Trump left isolated as Republican allies revolt over US withdrawal from Syria   

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Trump left isolated as Republican allies revolt over US withdrawal from SyriaMitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham lead condemnation of foreign policy move that could prove ‘disaster in the making’Donald Trump with Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, in the Cabinet Room on Monday. Lindsey Graham said abandoning the Kurds would be ‘a stain on America’s honour’. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/APDonald Trump was dangerously isolated on Monday as, in a rare rebuke, some of his most loyal allies revolted against his decision to withdraw US troops from north-eastern Syria.Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell led a chorus of Republicans who, having defended the president on almost every other issue – including over impeachment – decided to draw a line in the sand.“A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime,” McConnell said. “And it would increase the risk that Isis and other terrorist groups regroup.”He added: “As we learned the hard way during the Obama administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal.”The criticism was significant because McConnell is usually at pains not to cross Trump even at his most capricious. Last week the Kentucky senator released a Facebook video promising to stop Democratic-led impeachment in its tracks.Article 1 of the United States constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to initiate impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments of the president. A president can be impeached if they are judged to have committed "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" – although the constitution does not specify what “high crimes and misdemeanors” are.The process starts with the House of Representatives passing articles of impeachment. A simple majority of members need to vote in favour of impeachment for it to pass to the next stage. Democrats currently control the house, with 235 representatives.The chief justice of the US supreme court then presides over the proceedings in the Senate, where the president is tried, with senators acting as the jury. For the president to be found guilty two-thirds of senators must vote to convict. Republicans currently control the Senate, with 53 of the 100 senators.Two presidents have previously been impeached, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Andrew Johnson in 1868, though neither was removed from office as a result. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before there was a formal vote to impeach him.Martin BelamThe unusual fracture emerged on Sunday night when, shortly after a phone conversation between Trump and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the White House announced removal of US troops from the Syria-Turkey border area. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” it added.Critics of all political stripes have long feared that the move could open the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish-led fighters in the area. Kurdish groups have fought alongside a small US presence in Syria to drive Islamic State militants from the region.The Republican backlash was rapid and potentially unnerving for a president whose fate is tethered to the party and the assumption that it will acquit him in the Senate if, as widely expected, the Democratic-led House of Representatives votes for impeachment.Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, who has become an outspoken defender (and frequent golf partner) of Trump, did not acquiesce this time. Abandonment of the Kurds would be “a disaster in the making”, he said, and “a stain on America’s honour”.Graham told Fox News: “I hope I’m making myself clear how short-sighted and irresponsible this decision is. I like President Trump. I’ve tried to help him. This, to me, is just unnerving to its core.”Graham wrote on Twitter that if the plan goes ahead, he will introduce a Senate resolution opposing it and seeking reversal of the decision. He added: “We will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, whose attempts to defend Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president have provoked mockery, said: “If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you, America should keep their word.”Michael McCaul of Texas, the lead Republican on the House foreign affairs committee, also urged the president to reconsider. “The United States should not step aside and allow a Turkish military operation in north-east Syria,” he said. “This move will undermine our ongoing campaign to prevent an Isis resurgence and will ultimately threaten our homeland.“Additionally, the United States needs to stay engaged to prevent further destructive involvement in the region from our adversaries like the Assad regime, Putin and Iran.”Notably, senator Marco Rubio of Florida, reluctant to criticise Trump even when the president suggested that China investigate former vice president and 2020 election rival Joe Biden, was clear , describing the retreat as “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria”And Nikki Haley, Trump’s former UN ambassador, admonished Trump without mentioning his name. “We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back,” she tweeted. “The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. TurkeyIsNotOurFriend”Ominously for Trump, even conservative Fox News aired dissent. Host Brian Kilmeade described the pullout as “a disaster”, telling viewers of Fox & Friends: “Abandon our allies? That’s a campaign promise? Abandon the people that got the caliphate destroyed?”Republicans who have contradicted Trump before did so forcefully again. Utah senator Mitt Romney described Trump’s announcement as “a betrayal”, adding: “It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster.”Romney and Democratic senator Chris Murphy issued a joint statement insisting Trump’s administration “explain to the American people how betraying an ally and ceding influence to terrorists and adversaries is not disastrous for our national security interests”.Democrats also piled in but there was a lone voice of support for the president on Capitol Hill. Republican senator Rand Paul, long a critic of foreign intervention, said: “So many neocons want us to stay in wars all over the Middle East forever. [Trump] is absolutely right to end those wars and bring the troops home.”Trump himself was undeterred by the blowback. Speaking at the White House on Monday, he said he has “great respect” for the prominent Republican critics. And added: “People are extremely thrilled because they say it’s time to bring our people back home. We’re not a police force. They’re policing the area. We’re not a police force. The UK was very thrilled at this decision … many people agree with it very strongly.”



          

