Against All Advice …

What happens when you are ignorant of a certain situation, yet you make a decision that will impact the lives of millions, and nearly 100 well-informed, well-educated, highly-knowledgeable people tell you that you are wrong?  Do you listen to what they say and perhaps alter your decision?  Or do you tell them to sit down and shut up, and proceed down a destructive path?  Depends on who you are.  If you are a wise person, a thinker, you listen, and you ask questions and you re-evaluate your position.  If, however, you are Donald Trump, you throw the wizards overboard and give the order for “full steam ahead!”, even though the iceberg looms larger and larger.

Ten days ago, Don Trump declared a “state of national emergency”, even as he admitted that there is no emergency, that he could have attempted to go through legal channels, but he wanted to do it faster. He. Wanted. And now, he intends to divert funds that are needed for the safety and well being of the people of this nation to build a wall that wiser men know is not necessary and that almost nobody in the country wants.

Today, a group of 25 former republican members of Congress published an open letter appealing to Congress to block Trump’s intent to act against the Constitution and against the people of this nation.

Also today, a bipartisan group of 58 former senior national security officials issued a statement saying that “there is no factual basis” for President Trump’s proclamation of a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.  There is no factual basis.  It is a figment of Trump’s imagination.  It is a waste of our precious resources.  It is an ego trip.

Last Monday, a coalition of sixteen states filed a lawsuit to block Trump’s plan to build a border wall without permission from Congress, arguing that the president’s decision to declare a national emergency is unconstitutional.  The states that are participating in the lawsuit are:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Virginia

If your state isn’t listed here, you need to get in touch with your governor and let him know in no uncertain terms that he needs to take this seriously and join this coalition.

Tomorrow, the House will vote on a resolution to block Trump’s declaration.  The vote is almost certain to pass the House, which will force the Senate to bring it to a vote within 18 days.  If the Senate fails to vote to block the declaration, then shame on the Senate and every senator who votes ‘nay’ must be voted out of office at the earliest possible date.  Trump has forcefully declared that he will veto the measure, but with a 2/3 majority, any veto can be overridden.  At the very least, it sends a message that his decision is NOT what the people of this nation need or want.

But back to the statement by the 58 former national security officials.

“Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border.”

These are people who know what they are talking about.  They are people who have been responsible for the safety and well-being of the nation.  They are people educated and with experience in the area of national security.  And they see no reason to declare a state of emergency.  The little boy, Donnie, has cried “Wolf!” one time too many.

In addition to Madeline Albright, other signers include such highly respected dignitaries as Eliot A. Cohen, State Department counselor under President George W. Bush; Thomas R. Pickering, President George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations; John F. Kerry, Obama’s second secretary of state; Susan E. Rice, Obama’s national security adviser; Leon E. Panetta, Obama’s CIA director and defense secretary; as well as former intelligence and security officials who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Among other things, they said, illegal border crossings are at nearly 40-year lows. Undetected unlawful entries at the U.S.-Mexico border decreased from 851,000 to nearly 62,000 between 2006 and 2016, they said, citing Department of Homeland Security statistics.  They also argue that redirecting money pursuant to the national emergency declaration “will undermine U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”

Donald Trump’s background is in television and building hotels and casinos.  Nothing … nothing in his experience has prepared him to make the decisions he is making as he sits in the Oval Office.  He has not the background, the knowledge, nor the understanding to make such decisions.  Further, he has chased off the advisors who did have the ability to advise him wisely and replaced them with people who pander to his ego.  It has been repeatedly reported that he does not read and he does not listen to those with more knowledge than he.

If 58 chefs tell a novice cook not to use rotten milk else it will spoil the pudding, the cook darn well better listen!  This ‘chef’ is blind, deaf and dumb, yet he is making decisions that will affect the lives of over 300 million people!  It is past time for Congress to act to stop this madness!

A “Power Grab” or Democracy?

