Our pandemic crisis is unique for the current generations.  We have not lived through something like this before.  It feels so different from the other horrors such as 9/11, or for those older, World War II.  But what seems so at odds with other crises, such as the Oklahoma bombing or the Challenger explosion, is the lack of empathy from a president.  In addition, is the partisan divide that has resulted in a lack of unity in a nation that has nearly 60,000 dead citizens.  And that number is growing.

We have always had a president in our nation who was able to show empathy and use the office and words to bring a nation together during times of crisis.  That quality of a president has never, perhaps, been understood more clearly than now when we view its glaring absence.

I was on-air at WDOR the night President Reagan spoke to the nation following the horrific explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger. In my lifetime there is perhaps no other speech that so clearly demonstrated the role of a president at times of national crisis, or the heights of rhetorical balm that can come with the office.  I sat in the broadcast studio and was moved to tears.  Contrast national moments such as that one to the current occupant in the White House who continually stokes the anger and resentment of people for partisan advantage.

Trump is not able to either resist being mean or fails to grasp the need and the ability of his office to lift others up when they need the nation’s support.  For instance, I can not get out of my mind how Trump refused to keep the White House flag at half-mast to honor the late Senator John McCain.  It was only belatedly that he allowed his staff to put out a mildly laudatory statement in his name and allow the flag to be lowered.

Character matters.  We say those words often but also take the concept for granted.  When the lack of character is so obvious and smacks at us daily, it becomes a reminder of how much this nation lost when Trump secured the votes of the Electoral College.

As The New York Times pointed out today much of the reason for such a fractured and dismaying national moment is due to the actions and words of Donald Trump.

One of the recurring features of the Trump years has been the president’s knack for detonating so many of our powerful shared experiences into us-versus-them grenades. Whether it’s the anniversary of a national catastrophe like the Oklahoma City bombing, the death of a widely admired statesman (Senator John McCain) or a lethal pathogen, Mr. Trump has exhibited minimal interest in the tradition of national strife placing a pause upon the usual smallness of politics.

Mr. Clinton, historians said, always appreciated the power of big, bipartisan gestures, even when they involved incendiary rivals. “He understood the healing powers of the presidency,” said Ted Widmer, a presidential historian at City University of New York, and a former adviser to Mr. Clinton who assisted him in writing his memoirs. He mentioned a generous eulogy that Mr. Clinton delivered for disgraced former President Richard Nixon, after he died in 1994. “There is a basic impulse a president can have for when the country wants their leader to rise above politics and mudslinging,” Mr. Widmer said.

In that regard, Mr. Trump’s performance during this pandemic has been a missed opportunity. “The coronavirus could have been Donald Trump’s finest hour,” Mr. Widmer said. “You really sensed that Americans wanted to be brought together. But now that appears unattainable.”

For whatever reason, Mr. Trump seems uninterested in setting aside personal resentment, even when some small gestures — a photo op or a joint statement with Democratic leaders in Congress; a bipartisan pandemic commission chaired by former presidents — could score him easy statesmanship points.

Impeachment Inquiry Is Legal, GOP Needs To Grab Hold Of Reality

The House is legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a federal judge ruled today, which would seem to be only news to conservatives who have moved to attack the process given they can not argue the facts.  The ruling is a massive victory for House Democrats as they dive into the muck of the Donald Trump White House.

As such the ruling now allows for the House Judiciary Committee to view secret grand jury evidence gathered by the special counsel Robert Mueller.  There can be no withholding of material from lawmakers.

Under ordinary circumstances, Congress has no right to view secret evidence gathered by a grand jury.  But when President Nixon was brought to accountability the courts permitted the committee weighing whether to impeach him to have access to such materials.  With today’s ruling that same allowance will be made so to find the truth about Trump.  The federal judge wrote that the law in question regarding a need to keep the information secret from Congress was “minimal” and easily outweighed by lawmakers’ need for it when it came to cases of presidential impeachment.

What today’s troubled conservatives have to come to terms with is that they simply got into the wrong bed in 2016 and are now needing to face the political penicillin. Opening an impeachment action against Nixon was legal.  And most needed.  With Clinton, it was truly mystifying as it boiled down to not telling the truth about consensual sex.

But with Trump the impeachment process is about foreign powers influencing our elections.  It makes sex with an intern look like a day at the beach.  Even on a chilly autumn day.

As for the Trump supporters I am confounded as to why they are so nervous.  Since Trump has told everyone there was nothing wrong being done means he should have nothing to hide.

Right?

Note Left By President George Herbert Walker Bush In Oval Office Desk For President Bill Clinton

On Jan. 20, 1993, Bill Clinton entered the Oval Office for the first time as president. As is the tradition the out going president writes a note to the next person to sit in the Oval Office.  George Herbert Walker Bush wrote the following.

Dear Bill,

When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.

I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

Good Luck — George


The Oval Office note that George H.W. Bush left for Bill Clinton. (Courtesy of Bill Clinton)

“The President Is Missing” Makes For Perfect Summertime Page-Turning

I found myself trying to determine which sections were penned by President Bill Clinton and which were written by James Patterson.  At times, it was easy while turning the pages of The President Is Missing, such as when there were policy items thrown into the mix or the sense of betrayal that the fictional character, President Duncan, had to deal with as a cyber-terror attack looms over the nation.  There was a real sense of what a president might feel as the world tumbles out of control.  Since the book is told from the viewpoint of Duncan there is an immediacy to the chaos that unfolds.

I like well-plotted political thrillers. and this writing duo did not disappoint.  The web of international players and the twisted mind of a madman makes for a story that, sadly, is all to plausible.  One might hope that those in power in Washington do not shrug off the opportunity to read this book, as the fear factor alone might be enough for policy wonks to renew their real-life efforts to keep the nation safe.   The background of computer hacking, which is part of the narrative, gives a glimpse into the tech world in which we live–and the dangerous turns it can take.

Both authors wrote in long-hand as they journeyed together in writing this book.  But the magic happens with how Clinton takes on the task of getting his progressive Southern character to do battle with a Newt Gingrich type House Speaker.  I suspect if one had the original handwritten pages from Clinton’s hand the impression on the page from the pen would be much more pronounced as the threat of impeachment takes over the pages.

At 513 pages the story moves in a fluid fashion.  But when the past page is over it seemed sad in that there was not more to enjoy.  During the days when my spirits were low upon seeing the immigrant children separated from their parents, I would escape for a while with Clinton and Patterson.  This week I will need to face the harsh world without Johnathon Duncan.

For my readers wanting a beach book, or one to take on the plane to a vacation spot, you can do no better with a current read than this one.

Picture For The History Books—And Thankfully Not Ruined By Donald Trump

President Trump Caught In Yet Another Lie

Facts matter.  They do in my world, and I suspect yours, too.

President Trump stated in a tweet that 45.6 million people watched the SOTU, “the highest number in history.”

But that is not correct.

At all.

Trump simply can not tell the truth.

Obama’s early speeches before Congress significantly outdrew Trump’s.  His first address to a joint session of Congress, in 2009, drew 52.3 million viewers, and his first State of the Union address, in 2010, attracted 48 million.

Former President George W. Bush also delivered State of the Union addresses that attracted more viewers than Trump’s. Bush’s 2003 speech, which took place weeks before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, drew 62 million viewers, while his 2002 speech, months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, attracted 51.7 million.

Former President Bill Clinton’s 1993 joint address to Congress, meanwhile, drew 66.9 million viewers.

One has to wonder how sweaty Trump’s lawyers will be when required to put the ‘truth-teller’ in front of Mueller!