GOP Senators Unnerved and ‘Concerned’ About ‘Betrayal’ of Kurds in Syria   

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GOP Senators Unnerved and ‘Concerned’ About ‘Betrayal’ of Kurds in SyriaBRENDAN SMIALOWSKIPresident Donald Trump’s decision to pave the way for a Turkish invasion of northern Syria at the expense of Kurdish allies in the region has infuriated Republican allies in the Senate who have spent the last two weeks twisting themselves in knots to defend him from an impeachment inquiry. Late on Sunday, the White House released a one-paragraph statement declaring that a Turkish invasion of northern Syria was imminent, and the United States would “not support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area.” For Kurds in the region—who have been fighting ISIS with U.S.-supplied weapons and are largely considered the strongest fighting force in Syria—the declaration amounts to an abrogration of agreements with the United States to defend them against Turkey, which considers them to be terrorists. In June, Trump himself warned that abandoning the alliance would allow Turkey to “wipe out the Kurds, who helped us with ISIS.”Trump’s Crazy Syria Move Will Wipe Out America’s Allies and Set Up a Big ISIS ComebackThe backlash from his Republican allies was swift.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), led the way on Monday morning, with the South Carolina senator calling the move “shortsighted and irresponsible” on Fox & Friends, a show that effectively serves as a televised presidential daily brief for Trump.“This impulsive decision by the president has undone all the gains we’ve made, thrown the region into further chaos, Iran is licking their chops, and if I’m an ISIS fighter, I’ve got a second lease on life,” Graham said. “I will do everything I can to sanction Turkey’s military and their economy if they step one foot into Syria. I hope I’m making myself clear how shortsighted and irresponsible this decision is.”Graham even referenced the House’s impeachment inquiry, unprompted, before adding that while “I’ve tried to help him,” the president’s behavior was “just unnerving to its core.”Graham, who has spent years trying to steer Trump closer to the hawkish foreign policy stances held by his Republican predecessors, opened the floodgates for Republicans who see Trump’s move as a threat to a critical U.S. ally in the region, and a potentially disastrous embrace of an autocratic regime.Indeed, Monday saw widespread pushback from around the Senate GOP, from lawmakers who’ve cozied up to Trump to those who have been more willing to call him out. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Trump ally who has nudged him toward more hawkish positions on Venezuela and Iran policy, called the decision “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said that he was “deeply concerned” that the decision could leave Kurds who risked their lives to fight ISIS in harm’s way.And Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), probably Trump’s most vocal Senate GOP critic, characterized the pullout as “a betrayal” that “presages another humanitarian disaster” in Syria. Romney went so far as to join Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) to demand that administration officials explain their move to lawmakers and the public. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), meanwhile, has toned down his Trump criticism lately but warned that the retreat would “likely result in the slaughter of allies who fought with us, including women and children.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) managed to subtweet the president, calling Trump’s move “a terribly unwise decision” moments after the president described his wisdom on the matter as “great and unmatched.”Even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a rare rebuke of the president whom he has pledged to protect from removal from office, pleaded with Trump to maintain an American presence in the region and to prevent Turkey from invading.“I urge the president to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners,” McConnell said in a statement. Major new conflict between Turkey and our partners in Syria, McConnell said, “would seriously risk damaging Turkey’s ties to the United States and causing greater isolation for Turkey on the world stage.”Among Trump’s allies seeking to thread the needle between opposing the withdrawal and ensuring that the president didn’t feel attacked was Sen. Ted Cruz, who tweeted that while Trump was “right to want to bring our soldiers home,” it would be “DISGRACEFUL” (capital letters Cruz’s) to allow Turkey to attack Kurdish allies in the region.“Our enemies and rivals (Iran, Russia, etc.) don’t abandon their allies,” Cruz said. “If we want allies to stand with America in the future, we shouldn’t either. Honorable nations stand by their friends.”Seemingly alone among Senate Republicans in supporting the withdrawal was Sen. Rand Paul, who is perhaps the biggest cheerleader of Trump’s isolationist instincts. The Kentucky senator told reporters that he stands with Trump “as he once again fulfills his promises to stop our endless wars and have a true America First foreign policy.”Other Senate Republicans have remained tight-lipped on the president’s decision, perhaps praying that Trump will reverse course on the withdrawal—as he did in December 2018, after sharp rebukes from within the party and the resignation of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis halted a hastily announced drawdown of U.S. troops from Syria.Asked during an event celebrating a trade agreement with Japan on Monday afternoon about whether he had consulted with the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the decision, Trump insisted that he had.“I consulted with everybody,” Trump said.Additional reporting: Sam Brodey Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



          

Senate Republicans Recoil From Trump’s Decision to Abandon Kurds   

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Senate Republicans Recoil From Trump’s Decision to Abandon Kurds(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and abandon Kurdish allies has prompted a furious backlash among key members of his most important bulwark against an impeachment conviction: Senate Republicans.Hawkish GOP senators, whom Trump will need to keep him in office if the House moves ahead with impeachment, condemned the president’s decision as a win for terrorists and a defeat for American credibility. Some are already discussing legislation to push back.“A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran and the Assad regime,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. He urged the president to “keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners.”Foreign policy has long been the issue where Republicans are most likely to disagree with Trump, and it’s not clear that strong words against the president’s Syria policy will cost him any political support. Trump would have to lose the support of at least 20 Republican senators to be removed from office if the House votes to impeach him.The harshest criticism Monday came from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a strong Trump ally and frequent golf companion. Graham said this “impulsive decision” will benefit Iran and cost the U.S. leverage in the region.Graham also said he and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen will introduce sanctions against Turkey if the NATO ally invades Syria. He said he expects such sanctions to get a two-thirds majority -- enough to override a Trump veto.After criticism from Graham and others, Trump tweeted that he would “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it took “off limits” actions that he didn’t specify. He also said Turkey must “watch over” about 12,000 captured Islamic State fighters and tens of thousands of their family members living in jails and camps in Kurdish-held territory.The Senate earlier this year had a veto-proof margin to pass an amendment authored by McConnell opposing a withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan. On Monday, Criticism in Congress was bipartisan, focused on the move to abandon Kurdish forces who helped U.S. forces fight ISIS, and who are holding thousands of ISIS fighters in custody.Other Senate Republicans pushing back on the president include Marco Rubio of Florida, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, though none other than Graham have yet said they plan to act on their dismay.Romney, who heads a Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Middle East and counterterrorism, released a joint statement with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, the top Democrat on the panel, saying Trump’s decision “severely undercuts America’s credibility as a reliable partner and creates a power vacuum in the region that benefits ISIS.” They demanded that the administration explain the decision to the full committee.Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who is up for re-election next year, warned against partnering with Turkish President Recep Erdogan.“If the president sticks with this retreat, he needs to know that this bad decision will likely result in the slaughter of allies who fought with us, including women and children,” Sasse said in a statement Monday. “I hope the president will listen to his generals and reconsider.”Some House Republicans also criticized the abrupt withdrawal. Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, a member of GOP leadership, called the decision a “catastrophic mistake.” New York Republican Elise Stefanik recently returned from a bipartisan trip to the region and joined a statement with Democratic representatives condemning Trump’s “rash decision.”“Not only will this decision further destabilize the region, it will make it more difficult for the United States to recruit allies and partners to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS,” the statement said.One of Trump’s Senate allies approved of Trump’s decision: Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has long called for withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan.(Updates with McConnell quote in third paragraph)\--With assistance from Erik Wasson.To contact the reporter on this story: Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Anna Edgerton, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



          

Gym Epiphany   

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The whole kerfuffle over the whistle blower demonstrates that Fartus Maximus Prevaricator is unworthy of any trust from the American people.  What is awaiting is how many Senators are comfortable committing treason.
          