Elections in most countries are held on a weekend.  Why?  Because people don’t have to worry about how to make it to the polls after work or on their lunch break.  Because it makes it more convenient for voters.  And thus, it makes it more likely that more people will get off their arses and vote!  The United States is one of the few exceptions, where elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  Out of 68 nations that hold regular elections, the only ones that do not hold them on weekends are Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, South Korea, and the United States.  Some of the countries that hold weekday elections declare election day a public holiday, others permit across-the-board absentee ballots or postal votes.

The voting date in the U.S. makes it harder for poor people and minorities to vote, thus concentrating the vote and expanding the impact of the upper class, the wealthy voters, the WASPS.  In addition, we’ve made it harder for those people by closing many polling places in poorer neighborhoods, thus requiring some to make a trip by bus.  Add to that the restrictive voter ID laws that exist in some states and, well, what we end up with is the majority of the voters being middle or upper income and white.

US voter turnout trails most developed countries. During the 2016 presidential election, less than 56% of the estimated voting-age population in the US voted.  While the majority of US states have voter leave laws that guarantee certain employees a modicum of time off to vote, no federal law currently mandates that employees get time off to cast their ballots. So, when faced with choices like having to take unpaid time off work to vote, waking at the wee hours of the morning to vote so that they’re not late to work, standing in hours-long lines with everyone else who waited until after the workday to cast their ballot, or simply not voting at all, many choose the latter. Of the nonvoters surveyed by the US Census Bureau about the 2008 presidential election, the 2012 presidential election, and numerous other elections, the most commonly cited reason for not voting was being too busy or having conflicting work schedules. Obviously, we need to make some changes.

This month, House democrats introduced a bill known as the For The People Act, or HR1. It is a 571-page compendium of existing problems and proposed solutions in four political hot zones: voting, political money, redistricting, and ethics.  Obviously, I cannot address the entire bill in this post, but one portion of the bill calls for election day to be made a federal holiday in order to make it easier for everyone to vote.  Because of the large number of issues covered by HR1, it is highly unlikely that it will become law any time soon, for it would need to pass the Senate and be signed into law by Trump.  The #2 Fool on the Hill, Mitch McConnell, has already mocked and criticized the idea, saying “Just what we need, another paid holiday for federal workers”.  And how many days off do you take, Mitchie???  And then this …

“So, this is the Democrats’ plan to ‘restore democracy. A political power grab that’s smelling more and more like what it is.”

A “power grab” to ensure that everyone has a chance to vote?  I think not.  I think it’s called “democracy”, Mitchell.  Last September, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a bill in the Senate, S.3498, titled The Democracy Day Act of 2018, that would have declared election day to be a federal holiday.

“Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote.  While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy.”

Needless to say, Sanders’ bill was DOA in the republican-controlled Senate led by Mitch McConnell.

Other points in HR1 pertaining to voting:

  • Voter registration would be made easier. Citizens could register online or get registered automatically, via data from driver’s licenses or other government sources. For federal elections, states would have to provide same-day registration and at least 15 days of early voting. Election Day would be a federal holiday.

  • The bill would crack down on efforts to take voters off the rolls or prevent them from casting ballots. Felons could regain their voting rights after finishing their sentences.


  • Federal elections would require paper ballots to prevent computer tampering. State chief election officials couldn’t get involved in federal campaigns.


  • The bill would declare an intent to revive core anti-discrimination provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were effectively shut down by the Supreme Court six years ago. It would also state that failing to vote isn’t grounds for taking away a person’s voter registration.

There is much more of substance in this bill that I cannot cover in a single post, but NPR has a highly informative, easy-to-understand article covering the highlights that I suggest you take a look at.  Campaign finance, ethics, and gerrymandering are also covered, all of which sorely need to be addressed if we are to have a chance at fair elections.  Sadly, as I noted before, I don’t think the bill has a snowball’s chance of passing the Senate, for the reality is that if every eligible voter had cast a vote in 2016, we would be writing today about President Hillary Clinton, and McConnell and his band of merry thugs are well aware of it.  Mitch and his cronies are well aware that those disenfranchised voters would put an end to this picnic they’ve been having and hold them accountable for their responsibility to ALL the people of this nation, not only those who hold the nation’s wealth in their dirty hands.

