Is ‘Rule of Law’ Dead?

Whether Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions was warranted or ethical is not the question.  Whether Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General is constitutional is not the question, nor is the question whether Whitaker should recuse himself from the Mueller investigation. The question tonight is whether this nation has become one where ‘rule of law’ applies only to those without wealth & power?  I would begin by asking just what gives one single man, Mitch McConnell, the power of life and death over the Mueller investigation?

It’s funny how just the day before, Mitch McConnell wrote that OpEd piece promoting bipartisanship and bemoaning the fact that he didn’t believe democrats would be willing to reach across the aisle … not that Mitchell has ever once reached across that aisle.  But now, there is a bipartisan effort by Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Democratic Senator Chris Coons to pass legislation that would offer protection to the investigation that has been ongoing for a year-and-a-half, but McConnell has blocked that legislation.  Single handedly he stamped it “null and void”without consideration. 

“As you can imagine, I talk to the president fairly often, no indication that the Mueller investigation will not be allowed to finish, and it should be allowed to finish.  We know how the president feels about the Mueller investigation, but he’s never said, ‘I want to shut it down.’ … I think it’s in no danger, so I don’t think any legislation is necessary.”

I cry FOUL!  This legislation is very necessary and if Trump can get by with it, he will shut it down in a heartbeat.  Just listen to Trump’s latest rant against Mueller and the investigation …

“The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to  our Nation and don’t care how many lives the [sic] ruin. These are Angry People,including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years.They won’t even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!”

For the record, Bob Mueller is a registered republican, and a much-decorated former Marine who served in Vietnam and came home with a Purple Heart from being shot in the leg. 

“I consider myself exceptionally lucky to have made it out of Vietnam. There were many—many—who did not. And perhaps because I did survive Vietnam, I have always felt compelled to contribute.”

Trump mixed up his facts a bit … Mueller was Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for twelve years … eight under President George W. Bush, and four under President Barack Obama.

The only … the one and only thing that has kept Trump from taking action sooner was the fact that he cannot fire Mueller directly, Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General had recused himself, so he couldn’t fire him, and Rod Rosenstein is a man of integrity and wouldn’t fire him.  But now, with Whitaker in the position of Acting Attorney General, and Whitaker having licked Trump’s boots more than once already, echoing Trump’s rhetoric about the investigation being a ‘witch hunt’, the conclusion is obvious.  The only question is ‘when’?

There is no ‘witch hunt’, else Mueller would not have brought indictments against 32 people and 3 companies thus far, including Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time attorney and ‘fixer’, and Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman. 

Even Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, another who has stayed in Congress far too long and is a Trump sycophant, has said that he would back the bill to safeguard the investigation.  Jeff Flake has, perhaps, used the most important leverage of any in saying that he would refuse to advance any judiciary nominees until or unless the bill is passed. McConnell really wants to get as many of Trump’s judicial nominees confirmed as possible in order to stay in Trump’s good graces, if in fact there is such a thing.

Mitch McConnell has been in the Senate since 1984 … thirty-four years, and at least 22 years longer than he should have been or would have been if limits of two or even three terms had been in place.  Unfortunately, there is no recall provision such that the people of Kentucky could vote to recall McConnell from the Senate.  However,  Under Article I, Section 5, clause 2, of the Constitution, a Member of Congress may be removed from office before the normal expiration of his or her constitutional term by an “expulsion” from the Senate (if a Senator) or from the House of Representatives (if a Representative) upon a formal vote on a resolution agreed to by two-thirds of the Members of that body present and voting.  Okay, so we all know that this is about as likely to happen as my cat growing wings, but it should.  If McConnell ever had a conscience or a soul, he has long since sold it downriver and he does no service to the people of his state nor to the people of this nation. 

If the Mueller investigation is halted, or if it is shackled in such a way as to render it pointless, then it will serve as proof that Trump and his minions are all considered to be above the law and have always been, for the crimes being investigated took place before Trump’s election … he was not president at the time he and his campaign staff conspired with the Russians to adversely affect the outcome of the 2016 election.  Trump’s lawyers would argue that you cannot indict a sitting president, so … does that mean that if it were discovered tomorrow that Trump had killed an entire family and buried their bodies somewhere under Mar-a-Lago, Trump could not be charged?