Ebert Traded to the Rangers   

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OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators have acquired forward Vladislav Namestnikov from the N.Y. Rangers in exchange for defenceman Nick Ebert and Ottawa's four... - AHL Belleville Senators
          

NY Rangers clear cap space, trade Vladislav Namestnikov to Ottawa Senators   

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In a cap-clearing move, the Rangers traded center Vladislav Namestnikov to the Senators for Nick Ebert and a fourth round pick.
       

          

Dr. Richard Daystrom on (News Article): 5 Bulls Found Dead in Oregon; Then the Story Gets Weird……   

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5 Bulls Found Dead in Oregon; Then the Story Gets Weird……

Oct. 1, 2019 at 9:38 pm Updated Oct. 2, 2019 at 5:55 pm

 By Andrew Selsky

The Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The first dead bull was found in a timbered ravine in Eastern Oregon. There was no indication it had been shot, attacked by predators or eaten poisonous plants.

The animal’s sex organs and tongue had been removed. All the blood was gone. In the next few days, four more Hereford bulls were found within 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) in the same condition. There were no tracks around the carcasses.

Ranch management and law enforcement suspect that someone killed the bulls. Ranch hands have been advised to travel in pairs and to go armed.

Ever since the bulls were found over several days in July, Harney County sheriff’s Deputy Dan Jenkins has received many calls and emails from people speculating what, or who, might be responsible.

The theories range from scavengers such as carrion bugs eating the carcasses to people attacking the animals to cause financial harm to ranchers. Jenkins, who is leading the investigation that also involves state police, has run into only dead ends and has no witnesses.

“If anyone has concrete information or knows of any cases that have been solved in the past, that would definitely be helpful,” he said. Colby Marshall, vice president of the Silvies Valley Ranch that owned the bulls, has another theory: “We think that this crime is being perpetuated by some sort of a cult.”

The case recalls mutilations of livestock across the U.S. West and Midwest in the 1970s that struck fear in rural areas. Thousands of cattle and other livestock ranging from Minnesota to New Mexico were found dead with their reproductive organs and sometimes part of their faces removed.

Ranchers began carrying guns. Folks said helicopters had been heard around the kill sites. A federal agency canceled an inventory by helicopter of its lands in Colorado, worried that it would get shot down.

A couple of U.S. senators urged the FBI to investigate, according to FBI documents. After saying it lacked jurisdiction, the FBI agreed to investigate cases on tribal lands. But the mutilations stopped.Former FBI agent Kenneth Rommel, who headed the investigation, said there was no indication that anything other than common predators were responsible.

Cases have emerged sporadically since then. In the 1980s, a few cows were found dead and mutilated in eastern Oregon. More recently, there have been cases on a ranch near Flagstaff, Arizona.

Some of the mutilations can be attributed to natural causes. An animal drops dead, the blood pools at the bottom of the carcass, it bloats, and the skin dries out and splits. The tears often appear surgical. Carrion bugs, birds and other scavengers go for the soft tissues.

Dave Bohnert, director of Oregon State University’s Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns, said he believes people killed the most recent bulls because there is no indication they were felled by predators or had eaten poisonous plants.

However, the state of the carcasses could be attributable to nature, said Bohnert, who is not officially investigating the case.

If people killed the bulls, a motive could be to financially harm the ranch, he said, noting that breeding bulls cost thousands of dollars each, and the 100-plus calves each of them sire are collectively worth much more.

Marshall doubts it was a malicious attack on the ranch, which employs 75 people, many from local communities. Silvies Valley Ranch covers 140,000 acres (57,000 hectares) of deeded and leased National Forest lands around a mile above sea level.

In 2006, a wealthy veterinarian bought the ranch and made it a combination working ranch and an elite destination resort. It has four golf courses, a spa, shooting ranges, fishing and luxury cabins going for up to $849 per night.

Marshall suspects the bulls were killed to get the organs of the free-ranging bulls for some reason. The bull parts would be available cheaply or free at a slaughterhouse, but he believes some people are going to a lot of trouble to get these parts on the range.

There’s no sign that scavengers removed the organs of the bull.

 

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Irish access to employment-based visas threatened by proposed legislation   

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The AOH is urging Senators to oppose the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act as it threatens Irish workers' access to US visas.

          

Senators pile on the NBA for yielding to China over Rockets GM's pro-Hong Kong tweet   

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Chuck Schumer and Marco Rubio criticized the NBA for its response to Rockets GM Morey's pro-Hong Kong tweet that set off uproar in China.
          

10/8/2019: Sport: Ottawa poslala Chlapíka na farmu   

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Útočník Filip Chlapík se přesunul z Ottawy na farmu do Belleville do nižší AHL. Dvaadvacetiletý hráč nastoupil za Senators ve středečním úvodním utkání nového ročníku NHL v Torontu a připsal si při porážce 3:5 asistenci. Při sobotním domácím duelu s...
          

Republican senators refute Trump’s own Ukraine-Biden conspiracy theory - Vox.com   

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  1. Republican senators refute Trump’s own Ukraine-Biden conspiracy theory  Vox.com
  2. Republicans try a new excuse to defend Trump: It's just a joke  CNN
  3. Rob Portman calls Trump’s request for China to probe Biden ‘not appropriate’  POLITICO
  4. The GOP’s bootlicking cowardice knows no bounds  The Washington Post
  5. The Education of Fanatical Centrists  The New York Times
  6. View full coverage on Google News

          

Mieterverein: Strieders Vorschlag „nur eine nette Idee“   

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Der Vorschlag des Ex-Bausenators Peter Strieder (SPD) für eine Mietsenkungs-Kampagne stößt auf große Skepsis.
          