Remembering John McCain

I was writing an email to a friend last night when a ‘breaking news’ update flashed across my screen:  Senator John McCain had died.  Just two days prior, the Senator had announced that he had discontinued his treatment, and I knew then that it was a matter of days, but still, the news stunned me.

Many others by now have written posts dedicated to McCain, and anything I will say has almost certainly already been said by others who said it at least as well as I can.  For that reason, I debated about writing this post, but I felt I had to.  While I may not have agreed with much of his ideology, many of the views he supported, never once did I question his honour or integrity.  I always believed that whatever his view, he believed that what he proposed and supported was for the good of the people he represented, and he understood, as few do, that he represented the entire nation, not just those who voted him into office.

When John McCain was asked, in an interview with Jake Tapper last September, how he would like to be remembered, he responded:

“He served his country. And not always right, made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors. But served his country. And I hope, could add, honorably.”

Yes, Senator, I believe we can add ‘honourably’.

John McCain served his country honourably for almost all his adult life in one capacity or another.  He began his military career in 1960 after completing flight school, but his combat career began in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War.  It was on 26 October 1967 when, while flying his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam, his plane was shot down by a missile over Hanoi. McCain fractured both arms and a leg when he ejected from the aircraft, and nearly drowned after he parachuted into Trúc Bạch Lake. Some North Vietnamese pulled him ashore, then others crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt and bayoneted him.McCain-10.jpgSeriously injured, he was shown no mercy by the North Vietnamese, and received daily beatings and interrogations.  In mid-1968, still recovering from his serious injuries, the North Vietnamese offered McCain early release because of who his father was:  commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater.  McCain refused unless every man taken in before him was also released.  Kept in solitary confinement, McCain was subjected to a program of severe torture. He was bound and beaten every two hours.  After five-and-a-half years, he was finally released on 14 March 1973.

McCain went on to enter politics, serving in both the House of Representatives and later, the Senate.  Since this is a tribute, not a biography, it is not my intent to outline his long service in Congress, but rather merely to note that, while he had the reputation in Congress for being a ‘maverick’, his was often the voice of reason.  He was often the one who reached ‘across the aisle’ to work through compromises, and because of this, in recent years he often came under fire from his own party.  But through it all, McCain followed his conscience, and though he wasn’t always right, he always fought for what he believed was the right thing for the nation and its people.

This nation and every citizen, both republican and democrat alike, lost a friend and an advocate yesterday.  We need more like him, and he will be missed by so many.  Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama will give the eulogies at McCain’s funeral.  Even in death, he reaches across partisan lines.  You did more than your share here on earth, Senator McCain, and you will be sorely missed.

No Dancing in the Streets … Sorry.

I’ve noticed the almost exponential spread of a misconception being bandied about on social media the past few days and thought it would be a good idea to clarify before there is premature dancing in the streets.  The misconception is that if Trump were to be impeached and removed from office, Pence and the rest of his appointees would also be automatically removed from office.  Sounds like a truly wonderful idea, doesn’t it?  Much as I hate to have to take those happy smiles off your face, I have to tell you folks … it just ain’t so.

I understand where the confusion comes in.  Remember that when the Constitution was drafted, the framers were trying to keep it short and simple, for they wanted every man (women didn’t count back then) to be able to read and understand it.  If we were writing the document today, lawyers would be involved and it would no doubt turn into a few million words, rather than the mere 7,591 words it is now, including the amendments.  So, in keeping the document short and readable, there are some segments that, on the surface, may seem to mean something that they do not.  Article II, section 4 is one such:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

First of all, it should be noted that while the House of Representatives may formally ‘impeach’ a president, this alone does not call for a removal from office.  Remember President Clinton?  The Senate basically acts as the jury once the House has voted to impeach, and if the Senate finds the president or other officer guilty with a 2/3 majority, in other words a vote of 67 senators, then and only then is that person removed from office.  And only the person convicted of treason or another impeachable crime is removed, not the entire bunch of ‘em.