Rule of law is defined as …

“The authority and influence of law in society, especially when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behavior; the principle whereby all members of a society are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes.”

The principle whereby all members of a society are considered equally subject …  ALL members.  Is Donald Trump above the law?  If he is, then he is not a member of this society, therefore cannot be a president, and instead is a dictator.  Can’t have it both ways, folks.  I have attempted to contact Mr. McConnell by phone and by email to let him know in no uncertain terms that We The People want this investigation to continue to its logical conclusion, that we want to know the results, and we want every single person who acted against the law to be held accountable by a court of law.  EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON.

Super-Snarky Friday …

Well, Jeff Flake and Susan Collins will vote to confirm Kavanaugh. surprise. not.  The Senate has the votes to confirm the jerk and by Monday, no doubt he will have donned his robes. And that is all I have to say about that. PPBBBBBTTTTTHHHH.


For those of you who may have wondered whether I retain the capacity of logical thought, allow me to share with you a conversation between me and myself this morning as I went about the Friday house chores:

Me: Chris’ birthday is on the 26th.  If it’s a weekday, we should send her flowers to her office.

Myself:  What day of the week is it?

Me:  I dunno.  What’s today?

Myself:  Friday.

Me:  No, stupid, I mean the date.

Myself:  I dunno.  Yesterday was the 4th.

Me:  (pulls cellphone out of pocket, clicks on calendar app)  Hey!  It’s a Friday … three weeks from today.

Myself:  Duh.


Juan Romero died on Monday of a heart attack.  He was only 68, one year older than me.  Who, you ask, is Juan Romero?Juan RomeroJuan was 18 years old in 1968 and was working as a busboy when Robert F. Kennedy was fatally shot in the kitchen of the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles, California.  Juan has carried the guilt of Kennedy’s death with him his entire life, for he had reached out to shake Kennedy’s hand and as Kennedy stopped to shake hands with the young busboy, the shots rang out.

“If I wouldn’t have extended my hand, he wouldn’t have gotten shot,” he once told his daughter Josefina.  Of course, we all know better, and perhaps so did Juan, but he nonetheless carried the guilt for 50 years.Juan Romero-2


Melania Trump is touring Africa … nobody is quite sure why, other than she wanted to get as far away from her husband as possible – who can blame her?  Anyway, my friend Senam – he calls me his Big Sis and he is my li’l Bro – who lives in Ghana wrote to me a couple of nights ago to say that she was visiting Ghana, but that it was very low key … “Nobody really cares.”

Rather a fitting statement, don’t you think?Melania-jacket


Ben and Jackee Belnap of Salt Lake City, Utah are not very happy campers today.  They had borrowed money from Ben’s parents to buy University of Utah American football season tickets, and had been saving to repay them.  Finally, they managed to save the $1,060 (for football tickets???  What were these people thinking???) and had taken the money from their locked safe and put it on the counter so they wouldn’t forget it when they went to visit the parents.

Enter two-year-old son, Leo.  Now, at two years of age, I find this one hard to credit, but the Belnaps have already shown they aren’t the brightest bulbs in the pack, right?  Apparently Jackee had taught little Leo to use the family’s office paper shredder.  When Leo spotted that envelope full of cash cluttering up the kitchen counter, he decided to be helpful … and … yeah, you got it … Leo shredded the entire $1,060!  Where were Ben & Jackee?  Who knows, but they weren’t watching Leo!  Shredders are dangerous things … they can mangle fingers and other body parts.  In my opinion, being in full snark-mode today, this couple got exactly what the deserved.  And Ben’s parents will need to wait a while longer to get their money, but hey … they raised Ben, so maybe they get what they deserve too!


Maybe I do have one last thing to say regarding the Kavanaugh fiasco.  This morning, the a$$ in the White House declared that the two women who confronted Jeff Flake in the elevator last week were paid to do so.

“Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love!”

Way to go, Republicans, for voting this jackass into office.  Thanks a million.


And on that note, I shall stop for today.  I am obviously in no mood to play nice.  I hope you all have a great weekend and I’ll be back in the morning with Saturday Surprise!