Rangers trade Vladislav Namestnikov to Senators   

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Vladislav Namestnikov’s time on Broadway is over. The Rangers traded the Russian forward to the Senators in exchange for AHL defenseman Nick Ebert and a fourth-round pick in 2021. The Rangers reportedly retain $750,000 of salary in the deal. Namestnikov’s agent Dan Milstein announced the trade on Twitter, writing “Excited for new opportunity!!!!!!” A former...
          

Rangers’ Alex Georgiev shows he’s more than just a backup   

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OTTAWA, Ontario — If this is going to be the way Alex Georgiev plays all season, then giving Henrik Lundqvist fewer starts doesn’t figure to be a problem. Georgiev made his season debut and was terrific in stopping 31 shots in the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Senators here on Saturday night. “I thought Georgie...
          

NHL must step in to stop shady Senators owner Eugene Melnyk   

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OTTAWA — It’s becoming an embarrassment, for the NHL and for this noble capital. The Senators are a laughingstock, a franchise that is rotting from the head down. Owner Eugene Melnyk has buried himself in debt and lawsuits, his frugality unheard of in modern professional sports. But more importantly, the business failings have led to...
          

   

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‘Big Bad Trusts’ Are a Progressive Myth

Today’s tech titans, like yesterday’s industrial giants, will diminish in time thanks to competition

The resurgence of progressivism in America has brought growing support for a return to Progressive-era trustbusting. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a plan to break up tech companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook. Berkeley professor Robert Reich, once the resident progressive of the Clinton administration, opines, “Like the robber barons of the first Gilded Age, those of the second”—the tech giants—“have amassed fortunes because of their monopolies.” Even in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, a newspaper headline declares, “Big tech needs to face a Theodore Roosevelt -style trust busting.”

According to progressive legend, when trusts and cartels in the late 19th century exploited consumers, trustbusters rode to the rescue. Today’s progressives are ready to reincarnate yesteryear’s remedies. The problem with this narrative is that it has little basis in fact.

If the Gilded Age was plagued by anticompetitive behavior, the data should show output falling and prices rising in monopolized industries. In a 1985 study, economist Thomas DiLorenzo tested this hypothesis for industries accused of being monopolistic during the debate on the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. He found that output in those industries actually increased by an average of 175% from 1880-90—seven times the growth rate of real gross national product. On average, prices in the so-called monopolized industries fell three times as fast as the consumer-price index. When it comes to the progressive itch to attack large firms, a famous line comes to mind: “Ignorance lies not in the things you don’t know, but in the things you know that ain’t so!”

Steel output grew by 242% from 1880-90, but during the 10 years after the Sherman Act, it grew by only 135%. Other “monopolized” industries with large differences in growth rates in the decades before and after the Sherman Act include copper (330% vs. 133%), petroleum (74% vs. 39%), refined sugar (65% vs. 48%) and cigars and cigarettes (121% vs. 40%).

Prices tell a similar story. On average, in the industries for which data are available, inflation-adjusted prices fell at a faster rate, or rose at a slower rate, in the decade before the Sherman Act than in the decade after it. The real price of steel rails fell by 43% from 1880-90, but fell by only 0.7% from 1890 to 1900. The wholesale price of sugar fell 22.4% from 1880-90 but fell by only 6.1% from 1890-1900. A similar pattern played out for copper, pig iron and anthracite coal.

In reality, the turn of the 20th century was an era of vigorous industrial competition driven by the implementation of new technologies, new sources of supply, and improved management. Economies of scale produced industrial concentration. Most of the trusts and cartels that subsequently formed to keep out competition gradually failed without any government intervention.

The history of the American Sugar Refining trust, which formed in 1887, illustrates this pattern. The Sugar Trust had only fleeting success at limiting production or raising prices over the ensuing 20 years. U.S. refined-sugar production more than doubled from 1887 to 1907. Despite the trust’s efforts to keep them out, competitors built factories and undercut its prices in less time than it took to prosecute a major antitrust lawsuit. In 1893, when the Grover Cleveland administration filed its first Sherman antitrust suit against American Sugar, the margin between the prices of raw and refined sugar was 1.15 cents a pound. By the time the Supreme Court decided the case in 1895, new competitors had driven the margin down to 0.88 cent a pound—a 23% decrease.

Unlike the trusts, tariffs and regulations actually succeeded in squelching competition in the Gilded Age. Standard Oil benefited from tariffs on oil and refined products. Henry Havemeyer, the first president of American Sugar, stated at a congressional hearing in 1899 that “the mother of all trusts is the customs tariff bill. . . . Without the tariff, I doubt if we should have dared to take the risk of forming the trust.”

The first legislative action of the trustbusting era came with the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887 to regulate rail freight rates. Economist George Hilton and historian Gabriel Kolko found that railroads supported federal regulation because their attempts to stabilize rates through cartels had repeatedly failed. Real rail freight revenues fell 17.7% per ton-mile from 1870-90. The Interstate Commerce Act banned price rebates, the mechanism the overbuilt railroad system had used to reduce prices. When trucks began to compete with the railroads, Congress brought trucking under ICC regulation. Whatever its initial impact or intent, over time evidence mounted that transportation regulation actually impeded competition.

By the 1970s, the anticompetitive effects of economic regulation, especially in transportation, were acknowledged by progressives from Ralph Nader to economist Alfred Kahn. In the greatest deregulatory effort of the 20th century, President Jimmy Carter led the opening of competition in the railroad, airline and trucking industries. Peer-reviewed economic studies have consistently shown that the transportation deregulation of the Carter era produced significant price reductions and improvements in service.

The rise of Big Tech is virtually a replay of the rise of scale-driven industrialization at the turn of the 20th century. We’ve seen rapid growth of large firms fueled by technological innovation and economies of scale accompanied by declining prices. This time around, extraordinarily, the new “monopolies” are giving many of their products away.

There are legitimate policy concerns involving Big Tech, such as claims of censorship. But history shows little evidence that breaking up big tech companies or regulating them as monopolies will benefit consumers. Before policy makers repeat the failed experiments of the past, they should determine whether trustbusting is really about protecting consumers or merely about expanding the power of government.