The tricky word that has given people hope we might do a thorough cleaning of the White House is that word ‘and’.  “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers …”  Replace ‘and’ with ‘or’, and you get a better picture of what the framers were trying to say.

If you think about it, it wouldn’t make sense to remove the vice president and the rest of the crew from office if the president were convicted and removed from office.  In the case of Trump & Co, yes, it might make perfect sense, but in most cases it is highly unlikely that the entire crew was guilty just because the president was.  And, can you imagine what chaos it would cause?  Just the removal of the president would likely set the nation reeling for years.  So no, there is no clean and legal way to “throw da bums out” all at once.

Something else to think about, as we call for impeachment.  If the House impeached Trump today, we would still have him as president a year from now, because with the current makeup of the Senate, 51 republicans, 47 democrats, and 2 independents (who generally vote with the democrats), and given the fact that they are not only split along party lines but rent along party lines, there is no way in heck they would garner a 2/3 majority to remove him from office.  It’s one of those situations where “Be careful what you wish for …” applies, for in all likelihood there will be only one chance to impeach Trump.  Let us not waste it at a time when he will not be judged guilty by the senate and nothing will change except that the process will have wasted a ton of time and money.  And frankly, while I really hate to burst everyone’s bubble – including my own – I don’t think that even with the best possible outcome in November, Trump will be removed from office by impeachment.  The numbers just don’t add up.

There are 35 Senate seats up for election in November.  Of those, 26 are already held by democrats, leaving only 9 seats currently held by republicans that could be switched to democrats.  If every seat were filled with a democrat, the makeup of the Senate would be: 58 democrats and 42 republicans.  Enough for a simple majority, but not enough for a 2/3 majority.

The only hope, and it is one I still think could happen, is if the evidence that Trump committed treason is so overwhelming that even the republicans in the Senate are ready to shove his patootie out the door.  This, of course, would require that they dig deep and find both a pair of cojones and a conscience.

I apologize for bursting everybody’s bubble today, and I still believe that Trump needs to be removed from office and soon, before he does more damage to our system of government and our nation as a whole.  But we need to be realistic, too.  Sorry …sad-2

Ron DeSantis – Yet Another Fool …

Ron DeSantis is a republican representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.  He is also a Fool … yes, that is Fool with a capital ‘F’.  He falls short of qualifying for an Idiot of the Week award, but given time, he might by sometime next year. If only there weren’t so many out there like him …

He has written an amendment to tie special counsel Robert Mueller’s hands.  You know … one has to wonder, with so many protests against Mueller and his team of investigators, if “methinks thou doth protest too much” is an apt saying here.  But back to DeSantis.

“Congress should use its spending power to clarify the scope and limit the duration of this investigation. Rosenstein has said that the DOJ doesn’t conduct fishing expeditions; the corollary to this admonition should be that Congress will not fund a fishing expedition.”

His proposed amendment is tied to the spending package the House is set to take on this week.  The limitations he proposes are to restrain the scope of Mueller’s investigation to only events that occurred after June 2015 when Trump officially threw his hat in the ring, and also to give him only six more months to complete the investigation.  Both are unreasonable demands.  I think we all knew when the investigation first started that one thread would lead to another to another, and the scope was likely to be far wider than originally thought.  Nothing has changed that assessment. And six months???  Get real, Mr. DeSantis … to fully determine everything that has happened between the Trump campaign and the Russian government could take years.

DeSantis claims the American people do not want to fund this ongoing investigation.  Well, as one of those people, I would far rather see my tax dollars used to dig as deep as necessary, than to waste them on such things as Trump’s every weekend golf trips, his hedonistic lifestyle, and the recent unnecessary investigation into whether the Obama administration installed wiretaps in Trump Tower.  Oh yes, Mr. DeSantis … We The People want to know every single detail of the collusion between Russia and anybody associated with Trump.