Farewell Last Bastion of Justice

Barring anything significantly changing, Brett Kavanaugh will likely be confirmed to the United States Supreme Court, despite having lied under oath, despite having taken off the mask and shown himself to be a man possessed of a whiny and cruel temperament, and despite the numerous allegations of sexual assault.  Even if the democrats win every possible seat in the Senate next month, and even if there is a democratic majority in the House of Representatives come January, Brett Kavanaugh will not be impeached in 2019.  That said, let us for a moment look beyond the three-ring circus that this confirmation process has become and address something even more significant:  The U.S. Supreme Court itself.

In February 2017 I wrote a piece titled The Supreme Court – Our Best Hope which I began with

“Now that Congress has ‘fallen into line’ and is pandering to Trump’s every whim, licking his boots and kissing his posterior, there is one last bastion of justice remaining:  the United States Supreme Court.”

This was a time just before Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, when I hoped that the three oldest Justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy would be able to hold on and keep working for a few more years.  It was a time when I still believed Donald Trump would be gone from office within a year.  It was a time when there was still hope that our nation would be turned around before any lasting damage took place.  It was a time, apparently, when I was still wearing my rose-coloured glasses.

The intention of the framers of the U.S. Constitution was that the Supreme Court would be above partisan politics.  Surely, they realized that every man, even Supreme Court Justices would have their own set of beliefs, their own ideologies, but when they are sitting on the bench, they are expected to set aside their personal feelings and make decisions according to their interpretation of the Constitution based on the facts at hand.  It is an idealist philosophy, and hasn’t always been strictly followed, but by and large it has worked well.  This is how we saw Roe v Wade passed in 1973 with only two dissenting opinions:  Byron White and William Rehnquist.  The court deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution, a ruling that has seen controversy since its birth, but that has not been successfully challenged, nor should it be.

This post is not specifically about Roe v Wade, but rather I use it as an example of how the Supreme Court is supposed to function.  A look at the justices in 1973:

Harry Blackmun – appointed in 1970 by Republican President Richard M. Nixon, became one of the more liberal justices on the court.

William Brennan – appointed in 1956 by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a recess appointment, became known as the leader of the Court’s liberal wing.

Lewis Powell – appointed in 1971 by Richard M. Nixon, was a conservative, but known for compromise and often was the swing vote.

Thurgood Marshall – appointed in 1967 by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, was the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court.  Marshall was a former Civil Rights activist, and expectedly his views were liberal to the extreme.

Warren Burger – appointed in 1969 by Richard M. Nixon, Chief Justice Burger was a conservative, but voted as a liberal when he felt it was right.

William Douglas – appointed by Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, Douglas was primarily a liberal and a strict literalist in terms of interpreting the First Amendment.

Potter Stewart – appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, was firmly a centrist, often a swing vote.

William Rehnquist – appointed in 1972 by Richard M. Nixon, was a strong conservative.

Byron White – appointed by Democratic President John F. Kennedy in 1962 was neither liberal nor conservative, but by his own admission was a fact-based justice.

Nixon, a republican, had appointed four of the nine justices on the court when Roe v Wade came up for consideration, and Eisenhower had appointed two.  It is worth noting that all nine justices were males. Six justices had been appointed by republican presidents, only three by democrats, and yet legalized abortion became the law of the land.  This is what is meant by a court that rises above partisanship.  This is how it is supposed to work.  This is how ‘justice’ happens, folks.  It does not happen when a president appoints justices solely because he expects them to vote according to his wishes every time!

The Supreme Court has most always been looked upon with respect and dignity.  Historically, it has been a place where a lay person feels they should whisper, so as not to waken the ghosts of the many great men who have passed through its halls.  Once Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, that dignity will be gone, for he brings baggage that will soil the landscape, that will remove much of the honour that was brought by some of the greatest judges the nation has known:

  • John Marshall, Chief Justice 1801-1835
  • Earl Warren, Chief Justice 1953-1969
  • Louis Brandeis, Associate Justice 1916-1939
  • William Brennan, Associate Justice 1956-1990
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Associate Justice 1902-1932
  • John Marshall Harlan, Associate Justice 1877-1911
  • Hugo Black, Associate Justice 1937-1971

And many other fine men and women.  The dignity, the non-partisan justice of the court will be another bastion of our democratic process gone.  When Senator Jeff Flake commented the other day that there is no value in reaching across the aisle to work toward compromise solutions, we knew Congress was no longer accountable to We The People.  If Brett Kavanaugh is allowed to take his place on the Supreme Court, then the court will no longer belong to We The People either.  Both Congress and the Court will have become a tool of the madman in the Oval Office.

