GOP Supporting ‘Rule of Law’ Have Sponsored Ad To Push US Senate To Secure US Elections

If you think that we are not in the midst of a Constitutional crisis, if you believe that somehow it will all work out fine … you need to read this post by Gronda. We are on a dark path headed to … the destruction of fair elections, the demolition of law and order, and the shredding of the U.S. Constitution. Thank you, Gronda, for your hard work and for so much valuable information.

Gronda Morin

“This ad from Republicans for the Rule of Law calls on Congress to act, as the president clearly won’t, on the urgent matter of protecting our elections from foreign interference. It will air Monday on cable news networks. If you agree, do forward it to your member of Congress.”

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It’s a sad state of affairs when the experts who surround the President Donald J. Trump can’t discuss Russia having successfully launched a full throttle cyber and propaganda attack in 2016 on our US elections system, and that Russia plans a repeat performance during the 2020 US elections cycle; and to review plans about what’s being done by the US government regarding this issue, without fear of ‘poking the bear’s’ wrath. With this background, it’s hard to justify the US House’s avoidance of it doing it’s…

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Out of the pool

Once again, our friend Keith has been thinking and come up with some ideas that I think have a great deal of merit. Granted, they will likely never see the light of day, but … I surely wish they would. Heck, I’m all for starting a campaign to elect Keith Wilson as the next president of the United States! All in favour? Thank you, Keith, for some excellent thoughts.

musingsofanoldfart

I think it is time to fire any politician in Washington who is forgetting why they are there. We could start with the White House incumbent and then take out hundreds of members of Congress in both Houses. I understand fully Congress must investigate and provide oversight over the Executive Branch. That is part of their job and the current incumbent has given them cause to dig further.

Yet, I have this simple idea that leaders of both houses sit down with legislative liaisons from the White House and figure out some things they can pass and sign into law. I think a civilian board could list about a dozen major issues to focus on and say work these out. It should not take a civilian board, but these folks are too beholden to funders to come up with a workable list.

A key reason for not listing the problems…

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GASP!!! Have They Found A Conscience?

Are republican senators finally finding their consciences?  More likely they are worried about their own patooties next election, but either way, it is encouraging to see them standing up to Trump for a change. Two stories in this morning’s news give reason to hope that the blinders are coming off, that Senate republicans are beginning to remember that their allegiance is to We the People, not the madman in the Oval Office.


The first issue is the tariffs that Trump has threatened to impose on goods imported from Mexico – another of his bullying tactics to attempt to force another country to bend to his will.  The tariffs would crush Mexico’s economy, as 80% of their exports are to the U.S., and it would hurt the consumers in this nation as well, though Trump either does not understand, or more likely simply does not care.

Yesterday, two “administration officials” attended a lunch with the Senate during which the proposed tariffs were discussed.  A number of republican senators expressed their opposition …

“I think the administration ought to be concerned about another vote of disapproval on another national emergency act, this time trying to implement tariffs. Tariffs are not real popular in the Republican conference.” – Senator Ron Johnson, Wisconsin

“I want you to take back that you didn’t hear a single ‘yes’ in this room.” – Senator Ted Cruz, Texas

“We’re holding a gun to our own heads.” – Senator John Cornyn, Texas

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio questioned the administration’s legal rationale for levying the tariffs, asking the officials to explain how it could use a law that has never been implemented to impose tariffs — the International Emergency Economic Powers Act — to, in fact, impose tariffs.  Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado told the officials that they need to stop with the tariffs.

When asked if he felt that the Senate could come up with a veto-proof majority to block the tariffs, Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said, “I sure do.  There’s just a weariness of tariffs as the only tool in the tool kit that gets used.”  Even Mitch McConnell had to admit …

“There is not much support in my conference for tariffs — that’s for sure.”

Only time will tell if the senators are willing to put their vote where their mouth is and stand up to the bully in the Oval Office.  Trump, on being told that there was little if any support in the Senate for his tariffs took his usual mafia-sounding spiel …

“Oh, I don’t think they will do that. I think if they did it’s foolish.”


