Tag: bill clinton
Why A Biden 'Impeachment Inquiry' May Make Democrats Secretly Smile

Why A Biden 'Impeachment Inquiry' May Make Democrats Secretly Smile

Impeaching Joe Biden doesn't rank high on the list of political priorities for most Americans — who are far more concerned with economic security, gun violence and crime, health-care costs and whether Republicans and Democrats can work together to address those issues.

While the president's approval ratings languish, most Americans display little interest in the tortuous House investigations targeting him and his son Hunter Biden. A recent Morning Consult poll found that only 30 percent of voters, including less than a quarter of independents, see any urgency in launching a Biden impeachment inquiry.

Yet under intense pressure from their party's loudest voices, including former President Donald Trump, House Republicans may soon embark on the first stage of that process. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy privately told GOP leadership and some members last week that he is "moving closer" to an impeachment inquiry. When he realized that he had encouraged his party's most extreme faction in its mania, he stepped back. "Impeachment inquiry is not impeachment," he assured reporters.

Dim as he is, McCarthy nevertheless should realize that an "inquiry" without an actual impeachment will amount to a public exoneration of Biden. He already may have noticed what his more fanatical members like Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) have not: a distinct absence of proof that Biden has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" that warrant his removal from office.

The most damning piece of evidence uncovered so far by Rep. James Comer, the House Oversight Committee chairman, is a scrap of an interview with an FBI informant who claimed to have heard a Ukrainian businessman say he had paid off Biden during the Obama administration. Unfortunately for Comer, that very same individual had already denied, on tape, that he ever had any contact with Biden.

As Philip Bump noted in The Washington Post, that episode exemplifies the feeble case cobbled together so far by Comer, who has confessed forthrightly that his purpose is political, not forensic. He doesn't care whether he has enough facts to make a persuasive argument for Biden's guilt. The smear is good enough for the chairman and is indeed good enough for many or even most Republicans.

Is such flimsy and contradictory material enough to sustain an impeachment inquiry, however, let alone a vote to oust the president? For those Republicans who still insist that Biden was not duly elected, perhaps it is. For anyone with a functioning brain, including many elected Republicans, it may not be. Before McCarthy starts down the path toward impeachment, he ought to listen to the Republicans who are waving him off. They include Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who publicly warns that impeachment is "a trap," and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a Freedom Caucus member who mocks "impeachment theater" as a distraction and delusion.

For Buck, Paul and other Republican skeptics, it is unpleasant to recall what happened the last time a leader of their party impeached a Democratic president without respect to public opinion. Driven by an intense hatred for President Bill Clinton (and First Lady Hillary Clinton) among their base, and by the proliferation of far-fetched accusations and conspiracy theories in right-wing media, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich committed an historic blunder.

The ugly spectacle produced by the Republicans dragged them down and elevated Clinton. Despite the president's admitted misbehavior with a former intern — and his perjured testimony to shield that private affair — the American people saw him as a victim of partisan hypocrites and Pharisees. When the dust cleared, Clinton was riding high, the Republicans had unceremoniously booted Gingrich and the Democrats had gained seats in a midterm that should have seen them lose.

None of those rather basic considerations discourage the most zealous figures on the right, who demand Biden's impeachment as vengeance for the two Trump impeachments. It's an obsession that leaves voters cold and alienated. Before the impeachment caucus gets too excited, they ought to ask why that threat makes so many Democrats smirk.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

What Makes The Court's Affirmative Action Decision So Supremely Corrupt

What Makes The Court's Affirmative Action Decision So Supremely Corrupt

In a footnote to his egregiously wrong Supreme Court decision ending affirmative action in college admissions, Chief Justice John Roberts appended a sneaky little footnote exempting the nation’s service academies, West Point, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy. Roberts doubtlessly thought he was being crafty when he noted that there are “potentially distinct interests that military academies may present” that necessitates exempting them from the decision. Earlier in his opinion, Roberts wrote that because the 14th Amendment affords citizens “equal protection under the laws,” it forbids discriminating between them on the basis of race. “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it,” Roberts wrote.