You will find Fareed Zakaria’s column in The Washington Post to be of interest on this same topic.

The Kavanaugh Circus

The Kavanaugh confirmation process has dominated the headlines for a couple of weeks now, and that is precisely why it has not dominated this blog.  I prefer to look behind the scenes, to find the news that is hidden by the smoke and mirrors of whatever is front-and-center.  But today I am compelled to address a couple of things pertaining to this three-ring-circus, for it has turned into a nightmare for most of us.  Kavanaugh must not be confirmed.  He has shown that he has neither the temperament nor the integrity to sit on the bench of any court, let alone the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court.  But this post is not about Kavanaugh, his dishonesty, or his childish temper tantrums.  This is about two of the three rings of this circus …


The Measure of a Man

Senator Jeff Flake earned high marks for calling for an FBI investigation into the subject of Kavanaugh’s possible abuse of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and another woman, Debbie Ramirez. He stated that, while he had voted for the Kavanaugh nomination to be moved to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote, he would not vote unless there was an investigation.  For this, he received many kudos.  My own thoughts were that if he truly felt the Kavanaugh nomination was in doubt, he should not have voted to move it into the full senate, but he did, and therefore I offered no pats on the back, no ‘Attaboy’.

My thoughts were confirmed last night in a 60 Minutes interview with Scott Pelley, where Flake and democratic Senator Chris Coons told about the discussion(s) that led to Flake’s request for an FBI investigation.  Pelley asked perhaps the most important question in the 13-minute interview:

Pelley:  Senator Flake, you’ve announced that you’re not running for re-election, and I wonder … could you have done this if you were running?

Flake:  No, not a chance …

Pelley:  Not a chance? Because politics has become too sharp?  Too partisan?

Flake:  Yeah, there’s no value to reaching across the aisle.  There’s no currency for that anymore, and there’s no incentive.

There’s no incentive, no value, to doing the right thing for the nation, for the people who voted him into office and whose hard-earned tax dollars pay his salary.  Take a few minutes to think about that one, folks, because your own representatives in Congress feel the same.  In fact, Flake is one of the better ones, and that speaks volumes.

So, now that you’ve processed that, do you still want to high-five Mr. Flake?  Still want to praise him as a man who followed his conscience?


FOUL!!!

Once Senators Jeff Flake and Lisa Murkowski said they could not vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court without an FBI investigation, it left Trump with no real choice but to order said investigation.  So, on Friday afternoon, he did just that.  BUT …

The investigation he ordered is extremely limited in both scope and timing, to the point that it is likely to be a sham of an investigation.  First, Trump gave the FBI only until next Friday to complete the investigation.  Then, the White House counsel’s office under Don McGahn gave the FBI a list of witnesses they are permitted to interview.  FBI investigators caution that such a limited scope may make it difficult to pursue additional leads.

There are other constraints as well.  Investigators plan to meet with Mark Judge, a high school classmate and friend of Kavanaugh’s whom Ford named as a witness and participant to her alleged assault. But the FBI cannot ask the supermarket that employed Judge for records verifying when he was employed there.  The FBI will also not be able to examine why Kavanaugh’s account of his drinking at Yale University differs from those of some former classmates, who have said he was known as a heavy drinker.

And while the investigators will be looking into the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the bureau is not to be permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s.

All of these limitations and constraints amount to tying the hands of the FBI, and make it less likely that the truth will be discovered in less than a week.  However, Trump claims that the FBI has “free reign” …

“They’re going to do whatever they have to do. Whatever it is they do, they’ll be doing — things that we never even thought of. And hopefully at the conclusion everything will be fine.”