Last month, Trump declared an emergency to bypass Congress and expedite billions of dollars in arms sales to various countries — including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the decision, saying …

“These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

At the time of the announcement, there was some bi-partisan support in Congress for blocking the sales, but the icing was spread on the cake yesterday when it was discovered that that Trump had allowed U.S. nuclear energy companies to share technology and other information with Saudi Arabia on October 18, 2018 — just 16 days after Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul — and again February 18, 2019, less than a week after the House voted to end U.S. backing for the Saudi-led military effort in Yemen’s civil war.  Both the House and the Senate voted for the bill to end U.S. participation in the war in Yemen, but Trump vetoed the bill, and neither chamber of Congress was able to come up with a 2/3 majority to override the veto.

As a result, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham are working together in an effort to block the 22 arms deals that would largely benefit Saudi Arabia, a move that seeks to quash the administration’s attempt to use emergency powers to circumvent congressional objections.  Given that Graham has long been one of Trump’s biggest cheerleaders and has defended the indefensible on more than one occasion, this is certainly encouraging news.

There is also bi-partisan support for blocking the arms sales in the House of Representatives where it is said members are also considering re-writing the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 to impose tighter restrictions on the use of the “emergency authority” provision, tightening the loophole Trump used to justify the sale so it could only be used for “true emergencies”.

Again, time will tell whether the republicans in Congress are finally ready to re-assess their blind support of everything Trump demands and represent the people of this nation, or if they will once again fall prey to the bullying of the madman at the helm.

Mitch McConnell: Enemy of the People

Senator Mitch McConnell has gone too far, has far overstepped his bounds.  In fact, it would seem that there are no limits, no boundaries to what McConnell believes is within his rights.

There is hard, irrefutable, fact-based evidence that the Russians interfered in numerous ways with our 2016 election, likely the only reason we have a madman in the Oval Office today.  Set aside for the moment the issue of how involved Donald Trump’s campaign was with the Russian efforts, for while that is important, today I wish to address something else. mcconnell-2Our intelligence agencies have warned that the Russians are already up to their shenanigans in an effort to do a repeat performance in 2020.  Even Trump’s butt-kissing Attorney General Barr has said that conditions still exist that would allow this scenario to repeat in 2020.  FBI Director Christopher Wray and Robert Mueller have warned that if we do nothing, the 2020 election will be compromised.

Last year, a bill with bipartisan support in the Senate, the Secure Elections Act, that would have …

  • Promoted better information sharing about cybersecurity threats
  • Funded improvements to state election systems and processes through federal grants
  • Established a bug bounty program to uncover new vulnerabilities in election systems

Not enough, but a darn good start.  The bill was squelched just 90 minutes before it was set to be heard on August 22nd.  We now know who squelched it … Mitch McConnell.  Today, there are three bills in the Senate that address election security:

  • Protecting the Right to Independent and Democratic Elections (PRIDE) Act
  • Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act
  • Honest Ads Act, which would give online political ads the same disclosure requirements as political ads on television and other media

All three were introduced last year and re-introduced this year after the 115th Congress failed to act.  And, it looks as if the 116th will also fail to act, all because of one man:  Mitch McConnell.mcconnell-1Last week, it came to light from another senator, Roy Blunt of Missouri, that McConnell has made it quite clear that he will not allow the Senate to consider any election security bills.  Process that for a minute.  One man … one single man has the power to ensure that we will have an election, perhaps the most important election in our lifetimes, that completely lacks integrity.

His reason appears to be that any talk of the 2016 Russian interference upsets Donald Trump, and McConnell, among others, lacks the courage, the guts, to stand up to Trump and do the right thing.  How does such a wimp get elected to the Senate to begin with, let alone stay there for thirty-four years?  Mitch is 77 years of age … he’s well past his prime and is another of those old, bigoted white men that we need to purge from Congress!