“My amendment sets a limit of only matters since Trump’s campaign started. And then If you don’t have anything after 6 months after announcement.  That will be almost two years [if you include the FBI’s investigation that started in 2016].  If you have hard facts produce them. That’s not a good use of resources and diverts our attention on Capitol Hill away from on the core issues that American people want us to address. Is this being done because we want to answer this question about ‘were there crimes committed by members of a presidential campaign working in cahoots with the Russians?’  Yes or no?  And if there weren’t, then go on.  All the stuff we’re hearing are things that really are unrelated to that.”

To me, such a foolish statement throws up a red flag. On the plus side, DeSantis amendment is likely to be largely ignored, as a number of members of both the Senate and the House are actually putting forth proposals to protect the Mueller investigation after Trump’s threats to fire Mueller.  But there is more …

In 2016, he [DeSantis] repeatedly demanded a special counsel be appointed to investigate Hillary Clinton’s email server, even after the attorney general determined that one was not required. In one such demand, he asked rhetorically, “Aren’t the current extraordinary circumstances involving the investigation of former Secretary of State Clinton’s private email server the precise reason the special counsel option exists?”

He also led an unsuccessful effort that year to impeach the IRS commissioner, an Obama appointee, who he said had “violated the public trust, breached his fiduciary obligations and demonstrated his unfitness to serve.” At the time he said Congress must act to get to the truth and because, “We are supposed to be the people’s representatives, we are supposed to be able to do justice for them when the government is not acting appropriately… [There is] no excuse for our failure to discharge our basic constitutional duties.”

And just weeks ago, DeSantis called for a Congressional investigation of his fellow Florida representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), after a former information technology employee of employed by Wasserman Schultz and several other Congressional Democrats was arrested on charges of filing a fraudulent home loan application — hardly the sort of direct connection he now demands Mueller demonstrate. – Austin Wright, ThinkProgress, 28 August 2017

foolThe amendment is one of hundreds proposed to attach to the spending bill, and there is no guarantee it will ever see the light of day, as the House Rules Committee has the ability to discard any amendments.  DeSantis is a hypocrite and a fool.  I feel confident that his fellow House members will ignore his proposal.  It seems that at this juncture it would be wise to sit down and shut up, rather than to add fuel to the fires by protesting Mueller’s investigation on frivolous grounds.

What Happened in Montana???

My question for the day:

What to make of a nation whose populace praise violence and elect representatives who physically beat reporters?

What, exactly, happened in Montana, and what are we to think of a state that elects a candidate who physically beat a reporter, then lied about it, and only admitted and apologized after he won the election.  And what must we think of a nation whose president applauds this action and goes so far as to offer to pay the offender’s legal fees?  You will note that I have many questions, but not many answers.

The story:

On Thursday, Montana held a special election to replace former representative Ryan Zinke, who is now Secretary of the Interior (more about that in another post).  The two major candidates were republican Greg Gianforte, a technology executive, and democrat Rob Quist, a folk singer.  The majority of Montanans vote republican and Trump won big there last year.

On the night before the election, Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the Guardian, asked Gianforte a question pertaining to the disastrous healthcare bill that passed in the House a few weeks ago.  Rather than answer the question, Gianforte grabbed Mr. Jacobs by the throat, slammed him to the ground and began punching him.  Mr. Jacobs’ glasses were broken and he was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was treated for his injuries.  Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault. End of Gianforte’s political aspirations, right?  WRONG.

gianforte-toon.jpgThursday night, Gianforte won the election by six percentage points, proving once again that many in this nation have sold their consciences down river.  As I watched the results start rolling in around 10:30 EDT on Thursday night, it brought back memories of another election just over six months ago.  And just as on that fateful night of November 8th, I felt tears pooling in my eyes.  Not so much, I think, for the fact that another republican beat out a democrat, but for the statement that win made, a statement that says:  We the people of the United States of America no longer value kindness, compassion and freedom, but we value only money and power.

Gianforte has a history of antagonizing the press.  In April, he pointed out a reporter and suggested that the crowd should all “gang up on him”.  His estimated net worth ranges between $65 million and $515 million, which apparently gives him a sense of superiority and entitlement.  And … surprise … he owns approximately $250,000 unsanctioned stock in a Russian company.

