The Cohen Report – 12/06/2018

This week’s episode talks about George H. W. Bush, a bipartisan effort among US Senators to get justice for Jamal Kashoggi, and possible voter fraud in North Carolina. Feel free to tune in every Thursday at 2:00 at!

Who was George H. W. Bush?
Information thanks to
-Born in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924, he became a student leader at Phillips Academy in Andover. On his 18th birthday he enlisted in the armed forces. The youngest pilot in the Navy when he received his wings, he flew 58 combat missions during World War II. On one mission over the Pacific as a torpedo bomber pilot he was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and was rescued from the water by a U. S. submarine. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action.
-Bush next turned his energies toward completing his education and raising a family. In January 1945 he married Barbara Pierce. They had six children– George, Robin (who died as a child), John (known as Jeb), Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy.
-At Yale University he excelled both in sports and in his studies; he was captain of the baseball team and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation Bush embarked on a career in the oil industry of West Texas.
Information thanks to
-George H.W. Bush fought in WWII and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966. He served as Ronald Reagan’s vice president for two terms and then won the 1988 U.S. presidential race, before losing his bid for a second term to Bill Clinton. Afterward, he made appearances for son George W. Bush, who also was elected U.S. president, and co-founded the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.
-Bush became chairman of the Harris County Republican Party in 1963. The following year, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas. It didn’t take long for Bush to enter Congress, however; in 1966, two years after his unsuccessful Senate bid, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, ultimately serving two terms. Bush was later appointed to several important positions, including U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1971, head of the Republican National Committee during the Watergate scandal, U.S. envoy to China, and director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1976.
-Bush then set his sights on the U.S. presidency, but failed to win his party’s nomination in 1980, losing it to his opponent, Ronald Reagan. Bush would make it to the White House soon after, however: He was chosen as Reagan’s vice-presidential running mate. Reagan won the 1980 election, defeating Democrat challenger Jimmy Carter. He was re-elected in 1984, with Bush serving as his vice president for both terms.
-Bush finally reached the White House’s top seat in 1989; he won the 1988 election against Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, becoming the first sitting vice president to be elected president since 1837. During his nomination acceptance speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention, Bush famously stated, “Read my lips: No new taxes.”
-During his presidency, Bush skillfully handled foreign affairs during a tumultuous time for the nation. Just months into his first term, he responded to the dissolve of the Soviet Union and oversaw the U.S. military’s removal of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega from power. Not long after, Bush responded to then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait (August 1990), creating a national coalition and leading a military strike to drive Hussein out of the oil-rich country. Bush’s handling of the invasion in Kuwait is largely viewed as his greatest presidential success.
-Bush delivered a speech to the American public as the invasion began, stating, “Now the 28 countries with forces in the Gulf area have exhausted all reasonable efforts to reach a peaceful resolution. [We] have no choice but to drive Saddam from Kuwait by force. We will not fail. We are determined to knock out Saddam Hussein’s nuclear bomb potential. We will also destroy his chemical weapons facilities. Much of Saddam’s artillery and tanks will be destroyed. … Our objectives are clear: Saddam Hussein’s forces will leave Kuwait.”
-Despite his global successes, Bush’s inability to handle economic problems at home were blamed for his re-election bid failure in 1992.
-When his eldest son, George W. Bush, was elected president in 2000, George Bush Sr. made many public appearances, frequently to speak in support of his son. In addition to being a proud and supportive father, he has lent his support to several political causes. In 2005 he joined forces with former president Bill Clinton — the Democratic candidate who defeated him in the 1992 election — to help people affected by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast region, especially Louisiana and Mississippi. The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund raised more than $100 million in donations in its first few months.
-In 2011 Bush was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Information thanks to WebMD
-He had vascular parkinsonism, a condition caused by one or more small strokes. He was often seen in a wheelchair during the last few years of his life.
-Before that, Bush had a few other health setbacks. He was hospitalized for shortness of breath in December 2014. He also was hospitalized in Maine in 2015 after he fell at his summer home and broke a bone in his neck. In 2012, he spent Christmas in intensive care, reportedly for a bronchitis-related cough, among other issues.

Before I continue, I want to remind everyone listening that I am speaking of a deceased person. I am going to respect his humanity – it doesn’t matter right now that I disagreed with him and I have many issues with what he did. He was a loving father, a wonderful husband, and someone who truly loved America, and led with dignity and grace. But I am going to read an article now, analyzing his role in health care. I am only going to be criticizing his actions, not his humanity.

