Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Blogger Candidate Forum: Flipping The Senate

Hello Everyone:

It is a lovely summer Wednesday afternoon and time for Blogger Candidate Forum. Night one of the Democratic presidential debates 2.0 is history.  The big winners were author Marianne Williamson, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  Blogger has to be honest, Ms. Williamson comes off as a clear thinking, intelligent person with some good ideas but she is not a viable candidate.  The wonkiness Ms. Williamson derided during her big moment is what creates good policy not drive out the dark psychic forces.  She will hang on for while but, eventually her novelty will fade once the caucuses and primaries start.  Night two begins at 5:00 pm Pacific Time and the marquee match is VPOTUS Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), round two.  It should be good.  Speaking of the Senate, how about we take a look at the drive to "Flip Five?"

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Current Senate balance of power
The current map of the United States Senate looks red.  The Republicans hold a 53-47 (45 Democrats and 2 Independents) majority.  If the Democrats have their way in 2020, that balance of power will take on a distinct shade of blue as well as hold on to the House of Representatives and take the White House. It is an ambitious goal and may be achievable.  Right now there are 22 Republican seats up election next year, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  In order to take control of the Senate, the Democrats would need to gain about four seats.  This would give them a razor-thin majority.  Let us focus on the Senate, taking a look at how regaining the majority could be accomplished and what would it mean.

The number one priority for Democrats is making Mr. Donald Trump a one term president.  Contrary to what moderate Democrat candidate John Delany said about not embracing "wish list" policies, in order for Democrats to be victorious, they will have to go big or go home.  However, since much of the Democrats' agenda depends on regaining the Senate majority, taking control is an uphill battle.

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Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
According to Cook's Political Report, of the 22 Republican races, only three are truly competitive: Colorado, Arizona, and Maine.  While the Democrats will have to defend 12 seats but the map is not i their favor.  The rest of the 2020 field is a sea of red, including the ultraconservative Alabama seat.  Cook's Senate expert Jennifer Duffy told Vox,

What makes this map very deceiving was in 2018, Democrats had to defend five states Trump won by 19 points or more,.... In this case, there's no Republican sitting a state that Clinton won by more than 5 (; July 9, 2019; date accessed July 31, 2019).

Making matters worse, is a number of high-profile potential Senate candidates--e.g. Beto O'Rourke--have chosen to run for president or just stay home.  Herein lies the rub: "Democrats are telling voters the election--up and down the ballot--is of grave consequence.  But undermining that push is the tacit belief that the Senate, and the party's power in it, is a shadow of what it once was" (Ibid).

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2020 Senate election map

Political scientist James Wallner with conservative think tank R Street said,

If people thought it mattered that Democrats controlled the Senate, then they would run be a Democrat in the Senate (Ibid).

Be that as it may, if the Democrats do retake White House and narrow the gap in the Senate, the slim Republican majority would remain an obstacle to their legislative agenda and most important, confirming nominees to the Supreme Court.  Without a majority Democrat in the Senate, a "wish list" set of policies is just that, a wish list.

The path is arduous.  In order to retake the majority, the Democrats would have to:

1. Hold on to Senator Doug Jones' seat in ruby red Alabama (the president has +27 point approval rating) (Ibid)

2. Be victorious in Colorado and Arizona--a likely scenario because there excellent candidates who have either declared their candidacy or are interested in running. (Ibid)

3. Fire up the base especially in Maine, Georgia, Texas, Montana, and Iowa.  All states within reach but the Democrats will have to recruit top notch candidates.  Former astronaut Mark Kelly is challenging incumbent Martha McSally for the seat once held by the late John McCain. (Ibid)

4. Take full advantage of divisive Republican primaries in Kansas and North Carolina where the president's approval rating are sickly (; date accessed July 31, 2019) but they still have to recruit serious candidates to be competitive (Ibid).

Senator Kamala Harris told an audience at recent MSNBC town hall in South Carolina, 2020 is about the White House, but it's also about the United States Senate (; May 28, 2019; date accessed July 31, 2019)

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Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Last year's "Blue Wave" midterm provided the Democrats first glimmer of hope.  Notably, an easy state win in Colorado, where Republican incumbent Senator Cory Gardener is up for re-election.  Democrats held on to the governorship and won complete control of the state legislature.  Demographics are in their favor; the Latino population has shifted the political tide (; Nov 9, 2018; date accessed July 31, 2019), as have young voters (; Nov. 8, 2018 date accessed July 31, 2019), and the president's popularity in the state has dramatically fallen since he took office (; date accessed July 31, 2019).  Former Governor John Hickenlooper is the best choice to challenge Senator Gardner but he opted to run for president.  Instead, a number of lesser known candidates have declared their candidacy or interest.

