Friday, November 22, 2019
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D. R. ZUKERMAN, proprietor

The Spirit of the First Amendment is Not Allowed at The New York Times


November 19, 2019 --

The New York Times, to borrow a phrase, has locked out the First Amendment for its own political benefit. 

News stories must contain not a hint positive concerning the 45th president of the United States. No minimally pro-Trump columnists or columns are allowed.   A pro-Trump op-ed piece?  No way!  A letter complimenting the president?  No doubt,  shredded (or deleted) on receipt.

What kind of political mindset holds the Grey Lady in its grasp?   Why,  the mindset of the single-party state, the mindset of the dictatorial regime--the mindset of a Lenin, not a John Stuart Mill.

In its latest editorial denouncing  the president, the Times, November 12, declared:  "...we have a president whom top aides saw as a threat to the country."   The aides alluded to are the FORMER secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and the FORMER White House chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, who, by the account of former ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, sought her help  to "undermine the president."  The editorial quoted from   Amb. Haley's book, "With All Due Respect," that Tillerson and Kelly claimed "'they weren't being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country....'"   

The Times seemed annoyed  that Amb. Haley thought that Tillerson and Kelly should have discussed their views with the president, and then should have quit if they continued to oppose him.   

This comment from the ambassador got no praise from the Times:  "[T]o undermine a president is really a very dangerous thing, and it goes against the Constitution and it goes against what the American people want. And it was offensive."   

For The New York Times, President Trump, while he is in office, should be subordinate to a mid-level aide on the National Security Council, to State Department bureaucrats who are Obama holdovers, and certainly to the demands of a media that has erected an Iron Curtain to keep out the views of the president's supporters.   The Times chooses to ignore or flout the likelihood that to undermine the president is to undermine democracy.

The anti-Trump forces apparently give no thought that the extremism of their denunciations of the president undermine the credibility of the arguments.  President Trump is authoritarian, assaults the Constitution, imperils democracy?  "Give me a break," to quote the  Trump retort Hillary  Clinton's  comment  that he insulted a former  Miss Universe, during the third Clinton-Trump debate, October 19, 2016.

Now that impeachment proceedings are underway, media coverage can be expected to be as one-sided as an edition of Pravda in Soviet Union days.  The spirit of American democracy is now to be tested.  Madison, in Federalist No. 57 wrote that the American people are moved by a spirit that "nourishes freedom, and in return [are] nourished by it."  Those who have rejected the election result of November 8, 2016 have already failed the test. The question is whether the voters of the 30 states that gave their electoral votes to Donald J. Trump will now pass the test.


Red Line

LPR Requests Administration Clarification of this Assertion in the October 8 Letter from Counsel to the President Pat A. Cippollone to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Three  Committee Chairmen

November 19, 2019 --

Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it. Because participating in this inquiry under the current unconstitutional posture would inflict lasting institutional harm on the Executive Branch and lasting damage to the separation of powers, you have left the President no choice. Consistent with the duties of the President of the United States, and in particular his obligation to preserve the rights of future occupants of his office, President Trump cannot permit his Administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances.


Red Line

Two Early Examples of the Trump Resistance Even Before He Was Nominated

November 19, 2019 --

1)  From Danielle Allen, The Washington Post, February 21, 2016, "The moment of truth: We must stop Trump"

"Like any number of us raised in the late 20th century, I have spent my life perplexed about exactly how Hitler could have come to power in Germany. Watching Donald Trump's rise, I now understand. Leave aside whether a direct comparison of Trump to Hitler is accurate. That is not my point. My point rather is about how a demogogic opportunist can exploit a divided country."

2) From James Kirchick, Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2016, "If Trump wins, a coup isn't impossible here in the U.S."

"Trump is not only patently unfit to be president, but a danger to America and the world. Voters must stop him before the military has to."


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Red Line

The Bloomberg Candidacy

November 19, 2019 --

Michael R. Bloomberg should not be faulted for his late entry in the 2020 presidential race -- if, that is, he follows through on qualifying in Alabama.   What do the pre-election year "debates
 amount to if not a  a series of cattle calls at which self-anointed candidates raise their hands to answer questions in the manner of schoolchildren in a classroom?  And why should the funds raised in the pre-election year phase not be seen as a boon mainly for tv networks, ad agencies and political consultants.   

True, money is no issue when it comes to the former New York mayor, but by his instruction, perhaps  other prospective candidates for the highest office in the land realize that they might benefit politically by waiting until the advent of the last year of the political cycle before telling  the citizenry that they are pleased to announce their candidacy for president of the United States. 