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Book Review: ‘Order Without Design,’ by Alain Bertaud

An Urban Planner Describes the Flaws of His Profession

Who should run cities, economists or urban planners? This is a trick question: the answer is that neither group can fully know how to run such complex systems. But if planner Alain Bertaud had to choose, he’d vote against his own profession.

In his recent book Order without Design: How Markets Shape Cities, Bertaud writes that planners have largely botched urban growth worldwide, and should approach it by using more insights from economics. For decades, Bertaud has trotted the world to study and help plan cities himself. He worked first for the United Nations, then the World Bank, then as a private consultant. He’s now a research scholar at NYU, where he’s learned from that school’s renowned economists.

Economics would be useful to planners, he writes, because it’s scientific. It uses technical, real-world data to create models on how cities behave, and how they would behave if given variables change. This means economists can better understand markets, predict outcomes, and determine best practices based on a defined set of goals.

Planners, by contrast, are “normative”, meaning they shape their premises not through empiricism, but norms and fads from their micro-culture. Their use of terms like “quality of life”, “neighborhood character”, “livability,” and “sustainability” are not technical, but derive from how they and their peers subjectively define these words. This means that planners depend on truisms and pseudo-science to shape policy.

One example Bertaud describes comes from his time spent in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which in the 1970s was exploding in population, as rural Haitians migrated there to escape poverty. Bertaud was part of a team of U.N. bureaucrats who visited the city to advise on its growth. Many of his colleagues thought the growth should be dispersed nationwide, rather than concentrating in Port-au-Prince.

“At the time,” writes Bertaud, “planners were debating about the optimum size of cities, usually advocating for a size between half a million and a million people.”

Yet the economics literature had already debunked this notion. Economists back then were saying (as they do now) that cities get more productive the more they grow, due to agglomeration benefits, and there was no reason to cap population at one million people. Bertaud didn’t understand these benefits until he met an economist for the first time, while in Haiti. From then on, he became convinced that economists should have a bigger role in educating planners.

If that happened, planners would then be less prone to view cities as tabula rasas that should be designed based on their own cultural tastes, and more prone to view cities as what they actually are: labor markets. This “cities as labor markets” theory is the second big premise of Bertaud’s book.

A city’s fundamental raison d’etre is that it’s where people go to find jobs. Cities grow based on their ability to provide economic opportunity, and decline if that opportunity vanishes. The key role planners should play is not to choose which industries bolster these labor markets, but to set the conditions for growth, by allowing the development of housing and transportation that lets people access and expand these labor markets. Housing and transportation is where Bertaud thinks planners could better apply economic thinking. For example, rather than mandating zoning laws that are arbitrary and fixed, planners should observe the price signals in their markets, and use it as feedback to adjust the zoning. Every few years, zoning regulations should be subject to cost-benefit analyses, to ensure they’re accomplishing their stated goal, not just inflicting financial hardship and high home prices.

For transportation, planners should ignore their preconceived biases about the “right” transport modes and layouts, and instead focus on what will actually shorten commutes and improve mobility. This too can be done through price signals – namely tolls and congestion charging – that more efficiently delineate road space and ease traffic flow. Whether or not this leads to the overwhelming use of rails, buses, carpools or single-occupancy vehicles will vary by city, and depend on how those respective modes are priced.

One flaw of Order Without Design is that Bertaud never really defines “planner”, which causes him to isolate planners for unfair blame. Globally speaking, planners from the U.N. or federal governments may have power over land-use decisions. But in the U.S., policy is made less by professional planners—who graduated from planning schools and have AICP certification—than by politicians. The anti-economic thinking that drives our land-use policy is really more a reflection of the American people and who they vote for than of urban planners, who are largely powerless (if still misguided) advisors.

But the basic message of Bertaud’s book holds. Cities are often viewed and treated like aesthetic or cultural objects, rather than labor markets where people go to work. Their housing and transport grids are planned as such, ignoring this functional role of cities. Introducing economics to the urbanization process would help solve the problems now common in cities worldwide.

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Jeff Jacoby: Instead of resurrecting the 'People's Pledge,' let's bury it for good

REPRESENTATIVE JOE KENNEDY, the youngest member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, announced last week that he would run against Senator Ed Markey, the oldest member, because, he said, "I've got new ideas and a new approach." Really? In nearly seven years in Congress, Kennedy has emitted few whiffs of originality or unconventional thinking. Why would that change if he replaced Markey in the Senate? In any case, as skeptics promptly pointed out, on political issues there are no meaningful differences between the two left-wing Democrats.

As if to validate the skepticism, Kennedy's first big campaign proposal, delivered in a press release on Tuesday, was a so-called People's Pledge to keep third-party advertising out of the Senate race. That was anything but a new idea: Markey had proposed the exact same thing when he first ran for the Senate in 2013 — and he was only recycling a gimmick from the race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown a year earlier.

But the People's Pledge isn't just a tired, old idea. It's a tired, old, bad idea. It is arrogant and antidemocratic, and its purpose is to squelch free speech — in particular, the form of speech most valued in the American constitutional system: speech about politics, candidates, elections, and issues.

Kennedy wants his rivals (who include attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and businessman Steve Pemberton, in addition to Markey) to repudiate in advance any "outside" advertising — that is, any advertising from any source other than the candidates' own campaigns. The purpose of the "People's Pledge" is to put teeth into that repudiation. It provides that if an outside organization spends money on TV, radio, or online ads in support of any candidate in the race, the campaign being helped would pay a penalty: It would have to donate half the value of the ad buy to a charity named by the other campaign. Political groups wanting to weigh in on the Massachusetts Senate fight would thus be dissuaded, since the more they spent to assist any candidate, the more cash that candidate would have to forfeit.

Warren and Brown were extravagantly praised when they agreed to this arrangement in 2012. Their pledge was welcomed as a victory for "civility," and the candidates were awarded props for coming up with a way to reduce the influence of money on their high-profile Senate race.