Roberts decision is corrupt on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to start, but this little corner gives us a window into the depth of the corruption of the reasoning by Roberts and the other five Republican-appointed justices. The service academy exemption proves all by itself that the six conservative justices had made up their minds to end affirmative action and, in going shopping for a legal justification, ran into a completely obvious legal quandary: if the 14th Amendment is supposed to protect the rights of all American citizens, why doesn’t it protect the rights of citizens who apply for admission to the service academies? In other words, if affirmative action is so wrong that it necessitates “eliminating all of it,” why not eliminate it for the service academies?

It's a classic “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” situation, isn’t it? That Roberts and the other conservatives didn’t see the obvious hole they were driving into tells you all you need to know about how dirty was their legal windshield. An amicus brief supporting affirmative action signed by a former superintendent of West Point and two former chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff asserted that “units that are diverse across all levels are more cohesive, collaborative, and effective.” It’s hardly worth noting that these retired generals who collectively share more than 90 years experience in the military know what they’re talking about. The strength that diversity brings to the military is inarguable.

But if it works for the military, wouldn’t it work in civilian life as well? If the service academies believe that diverse student bodies produce better educated and better trained leaders for the military, and they do, why didn’t the Supreme Court accept the same argument when it was made by Harvard and the University of North Carolina? Don’t American corporations, and law firms, and hospitals, and police forces, and insurance companies and every other kind of employer need the same benefits that diversity gives to the military?

Of course they do, and that is why colleges have had affirmative action policies for decades. Affirmative action works. Not only does it take steps to make up for the decades of discrimination against Black and Brown people, affirmative action improve education for college students who are exposed to diverse opinions and life experiences in diverse student bodies. Can you imagine sitting in a classroom at a university and studying Reconstruction after the Civil War, or the Jim Crow era, or the Civil Rights Movement, and every face in the room including that of the professor is white? That’s the way it was at colleges and universities for decades. The very people whose history students were studying were not there.

The ruling by the Roberts/Thomas/Alito court on affirmative action has created two classes of education in this country: one for the military academies, and one for all the other institutions of higher learning. I predict that this decision is so weak and shot full of logical holes that it won’t take long for a university somewhere to file a lawsuit that basically says, hey! We want to be treated like West Point and the Naval Academy! We compete against them in admissions, trying to attract the best students. There ought to be a level playing field, and this Supreme Court decision tilts it against civilian colleges.

Rep. Jason Crow, Democrat from Colorado and a former Army Ranger, wrote on Twitter, “The court is saying diversity shouldn’t matter, EXCEPT when deciding who can fight and die for our country,” and that may be correct, but it was not the reasoning behind the Roberts opinion that exempted the service academies from having to end their affirmative action programs. Roberts, and the other five conservatives on the Supreme Court, appear to have accepted the arguments made by the former generals in their amicus brief, that diversity is necessary if you want to educate and train leaders of a military that is as diverse as the country is, and you want that military to be more “cohesive, collaborative, and effective.”

Which is interesting, because the exact opposite argument was used against President Harry S Truman’s order integrating the military in 1948. General Dwight Eisenhower and General Omar Bradley testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that racially integrating the military would “damage unit cohesion, morale, and good order and discipline.”

General Colin Powell, 45 years later, would make the same argument to President Bill Clinton on the day that as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he led the other chiefs of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force into the Oval Office in February of 1993. Powell told Clinton that if he did the same thing Truman did and integrate gay people into the military, it would “destroy unit cohesion, discipline, and morale” and weaken the United States military, and he, Powell, and the other service chiefs would resign.

A similar argument was made when women were integrated into the military in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. Women were predicted to “damage our military strength and readiness,” the argument went.

We all know what happened after the military was integrated by race, gender, and sexual orientation. Our military isn’t weaker today. It’s stronger than it ever was.

So, if the Supreme Court is going to accept the argument that affirmative action is necessary at the service academies because units that are diverse and led by leaders who are Black, Brown, Asian, and female are all the better for it, why shouldn’t civilian colleges and universities be able to do the same thing with their student bodies? Won’t the leaders their graduating classes produce be better prepared to go out and get jobs and succeed in an America that is more diverse than at any time in its history?