Such an eloquent speaker, eh?  And such a smart man, saying, “Whatever it is they do …”

At this point, there is nothing left to be done, it would seem, but wait and see.  We must hope that the FBI agents in charge are wise enough and dedicated enough to dig deeply and work quickly.  Then we must hope that there is no monkey business, that the results are clear and not swept under the rug.  Bets, anyone?


Kavanaugh

NOT the man I want on the bench

As I have said to a few friends, if Kavanaugh is confirmed and takes his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, we might as well hang coloured streamers, balloons, paint clown faces on the Supreme Court Building and sell peanuts in the entrance hall, for it will have lost its dignity and turned into a circus where partisanship reigns and justice is not to be found.

It’s Still A Man’s World …

There were about 125.9 million adult women in the United States in 2014. The number of men was 119.4 million. At age 85 and older, there were almost twice as many women as men (4 million vs. 2.1 million).  Women, in other words, comprise over half the population of the United States.  Now, let’s look at Congress.

  • Of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, 84 are women, or 19.3%
  • Of the 100 members of the Senate, 23 are women … 23%

So, women comprise approximately 51.3% of the nation’s population, yet only a mere 20% of our main governing body.  Does anybody besides me see anything wrong with this picture??? And interestingly, of the 107 women in Congress, 78 are democrats and only 29 are republicans, a ratio of nearly 3:1.  And this, in spite of the fact that the republicans hold a majority in both chambers of Congress!womenBut, there is something wrong with the title of this post.  Yes, it is still, as the above statistics show, very much a man’s world.  But what about this …

  • Of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, 48 are African American, or 11%
  • Of the 100 members of the Senate, 3 are African-American, or 3%

African-Americans, in other words make up only 9.5% of our main governing body, even though they comprise 12.6% of the population.  A little closer than women, but still not equitable representation.gender gap.jpgThe point being that the U.S. Congress is largely comprised of white males.  And so, is it any wonder that when it comes time to confirm a potential Supreme Court justice, and the nominee is one who is likely, given the chance, to trample all over women’s rights, we are not represented?  When said nominee is also accused of having sexually assaulted women in his past, it doesn’t matter, for those who will judge him are white males, many of whom have likely done the same themselves.  They share a wink-wink and say, “Ahhh … the good ol’ days, eh?  But that’s long ago, and he shouldn’t have to pay for what he did 30+ years ago, right?”  And once again, we are not represented.  If you doubt that there is the pervasive attitude among some, but certainly not all men, that women are put on earth for their (men’s) pleasure, just look at how many men have been brought low in the past two years by the #MeToo movement.  Look at Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, Mel Gibson, Charlie Rose, Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, and the list would take the next 15 pages or more, but you get the idea.

Remember Brock Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer who received naught more than a slap on the wrist for raping an unconscious woman on campus after a party?   Even though he was found guilty on three felony counts, he got off lightly because a) his daddy had money, and b) well … boys will be boys, right — wink, wink?  The judge said he saw no reason to ruin young Turner’s life and sentenced him to only six months.  Turner served 90 days in prison.

The Senate Judiciary Committee that heard the testimony of both Dr. Christine Ford and Brett Kavanaugh is comprised of 21 members:  11 republicans and 10 democrats.  The next day, Friday, a vote was held, and predictably 11 members voted to move Kavanaugh’s confirmation out of committee and to the full senate for a vote. 10 voted against.  Can you guess who voted how?  There are four women on the committee … all four are democrats.they-dont-careAfter the vote, retiring Senator Jeff Flake called for an investigation by the FBI prior to the full senate vote.  A noble gesture for which he is being lauded.  However, the fact is that he voted “Aye” in the committee vote speaks louder.  Another, Senator Lisa Murkowski, also called for an investigation prior to the full senate vote, leaving Donald Trump with no choice but to order the investigation.  However, he ordered a ‘limited’ investigation on Friday evening, giving the bureau only until next Friday to present their results.  I see this as paying lip-service, an attempt to appease those of us who believe that Brett Kavanaugh is not who or what he purports to be and is not qualified to sit on the highest court in the land.

angry Kav

The face of ugly

All else aside, Brett Kavanaugh has shown us an ugly side this week, vacillating between fury and whining.  Even if he hadn’t lied under oath and if he didn’t sexually molest Dr. Ford, his emotional instability and his lack of respect should disqualify him.  The behaviours he has exhibited this week would have disqualified any woman who had been facing a confirmation hearing.