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Senator Doug Jones (D-AL)

Democrats absolutely must defend Alabama, where Senator Doug Jones beat Judge Roy Moore by slim majority.  Not only do Democrats have to defend in Alabama but they have to be competitive in North Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Texas, and Tennessee.  Kansas offers a good chance, long time Senator Pat Roberts announced his retirement, which mean there is an open seat.

The rest of the map is a real struggle for the Democrats.  The Democrats' best chance resides in the Sun Belt states, especially in the demographically diversifying Sun Belt states, where the president's popularity is on the wane.  Rising star Stacy Abrams dashed party hopes by declaring that she will not run for the Georgia's state senate seat (; Apr. 30, 2019; date accessed July 31, 2019).

The Democrats really want to recapture the Senate but they lack incentive for top tier candidates to run.  It is no secret to anyone that the Senate is not the chamber it used to be, especially for a minority party.  Josh Huder, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Government Affairs Institute, told Vox, As an institution it's pretty weak and dilapidated at the this point (; July 9, 2019; date accessed July 31, 2019).  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell openly brags that the chamber is a "legislative graveyard" (Ibid).  To wit, serious legislative initiatives from health care to election security have hit a partisan brick wall.  Further, the Democrats are finding it harder to make the pitch that running for Senate carries equal party weight.  The good news is that it is only 2019 and there is still enough time to attract marquee candidates.  Eventually, presidential candidates like Beto O'Rourke and John Hickenlooper will be deemed no longer viable candidates and consider other options.The bad news that it is 2019 and if the Democrats want absolutely intent on flipping the Senate, they need to move fast.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Home Ownership Is A Generational Thing

Hello Everyone:

The fallout from the president's heinous tweets continues.  Today, at a ceremony in Jamestown, Virginia to commemorate the founding of the first legislative assembly in the colonies, Mr. Donald Trump was booed by protesters carrying signs saying "Deport Hate."  Virginia's African American state government delegates visited Bumpkins Jail, where slaves were held.  The African American Democrats in Congress boycotted the event.  Instead of parsing out whether the tweets and the president are racist, consider them a preview of the campaign to come.  Speaking of the campaign to come, night one of the Democratic presidential debate, round two is tonight.  The marquee match up: Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).  Two sides of the same progressive coin or totally different?  Maybe?  Shall we move on?

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Firefighters spraying water on a partially completed apartment building
San Francisco Bay Area, California

 Today we are going to talk about housing policy.  Specifically, the reason why housing policy can feel like generational warfare.  If you are a millennial, you know that finding an affordable place to live is a daunting task.  The places, mostly the coastal areas, where the jobs are, the real estate market cannot keep up with the demand (; June 5, 2019; date accessed July 30, 2019).  Conversely, in places where the real estate market is plentiful, there are no jobs.  Why?

Jeffrey Hornstein's epic 2005 book A Nation of Realtors, documented how 20th century housing policy helped shaped the United States.  Alexis C. Madrigal writes, "In the decades following the Great Depression, the federal government--as well as states and cities--subsidized the creation and consumption of single-family homes" (; June 13, 2019; date accessed July 30, 2019).  Mr. Hornstein wrote that the all-American dream of buying a home is

...particularly white Americans, came to think of themselves as inhabiting a classless society, composed of big 'middle class,' its membership defined to a large degree by actual or expectant homeownership (; date accessed July 30, 2019).

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2019 Home Affordability Report
Recent evidence of bipolar nature of the real-estate can be found in a new report, 2019 Home Affordability Report,  by the real estate firm Unison (; date accessed July 30, 2019).  The thesis of report is,

If America is the land of opportunity, then everybody should have an opportunity to own a home.  If only that opportunity were equally accessible (Ibid).
The firm provides finance to homebuyers by coinvesting with prospective buyers, calculating how long it would take to save up the necessary 20 percent down payment on a median home in a given city by setting aside 5 percent of the city's gross median income per year. The length of time it takes to save up that down payment have been increasing since 1975.  Nationally,

... it takes 14 years for those earning the median income to save for a 20% down payment on a median-priced home.  This means that many prospective millennial homebuyers won't achieve the American dream until into their 40s.   (; date accessed July 30, 2019)