But the "People's Pledge" proved a bust. When all was said and done, the 2012 Brown/Warren race, far from restoring civility to politics, was among the nation's nastiest. And the candidates' agreement did nothing to diminish the importance of money. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Brown and Warren battle turned out to be the most expensive Senate campaign in the country. As Rosie Gray reported in BuzzFeed, Brown and Warren's much-admired pledge "appears to have accomplished roughly the opposite of its goal."

So when Markey, running for the Senate a year later, attempted to revive the pledge, his Republican opponent sensibly declined. When Secretary of State Bill Galvin tried the same ploy during his reelection fight in 2018, his Democratic challenger, calling it an "empty gesture," likewise refused.

Now that he's facing a serious challenge to his Senate seat, Markey no longer seems quite so enamored of the idea that third-party advertising should be kept out of the race. His campaign manager agreed only to "review the proposal" made by Kennedy. It's hard to imagine that Markey, facing the toughest reelection fight of his career, will spurn the help of independent groups. One such group, Environment Massachusetts, has already said it will raise $5 million for a campaign "to promote the senator's remarkable record" to the state's voters.

"Remarkable" isn't the word I would choose to describe Markey's congressional career. But if Environment Massachusetts and its supporters want to spend money to sing Markey's praises, why should they be stifled? If the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which has endorsed Kennedy, wants to run ads promoting his virtues, why shouldn't it do so? For that matter, why should any group with strong opinions about the Senate race – charities, corporations, political parties, advocacy organizations, houses of worship, or simply an ad hoc amalgam of interested citizens – be deterred from weighing in?

The winner of the Massachusetts Senate race will have power to influence the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans, here in the commonwealth and around the nation. Health care, housing, taxes, immigration, foreign policy, judgeships, war and peace — senators have a say in all of them. Which means that virtually everyone has an interest in who gets elected, and compelling reasons, perhaps, to influence the voters' decision. Should they be silenced? Of course not!

Anyone with something to say about the Massachusetts Senate race should be encouraged to say it. No group with strong views on the issues or the candidates should be denounced for spending money to disseminate those views. Robust political expression is the very quintessence of free speech, and in an election campaign, "outside" and "third party" voices are just as legitimate as those of the candidates themselves.

The "People's Pledge" is a terrible idea. Let's hope we've heard the last of it.

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Australia: Evidence of Cardinal Pell's innocence suppressed by the police.  They were always out to "get" him

Cardinal Pell was convicted of pedophilia on uncorroborated evidence

There was an interesting report in The Australian yesterday about two women of irreproachable standing whose testimony was sidelined by Victoria Police during its investigation of George Pell. Inexplicably, the women were not called by the defence. Jean Cornish and Lil Sinozic are not run-of-the-mill observers or blow-ins. Church office-holders and former senior school teachers with a hawkish concern for the safety of children, they were arguably the most authoritative eye-witnesses of all. Like everyone else who was at St Patrick’s Cathedral, they dismiss the claims against Cardinal Pell as impossible nonsense. By now the revelation is not surprising.

At the committal hearing for the case in March 2018, Detective Christopher Reed admitted he didn’t bother taking statements from “nuns, choir members and other church officials which he told the court were favourable to Cardinal Pell.” He also failed to obtain the exact dates the Cardinal presided at mass in 1996. Asked why, under cross-examination by Robert Richter QC, Reed admitted that he executed a warrant at the wrong address. “I didn’t know where the archives were,” he said. It is a concern when a detective in a case of this magnitude doesn’t have the skillset of a Dominoes delivery driver. Surprisingly, Reed and Detective Superintendent Paul Sheridan managed to find their way to Rome to interview Cardinal Pell.

From the start, VicPol’s decisions about whose statements to heed, whose to avoid, who to pursue and who to disregard have been peculiar; some would say suspicious. Remember “the swimmers”? They were the public prosecutor’s B Team. If the “choirboys” failed, the swimmers would be beckoned forth from the red-brick shed of times gone by to regale a second jury with tales of surreptitiously brushed buttocks and sneakily squeezed privates beneath warm waves of sun-drenched, chlorine-flavoured play contemporaneous with the last Shah of Iran. There were, of course, no corroborating witnesses for this malarkey but there were many exculpatory witnesses. Alas for the pool accusers, their case was thrown out by County Court chief judge Peter Kidd in February.

Having hoisted them aloft to make a splash, the ABC (also known as the Keli Lane channel) subsequently abandoned the swimmers. Both video and transcript of its bizarre special on their accusations have been deleted. That’s understandable. As well as actionable, the 7.30 Report episode is embarrassing. The transcript can still be found online, however. If the men were so credible that they merited the combined power and treasuries of the ABC and Victoria Police, why were recollections of “repeated abuse by a female relief teacher” and a “vicious teacher who made him masturbate and perform oral sex” not pursued? Robert Richter asked police if they scorned these allegations (at the high end of seriousness) because officers were only interested in ‘getting’ Pell. “Detective Superintendent Sheridan rejected the assertion, telling the court there could have been a viable explanation.” But he didn’t say, and apparently didn’t know, what it was.

One of three possibilities logically follows: one, the supposed culprits are dead. Two: that Victoria Police allowed two hard-core child rapists to remain unsought so as not to imperil their manic Pell operation. A public failure to find or successfully charge “female relief teacher” and “vicious teacher” would have been fatal to the more banal charges against the Cardinal. Or three: that police concluded the accusations against the mystery teachers were either false or indemonstrable but charged Pell using the complainant duo’s other ‘evidence’ anyway. Whether the latter two scenarios would be justiciable as perversions of the course of justice is for legal officials in Victoria to determine. I’m sure they’ll be all over it any day now.

Were it a leftist beloved of leftists and not Cardinal Pell in solitary confinement – I should say, being tortured in solitary confinement (cf. the UN Special Rapporteur and the ABC, 2014) – the calls for a royal commission would be frenzied and incessant.