My best guess is that either a) the FBI investigation will be so limited in scope and time that it will turn up nothing to disqualify Mr. Kavanaugh, or b) no matter what the investigation reveals, Kavanaugh will be confirmed anyway by the mostly male senate.  I hope I’m wrong.  I also hope that Brett Kavanaugh is not confirmed to the Supreme Court, for he is very much a partisan, and I fear will not ever be capable of being fair and impartial.  We shall see.

Happy Dancin’ and Mud Fightin’

Arizona … home to Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake – both republicans, but of the lovable sort, if there is such a thing.  And I just discovered another Arizonian to love, based on a single sentence.   His name is Ruben Gallego (think of it as ‘guy-eggo’ for pronunciation) and he is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona.  The sentence that won me over?

“I will gladly work with the president when his ideas aren’t stupid and detrimental to the United States. Unfortunately this is what this plan is.”

I was just trolling various news outlets, half asleep in the warm afternoon sunshine when I saw that and immediately felt Snoopy doing a bit of a happy dance in my heart!We all know the backstory … Trump has signed an order to send the National Guard to ‘guard the Mexican border’ until such time as his wall can be built.  We also all know that, despite Trump’s rants, there is no immediate threat on the border, there are no ‘caravans of evil’ threatening to cross the border with the intent of raping and pillaging, and it is all a big hoax on the part of Trump.  A potentially costly hoax for a number of reasons.

While many republicans were busy licking the Donald’s boots, praising his ‘strength’ in this matter, most democrats were less over-joyed, but perhaps none so outspoken as Mr. Gallego.  Of course, the mouthpiece, Ms. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had to speak:

“If that congressman’s so concerned, maybe he ought to show up and actually support legislation that would fix these problems instead of blaming the president that’s actually doing something about it.”

To which Gallego responded with a tweet:

“Hey @PressSec – Unlike your boss, I did show up and served my country in the Marines. Now, I show up in Congress to serve my country again and act as a check to some of your boss’s worst plans.”

Okay, okay … it’s mud-slinging at its finest, accomplishes little if anything and is beneath us.  But …

 

I’m the kid who got kicked out of kindergarten for fighting … I can get down & dirty with the best of them sometimes!

But now, let me just wipe some of this mud off and let us take a closer look at Ruben Gallego.

Gallego has been in office since 2014, when he won 74% of the vote in Arizona’s 7th district, a district that is heavily democratic and majority Latino.  In his first year, he earned a B+ rating from the NRA, but ever since has an ‘F’ rating … a plus, in my book.  He has the endorsement of Mayday PAC, a super PAC that seeks to reduce the role of money in politics.  Another score, in my book. On February 28, 2013 Gallego voted against an amendment that sought to raise campaign finance limits for federal candidates and abolish all limits for state candidates.

Gallego is a relative newbie, but so far, I like what I see.  I see no barriers to him winning re-election in his district in November, so no real need to highlight him, other than that he ‘walked the walk’ in standing firm against Trump’s ludicrous waste of our resources to combat his fairy-tale threat on our southern border.

Arizona seems to turn out people with good sense, on both sides of the political aisle.  I wonder … is it something in the water?

ENOUGH!!! (Part I)

 

Senators Bob Corker (l) and Jeff Flake (r)

They need to invent a machine … one that I can scream into, and there will be no sound, it will mute and be absorbed by some material within the machine.  The reason I need this is because when I am perusing the news and see something that particularly sets my teeth on edge, my scream has a tendency to scare the family and the Significant Seven half to death.  So, some of you scientific geniuses out there, please hurry before I either get thrown out of my home, or give everybody else in the home heart failure.

pillow-scream-2


On Tuesday, Senator Jeff Flake, a republican from Arizona, announced that he does not intend to seek re-election next November.  He also gave a very moving, thoughtful speech, which I share with you now …

As I contemplate the Trump presidency, I cannot help but think of Joseph Welch.