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Median number of years it takes to save up for a house down payment

The map on the left shows how many years it currently takes to save up for a down payment on a house, since 1975.  For example, in Blogger's hometown of Los Angeles, it takes 43 years; San Francisco, 40; Minneapolis, 17; Dallas, 14.  Only Detroit was below the national average, less than 7 years (; June 13, 2019)

Mr. Madrigal observes, "Generationally, this has huge consequences" (Ibid).  Think about it, you are a recently university graduated person, living in the Bay Area, making the median income.  According to Unison's calculations, you would be able to buy your first home by the time you are collecting a pension.  Essentially, for young people living in high opportunity areas, homeownership is only attainable with the help of wealthy parents or stock options.  Interestingly, their Generation X and Baby Boomer counterparts, who bought their homes under more favorable circumstances, have seen their equity continually grow.

One component of the problem is the obvious, lack of supply.  The Bay Area is the poster child for high demand and low housing supply.  Between 2010 and 2017 over half a million jobs were created while only 76,000 housing units were built (; Feb. 19, 2019; date accessed July 30, 2019).  It is pretty easy to figure out how this could cause problems.  The median price for a single family home in San Francisco is over $1.6 million and nearly $1 million (; May 24, 2019; date accessed July 30, 2019 for the whole of Bay Area).   Alexis Madrigal notes that "The median price for all types of housing units [Ibid] in the whole region was $830,000" (; June 13, 2019).

The easiest way to interpret these figures is "that the real-estate market in job-rich cities like San Francisco does not work for the vast majority of young people" (Ibid).  This why housing policy arguments often feels like generational warfare.  Polices, like changes in restrictive zoning ordinances or building new multifamily units, have the potential to lower home prices are championed by young people who want to participate in the housing market.  At the same time, the majority of homeowners and elected city officials, only understand that propping up home values is what government does.

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Why millennials cannot afford a home 

Another factor in the disparity, is the politically incorrect biological explanations of racial hierarchy, "white homeowners continued to pass and uphold racist housing policies, by shifting their rationale to property values,..." (Ibid).  David Freund wrote in his book Colored Property,

Federal policy promoted restrictive zoning and created a flush new market for housing that required racial segregation, yet encouraged whites to believe that it was free market, not racial prejudice or government policy, that set the rules of competition,....


...that the exclusion of minorities was not about race per se but about the principles or  real estate economics and homeowners' rights to control their communities (Ibid)
The plethora of these restrictive policies function as a way to restrict the number of affordable homes (Ibid, Nov. 5, 2018).  Decades later, in cities with attractive economic prospects, supply is failing to keep up with demand.  Young people, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, are experiencing the consequences of these policies, however, "given the compounding nature of wealth, the relative inaccessiblity of home prices is an ongoing disaster for the racial wealth gap" [Ibid, Mar. 21, 2019].

Places, like California, which limited the reassessment of property tax since 1978 (; Dec. 27, 2018; date accessed July 30, 2019), young people carry the dual burden.  Young people not only must try to buy a home under more difficult circumstances, they also pay higher property taxes, while municipal government receive less revenue and provide less service.  However, doing away with the tax subsidy for older homeowner, as taxes on the real value of their homes would exceed what people on fixed income can afford, would effectively render them homeless.

Therefore, there are many reasons why coastal housing markets (; May 4, 2018; date accessed July 30, 2019) has gone insane (; Apr. 19, 2019; date accessed July 30, 2019).  The irony of the situation is home ownership, once the bedrock of American capitalism, has become a symbol of what is so very wrong with the real estate markets.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Dangerous But Beautiful

Hello Everyone:

A happy Monday to you all.  The weather has calmed down enough so that Blogger's hair does not triple in volume.  Good hair days are important to Yours Truly's state of mind.

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Baltimore, Maryland
Over the weekend, the social media was ablaze over Mr. Donald Trump's derogatory comments about the city of Baltimore.  Why pick on the state of Maryland's largest city.  The short answer is it is the home district of House of Representatives Oversight Committee chair Elijah Cummings' (D-MD).  Representative Cummings is African American and frequent critic of the president.  The House Oversight Committee is the place where impeachment proceedings begin and has the power to subpoena people like the president's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump.  Feel free to draw your own conclusions.  While you consider everything Blogger just wrote, why not take a look at some of the good and bad of the Maryland 7th Congressional District.  By the way, the president's hometown of New York City is equally infested with rats and cockroaches.