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Senators no longer allowed to keep child sex dolls at work for extended periods if I'm reading this headline right [Awkward]   

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Awkward [link] [81 comments]

          

The Wisconsin Senator Who Keeps Making Things Worse for Trump   

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When Donald Trump is impeached—as now seems increasingly likely—the Senate will weigh whether to convict him and Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson will serve as one of the jurors. That could put Johnson in the most awkward position of any member of the chamber’s Republican Caucus. In order to retain his status as the president’s most inept defender this side of House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, Johnson will have to downplay evidence of his own concerns regarding the actions that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

Since he melted down on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, everyone’s been talking about Johnson’s wild-eyed performance, in which he spouted so many conspiracy theories that host Chuck Todd interrupted him to say, “I have no idea why Fox News conspiracy propaganda stuff is popping up on here.”

Actually, there’s an explanation for Johnson’s meltdown. It has to do with a desperate senator’s determination to stay on the right side of his party’s president after a week in which revelations regarding Johnson’s concerns about the Ukraine imbroglio did the president no favors.

Let’s get Johnson’s story straight.

In August, a US diplomat told Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, that the Trump administration was blocking $400 million in military aid to Ukraine as part of a scheme to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch the political investigations that the US president was demanding.

“At that suggestion, I winced,” Johnson told The Wall Street Journal. “My reaction was: Oh, God. I don’t want to see those two things combined.” After he was done wincing, Johnson called Trump.

“He said, ‘Expletive deleted—No way. I would never do that. Who told you that?’” Johnson told the Journal Friday. Johnson, arguably the most credulous member of the Senate, was apparently trying to help the president by recounting their conversation. However, as the Journal report on the August 31 phone call noted, “Mr. Johnson’s account, coupled with text messages among State Department officials released Thursday, show some Trump administration officials—including [US ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland] and a top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv—believed there was a link between Mr. Trump’s July decision to hold up the aid to Ukraine and his interest in Kyiv’s launching new probes.”

Back in Wisconsin, Johnson explained that he was “surprised by the president’s reaction and realized we had a sales job to do.” By “we,” the senator meant the advocates for aiding Ukraine. But Trump wasn’t buying. “I tried to convince him to give me the authority to tell President Zelensky that we were going to provide that [aid]. Now, I didn’t succeed.” As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted in its report on Johnson’s comments, “Johnson made clear that he was aware of allegations Trump was withholding aid to Ukraine for political reasons weeks before the public knew of the accusation.”

Johnson failed to speak up. But, less than a month after the senator spoke with Trump, a whistle-blower came forward with evidence that the president had, indeed, pressured Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a leading Democratic challenger to Trump’s 2020 reelection bid. Then, in a move that shocked even his defenders, Trump released detailed notes from a July phone conversation that confirmed the whistle-blower’s report. With each passing day, the evidence of wrongdoing has mounted against the president.

The president now faces an impeachment inquiry, and responsible Republicans are acknowledging that things don’t look good for Trump. “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling,” says Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who explained (after Trump upped the ante with a call for a Chinese investigation of Biden) that “it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated.”

The group Republicans for the Rule of Law announced that “Trump may have suspected Joe Biden of corruption, but when the president pressured a foreign government to investigate an American citizen and political rival, he engaged in actual corruption. Whatever Biden did or didn’t do can’t excuse that.” Michigan Representative Justin Amash, who was elected as a conservative Republican but now sits as an independent, endorsed the impeachment inquiry and said of Trump, “He’s openly challenging our system of checks and balances. In plain sight, he’s using the powers of his public office for personal gain and counting on Republicans in Congress to look the other way.”

So what does Ron Johnson have to say now?

He spent last week making excuses for the man who any reasonable person would conclude had lied to him. Johnson called Trump the nation’s “chief law enforcement officer” and told a Wisconsin radio station, “We have proper agreements with countries to investigate potential crimes so I don’t think there’s anything improper about doing that.”

When asked about his involvement in another key issue related to the scandal, Johnson became very conveniently forgetful.

Trump alleges that Biden, as the vice president, abused his position to try to get Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin fired as part of an effort to shut down an investigation of a gas company with which Biden’s son Hunter was associated. But The New Yorker reminds us that this is “a repeatedly discredited conspiracy theory.” The reality is that Shokin faced allegations of corruption that troubled a lot of Americans—Republicans and Democrats—and that there was bipartisan support for his removal.

This is where Ron Johnson back comes into the story—as something of a character witness for Biden. In 2016, Johnson joined a bipartisan group of senators in signing a letter urging “urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General’s office and Judiciary.” So the Wisconsin senator knew the real story. Yet when he was asked about the letter last week, Johnson told a reporter, “I send out all kinds of oversight letters.… I don’t know which 2016 oversight letter you’re referring to so I will look at that and then we’ll issue a press release, statement, or something—but I don’t engage in hypocrisy. I’m looking at getting the truth.”

Johnson is engaging in hypocrisy, but it’s worse than that.

As NBC’s Chuck Todd said Sunday, after trying to get the senator to answer some basic questions: “Senator Johnson, please! Can we please answer the question that I asked you, instead of trying to make Donald Trump feel better here that you’re not criticizing him?”

Johnson has a long history of trying to keep on the right side of Trump. He proposed that they team up in 2016 and run as “the Ronald and the Donald.” And Johnson doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of a president who goes ballistic when Republicans like Romney cross him. Johnson really is trying to help. He’s just really bad at it. So bad that every time Ron Johnson opens his mouth, he makes the case against Donald Trump.




          

Hadopi Law Passed in French National Assembly   

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The law was passed just a moment ago: 296 – 233. Next stage in adoption is a vote in the Senate on May14. Given that the socialist senators supported it in previous readings, unlike the PS MPs in the Assembly, there will be little opposition. More later.
          

Biden plan: Free community college, expanded loan programs   

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wants to make community and technical college free and federal college loan programs more generous as he charts a policy course that shifts leftward but not as far as some of his rivals.

The former vice president’s $750 billion higher education plan represents a major expansion of the federal government’s role in educating Americans beyond high school. But Biden’s pitch Tuesday is not as sweeping as proposals from his more progressive 2020 rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom offer plans exceeding the $1 trillion mark.

The competing approaches reflect Democrats’ efforts to address spiking tuition costs in the United States and the $1.5 trillion-plus in student debt held by about 45 million Americans. The party’s education policy divide is similar to the gap that separates Biden from the two progressive senators on health care, with the former vice president proposing to expand the federal government’s role in the existing health insurance market, while Warren and Sanders propose a single-payer insurance system that would see the federal government essentially replace private insurance altogether.