The Health Care Legacy of George H.W. Bush
US News, Katelyn Newman
As the nation remembers former President George H.W. Bush, his single term as the 41st president of the United States and his lifetime of service, opinions vary on how well he handled the public health issues he faced upon entering the Oval Office. Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993 after two stints as Ronald Reagan’s vice president, started his term as the HIV/AIDS epidemic was killing tens of thousands of Americans. Notably, he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which included protecting people with HIV/AIDS from discrimination, as well as the Ryan White CARE Act, supporting the largest federally funded program in the United States for people living with HIV/AIDS. But critics say he didn’t go far enough to address the outbreak. Bush also watched as the badly designed Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act signed by Reagan and backed by Bush himself crumbled in Congress, and his administration fumbled on a health care reform plan ahead of his potential reelection in 1992. “Whereas Bush was a genius … in foreign policy, domestic policy in general just bored him silly,” says James Morone, a professor of political science, public policy and urban studies at Brown University. “He was a fish out of water on health care from start to finish.” Morone has written 10 books – including “The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office” – and more than 150 articles, essays and other pieces examining America’s political history, health care policy and social issues.
-When Bush takes over office, the first thing that happens is there’s a huge flap over this large extension of Medicare that Reagan had passed against his own advisers’ guidance, while he stands by and does nothing
-That might be the only major health entitlement in American history that was repealed before it really got any traction, but in effect, it is one of the first legacies of the Bush administration
-Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania was killed in a freak plane accident in 1991, and there’s a special election to fill his seat. Bush’s former attorney general, Dick Thornburgh, ran and was leading in the first polls, but his Democratic opponent Harris Wofford hits on a strategy – “If every criminal gets a lawyer, why shouldn’t every American have a doctor?” – and he ends up winning. With the 1992 presidential election hovering on the horizon, Democrats platform is shifting to universal healthcare
-The Bush administration starts to scramble to put together a national health insurance package, because it looks like electoral magic, but his staff members later said that he could care less about health insurance
-He put together a proposal that would allow people to buy health care through tax subsidies in private insurance markets. But their notion for how to finance it and make it revenue-neutral was pulled last-minute from his budget plan following advice from his congressional leadership, and it came across in news headlines as his team not being serious about their plan because there was no financing attached
-Bush was strongly criticized for his response to the HIV/AIDs crisis. To him, according to Morone, being president meant going on the world stage and worrying about the end of communism and the new world order. That was real government. This stuff about AIDS – he just didn’t care about any of it. [Going to talk more about this later]
-[Morone said] Bush put together a team, and that team came up with a lot of ideas. The idea basically was thinking about how we can use private markets to get at the expansion of health insurance, and that was really the birth of the idea that rather than having government-provided insurance, like Medicare or Medicaid, we could have government helping people to buy private insurance. That was a bold idea at the time.
-His team of advisers left a very powerful legacy indeed: It’s figuring out ways to use markets, to have government-enhanced private markets, rather than simply create government programs in the great society model. Nixon did that to some extent, but Bush advisers really refined that.

‘Kinder Gentler Indifference’: Activists Challenge George H.W. Bush’s Record On AIDS
Article thanks to NPR
As the remains of former President George H.W. Bush lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, LGBTQ activists and some journalists have been calling attention to his mixed legacy on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which was raging during his administration. Bush died at the age of 94, on the eve of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1. The headlines have stood in counterpoint to the largely laudatory obituaries for the Republican leader. “George H.W. Bush Vilified For Neglecting AIDS,” the LGBTQ magazine The Advocate wrote. “The Media Is Erasing George H.W. Bush’s Catastrophic Harm To LGBTQ People,” Michelangelo Signorile wrote in HuffPost. Bush signed two pieces of legislation that helped people with AIDS — the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protected people with HIV and AIDS from discrimination, and the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, which provided funding for AIDS treatment. But during Bush’s time in office, the AIDS epidemic grew dramatically in the U.S. and many other countries, and AIDS activists were frustrated by his lack of urgency on the issue. Among other things, his administration was famously reluctant to change a policy that blocked people with HIV from entering the United States — a major challenge for an international AIDS conference planned within the U.S. “The Bush presidency on HIV/AIDS was mixed at best, and marked by calculated indifference at worst,” Urvashi Vaid, who led the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force from 1989 to 1992, tells NPR. And more broadly, she says, Bush was not supportive of gay rights. “I think President Bush’s tenure was noticeable for its absence of leadership on AIDS, by its opposition to LGBT nondiscrimination and rights, and by its capitulation to the anti-gay forces within the GOP,” Vaid says. The Washington Blade, an LGBTQ newspaper in Washington, D.C., asked activist Larry Kramer for a comment on Bush. Kramer told The Blade, “He hated us.” Bush famously called for a “kinder, gentler” America. But Garance Franke-Ruta, writing in New York magazine this week about her time as an AIDS activist, says his presidency was marked by “a kinder gentler indifference” on AIDS. Bush did give a speech about AIDS in 1990, in which he called for compassion toward people with AIDS and said he and his wife had friends who had died from the disease. But advocates said his softer rhetoric wasn’t paired with enough meaningful action. And that speech was the exception, not the rule, as Dr. Mervyn Silverman, president of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, told NPR in 1991. “That the president of the United States has only given one speech on a topic that has taken the lives of over 120,000 people and caused disease in close to 200,000 is — is a sad commentary,” he said. ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, repeatedly protested against then-President George H.W. Bush. Bush criticized the group’s efforts as counterproductive. In 1991, hundreds of activists traveled to the Bush compound at Walker’s Point in Maine for a protest designed to bring their voices to his doorstep. Laurie Cotter, of the New York chapter of ACT UP, spoke to United Press International about the protest in 1991. “With over a million more citizens infected with HIV, the United States still has no nationally coordinated plan to end the AIDS epidemic and President Bush continues to refuse to provide leadership,” she said. In 1992, ACT UP activists spread the ashes of people who died with AIDS on the White House lawn. Eric Sawyer, an ACT UP activist, spoke to Out magazine this past weekend about those protests. Sawyer carried the ashes of his friend Larry Kert, at the request of Kert’s partner. Thousands of people walked from the AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall toward the White House, chanting things like “Bringing the dead to your door / We won’t take it anymore,” he remembered. Then, dodging efforts of the police to block them, they dumped ashes on the lawn. “It looked almost like a light snow had fallen,” Sawyer told Out. “[T]he lawn was littered with this light dusting of ashes and bone … from the urns, bags, and boxes we’d been carrying our lovers in. I’ll never forget the look of it.”

