Compelling Testimony

I would appreciate it if someone would tell me what I am missing. It seems to me the January 6th Committee investigating the attempted coup against the United States should be going to United States District Court to obtain court orders to enforce their subpoenas. The courts should act expeditiously (although they might not), there seems little defense when people just outright defy a Congressional subpoena and claims of privilege can be handled at that time. If the person is ordered to comply and fails to do so, that is contempt of court, which can be dealt with immediately and the person jailed until such time as they comply.

I do think there is some utility to seeking criminal contempt against someone like Steve Bannon, who would probably never testify truthfully in any event, but if the goal is to obtain the testimony, getting court orders compelling it seems to me to be the way to go for at least many people.

It also seems to me the Committee should file a counterclaim(s) to compel testimony in those cases where people have sued to contest the subpoenas.

I would appreciate it if someone would tell me what I am missing.

It was just a normal day . . .

Writer’s Digest called “It was a dark and stormy night” “the literary posterchild for bad story starters.” Wikipedia says, “It was a dark and stormy night” is an often-mocked and parodied phrase considered to represent “the archetypal example of a florid, melodramatic style of fiction writing.” The entire first sentence is:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

1830 novel, Paul Clifford, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

However, I think “It was a dark and stormy night” is a great opening phrase and the whole sentence is marvelous. I therefore decided to play with it for the opening line in my non-fiction book, The Zyprexa Papers. I didn’t expect anyone would get it until I pointed it out and that seems to be true. Showing a marked up version of Snoopy writing the line replacing the phrase in the first paragraph of my book is a parody of the Snoopy cartoon, and was the best way I could figure out to illustrate what I had done.

There is another hidden gem in the book, but only the hardcover edition. The hardcover edition includes a bibliography and index and there is one index entry I think is worth the price of the hardcover edition if the extra cost is not an issue. It brings a smile to my lips every time I think about it. I am not going to tell you what that is, of course. You can leave a comment below if you think you know what it is. Of course, you will need to get the book first. <grin>

I am very grateful to Samizdat Health Writer’s Cooperative for publishing the hard cover edition. Their mission is to publish health related books that other publishers won’t touch because the message is outside of current medical industry dogma.

I have set up an order page for signed copies of both the hardcover and paperback editions.

The Senate Should Abolish its Obstruction Rule or Re-establish a True Filibuster Rule

A filibuster is when a member or members of a legislative body debates continuously to delay a vote on a matter. Under normal parliamentary rules a motion to “call the question” stops debate and puts the motion (the question) to a vote. To stop such debate in the U.S. Senate is called cloture and requires a super-majority. It used to require a 2/3rds majority (67 votes) when they actually had a filibuster rule, requiring members to be debating to prevent a vote without passing a cloture motion. In any event, the key is that in order to delay a vote, the person or persons had to continuously be on the floor actually speaking. Because of this, filibusters were not utilized unless the Senator(s) were very strongly against the measure under consideration. Most importantly, the filibuster did not prevent a vote, it delayed it. So, it was not inherently undemocratic.

Perhaps the most famous modern filibuster was Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 1957 record-length filibuster against ending segregation.

Sen Strom Thurmond filibustering the 1957 Civil Rights Act

For various reasons the U.S. Senate decided to dispense with the requirement to actually be debating, to not allowing a vote unless 60 Senators voted to do so (see, Wikipedia Article). This changed a rule allowing a filibuster to one that allowed a minority to prevent a vote. It kind of worked when there was a willingness to compromise, but has become nothing more than an invitation to subvert the will of the majority by a minority. This is blatantly undemocratic.

Allowing a minority to subvert the will of the majority is inherently undemocratic, but if the Senate wants to preserve its filibuster tradition it should go back to requiring those preventing a vote to stand up in the well of the Senate and debate for all to see their obstruction. However, this creates problems with the Senate doing the work of the people and my view is it is time to end the filibuster rule. I used to be ambivalent about it because I felt it fostered legislation that had broad support. However, it is now used as a bludgeon for pure political purposes and the country is in too dangerous a place to allow a minority to create gridlock.

PS, I was a U.S. Senate Page in the summer of 1969.

