Gowdy Won’t Run

Wednesday Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy announced he would not seek re-election in 2018. Mr. Gowdy,  who heads the powerful House Oversight Committee, is the latest in a wave of GOP House members who are leaving office this year.

“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” the South Carolina Republican said. “As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”



For Democrats to control the House, they need to flip 24 seats. Interestingly enough, Hillary Clinton won 23 districts in 2016 that are currently held by Republicans. Incumbents traditionally have an advantage, but may be negated by the 34 House Republicans  who are retiring.

Historically, off-year elections become a referendum on the President, and his party loses seats in Congress. Mr. Trump’s historically low approval ratings, combined with a motivated/angry Democratic base, spells trouble for House Republicans .

Larry Nassar Sentenced to 175 Years

Today former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting patients. Dr. Nassar, a former member of Michigan State University faculty and team physician for U.S. gymnastics team,  used his position to assault over 100 female patients.  This latest conviction is in addition to a previous conviction for possessing child pornography.




I just signed your death warrant,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said during sentencing.  The ruling removes any chance of probation or parole. Among his victims are Olympic gold medalists Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman.


Trump’s Porn Star Affair

According to a magazine interview from 2011, adult film actress Stormy Daniels had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006. Celebrity gossip magazine InTouch just published a 7-year-old interview in which Miss Daniels claims the relationship started at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

The not-published interview recently came to light after The Wall Street Journal reported Miss Daniels was paid $130,000 by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Mr. Cohen reportedly negotiated a nondisclosure agreement “that precluded [Miss Daniels] from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.”

The alleged affair took place after the now infamous Access Hollywood Billy Bush interview . Mr. Trump’s third wife, Melania Trump, had given birth to their son Barron 4 months earlier.




It doesn’t matter if the candidate is a sexual predator, serial adulterer, or a pedophile, the Republican Party will support anyone who moves their nihilistic economic agenda forward.

And if there is even a sliver of chance to legally discriminate against minorities and gays, the Republican base will consistently vote against their own class interests.




They oppose equal rights. They oppose equal pay. They oppose consumer protections. They oppose protecting the environment. They oppose same-sex marriage. They oppose sensible gun control. They oppose a reasonable minimum wage. They oppose science.

The Republican Party literally stands for nothing.

Fusion GPS House Transcripts Withheld

Representative Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is pressing Republicans to release transcripts of testimony connected to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The committee panel interviewed Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson in November 2017, but information collected during that interview hasn’t been made public. Fusion GPS is the opposition research firm responsible for the Trump-Russia dossier, a 35-page report alleging collusion between members of President Trump’s campaign team and the Russian government.




Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican who chairs the Intelligence Committee, must agree to release the transcripts. That doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon. Mr. Nunes, an ardent Trump supporter, has been accused of using his position as committee chair to protect the President.

Trump-Russia Dossier Notes

This article is a crash course on the Trump-Russia dossier, which details efforts by the Vladimir Putin’s government to cultivate a relationship with Mr. Trump 2016 presidential campaign. The dossier’s veracity is currently under investigation by several government organizations, including the Senate Judiciary Committee.





The dossier was commissioned by Fusion GPS and written by former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele. Allegations made in the 35-page dossier are that Russian operatives hacked Democratic e-mails and the Russians paid members of Mr. Trump’s campaign. There may also be tapes of Mr. Trump engaged in unsavory sexual activities during a 2011 visit to Moscow.

Joe Arpaio Running for Arizona Senate Seat

Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio just announced he is running for Senate in 2018.  Mr. Arpaio, known for his “tough” stances on immigration and border security while serving as Maricopa County sheriff, was an ardent supporter of Donald Trump during the 2016 Presidential Election.

“I have a lot to offer. I’m a big supporter of President Trump,” Arpaio, 85, told The Washington Examiner in an interview published Tuesday. “I’m going to have to work hard; you don’t take anything for granted. But I would not [be] doing this if I thought that I could not win. I’m not here to get my name in the paper, I get that everyday, anyway.”