US senators introduce resolution blaming MBS for Khashoggi murder
Article thanks to Al Jazeera
Six top US senators from across party lines have introduced a scathing resolution to hold the Saudi crown prince accountable for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi more than two months ago. The proposal, which was introduced on Wednesday, says the Senate “has a high level of confidence” that Mohammed bin Salman “was complicit in the murder”. If approved by the Senate, it would officially condemn Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, for the killing of Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in October. “This resolution – without equivocation – definitively states that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi and has been a wrecking ball to the region jeopardising our national security interests on multiple fronts,” Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator and close ally of President Donald Trump, said in a statement. The move by the US senators came as Istanbul’s chief prosecutor filed warrants for the arrest of a top aide to MBS and the deputy head of the kingdom’s foreign intelligence on suspicion of planning the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the crown prince. Saudi Arabia has said the crown prince had no prior knowledge of the murder. After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh later admitted that Khashoggi had been killed inside the consulate and his body dismembered after negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed. Their move came a day after some senators said there is “zero chance” MBS was not involved in Khashoggi’s murder following a closed-door briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel. Tuesday’s briefing came a week after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis had told senators that there was no hard evidence MBS was behind the killing and urged senators not to downgrade ties with Saudi Arabia over the incident. The CIA has reportedly assessed, however, that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing of Khashoggi. Trump has repeatedly avoided any assertion that Prince Mohammed was involved in the October 2 killing and said the CIA had “feelings” the royal was culpable but not a firm conviction. Commenting on the senators’ resolution, Nabeel Khoury, a former US diplomat and deputy chief of mission in Yemen, said the Senate is starting to see MBS as a destabilising influence. “Trump has lost the debate with Congress on what should be done about the Khashoggi murder and while he was out with Mattis and Pompeo arguing about the value of Saudi Arabia, what Congress is telling him is, ‘No one is contesting that, what we’re contesting is the direction the Saudi policy has taken under MBS’,” he told Al Jazeera from Washington, DC. “They have now linked all the destabilising actions that MBS has taken, starting with Yemen, passing by the Khashoggi murder onto Qatar and even Lebanon. “The administration will have to act behind the scenes maybe to pressure Saudi Arabia into some kind of acceptable corrective force or this is going to get worse – in the end, Congress, especially the House, controls the purse strings and can eventually force the administration’s hands.”