The Zyprexa Papers

On December 17, 2006, The New York Times began a series of front-page stories about documents obtained from Alaska lawyer Jim Gottstein, showing Eli Lilly had concealed that its top-selling drug caused diabetes and other life-shortening metabolic problems. The “Zyprexa Papers,” as they came to be known, also showed Eli Lilly was illegally promoting the use of Zyprexa on children and the elderly, with particularly lethal effects. Although Mr. Gottstein believes he obtained the Zyprexa Papers legally, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn decided he had conspired to steal the documents, and Eli Lilly threatened Mr. Gottstein with criminal contempt charges. In The Zyprexa Papers, Mr. Gottstein gives a riveting first-hand account of what really happened, including new details about how a small group of psychiatric survivors spread the Zyprexa Papers on the Internet untraceably. All of this within a gripping, plain-language explanation of complex legal maneuvering and his battles on behalf of Bill Bigley, the psychiatric patient whose ordeal made possible the exposure of the Zyprexa Papers

Has Putin Promised to Extract Trump?

(Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

In my mind, the question is not whether President Trump is an asset of Putin’s Russia, but whether he knows it. Just as the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center succeeded far beyond Bin Laden’s greatest hope, Donald Trump has accomplished far more for Putin than Putin could ever have hoped. This is due to the cowering Congressional Republicans. I am sure Putin can’t believe how far the Republicans have allowed President Trump to go. Now President Trump and Putin seem to be seeing if there is anything President Trump might do which will cause Congressional Republicans to move against President Trump. The betrayal of the Kurds may just be it, but I doubt it.

It seems almost every day President Trump does something that benefits Russia. Clearly, he is a Russian asset. The only question in my mind is whether he signed up or is unwittingly helping Russia. The betrayal of the Kurds makes it hard to believe he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

As I understand it, President Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, called Putin and then called Trump to ask him to remove troops from the Kurdish/Turkey border. Trump immediately complied without consulting anyone else. This was known to be a green light for Turkey to launch its assault on the Kurds. It just doesn’t make any sense, even for Trump, unless it was intended to help Putin’s Russia. So that raises the question of why Trump would do Putin’s bidding so obviously. Well, the Steele Dossier identified a number of potential blackmail items (Kompromat) Putin may have on Trump. The following list of Kompromat from the Steele Dossier comes from Wikipedia:

“Kompromat and blackmail: Trump”

  • “That Trump “hated” Obama so much that when he stayed in the Presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow, he employed “a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him” in order to defile the bed used by the Obamas on an earlier visit. The alleged incident from 2013 was reportedly filmed and recorded by the FSB as kompromat. (Dossier, p. 2)
  • “That Trump was susceptible to blackmail due to paying bribes and the existence of “embarrassing material” due to engagement in “perverted sexual acts” and “unorthodox behavior” in Russia, “enough embarrassing material…to be able to blackmail him if they so wished.” (Dossier, pp. 1–2, 8, 11, 27)
  • “That the Kremlin had promised Trump they would not use the kompromat collected against him “as leverage, given high levels of voluntary co-operation forthcoming from his team.” (Dossier, pp. 11–12)
  • “That Trump had explored the real estate sectors in St. Petersburg and Moscow, “but in the end TRUMP had had to settle for the use of extensive sexual services there from local prostitutes rather than business success”. (Dossier, p. 8)
  • “That Trump has pursued real estate deals in St. Petersburg, and “paid bribes there to further his interests”. That witnesses to his “sex parties in the city” had been “‘silenced’ i.e. bribed or coerced to disappear.” (Dossier, p. 27)
  • “That Trump associates did not fear “the negative media publicity surrounding alleged Russian interference”, because it distracted attention from his “business dealings in China and other emerging markets”, which involved “large bribes and kickbacks” that could be devastating if revealed. (Dossier, p. 8)”

In addition, there are indications President Trump laundered Russian money through real estate deals in the United States and Russian money may have otherwise rescued him.

If treason under the U.S. Constitution includes giving aid and comfort to the enemy, it seems to me President Trump’s actions qualify if Russia is technically an enemy. I don’t know the answer to that, but it seems it very well might be.

In any event, all of this raises the question in my mind if Putin has promised President Trump that he will extract him if/when things get too hot. Just asking. Of course, Putin would never actually do it. Putin is former KGB after all. Trump is just a chump.

Why Tortugas?

Back in 1985, in the midst of my second psychotic break, I had this epiphany that if everyone would only work together violence would be eliminated and so much good could be accomplished.  The image I had was of a herd of turtles (tortugas) being an irresistible force for good if they would only travel in the same direction.

Thirty-four years later, when I think about the existential task of humankind to reverse global warming, the image of all us turtles traveling in the same direction to save the planet comes to mind.

This blog is a place for me to publish my thoughts and musings after 66 years on this planet.  Kind of a World According to Gottstein.   I will probably change the title of this blog and delete this page once I get going.