You know what the answer is, and so do I, and so do Justices Roberts and Thomas and the rest of them. But they don’t care, because what they’re doing isn’t interpreting the Constitution, it’s serving a conservative agenda that has wanted to turn the clock back for over 50 years. By overturning one precedent after another, from abortion, to affirmative action, to environmental regulations, to reversals of long-standing rulings on the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and religious freedom, the Supreme Court is turning itself into a legislature. The Congress under Republican control and a Republican president relaxed so-called CAFÉ standards for automobiles, regarding both gas mileage and pollution controls. When Joe Biden got in the White House, he returned the standards to the way they were and imposed new and stronger ones.

What’s happening with the Supreme Court is the same thing. Conservatives didn’t like the old standards for college admissions, so they put justices on the court who would overturn them. Conservatives didn’t like the standards of medical care for women established under Roe v Wade, so they spent 40 years getting conservative justices on the court who would overturn that decision. Legislatures and the executive offices in states and in the nation are inherently political. That’s why we have elections every two, four, and six years. Now the Supreme Court has become so politicized that we should be electing its justices, but the Constitution won’t let us.

This imbalance in political and practical power is being exploited by conservatives to serve their own ends, and it’s going to persist and even get worse in the future because the issues conservatives want to push onto the country are so unpopular, they are going to lose election after election, and they know it. A democracy is supposed to respect the rights of the minority but be controlled by the majority.

I think we are heading into at least two decades of minority rule by judicial fiat, and we had better come up with some ways to counter it, or one right after another is going to fall to the totalitarian rule of six out of control arch-conservative justices who are so corrupt, they won’t even write themselves a code of ethics to control their greed and worst impulses.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Rudy Giuliani

'What About Bill Clinton?': Giuliani Erupts Over PossibleTrump Indictment

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and erstwhile defense counsel for ex-President Donald Trump, pulled the whataboutism card in an appearance on Newsmax's Saturday Report.

Giuliani was incensed over reports that Trump is likely to be arrested and indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) next week for allegedly paying $130,000 in so-called hush money to adult film entrepreneur Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 presidential election in order to keep her from talking about their purported personal relationship.

Trump's long-time attorney-turned-state's witness Michael Cohen went to prison for facilitating the illicit transaction (along with other crimes) which experts believe violated campaign finance laws. Since his release in 2021, Cohen has vociferously demanded that Trump be held accountable for commanding the illegal payoff.

There is also burbling speculation that if Trump is indeed prosecuted in New York, a cascade of additional charges may be close behind. These include Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis' (D) investigation into Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election in her state as well as the United States Department of Justice's ongoing probes into the hoard of classified documents that Trump took to Mar-a-Lago from the White House toward the end of his term and Trump's ringleading of the January 6th, 2021 Capitol insurrection.

But Giuliani, whom Trump "ordered" to represent him for free, is insisting that Trump is an innocent victim of political persecution at the hands of Bragg and Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros, one of the right-wing's favorite boogeymen.

"Bragg in his office must have a, a thousand non-disclosure agreements, and plus this is a personal sexual situation. What about Bill Clinton? That wasn't worse? This guy allegedly, and I'm telling you, it's untrue as his personal friend. I'm gonna tell you categorically, she's lying, categorically, and I don't know why I'd say that all the time," Giuliani sniped. "I can tell you, and I can tell you personally why I know that she's a damn liar."

Trump "also recovered money from her. This is ridiculous. It's completely ridiculous," Giuliani continued. "It's a complete indication that Bragg – when he, uh, declared he wasn't gonna enforce the law – about half of them should have been dismissed. And meanwhile, let's not forget the fact that Manhattan has suffered under unbelievable levels of crime under this incompetent and communist."

Giuliani then referred to Bragg as a "Soros-paid-for piece of, I don't know what. This is the – this has gotta be the nail in the coffin of this DA."