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Neighborhood map of Baltimore, Maryland
Straight off the top of Blogger's head, good things about Baltimore are great food, a vibrant downtown full of historic buildings, museums, a thriving art and design community, and good public transportation.  The bad things about Baltimore: Crime, the weather, rats and cockroaches (yes).  No city is perfect but making it the target of racist comments, is beneath the dignity of the office of the President of The United States.

The president ranted about CD 7, calling it the Worst in the USA (; July 27, 2019; date accessed July 29, 2019).  Here are a few facts.

  Representative Cummings' home district is Maryland's 7th Congressional District.  Congressional District is majority African American and includes: Ellicot City, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Laurel, Maryland.  According to 2017 U.S. Census data: CD 7 is "...53% percent black and nearly 36% white.  Seven percent of the district is Asian, nearly 4% is Hispanic and less than 1% percent of the area is Native America and Pacific Islander.  The median age in the majority-female is 38.9 and residents 18 years and over make up 79% of the population,..." (Ibid)

The president also carried on about federal grants awarded to the district:

Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States.  No human being would to live there,.... Where is all this money going?  How much is stolen?  Investigate this corrupt mess immediately! (Ibid)

The reality: CD 7 received less than $15.7 billion in grants, benefits and federal assistance for Fiscal Year 2018, according to Newsweek's analysis of federal awards data from (date accessed July 29, 2019).  Compare this to Indiana's 7th Congressional District ($16.5 billion), New Jersey's 12th ($17.2 billion), and the Pennsylvania 4th ($27.4 billion) (; July 27, 2019) all received more federal assistance in the same period.  One more thing, the Maryland 7th Congressional District is also home to John Hopkins University, the Johns Hopkins Health and Health System, and the University of Maryland System are the top three employers in the district,  The district is also home to the U.S. Social Security Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, all CD 7's top ten employers (; date accessed July 29, 2019).

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Rowhouses in West Baltimore (CD 7)

Demographics and federal assistance aside, Baltimore's reputation has never been great.  That is a pity because Yours Truly always thought that Baltimore had a lot potential to be a truly great city.  The place nicknamed Charm City is ranked as the most dangerous out of 50 of the biggest cities in the United States (; Feb. 20, 2018; date accessed July 29, 2019), according to crime data analysis.  In 2017, Baltimore had 343 homicide, the highest murder rate per capita; 56 homicide per 100,000 people (Ibid).  While other cities saw their homicide rate go down, Baltimore's rate went up--343 killing in 2017, up from 318 in 2016.  This startling statistic prompted former Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa to implement a violence reduction initiative that made a small dent in the crime rate.

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Memorial mural
Baltimore, Maryland

Crime statistic aside, Baltimore's racial history has created the kind of social injustice that politicians and candidates for office often speak about.  Renny Bass, the owner of a cultural arts center in central Baltimore, told Newsweek,

The social injustice has going on in this country forever.  The economic injustice has going on forever.  The disparity in housing and bank loans have been going on forever.  White America knows this.  It's no secret.  But white America doesn't speak out against it because they are benefiting [sic] from it.... (; date accessed July 29, 2019)

Robert, a teacher, said,

I think a lot of people don't take time to acknowledge why these problems exist.... This was one of the first cities to integrate.  Poly [the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute] integrated in 1952, and people didn't want to the schools to integrate.  That's why [highway] 695 was built and white flight took off,... The main factory jobs all closed.  There is a long history of a lack of resources in Baltimore city, and I think until that itself is addressed it's easy to make comments like the city is messed up or dangerous.  Yeah it is, but why? (Ibid)

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Mural on the corner of Roberts and Pennsylvania

There are residents who agree with the president's description of the Maryland 7th Congressional District.  Neighbors recounted to Newsweek a local man, who worked at the local barbershop, was shot and killed last week.  He was trying to buy backpacks for some of the local children and encourage them to go to school.  They believe that he was targeted because his community outreach efforts (Ibid).  An anonymous resident said I think it was a wakeup call.  The city needs a wakeup call (Ibid).  Some of the residents say the lack of resources are the reasons why the schools and recreation centers close, leading to an increase in crime as more young people have no constructive alternatives to the street.

