Ben Carson

The Russia Show

by Kevin Kelton

The other day on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber,” HuffPost Editorial Director Howard Fineman said that he doesn’t think Special Counsel Robert Mueller will be able to make a case for obstruction of justice against the president, but he does think Mueller has a strong case for collusion. One hour later on the same network, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele told Chris Matthews that he doesn’t think Mueller can make a case for collusion, but does have strong one for obstruction.

Two knowledgeable political experts, two opposite opinions.

The truth is that when it comes to the Trump-Russia investigation, no one but Mueller and his top deputies knows anything. Not you, not me, not the TV experts. Yet Facebookers on both sides of the partisan seesaw keep spouting nonsense about it with absolute certainty.

One of my favorite silly talking points is, “Collusion is not a crime.” This comment is laughable for its utter lack of legal context. It’s true, if you and I collude to get the best price on a used car, that is not a crime. But if we collude to steal the car, it is. Collusion to commit a crime is called “conspiracy,” and yes, it’s very much against the law. Don’t believe me? See here and here.

Another ludicrous argument is, “There isn’t one shred of evidence supporting collusion.” Actually, there’s a whole bunch. First, you have the Don Jr. June 9 Trump Tower meeting, which was shown in texts to be about meeting with Russian nationals to get and use stolen Hillary Clinton emails with the express goal of changing the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. Second, you have the candidate himself asking Russia on national television to hack (i.e., steal) and publish private citizens’ emails with the express intent of affecting the outcome of the election. He even promised a quid pro quo by saying, “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Think of it this way: a man involved in a contentious divorce goes into a crowded restaurant and says for everyone to hear, “I’m urging someone to break my ex-wife’s legs. I think you’ll be rewarded mightily for it.” A few days later his wife turns up beaten with a broken leg and broken arm. Don’t you think that is evidence of his complicity in the act? It may not be enough to convict him by itself, but along with other evidence it creates a powerful argument for his guilt.

On the liberal side, my favorite gibberish is that Trump’s cabinet may soon invoke the 25th Amendment. Think about it. Let’s just say for a moment that someone, say Rex Tillerson, was secretly considering it. Who would he whisper it to? Ben Carson? Betsy DeVos? Steve Mnuchin? Sonny Perdue? Wilber Ross? Every one of them would run to the Oval Office to report the traitor in a heartbeat. Go find me four Trump Cabinet appointees you think would support this kind of unprecedented American coup d’état, let alone eight. It’s preposterous. Trump is ready to jail Hillary Clinton for her purported crimes against America. What do you think he’d do to a handful of treasonous ex-Cabinet plotters?

But I think my favorite argument is, “Who cares if Russia stole the DNC emails? Isn’t the content of what’s in them more important?” The simple answer is, no.

Because an election campaign should be based on relatively equal transparency, especially where private material is concerned. If I can see and review one candidate’s tax returns, I should be able to see and review the others’. If I can get my hands on one candidate’s medical records, I should get them for both. If I can view one candidate’s criminal conviction record, it’s only fair to make the other’s public as well. Judging one candidate on personal information that the other one doesn’t have to release is fundamentally unfair.

So to have the DNC emails purloined and published without releasing the RNC’s emails as well was an inequitable prejudice against Clinton. Had the RNC emails also been leaked, we most likely would have seen just as much dirt and ugliness in the Republican primary race as we saw in the Democrats’. (Which, frankly, wasn’t really all that bad.)

And by the way, for those who don’t know history, the Watergate break-in was about stealing the DNC’s private files. It doesn’t matter what’s in them; if you steal private campaign information and use it you are breaking the law. In the electronic age, it’s called Data Theft and it’s prohibited by several state and federal statues.

But maybe the most delicious irony of The Russia Show is that everyone who used to detest James Comey now adore him, and everyone who used to adore him now thinks he’s a conniving, lying enemy of the state.

What is true is that the Trump-Russia investigation has become catnip Facebook groups like Open Fire. Like any good TV soap opera, everyone has their favorite villain and plenty of theories as to how it will all end.

What’s your favorite talking point about Trump, Mueller, Comey, and Russia?

Trump’s Taiwan Gambit

Episode 66 of “The More Perfect Union” podcast covers Trump’s controversial call from the president of Taiwan, the President-elect’s latest Cabinet picks, the soap opera between Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney over the Secretary of State job, the pros and cons of Trump’s Carrier jobs deal, and a round of the game, “Name That Host.”

Like what you heard? Subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a podcast! And don’t forget to Rate and Review us on iTunes.

If you like talking politics, join us on Facebook in OPEN FIRE, our political group where you can discuss news and politics with Kevin, D.J., Greg, Emily, Cliff, Rebekah, and lots of other smart, fun people.