Gianforte initially denied his assault on Mr. Jacobs, despite the fact that there were four eye witnesses to the incident.  Even a Fox reporter, Alicia Acuna, was horrified:

“Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top of the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’”

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin:

“Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin county sheriff’s office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault. Greg Gianforte received a citation on Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear in Gallatin county justice court between now and 7 June 2017.”

Only after being declared the winner of the election did Gianforte offer a tepid apology:

“When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way. Last night I made a mistake and I took an action that I can’t take back. I’m not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did and for that I am sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way and for that I am sorry Mr. Ben Jacobs.”

Predictably, Donald Trump called the election results “a great win in Montana”.

How did this happen:

Quite possibly the assault on a reporter by the republican candidate might have cost Gianforte the election except for two things:

  • Montana has early voting by mail, and 37% had already cast their ballots via mail before the assault took place. Some actually called and asked to get their ballots back, but of course at that point it was too late.

  • The democratic candidate, Rob Quist, was not a strong candidate at all. He has no prior experience that would qualify him for the position, but then neither does Gianforte. He has a history of unpaid debts and property taxes, which the republicans made the most of during the campaign. Quist was able to raise only half as much money for his campaign as Gianforte. The national DNC is concentrating most of their efforts on the Georgia race and Jon Ossoff, and largely considered Montana a ‘waste of time’.  Quist is being sued by a former band member and also by a contractor, both of whom say he did not pay them.  All in all, Quist was not a viable candidate and the Montana Democratic Party did little, if anything, to help him, while Trump and Pence both traveled to Montana to speak at rallies on behalf of Gianforte.

The message:

The message it sends when a man with a short fuse who beats up a reporter for asking a legitimate question is the same message we heard on November 8th last year when a man who had encouraged violence at rallies, who had threatened and bullied those who opposed him was elected to the highest office in the land.  The message it sends is that we are no longer a kind, caring and compassionate nation, but rather one with little regard for our fellow human beings.  Is it likely that we will see more of these brash, violent bullies elected to Congress and governorships?  Possibly.  I hope not, but quite possibly others will look around and think that if a person like Trump, a person like Gianforte, can be elected, then almost anyone who says what people want to hear, can win an election.  And perhaps what it says is that people like violence, that respect and kindness no longer matter.  Perhaps it says that this nation has sunk to a new low, one from which it may never come back.

montana-toon-1

Notice Of Termination

I believe every single Republican in the House of Representatives with the exception of the 20 who voted their conscience and said “no” to the healthcare bill, should be served with a termination of employment notice, effective immediately. Below is a sample of such a notice:


To:        Paul Ryan, former Speaker of the House

From:  We The People of the United States of America

Date:   04 May 2017

Re:       Termination of your employment


You are being given until 5:00 p.m. to remove any and all personal items from the Capitol Building and any other offices you may have occupied as a U.S. Representative.  Your final pay will be forwarded to you by the end of the month.

The reason for this termination is that you have failed to do your job.  You failed to put the best interests of the nation and its citizens above your own personal interest and that of your co-worker, Donald Trump.  You were hired to represent the people in your district, and instead you just voted for legislation that would very likely cause pain, suffering, financial devastation, and ultimately death to a vast majority of those people.  As your employers, we deem your behaviour to be unacceptable, and therefore your termination is effective immediately.

Please do not disgrace yourself in future job endeavors by requesting that we provide you with an employment reference, because if you do, we will be completely honest and “tell it like it is”, that you were without good morals, without conscience, and did not act honestly nor with integrity.

One final point.  Your health insurance will terminate at midnight on 31 May 2017.  A representative from Human Resources will contact you within ten (10) business days regarding your COBRA options.