This is the third time in a week that I have heard of people doing the wrong thing for the sole purpose of protecting Don Trump’s fragile ego.  Wake up, people!  Don Trump is 72 years old, not two.  If he couldn’t take the heat, he should have stayed out of the kitchen!

There is but one republican in all of Congress who I can respect, who has courage, who is not attached by puppet strings to Donald Trump, and that is Justin Amash.  But again, that is a story for another day.

I don’t know about you folks, but I am livid at the thought that an elected official, one who has been taking taxpayer money for 34 years now, would so blatantly act against the best interests of every single person in this nation in order to keep Trump happy, for everyone knows that if you make Trump angry, he will call you names.

Consider for a moment the results of the Russian interference in 2016.  We ended up with the most corrupt president the nation has ever seen.  A madman, a warmonger, a fool who acts first and thinks later, if he thinks at all.  And now, according to McConnell, we may well end up stuck with him for at least another four years, just because Mitch wishes to stay in the good graces of that same fool?  Not only that, but quite possibly the interference will filter down to congressional elections also, and it may be that he who gets the most votes … loses.

We’ve heard a lot about ‘obstruction of justice’ lately … is what McConnell is doing not also obstruction of justice?  He is, after all, keeping Congress from doing their job and denying the people of this nation, the people who pay his salary, the right to a fair and unfettered election.

Oh, The Irony …

On February 13, 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly, leaving the Supreme Court with an open seat.  President Barack Obama nominated a moderate, middle-of-the-road judge, Merrick Garland, to replace Scalia.  However, the Senate, led by none other than Mitch McConnell, not only refused to confirm Garland, but refused to even schedule interviews with him, let alone hold a confirmation hearing.  McConnell said that, with less than a year left in Obama’s term, the empty seat on the bench should be left vacant until a new president was elected.

Fast forward to 2019 when the House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoenaed Trumps accounting firm, Mazars, for some portion of Trump’s financial records.  Trump filed a lawsuit in order to keep Mazars from handing over the subpoenaed records.  That suit came before Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  Long story short, on Monday Judge Mehta upheld the subpoena and ordered Mazars to turn over the requested records, saying that the committee had demonstrated a facially valid legislative purpose for its investigation and the issuance of the subpoena.

“It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a president for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”

Trump, predictably, called the judge’s ruling “crazy” and once again blamed Obama for his troubles …

“We think it’s totally the wrong decision by, obviously, an Obama-appointed judge.”

Naturally, Trump’s lawyers immediately filed an appeal asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the case and overturn Judge Mehta’s ruling.  Judge Merrick Garland serves as the chief judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Let that one sink in.

Now, before you begin jumping for joy, talking about poetic justice (pun intended) and all, let me urge caution, for there is no guarantee that Garland will be one of the three judges who will hear the case.  And even if he is one of the three, Merrick Garland is a man of integrity, unlike some others, who will follow the letter of the law and not let past grievances colour his judgement.  But take some pleasure in the knowledge that Trump likely had nightmares last night in which Judge Garland was banging his gavel on Trump’s head!

And just for kicks, take a look at Stephen Colbert’s and Jimmy Kimmel’s take on this whole thing … both are guaranteed to bring you a few deep belly laughs!

 

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Leapin’ Lizards … It’s Snarky Snippets!

When I get upset, I stutter, even if I am only talking to myself.  This evening, I was annoyed by something and though I was only muttering while I typed (pounded) a response (rant) to the comment that annoyed me, I kept trying to say (growl) “he is a criminal” but it kept coming out “crimical” (actually, it was more like ‘cr-cr-crim-crim-ic-crimical).  Finally, I gave up, finished beating the keyboard and sat back, perused the product of my fury, and it was then that I thought … perhaps I have invented a new word!  Crimical … a combination of ‘criminal’ + ‘comical’ … crimical!  What do you guys think?  Gee … I hope Merriam and Webster don’t start calling me day and night, and that the New York Times don’t come pounding on my door!  I don’t want to be famous … really … I don’t.

And now that I’ve shared that with you … I have just a little bit of snarky buildup in the recesses of my mind that I must find an outlet for.