Red Line

Cherry-picking by the Democratic Counsel

November 19, 2019 --

During the November 15 testimony of former Ukraine Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch before the impeachment inquiry conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman made several references to the transcript of the July 25 phone conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky.  Those references included this remark from President Trump: "Well, she's [Amb. Yovanovitch] going to go through some things." Counsel Goldman did not quote from the statement that immediately preceded Mr. Trump's comment.

That statement was from President Zelensky who told Mr. Trump, "It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%.  Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President [Poroshenko] and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough."   

There then followed President Trump's reply, beginning, "Well she's going to go through some things."  


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Red Line

On Preventing President Trump From Benefiting Politically?

November 19, 2019 --

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, interviewing Rep. Will Hurd, November 10, misstated the substance  of the July 25th phone conversation between presidents Trump and Zelensky.  LPR wonders whether the misstatement means that  Mr. Wallace has decided  to join the Trump Resistance.   The transcript of the interview makes it apparent  that Mr. Wallace wanted the congressman to say that the president should be impeached  if he linked U.S.  support for UJkraine with a Ukraine probe of Democrats.  Herewith are relevant excerpts from the Wallace interview of Congressman Hurd.

After Rep. Hurd said, "Well, I don't know if it was necessarily investigate the Democrats, right? I think it was investigation of corruption.... "   -- the transcript continues:

WALLACE: Forgive me, sir, but specifically --

HURD: Sure.

WALLACE: --  what President Trump said on that July 25th phone call was investigate the Democratic role in the 2016 election, whether they were involved in hacking the DNC server and also, specifically, the Bidens and Burisma.

After the congressman asserted that there was "a Ukraine nexus" to "the Russian involvement on 2016 elections," Wallace continued to press for the answer he wanted..

WALLACE: But specifically, sir, the question, is if there was a quid pro quo, U.S. aid for Ukraine was going to depend on their doing these investigations of political rivals of the president. Is that an impeachable offense?

HURD: I think if you're trying to get information on a political rival to use in a political campaign is not something a president or any official should be doing, I think everybody has -- most Republicans have said that that would be a violation of the law.

WALLACE: So, that, in your view, if that were established to your satisfaction, if, I repeat, that would be an impeachable offense?

HURD: I believe that's something that would make it -- make it -- have to truly consider whether impeachment is the right tool or not.

WALLACE:  And we will see what happens this week and whether or not it persuades you. Congressman Hurd, thank you so much. Thanks for your time. Good to talk with you sir.

The problem with this interview is that at no time in the July 25 phone conversation did President Trump say anything like "investigate the Democratic role in the 2016 election, whether they were involved in hacking the DNC server and also, specifically, the Bidens and Burisma."

President Trump said this to President Zelensky: "I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.  I would like you to find out what happened with  this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike ...  I guess you have one of your wealthy people ... The server, they say Ukraine has it...." Mr. Trump went on to say that he would like "the Attorney General" to call him or his "people," adding, "and I would like you to get to the bottom of it...if that's possible."

President Trump did not mention Burisma directly. His reference to the former vice president is as follows:  "There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging  that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... it sounds horrible to me."

Congressman Hurd stated the fair inference from the phone call -- that President Trump asked for an "investigation of corruption," not, as Wallace put it,  "investigations of  political rivals of the president."   

Could it be that this is what the impeachment push is all about -- a means simply to prevent Mr. Trump from winning re-election, thereby denying him personal political benefit come November 3, 2020? 


Red Line

Senators Tell State Department
to Resist

November 19, 2019 --

The ten Democratic  senators on the Committee on Foreign Relations sent a letter to the State Department  November 12, calling on Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan and Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao to "unequivocally support and protect" the State Department officials who are expected to testify at the House impeachment inquiry.   The letter explained, "We are writing you, and not Secretary Pompeo, because his silence to date speaks volumes."  The letter accused the secretary of failing "to stand up for his Department's own people, despite their steadfast service to our country, despite their dedication to public service without regard to party, president, or politics.    The letter also stated:  "Given Secretary Pompeo's dereliction of duty in protecting Department personnel from... attacks, we call on you to take all necessary steps to protect them, and other officials who come before Congress, including addressing any threats to their safety and ensuring they do not suffer any retaliation or reprisals."

The letter requests that the officials "do your part to show employees that the Department stands with them, and remains supportive of their sacrifices in the name of our national security."   It concludes with the request for "an update within three business days of the steps you are taking in support of Department personnel."   

Do the minority senators on the Foreign Relations committee have an article of impeachment to recommend to House Democrats charging the president with endangering "national security."   

The letter does seem to encourage the deputy secretary and undersecretary to undermine Seceretary Pompeo and join the resistance.

LPR is puzzled by the demand for an update "within three business days," or did the minority on the committee suddenly gain equality with their Republican colleagues?