Sincerely,

We. The. People


Note that there were 20 Republican members who voted their conscience and are excluded from this memo.  One abstained, and may be put on probation.  To find out how each representative voted, click here.  My initial intent was to send an actual hard-copy, snail mail copy of this ‘memo’ to each of the 217 who voted ‘yes’, until I realized that would cost me $106.33 in postage alone.  Not being wealthy, and having better things to do with my money, I have decided to email them a copy.  I hope many will get on this bandwagon and at least let their representatives know they will not have a job after November 2018.  This utter disregard for our well-being is an abomination not to be tolerated.  The simplest e-mail form I have found, for those who are interested, is here.

Not Even Trying

Erik Hare, my ‘go-to’ blogging friend, has a different, but I believe astute, take on today’s House vote to repeal ACA and implement Trump’s version of healthcare -101. Please take a few minutes to read his assessment, as I believe he has nailed it. Thank you, Erik, for implicit permission to re-blog!

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

The US House just passed what it calls AHCA – the Obamacare repeal legislation they have been waiting 8 years to pass.

There are many ways to criticize this bill, ranging from the AMA’s criticism that it dismantles what safety net we have to a full-on dismissal by key Senate Republicans.

But there is a deeper criticism that has to be made – the real problem with this bill is that the House isn’t actually even trying to govern. They’ve completely given up.

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ACA truths Republicans don’t want you to know

Tonight, the House Republicans claim they have sufficient support to vote on the repeal of ACA and the extremely poor replacement being proposed. This bill, if passed, will take health coverage away from millions of people. Fellow-blogger and friend Keith has some advice for us all, and some very informative information. Please take a few minutes to read his post and check out the links. This is important, friends … this is our lives! Thank you, Keith, for this timely information and for permission to reblog!

musingsofanoldfart

The Affordable Care Act is an imperfect and complex law, but it is actually working pretty good. It does need improvements, but a few of its imperfections have been heightened by our Republican friends in Congress and in state legislatures. Yet, they do not want you to know about these actions, some of which are quite devious and harmful to Americans. To be frank, this subterfuge frustrates me as people are harmed as the GOP tried to waylay the law.

What has not been reported very much in main stream news is Senator Marco Rubio’s successful efforts to stiff insurance companies. These companies were promised additional funding for taking on excessive bad risk, called adverse selection. This was done successfully when the Medicare Part D plans were rolled out. By stiffing the carriers, the insurance companies had to raise premiums even more than they otherwise would have. Some even left…

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Let’s Talk Impeachment …

Impeachment: a word that is on everybody’s minds these days, both Republican and Democrat.

“Whispers about impeachment, the most familiar constitutional procedure for removing a president, began to circulate even before Trump had taken the oath of office. But two months into Trump’s presidency, those whispers – and the search for any other possible emergency exit – have grown into an open conversation …” – The Guardian, 22 March 2017

Dan Rather on the Trump-Russian connections: “We may look back and see, in the end, that it is at least as big as Watergate. It may become the measure by which all future scandals are judged. It has all the necessary ingredients, and that is chilling.”

nixon-resignsOn August 9, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon became the only U.S. president to resign from office, in the wake of the Watergate scandal.  After two years of investigations and scandal, it was time.  Nixon said, “By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.”  Nixon was guilty of a number of things, however I thought then, and I still think today, that he made a tough decision, the right decision, in the best interest of the nation.  Okay, granted, he had lost the support he needed in Congress, had lost the confidence of the nation, and would have likely been removed from office within a year, but still, I respect that he had the dignity to resign when he did. Had he not resigned, impeachment would have been the next step … a step that would have been costly and would have further divided the nation.  The House Judiciary Committee had already charged him with “high crimes and misdemeanors” in its bill of impeachment in July. There is no doubt that Nixon would have been impeached, but he might have, like Andrew Johnson before him and William Jefferson Clinton after, remained in office.

Nixon denied any wrongdoing, despite mounting evidence, until the bitter end.  Based on what we have seen thus far, I would expect no less from Trump when the investigations into his ties to the Russian government are eventually laid bare.  I suspect, however, that unlike Nixon, Trump will not have the grace to resign, but rather will force a full impeachment process, further dividing a nation that is already about as far divided as a nation can be without engaging in armed combat.