Over 1,000 ballots may have been destroyed in NC congressional race, DA says
Article thanks to Fox News
More than 1,000 absentee ballots likely cast by Democratic voters in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District may have been destroyed amid voter harvesting allegations in favor of Republican Mark Harris in a closely contested race. “You’re looking at several thousand, possibly 2,000 absentee ballot requests from this most recent election. About 40 percent of those, it appears, at this point may not have been returned,” Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman told CNN. Freeman confirmed Monday that her office has been investigating “potential voting irregularities” in Bladen County since early this year. The investigation began in 2016 and has now incorporated the 2018 primary and midterm election allegations. “There has been an open investigation throughout this period,” Freeman told the Raleigh-based News & Observer. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., called on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to hold an emergency hearing to look into allegations from some voters that their absentee ballots were collected illegally and not counted, the Hill reported. The “real election fraud is playing out right before us in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District,” Connolly said in a statement. Harris holds an unofficial 900-vote lead over his Democratic opponent Dan McCready. Both candidates did not immediately respond to Fox News requests for comment early Thursday. Some voters have said their ballots were taken illegally. It remained unclear of the ballots were counted and the state Board of Elections has declined to certify the results amid the fraud allegations. One woman, Ginger Eason, told Charlotte, N.C., station WSOC-TV on Monday that McCrae Dowless, a longtime political operative from Bladen County, had paid her between $75 and $100 to collect absentee ballots in the 9th District. “I was helping McCrae pick up ballots,” Eason said. On Tuesday, incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., threatened to not seat Harris when the new Congress takes power in January. “The House … has the authority over the propriety of the election,” Hoyer said. “This is a very substantial question. [It] ought to be resolved before we seat any member.” “If there is what appears to be a very substantial question on the integrity of the election, clearly we would oppose Mr. Harris’s being seated until that is resolved,” he added.
Highly partisan
GOP originally wanted to investigate, but after it seems like the voter fraud was in their favor, they are reluctant to continue

CNN on Voter Fraud in NC
1. Signed voter affidavits
-North Carolina law requires that absentee ballots can only be returned by a voter or a his or her legal guardian or near-relative (e.g. spouse, father-in-law or stepchild). Democratic officials were able to track down voters, however, in Bladen County (part of North Carolina’s 9th District) who claimed that non-family members came to their house and promised to deliver their ballots to the state for counting. This practice, known as ballot harvesting, is illegal in the state of North Carolina, which on its own would be enough to question the results of the election.
-At least one voter further claimed that she handed over her ballot even though it wasn’t completely filled out and not sealed. It is plausible that these ballots were tampered with once voters handed them over. In a tight election, even a few changed votes could make a big difference.
2. Ballot harvester admission
-One of the ways we know if ballot harvesting is taking place is that absentee ballots have two signed witnesses to ensure the integrity of the process. It would be quite unlikely that one person would be a witness many times because that would likely require them going house to house to be a witness. That might be plausible if they were also helping to deliver the ballots, but remember only near-relatives or legal guardians can deliver ballots by North Carolina law. Yet, there are seven people who were witnesses more than 10 times.
-One of these included Ginger Eason, who was interviewed by local television station WSOC. She admitted on camera that she was paid to collect ballots from people who weren’t her near-relative or whom she doesn’t have legal guardianship over (which is illegal under state law). Further, Eason admitted that she didn’t actually send the ballots she collected to the state. Rather, she handed them to a paid contractor to Harris’ campaign, Leslie McCrae Dowless, who paid her for her efforts. What Dowless did with those ballots is unclear.
3. A history of shady activity
-Many of the allegations in North Carolina keep circling back to Dowless. He once served a prison sentence for felony fraud. Back in 2016, Dowless was accused of questionable activity involving absentee ballots. During that year’s primary, Dowless’ candidate (Todd Johnson) racked up a suspiciously high 98% of the absentee vote by mail in Bladen County. Johnson came in third overall districtwide.
-In this year’s primary, Dowless’ candidate (Harris) won 96% of the absentee vote in Bladen. In no other county in the district did Harris approach this margin among absentee voters. Additionally in no other county did the raw number of votes cast via absentee ballot come anywhere close to the number in Bladen. (Voters often don’t return requested absentee ballots)
-Dowless has denied any wrongdoing in comments to the Charlotte Observer. CNN could not reach him for comment on either Sunday or Monday.
4. Weird absentee vote pattern
-FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich looked at how absentee votes in each of 9th District’s counties compared to overall vote in the district. As in the primary, Bladen cast a higher percentage of its overall vote via absentee ballot than the rest of the county in the 2018 general election. Not only that, but Harris won a greater margin of the vote in the Bladen County absentees (24 points) than he did in any other county.
-Of course, voters in Bladen may have simply liked Harris more than McCready. Yet, in every other county in the district, absentee voters were more likely to vote for McCready than voters casting their ballot via a different method. The average overall was McCready doing 24 points better. In Bladen, absentee voters were 8 points more likely to vote for Harris than other methods.
5. Absentee partisanship makes no sense
-Another way we can check if the absentee votes in Bladen County make any sense is to look at the party registration of those who voted. Professor Michael Bitzer of Catawba College did this.
-In Bladen, 42% were registered Democrats, 39% were registered unaffiliated and 19% were registered Republicans. It would seem unlikely that such a Democratic leaning electorate would favor Harris by a 24-point margin. Still, we would expect some difference between the party registration edge Democrats had and the vote margins.
-It seems unlikely that the disparity would be as great as this, however. In no other county in the district was the difference between the margin in party registration among absentee voters and the margin in the House race greater than 24 points. In Bladen County, it was 47 points. A 47-point difference is possible. You just would think that at least one of the other counties in the district would have had something close to this difference. None did.

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