Watch below or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Biden -- And  Every Democrat -- Must Stand Strong Against Debt Blackmail

Biden -- And Every Democrat -- Must Stand Strong Against Debt Blackmail

While Speaker Kevin McCarthy demands transparency from the Biden White House, he has concealed crucial facts from the American public ever since he forged the "corrupt bargain" that greased his ascension to the constitutional post he now holds. The details of the agreement that allowed McCarthy to scrape together the barest majority are said to be set down in a three-page memorandum, which remains hidden.

What we already know, however, is that McCarthy arranged for ordinary Americans to subsidize his sleazy deal with the far Right when he promised to withhold approval of a higher debt ceiling until Democrats agree to enormous budget reductions — including harsh cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Unless Senate Democrats and the White House surrender to those absurd demands, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, too, House Republicans insist they will force the United States to repudiate its debts and wreck its credit.

Debt repudiation would have devastating consequences for the national economy, the global economy, and America's position in the world. The only beneficiaries would be the adversaries of the United States. That much is obvious. And if it is, then aren't those politicians who constantly proclaim their own patriotism but seek to drive the country into ruin shouldn't even contemplate such acts — unless they're not so patriotic after all?

The Republican crazies say these extreme measures reflect their deep concern about budget deficits and the national debt. Their worrying would be more plausible if they had bothered to speak up on any of several occasions during Donald Trump's presidency when Congress had to raise the debt ceiling as a matter of course. Not once did Democrats even whisper about blackmailing Trump over the debt increase. And not once did Republicans protest the Trump spending and tax policies that ballooned the debt by trillions.

Now, of course, Donald Trump is for welshing on the debt ceiling. This would not be the first time he has encouraged financial chicanery. Ask the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to felonious fraud in Trump's service and is now taking up residence on Riker's Island.

It is especially obnoxious for Trump to encourage a debt ceiling default when so much of the debt was incurred during his presidency. A higher debt ceiling isn't needed to enable future spending, but to cover spending that already occurred. Legal scholars would add that repudiating the debt would violate the Constitution, which protects "the full faith and credit of the United States," and the 14th Amendment, which stipulates that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law... shall not be questioned."

Trump may believe a default wouldn't matter. After all, his deadbeat approach to business always involved shafting his creditors, walking away from his debts and escaping accountability through bankruptcy. That may be how life works for a small-time swindler, but it isn't what great nations do — and the price would be unacceptably high.

The Republicans always say they want to operate government more like business — but they didn't say they want to run it like Trump's crooked company.

For now, the Treasury can manage the debt ceiling by shuffling various accounts and delaying certain payments, even though the nation officially passed "Debt Ceiling Day" on January 19. Sometime in the next several months a reckoning will loom.

Appropriately enough, the renewal of the debt ceiling debate is coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the inauguration of Bill Clinton, the only president in living memory who actually reduced deficits and debt. He did the opposite of Trump, raising taxes on the rich and setting the country on a path toward budget surplus (until the Republicans returned to power and blew it all).

The last time congressional Republicans (including McCarthy) made menacing noises about the debt ceiling was in 2011. Clinton wisely urged President Barack Obama to stand firm — just as he did when congressional Republicans led by Speaker Newt Gingrich tried to kill Medicare and shut down the government. Ultimately even the impetuous Gingrich refrained from threatening a debt default, although Clinton knew that his nemesis had considered deploying that terror tactic.

"I think (the Gingrich Republicans) figured I'd be smart enough to explain to the American people that they were refusing to pay for the expenses they had voted for when Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were president," Clinton recalled in 2011. "And that would make them look bad."

"The Constitution is clear and this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy," he added. "You can't say, 'Well, we won the last election, and we didn't vote for some of that stuff, so we're going to throw the whole country's credit into arrears."

Clinton took the measure of the extremists on Capitol Hill during his second term, facing them down during two government shutdowns. He wasn't impressed by their sudden enthusiasm for balanced budgets, and he knew that standing up to their bullying and lying was the only way forward. Biden should study and heed the example.

The urgency now may be even greater, with the current gang of Republican extremists even more reckless than their irresponsible predecessors.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.