On June 9, 1954, during the Army-McCarthy hearings, Welch, who was the chief counsel for the Army, famously asked the committee chairman if he might speak on a point of personal privilege. What he said that day was so profound that it has become enshrined as a pivotal moment in defense of American values against those who would lay waste to them. Welch was the son of a small prairie town in northwest Iowa, and the plaintive quality of his flat Midwestern accent is burned into American history. After asking Sen. Joseph McCarthy for his attention and telling him to listen with both ears, Welch spoke:

“Until this moment, senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness.”

And then, in words that today echo from his time to ours, Welch delivered the coup de grace: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

The moral power of Welch’s words ended McCarthy’s rampage on American values, and effectively his career as well.

After Welch said his piece, the hearing room erupted in applause, those in attendance seemingly shocked by such bracing moral clarity in the face of a moral vandal. Someone had finally spoken up and said: Enough.

By doing so, Welch reawakened the conscience of the country. The moment was a shock to the system, a powerful dose of cure for an American democracy that was questioning its values during a time of global tumult and threat. We had temporarily forgotten who we were supposed to be.

We face just such a time now. We have again forgotten who we are supposed to be.

There is a sickness in our system — and it is contagious.

How many more disgraceful public feuds with Gold Star families can we witness in silence before we ourselves are disgraced?

How many more times will we see moral ambiguity in the face of shocking bigotry and shrug it off?

How many more childish insults do we need to see hurled at a hostile foreign power before we acknowledge the senseless danger of it?

How much more damage to our democracy and to the institutions of American liberty do we need to witness in silence before we count ourselves as complicit in that damage?

Nine months of this administration is enough for us to stop pretending that this is somehow normal, and that we are on the verge of some sort of pivot to governing, to stability. Nine months is more than enough for us to say, loudly and clearly: Enough.

The outcome of this is in our hands. We can no longer remain silent, merely observing this train wreck, passively, as if waiting for someone else to do something. The longer we wait, the greater the damage, the harsher the judgment of history.

I have been so worried about the state of our disunion that I recently wrote a book called “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.” I meant for the book to be a defense of principle at a time when principle is in a state of collapse. In it, I traced the transformation of my party from a party of ideas to a party in thrall to a charismatic figure peddling empty populist slogans. I tried to make the case for the sometimes excruciating work of arguing and compromise.

This was part of the reason I wanted to go to the Senate — because its institutional strictures require you to cross the aisle and do what is best for the country. Because what is best for the country is for neither party’s base to fully get what it wants but rather for the factions that make up our parties to be compelled to talk until we have a policy solution to our problems. To listen to the rhetoric of the extremes of both parties, one could be forgiven for believing that we are each other’s enemies, that we are at war with ourselves.

But more is now required of us than to put down our thoughts in writing. As our political culture seems every day to plumb new depths of indecency, we must stand up and speak out. Especially those of us who hold elective office.

To that end, and to remove all considerations of what is normally considered to be safe politically, I have decided that my time in the Senate will end when my term ends in early January 2019. For the next 14 months, relieved of the strictures of politics, I will be guided only by the dictates of conscience.

It’s time we all say: Enough.

Senator Bob Corker, who announced in September that he would not seek re-electin in 2018, and Senator Flake, both republicans, are just the latest in an ever-growing list of legislators who are saying Enough of Donald Trump.  And, predictably (ho-hum), Trump had an almost immediate comeback …

“The reason Flake and Corker dropped out of the Senate race is very simple, they had zero chance of being elected. Now act so hurt & wounded!” (precisely 140 characters … how does he do that?)

“The meeting with Republican Senators yesterday, outside of Flake and Corker, was a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!” (again, exactly 140 characters)

“Jeff Flake, with an 18% approval rating in Arizona, said “a lot of my colleagues have spoken out.” Really, they just gave me a standing O!”

I repeat what I have said so many times in the past … such maturity from the ‘man’ in the White House.

Trump’s remarks are not germane to this discussion, but follow his usual (ho-hum) pattern, a pattern that is beyond old and tiresome.  But, that aside, we are just over a year away from the mid-term elections and should be asking some questions.  The first one is obvious … what does it mean, relative to the 2018 elections, that these members of Congress are leaving?  To date, there are a minimum of 14 who will not be seeking re-election or are leaving prior to the elections.