Robert, a security guard from West Baltimore, believes that Rep. Elijah Cummings is failing his job.  He said:

I just want to ask Elijah Cummings one question:  what in your twenty years in office have you done for this city.  This city is decaying and crumbling... (Ibid)

Devon Temogran says the city has gotten out of control.  Mr. Temogran was on his way to a funeral when stopped to speak to Newsweek.  He told the news weekly,  

A lot of people don't have their fathers because they're dead or in jail,... It's a dangerous place.  It's beautiful place, but at the same time it's dangerous (Ibid)

Dangerous but beautiful is a good description for a city so rich in history and culture.  Presidential tweets aside, Baltimore can be considered a microcosm for the systemic injustices that continue to plague the United States that will not be resolved by a Twitter.  It takes real long term commitment at all levels to make Baltimore, and cities like it, great again. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Blogger Candidate Forum: What We Learned

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Robert Mueller
Hello Everyone:

It is a very toasty and muggy Wednesday, which means time for Blogger Candidate Forum.  A while back, Yours Truly teased about a post on Democrats' efforts to flip five Republican held Senate seats, but current events dictate something else.  In this case, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence.  Based on the build up to Mr. Mueller's appearance, you would think he was getting ready to affirm "No Collusion, No Obstruction, Total Exoneration" or  "Impeach the MF."  Blogger found all of the build up to Mr. Mueller's appearance, like the SCO's report, pretty ridiculous.  Sky high expectations followed by cold hard reality splash.  After today, what do we know and what comes next?
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House Judiciary Committee
The short answer to what we know is not much more than what is in the actual report. Mr. Mueller either responded with monosyllabic answers or asked for clarification.  Mr. Mueller deflected or declined to answer question 198 during two three hour sessions (; date accessed July 24, 2019).  The Democrats did not get the blockbuster damning revelations and the Republicans made fools of themselves pestering Mr. Mueller with wild-eyed conspiracies theories.  Bottom line, the sessions did little, if anything, to accomplish the goal of enlightening the American public on the genuinely important elements of the SCO's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.  What is the long answer?

First, Robert Mueller is human after all.  For the past 2-1/2-years, Mr. Mueller has become this mythologized figure.  Depending on who you talked to, Mr. Mueller was either real patriot or the leader of however many "Angry Democrats" (Ibid/@realDonaldTrump; date July 24, 2019) determined to undermine a duly elected president.  He mumbled and fumbled his answers, especially when he discussed the obstruction part of his 448-page report.  Here is an example from an exchange with Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA; Blogger's representative),  Rep. Lieu asked if,

the reason [he] did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct? Mr. Mueller replied, That is correct. (; date accessed July 24, 2019)

While some observers (Ibid) interpreted this answer as evidence that Mr. Mueller believed that the president committed obstruction but declined to recommend prosecution because of OLC guidance.  Ordinarily this would a bombshell, contradicting Mr. Mueller's previous statements and the report, would have sent the Democratic-leaning social media (Ibid) into a frenzy.  However, that is not what he meant.  He later had to clarify why he declined to firmly say whether the president committed obstruction.  Obviously all the confusion could have been avoided had Robert Mueller given a more specific answer.  That was not the case.

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Logo for the House of Representatives

The House Judiciary committee embarrassed themselves. Both Republican and Democrat members sat there, under prepared for the human that sat in front of them.  Let us break it down.  Straight away, the Republicans spent their allotted time shouting conspiracy theories at Mr. Mueller, in hopes of getting "yes or no" answers.  This ended up making Mustn't see T.V.  One example,

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FLA) posited that the infamous Steele dossier was a second-tier false flag.  California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes focused on the theory that Russian professor Joseph Mifsud approached Trump adviser George Papadopoulos with Russian help, was a Western intelligence operative (; date accessed July 24, 2019).

Wild-eyed conspiracy theories did not really undermine the substance of the SCO's report but, Mr. Mueller did not confront the Republican rants.  While the Committee Democrats were prepared for the monosyllabic answers, they were not ready for Mr. Mueller's hesitancy would play against for their Republican colleagues' insistence that Mr. Trump did no wrong.  A Democratic staffer told Vox,

The decision was made to ignore the Republicans' conspiracy theory-driven sideshow,.... We didn't anticipate that Mueller would allow the mischaracterizations to go unanswered, I don't think that will impact the major takeaways from the hearing." (Ibid)

What were the major takeaways from the hearing?  Robert Mueller's effective responses combined with Republican hysterics  made it unclear.