Red Line

The Selective Testimony from Amb. Taylor, Briefly

November 19, 2019 --

In his opening statement in the House impeachment inquiry, Ambassador William Taylor stressed "Russian aggression" but gave no information how the fighting in the Donbas region of Ukraine came about.
It seems to LPR that the fighting erupted after anti-Russian forces took hold of the government in Kyiv, following the successive coup that forced Presidnet Viktor Yanukovych from power. 

These forces, among other things, adopted anti-Russian measures, including downgrading the official status of the Russian language, and if memory serves, seemed to threaten the Russian Black Sea fleet, based in the Crimea at Sebastopol. 

(Crimea, by the way, is reported to be 65% Russian, 15% Ukrainian.)

Ambassador Taylor clearly supports Ukraine's membership in NATO; his presentation gave one reason to believe that the Cold War has resumed.   Speaking on the John Batchelor Show, November 12, Prof. Stephen Cohen said that  expansion of NATO to Ukraine was unwise, indeed, provocative. He wondered we would react by installation of bases on our borders in Canada or Mexico aimed at the U.S.   

The ambassador also omitted mentioning that Vice President Biden was placed in charge of U.S. policy in Ukraine when his son Hunter was put on the Burisma board and received more than $80 thousand a month as director.  He also did not mention the quid pro quo that Mr. Biden bragged about: agreeing to provide Ukraine with $1 Billion provided the prosecutor concerned about corruption at Burisma was dismissed.  (He was.)


Red Line

Are We Heading Toward a Constitutional Amendment for a National Vote to Recall a President?

November 19, 2019 --

Much of Ambassador Yovanovitch's  testimony amounted to her stating her  opinions on various matters, including the intent of the president --  not factual matters she directly witnessed. 

It would be fair to infer that Democrats hope that her testimony, however irrelevant legally, will help persuade Americans that the president has committed the impeachable offenses of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.   

But how is impeachment and conviction  to be determined: by vote of the House and then the Senate, or by public opinion poll?   

Besides, a president is not elected by a majority (or plurality) of the popular vote, but by a majority of the electoral college.   If a majority of the popular vote is not required to elect a president, how can a majority of a public opinion poll be cited to justify a president's ouster?

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November 19, 2019 --

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An Explanation How People  Got to Blaming Russia for President Trump's Election?

From Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post, February 18, 2016 — “In its essence, a conspiracy theory is the modern equivalent of a myth: It's a story that people tell to explain otherwise inexplicable events."    [Note: The title of this op-ed article is: "Donald Trump's campaign of conspiracy theories."]

Could This Explain Why President Trump Went to Rudy Giuliani For Assistance on Ukraine?

From Anonymous, The New York Times, September 5, 2018, "I am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration" "[M]any of the senior officials in [the Trump] administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations."

From Holman W. Jenkins,Jr. The Wall Street Journal, November 9-10, 2018, "Why Impeachment Will Stay Partisan"

"[President Trump's] opponents were not satisfied with opposing him. They sought to destroy him."  (In this connection, LPR reiterates the remarkable David Plouffe comment, June, 2016, quoted by Amy Chozick, in The New York Times, August 4, 2016, "Democrats, Looking Past Mere Victory, Hope to End the Trump Movement" -- "'It is not enough to simply beat Trump,' [Plouffe] wrote on Twitter. 'He must be destroyed thoroughly, His kind must not rise again.'") 

LPR Again Inquires …

...when will Brexit get resolved?

...when will Israel get a new government?

...also, what is the economic/political situation in Venezuela?

...and what is the military situation in the Donbas area of Ukraine?

Will this be another impeachment allegation?

As a candidate, the  president meddled in the 2016 election and, what's worse, he won -- for his personal, political benefit.

Democrats, Be Careful What You Wish For

What if the House impeaches, the Senate convicts, and the GOP 2020 ticket is Mike Pence - Nikki Haley?

A Question for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.)

You have stated that a House impeachment resolution will be "dead on arrival in the Senate" without testimony from the "whistleblower."   Senate Majority Leader McConnell has said that there will be a trial in the senate.  Would you favor a  senate trial, or dismissal,  if you agree with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) that  the House impeachment proceeding on President Trump is a "sham?"

What's Good for the Obama Administration is Not Good for House Republicans

At the November 15 impeachment inquiry, Rep. Elise Stefanik pointed out during her five minutes of questions for Amb. Yovanovitch,   that the ambassador, during her State Department  preparation for Senate confirmation,  was given suggestions --and this was from the  Obama State Department -- how to answer questions about Hunter Biden and Burisma.  Rep. Stefanik then indicated that such  questions  coming from Republicans now rankle committee Democrats.


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