Common sense would lead us to believe that this is a positive, that it will open the door for democratic wins in both Senate and House, given Trump’s continuing low approval rating of under 40% (37% as of yesterday’s FiveThirtyEight aggregate polls).  And, typically members of the president’s party have a harder path to winning in mid-term elections.  But common sense flew out the window sometime prior to 8 November 2016 and has not yet returned.

For the most part, the representatives and senators that are leaving are among the less radical, more moderate branch of the GOP.  Steve Bannon, who is still, I am certain, Trump’s top advisor, just not on the payroll, at least officially, has stated his goal of putting more far-right conservatives in office next November, rather along the lines of his Alabama pick, former judge Roy Moore, who is the least-qualified candidate for Congress I have seen.

I will return later this week with further analysis of what this all means in the grand scheme of things, as well as a look at some of the specific seats that will be up for grabs with no incumbent next year.  Also, question #2: Why have these legislators kept silent for nine full months?  Stay tuned, folks …

 

Respect For A Good Man – Senator John McCain

No political commentary this morning, only deep sadness at the news that Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer.  While I have not always agreed with Senator McCain, I have immense respect and admiration for the man. He is a good man and one of the few in his party who I think genuinely cares about the people of this country.

mccain-1973

Lt. Commander John McCain on return to U.S., March 18, 1973

John McCain has been serving this nation in one capacity or another since 1958, when he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. When he was offered release because of his father’s rank, McCain refused to be freed before those who had been held captive longer. He was a prisoner of war until 1973, during which time he was frequently tortured.  He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981 and moved to Arizona, where he entered politics. McCain was first elected to the House in 1982 where he served two terms before winning a bid for the Senate just four years later.

mccain-1

John McCain & wife Cindy

Senator John McCain has given much of his life to his country and his fellow Americans for nearly sixty years.  Today I take this opportunity to honour him and hope that my readers will also.  No matter what our politics, our beliefs, no matter what side of the aisle we sit on, we must always remember that our humanitarian values come first.  At times like this, we put the politics, the arguments aside for just a moment.  John McCain is a good man, he is in my thoughts and my heart today.

“John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known. Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.” – President Barack Obama

“John McCain is as tough as they come. Thinking of John, Cindy, their wonderful children, & their whole family tonight.” – Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

“.@SenJohnMcCain, you are a true fighter & I’ll be praying for you until you beat this. I know you will.” – Senator Chuck Schumer

“My thoughts and prayers are with @SenJohnMcCain, a true hero. Cancer is up against one Anerica’s toughest fighters.” – Senator Cory Booker

“.@SenJohnMcCain is a man of principle, integrity, and the father to a loving family. The entire country is with him in this fight.” – Senator Dean Heller

“Praying for my friend @SenJohnMcCain, one of the toughest people I know.” – Senator Steve Scalise

“Just spoke to @SenJohnMcCain. Tough diagnosis, but even tougher man.” – Senator Jeff Flake

“John McCain is a hero to our Conference and a hero to our country. He has never shied from a fight and I know that he will face this challenge with the same extraordinary courage that has characterized his life.” – Senator Mitch McConnell

“John and I have been friends for 40 years. He’s gotten through so much difficulty with so much grace. He is strong – and he will beat this.” – Former Vice President Joe Biden

“As he’s shown his entire life, don’t bet against John McCain. Best wishes to him for a swift recovery.” – Former President Bill Clinton

“My thoughts are with John McCain and his family tonight. A true fighter and American hero.” – Senator Kamala Harris

“Heidi and I will be lifting up John, Cindy, and his entire family in our prayers in wake of his recent diagnosis…” – Senator Ted Cruz

“Senator John McCain is a fighter and true, bonafide American hero. We’re behind him every step of the way. Cancer picked on the wrong guy.” – Senator Patty Murray

“Senator John McCain has always been a fighter. Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family. Get well soon.” – Donald Trump

“Karen & I are praying for @SenJohnMcCain. Cancer picked on the wrong guy. John McCain is a fighter & he’ll win this fight too. God bless!” – Vice President Mike Pence

As you can see … politicos from both sides, current and former, have put aside their differences to offer their support and love to Senator McCain.  I hope we can all do the same.