Dispelling the Trump Invincibility Myth

An urban myth of legendary proportions has built up around Donald Trump. The fable is that Trump defies all rules of politics and polling, so that no matter what deficiencies or giant screw ups he shows on the campaign trail, he will somehow turnout out masses of previously unidentified voters to defeat mere mortal politicians and install him in the Oval Office with ease.

I don’t buy it, and neither should you.

Sure, Trump surprised us all by vanquishing his 16 more experienced primary opponents. (Well, 15 more experience. I still don’t know what the heck Ben Carson was doing there.)

But he didn’t do it with black magic or voodoo. While all the pundits may have dismissed his chances, Trump was leading in almost every GOP primary poll since July 2015. So it wasn’t a Houdini trick that Trump won the primaries; it was our refusal to believe what was right in front of our own eyes. Read More

Americathon

by Kevin Kelton

In the 1979 movie Americathon, a fictional U.S. president decides to hold a telethon to pay down the national debt. That was a satiric look into the “future” of 1998. But just decades later, what seemed like satire then now seems all-too-real. America has become a telethon.

It’s everywhere. On my newsfeed. In late-night comedy shows. At the dinner table and dentist office. Even coming from my kids. The world is now a 24/7 presidential election. They might as well call it an Elect-A-Thon.

Ever since the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation decided to end it’s annual 21-hour charity telethon, America has been in search of it’s next “thon” fix. Sure, there’s still the Boston Marathon, the Penn State “THON” charity dance-a-thon, the St. Jude Trike-A-thon (a real thing), and the “Surf Dog” Dog Surf-A-Thon (I kid you not!).

Read More

Shadow of Scalia Falls over South Carolina

Segments:

GOP Debate

Democratic Debate

The Open SCOTUS Seat

Nevada, South Carolina and beyond

 

Episode 13: Trump, More Trump, and Glass-Steagall

Segments:

The Trump Phenomenon

Clinton, Sanders and Glass-Steagall

State of the Races

The Economic Argument Against Immigration Reform

Episode 12: San Bernadino, Gun Politics and Trump

Segments:

Obama’s Oval Office Address: “Complex acts of terrorism”

The San Bernadino Shooting

The Politics of Guns – Where the Candidates Stand

Trump and the polls: Is he for real?

The pending government shutdown

 

Episode 11: The Planned Parenthood Shooting and Is Trump Really a Fascist?

Segments:

The Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting

Is Donald Trump truly a fascist?

Ben Carson’s Iowa poll dive and Ted Cruz’s poll rise

Bernie Sanders poll rise in New Hampshire

November presidential polls in 2016 vs 2012 vs 2008 

Episode 10: The ISIL Threat, Muslim Refugees, and Democratic Socialism

Segments:

Clinton and Rubio on their plans to defeat ISIL

Trump and Carson on Muslim refugees

Election Day 2015 – Louisiana governor’s race

Bernie Sanders’ “What is Democratic Socialism” speech

52nd anniversary of the JFK Assassination

Jindal drops out of race. Who’s next?

Episode 9: GOP Debate, Democratic Debate, and Million Student March

Segments:

GOP Debate

Democratic Debate

Million Student March

Is this now a foreign policy election?

 

Longing for the magic fix

bush-fix-it-AP

by Kevin Kelton

One of the reasons I think I have pretty good political sensibilities is that I actually listen and pay attention to details. So when Jeb Bush comes out with a new campaign slogan, “Jeb can fix it,” I take some time to consider why his campaign team would hinge it’s entire reboot — indeed, his entire campaign — on the words “fix it.”

It’s obvious they must have focus tested it to heaven and back. So what does that tell us? It tells us that their research indicates that voters are yearning for someone to “fix” what they perceive as a broken system…with lots of broken components. Whereas in 2000 voters were looking for decency and respectability (after the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal) and in 2008 they were looking for hope and change (after being disappointed with decency and respectability), now they are looking for an easy fix… one that can be embodied in one man. Just vote for him and your problems will begin to get fixed.

I think that explains the psychology of both parties’  races this year. Fifty-five percent of GOP voters are leaning toward an “outsider” whom they hope can make the magic fix (Trump, Carson or Fiorina), and 25-30% of the Democratic voters are looking for the same thing in Bernie Sanders. On the flip side, people who support Clinton, Rubio, O’Malley, Kasich, Bush, and a few of the other GOPers are looking for competency. They don’t expect a president to “fix” the system; they just want someone who can effectively manage an imperfect system and maybe get it back on course.

I think the general election will come down to this clash: voters that are wishing for a magic fix, and those that are content with a steady hand to manage the unwieldy ship of state. I fall into the latter category. I think we will prevail.

But I feel bad for the fix-it group. They will forever be longing for something that probably doesn’t exist, and hence forever bitter about their inability to make it real.

Episode 7: Third Republican Debate Postmortem

Segments:

Third GOP Debate

Jeb Bush campaign

Ben Carson’s dietary supplement pills

Syria and boots on the ground

School Resource Officers in high school classrooms

The state of the races