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

If anyone was looking for Robert Mueller's testimonies to make the case for impeachment and removal from office, they should look elsewhere.  In the run up to today, much was said about the 10 examples of the president attempting to impede with the Russia investigation--was grounds for impeachment.  Blogger concurs with this thread but if the "Impeach the MF" crowd was hoping that Mr. Mueller would make a convincing case for them, were disappointed, it was a weak case.

Allow Blogger to reiterate, the Senate math is not in favor of the Democrats.  Therefore, if the gung-ho impeachment crowd still insists on pursuing this avenue, their hopes rest on the question of whether it increases Democratic turnout next year (; July 23, 2019; date accessed July 24, 2019) or strengthen the rule of law by telegraphing the fact that the president's action were unacceptable.  For impeachment hearings to accomplish this, they need to be effective.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who repeatedly refused to open hearings, must feeling little vindicated today.  Robert Mueller's testimony today was a preview of coming attractions: confusing testimony from the participants, lame Democratic questions, and Republicans commandeering attention with conspiracy theories.  Essentially, the impeachment skeptics were not convinced to change their opinions and the "Impeach the MF" crowd had to admit Mr. Mueller did not help their cause at all.

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Mr. Donald Trump
Mr. Donald Trump will probably tweet, if he has not already, that the hearing were further proof of "No Collusion, No Obstruction, Total Exoneration."  In fact, a Trump ally described the mood in the White House as euphoria (; date accessed July 24, 2019).  Not so fast.

If the hearing accomplished anything, it is they brought even more attention to his dubious behavior during the course of the Russia investigation.  Case in point,

In one of the few breakout moments of today, Judiciary Committee member Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) asked Mr. Mueller if the president could still be indicted after he leaves office.  Mr. Mueller's answer was a simple "yes" because the Office of Legal Counsel's ruling on indicting a sitting president no longer protected him.  Not exactly the answer the committee Republicans were looking for because it contradicted one of their key arguments that since the SCO did not indict the president, he is exonerated, presumed innocent until otherwise proven.  Allow Blogger to explain the difference between exoneration and the presumption of innocence: Exoneration means that you are proven not guilty of what you are accused of.  The presumption of innocence means that until the prosecution proves that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, you are innocent. 

Not understanding difference between the two really damaged the immediate Republican hearing strategy and is bad news for the president personally because it establishes that if he loses the 2020 election, he could be formally charged by the Department of Justice, should the next president decide to pursue it.  It also undermines the confidence of the president and his allies, knowing that they will not be immune from justice forever.  Blogger has a feeling that everyone is on the phone with their lawyers.

Finally, the Special Counsel's final report into Russian interference in the 2016 did not fare too well.  We learned that campaign manager Paul Manafort's deputy Rick Gates was regularly supplying polling information to a Russian, national whom Mr. Gates considered a "spy."  We learned that Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopolus attempted to facilitate meetings between Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mr. Trump approved Mr. Papadopolous' work.  Coupled with what we know about that infamous Trump Tower meeting and Donald Trump Jr.'s if it's what you say, I love it comment, it paints a very damaging portrait of a campaign willing so desperate to win, that it would break the the law. (vox,com; July 24, 2019).  Even it you are collusion skeptical, it all adds up to unpatriotic and just plain wrong.

The obstruction volume is even worse that the Russia volume because it lays out 10 specific examples of the president's actions that could be construed as obstruction including the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, repeated effort to fire Mr. Mueller, admitting on national television that he fired Mr. Comey because he was angry about the investigation, and ordering his subordinates to lie on his behalf (Ibid).  How damaging was this volume of the report?  It was so damning that many observers considered it an impeachment referral.  Although Mr. Mueller admitted that he could not prosecute the president as long as the OLC guidelines remained in effect, but it sounds like he would do if given the opportunity and was telling Congress to do its job (Ibid).  Instead, Mr. Mueller repeatedly told House Judiciary committee members to read the report.

What comes next?  For the Democrats, the pro-impeachment camp has to ask itself, given what we know today, should we continue to press of official inquiries or hold fire?  Impeachment proceedings would be realistic after the 2020 elections if the Democrats hold the House of Representatives and flip the Senate.  The Republicans are thinking we have to flip the House, hold the Senate and White House to prevent impeachment and removal from office.  Either situation is plausible.  If the Democrats hold the House, flip the Senate and the White House--another possibility--Mr. Donald Trump would face prosecution in federal and state court because the OLC guidelines would no longer protect him, depending on what the next president decides to do. This is hardly over and Yours Truly will be there for you.