Article II, Section IV of the U.S. Constitution states, “The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The last of these, ‘high crimes and misdemeanors, is subjective and much would depend on how the 115th Congress decided to define it.  The process for impeachment is fairly simple, but by no means speedy:

  • Impeachment proceedings begin in the House of Representatives, once the Justice Department or an independent council investigates charges & presents them to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • The House Judiciary Committee then reviews the evidence, drafts the Articles of Impeachment, and debates the Articles, deciding whether to pass them to the full House.
  • The full House debates the Articles, then votes on whether to impeach. Only a simple majority (51%) is required for impeachment.  If 51% vote to impeach, the president is considered impeached, but is not yet out of office.
  • The Senate holds a trial to decide whether the president should remain in office. The House Judiciary Committee presents the evidence, acting as prosecutor, and the accused will have attorneys present to present his defense. The Chief Justice of Supreme Court acts as Judge and rules on admissibility of evidence, and the full Senate is the jury.
  • The Senate votes, and a two-thirds majority is required to remove the president from office.

Simple, right?  Well … yes … and no.  Think about the current composition of the 115th Congress and what, by their actions, they have indicated thus far.  We have 100 Senators, 52 of whom are Republicans, and 430 Representatives (there are currently 5 vacant seats), 237 of whom are Republicans.  Thus far, all bills have been voted on along almost strict party lines, with the Republicans throwing all their support to Trump.  What this means is that the Justice Department will need to have solid evidence of criminal acts committed by Trump in order to get the House to consider impeachment.  And the Justice Department is currently under the leadership of one Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III, a blatant racist who should never have been even considered, but who was hand-picked by Trump and then confirmed by the Republican-led Senate. See the conundrum?

The evidence is mounting that there will be, after the FBI finishes its investigation, and an independent commission (hopefully) conducts an investigation, incontrovertible grounds for impeachment.  If it turns out, as I believe, that Trump had direct connections to the Russian government and was aware of their efforts to alter the results of the 2016 election, or if certain of Trump’s campaign staff had connections and Trump was aware of those connections, that would be grounds for impeachment on the grounds of treason.  Another, though less likely possibility is that charges may stem from Trump  allegedly violating constitutional bans on receiving certain gifts – a problem rooted in his failure to divest from his real estate, hotel and branding businesses.

I think that whether or not the Department of Justice is willing to bring charges and then whether the House of Representatives and later the Senate are willing to follow through with the impeachment process is a matter of timing.  There are signs that some Republicans in Congress are already tiring of Trump’s shenanigans, such as his baseless claim that Obama had wiretapped his phones during the presidential campaign, his bald-faced lies, his tirades, and the blame game he is so fond of playing.  While there are undoubtedly some who will ride his coattails regardless of his actions, I firmly believe there are men and women of good conscience in the Republican party in Congress, and when push comes to shove, I believe they will opt to do the right thing.  But as of today, they are still supporting Trump, no matter what.  So, maybe in a month, maybe in two months, impeachment charges would move forward, but if they were handed down today, I am skeptical. It is rather a matter of giving him enough rope, enough time to figure out how to tie the knot in the rope, to hang himself.

The other option is that, under the 25th Amendment, Trump could be declared ‘unfit to serve’, but in my opinion, that is even more of a long-shot than impeachment. In order for this option to be enacted, the Vice-President and a majority of the top 15 members of the cabinet must find the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.  Those people all owe their jobs to Trump, and I find it highly unlikely they would go against him, especially if there were a possibility they would lose the battle and then have to live with the consequences.

In the long run, it boils down to We The People.  We must make our voices heard … our Senators and Representatives must be made to hear our voices and realize that we are the ones who have the power to decide whether they return to Congress after the next round of elections in 2018.  We need to remember that they work for us, not the other way around. While having the president impeached and removed from office may be divisive and disruptive, it is rather like having a cancerous growth removed … it is painful, but life-saving.  I believe having Trump removed will be painful for some in the short-term, but life-saving for our democratic principles in the long-term.