During his tenure as Maricopa County sheriff, Mr. Arpaio was constantly mired in controversy. For instance, his practice of housing inmates in tents  and conducting immigration sweeps drew widespread condemnation. He also conducted a 6-month investigation into the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate. Despite overwhelming proof to the contrary, Mr. Arpaio declared it a fake.

In 2011, the Justice Department reported the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office engaged in systematic racial profiling of Latinos. An injunction was issued forbidding the arrest or detention of anyone on the basis of suspected immigration status. Mr. Arpaio failed to comply with that injunction, and in August 2017 was convicted of criminal contempt. President Trump pardoned Mr. Arpaio, who served no jail time.

Mr. Arpaio is running to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Arizona hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1988. In the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 4 points.

Trump Cuts Aid to Pakistan

The Trump Administration is withholding 255 million dollars in economic and military assistance slated for Pakistan.  Mr. Trump accuses Pakistan, once considered a partner in the War on Terror, of providing aid to/and harboring terrorists.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump tweeted on 31 December.



Since September 2000, the United States has given Pakistan more than 34 billion dollars in economic assistance. Despite this aid, Pakistan continues to support the Taliban and other jihadist groups operating in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for the 9-11 terror attacks, was hiding in Pakistan when he was killed.

At best, Pakistan is an unsure ally. Pakistan’s foreign policy revolves around India, a regional rival and economic powerhouse. Islamabad plays the United States against China to gain leverage against India. If Afghanistan becomes a stable government and develops economic ties with India, it could change the region’s delicate balance of power.

The US is better served supporting India and isolating Pakistan. Pakistan will never support the development of a strong/stable Afghanistan. No amount of foreign aid or diplomatic coercion changes that. The Chinese will try to fill the void , but Islamabad will soon discover China is an expensive and problematic ally.



Congress and 2018

With the holidays over, Congress returns to work with a Republican majority wishing to advance their agenda. Unfortunately, there isn’t an agenda to advance. With a slim Senate majority and mid-term elections in November, Republicans can’t realistically accomplish anything without bipartisan support.



There is talk of bipartisan legislation on infrastructure and welfare reform, but for now it’s just talk. Democrats know Republican candidates are saddled with an unpopular president. They also know tax reform, their only major legislative victory, has a below 50% approval rating. There is absolutely no incentive to give Republicans even modest legislative victories.



The scorched earth/talk radio policies used by Republicans, combined with Mr. Trump’s vicious personal attacks, have destroyed any chance of Congress actually functioning.  The Congress of 2017 showed us these kids can’t play together. It’s time for Democrats to take their ball, go home, and wait for 2019.

Voter Fraud Commission Disbanded

Yesterday President Donald Trump disbanded his voter fraud commission. Formed  by the President in May 2017, the commission was charged with finding evidence of large-scale voter fraud. Mr. Trump believes, despite offering no evidence to support his claim,  massive voter fraud led to Mrs. Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by 2.9 million votes.

“Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry,” Trump said Wednesday night.

“Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and have asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action.”




The commission, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, never really gained traction. From the beginning, it was seen as an exercise in justifying Mr. Trump’s losing the popular voter.  Of the more than 135 million votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, only four were found to be fraudulent.

Sears Closing 103 Stores

Today Sears Holdings Corp (SHLD.O) announced the closure of 103 stores. After 24 quarters of consecutive losses, the retail giant is closing 64 Kmart stores and 39 Sears stores. These closures are scheduled  for March and April 2018, with liquidation sales starting in mid-January.

Sears declined to say how many jobs were being lost. However, they did say most were part-time positions. They also promised severance packages to eligible associates.




Sears continues to face increased competition from on-line sellers such as Amazon, big box giants like Walmart, Best Buy, and Home Depot.