Jill Biden, the candidate’s wife and a longtime community college professor, explained her husband’s approach.

“My students inspire me,” she said in a conference call with reporters, “and they ask for one thing in return: opportunity.”

The crux of Biden’s higher education plan is a federal-state partnership to cover community college tuition and technical training. Biden calls for the federal government to cover 75 percent of the tuition costs, with states covering the rest. That’s a similar financing concept to the Medicaid insurance program for the poor and the disabled, with states required to cover some costs to qualify for federal money to cover the majority of the program.

Biden proposes that the federal government cover 95 percent of the community college tuition cost at Native Americans’ tribal campuses.

Sanders and Warren propose universal, free access to all undergraduate public colleges and universities.

On student debt, Biden’s more limited approach calls for doubling the Pell Grant program for low-income Americans and cutting in half the income percentage caps on student loan repayments. Borrowers now must pay up to 10 percent of their discretionary income. Biden calls for capping payments at 5 percent of discretionary income, while also delaying payments for anyone making less than $25,000, with the borrower accruing no additional interest.

Biden’s plan would forgive any remaining debt after 20 years of payments and would allow borrowers to get out of their debts as part of personal bankruptcy.

Sanders, conversely, proposes eliminating all student loan debt, while Warren calls for broad debt relief based on income. Warren’s idea would cancel $50,000 in debt for each person with household income under $100,000, with additional proportional relief for those making up to $250,000 annually.

Biden and Warren have another noticeable split on for-profit colleges, which have come under scrutiny because their graduates have a much higher default rate on loans as they struggle to find quality jobs. Biden proposes tighter regulations on those colleges to stop them “from profiteering off of students.” Warren calls for banning such businesses from getting federal money altogether.

All three Democratic hopefuls point to proposed tax increases to pay for their spending. Sanders would tax Wall Street transactions. Warren points to her “wealth tax,” 2 cents on every dollar of a household’s net worth beyond $50 million. Biden calls for eliminating certain breaks in inheritance taxes and capping itemized deductions for the wealthiest Americans.


          

Washington beatdown gets intense (IANS Exclusive)    

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The current whirligig comes 21 years after the last impeachment attempt against a sitting president - Bill Clinton. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Acts of 1990 and 1993 increased taxes and limited government spending. These created a budget surplus and an expanded economy. Bill Clinton survived impeachment challenges because he delivered a Goldilocks economy, an analogy to the Goldilocks and three bears story, where the microwave was serving the porridge for one and all. The economic policies of Bill Clinton, referred to by some as Clintonomics. In proposing a plan to cut the deficit, Clinton submitted a budget and corresponding tax legislation overseeing a very robust economy during his tenure. The US had strong economic growth (around 4 per cent annually) and record job creation (22.7 million).

As luck would have it, it was on this day 21 years earlier that the impeachment of Bill Clinton was initiated on October 8, 1998, when the United States House of Representatives voted to commence impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States, for "high crimes and misdemeanors", which were subsequently detailed in two articles of impeachment.

Wherever one goes in DC, a city of intrigue in the normal course, there is heightened conversation over President Trump's impeachment process. On Dassehra day back home, tension and suspicion play out in equal parts as the White House blocked EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's Ukraine deposition to Congress. Trump has refused to allow Sondland's testimony because he thinks it will be a kangaroo court which will take a view on the matter. Calling it strong evidence of obstruction, his rivals have been baying for his blood. Further, the plan not to reveal additional text messages has come as a bigger damper. This came against the backdrop of the subpoena to Trump lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, for Ukraine documents. Democrats have requested information from three Rudy Giuliani associates - Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman who worked with Giuliani; Igor Fruman, a business partner of Parnas; and Semyon "Sam" Kislin, a former aide to Giuliani. Lawmakers are also warning they will subpoena the associates if they do not comply with their requests for documents and depositions.

And as if all this tension wasn't enough, Trump's decision to pull the plug on US forces in Syria blindsided the capital and all its players. Trump's growing aggression is seen typical of his persona as he now goes after ex-insider, veep Joe Biden. While Trump is cognisant of polls, impeachment is not a winner, the dynamic of change is rapidly taking root.

On December 19, 1998, Clinton became the second American president to be impeached (the other being Andrew Johnson who was impeached in 1868), when the House formally adopted the articles of impeachment and forwarded them to the US Senate for adjudication. The trial in the Senate began in January 1999 with Chief Justice William Rehnquist presiding. On February 12, Clinton was acquitted on both counts as neither received the necessary two-thirds majority vote of the senators present for conviction and removal from office - in this instance 67. On Article One, 45 senators voted to convict while 55 voted for acquittal. On Article Two, 50 senators voted to convict while 50 voted for acquittal. Consequently, Clinton remained in office for the balance of his second term.

As Trump remains surrounded, Democrats were taken by surprise with key witness Sondland being pulled out as they believe that a massive cover up has been initiated. With sands shifting, punters still aver that Trump will survive this catechism.


          

Sportsmen talk with area’s state senators about hunting, fishing laws at open forum   

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Sean O'Brien and Michael Rulli were at the Yankee Lake Ballroom to kick off the Northeast Ohio Sportsmen Roundtable.
          

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: Trump Grows Obstructive as Mild-Mannered Senators Tighten Noose   

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Is it starting to feel a little Nixon-y in here to anyone else?
          

Comment on Ottawa Senators Acquire Vladislav Namestnikov by TJ0411   

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Does seem strange that Melnyk would agree to add salary. You may be right in Pageau or Tierney being gone and maybe Anisimov (even though bonus has been paid this year). But they'd have to get rid of more salary for the pickup of 3M to be worth while. Throw in Boedker in the mix for some LTIRs? Detroit has Zetterberg and Franzen on LTIR chewing up 10M of cap space since they are slightly under the cap.
          

Comment on Ottawa Senators Acquire Vladislav Namestnikov by JDGoat   

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It’s amazing how the people with tin foil hats are always the ones throwing stones from glass houses.
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