Conspiracy Theories abound …

Remember back in March when I wrote about a kid named Jacob Wohl, a scammer and conspiracy theorist who had been banned from both Twitter and the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)?  Well, this young punk teamed up with another conspiracy theorist by the name of Jack Burkman, and they thought it would be cute to make up something to discredit democratic candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.  They recruited a young man named Hunter Kelly to claim that Mayor Buttigieg had sexually assaulted him.  They made a really bad video, grainy images with the sounds of traffic and planes flying over, in the driveway of Burkman’s home.

burkman-wohlHowever, whether Kelly’s conscience got the better of him, or he was just left with a bad taste from his association with the two buffoons, he came clean shortly thereafter and said that none of it was true, that they had coerced him to play a role.  Last year, Burkman and Wohl tried essentially the same type of smear campaign against Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  That one didn’t work either.

Isn’t it interesting that the republicans need to resort to this type of thing rather than simply rely on a solid political platform?  Speaks volumes, I think.


A different sort of republican senator?

Hats off to Senator Richard Burr, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman and a republican from North Carolina.  Several days ago, Burr and democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia issued a subpoena for Don Trump, Jr. to testify before the committee.  This was around the time that Mitch McConnell said the investigations were over and that everyone should just go home and forget about the Mueller report.

Junior

Junior

Burr and Warner want to question Junior about his role in the infamous Trump Tower meeting where he, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer and others in an attempt to purchase “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in order to help the Trump campaign.  I’ve never quite understood how this is not collusion, but to the point, apparently Burr believes that Junior may have told a few fibs (like father, like son?) the first time he testified to the committee and wants him to come back to clarify some things.

Apparently, Burr’s fellow republicans in the Senate are aghast at his actions and are aligning themselves with poor li’l Junior.  I mean, after all, this investigation is just so damn inconvenient for them.  Here they are, working diligently to rip off the people of this nation, and along comes one of their own trying to {gasp} do the right thing for the nation!  A few of his compadres are standing with him, but most are being obnoxious, as republicans seem to enjoy being.  Burr is remaining firm, however, and it will be interesting to see if Junior’s papá invokes executive privilege on this one, too.


Just some little African-American kids …

You heard about the three children, ages 5, 4, and 1 year old who were shot by police in Hugo, Oklahoma, right?  What?  Sure you did … it was widely reported in … um … the local Fox affiliate KXII News, and … in Ebony magazine.  No, no … you won’t find it in the New York Times or The Washington Post … I mean, it was only three kids, after all.  Actually, in fairness, it was in the Post … 4 full sentences, a week after the incident, buried so deep that I did not see it.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …

From the pieces I can pick up, the two plainclothes officers, Billy Jenkins and Chad Allen, saw a man who they believed to be the suspect in a pizza shop burglary earlier in April.  They spotted the suspect, 21-year-old William Devaughn Smith, in his vehicle, preparing to back out of a parking spot at a grocery store, with four children in the vehicle.  They approached him, guns drawn, and later claimed that he attempted to run them over, although eyewitness accounts tell an altogether different story.  As he backed out, he did clip one of the officers with his vehicle, causing a minor injury.

kidsIt is unclear whether Smith realized the two men were police officers, since they were in plain clothes.  It is unclear whether the officers realized there were children in the vehicle. It is unclear and irrelevant why the children were with Smith at the time.  It is indisputably clear that three of the four children were shot.

The children’s mom, Olivia Hill:

“My 4-year-old daughter was shot in the head, and she has a bullet in her brain, and my 5-year-old has a skull fracture. My 1-year-old baby has gunshot wounds on her face. My 2-year-old wasn’t touched with any bullets.”


And now, I am done venting and can settle in to a bigger project I have started.  Have a great Friday, my friends!

How Mitch McConnell Killed The Senate

On occasion, I share with you the work of Robert Reich.  Mr. Reich has served under three U.S. presidents of both parties and is a wise man who sees things as they are and isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.  In the following essay, he analyzes the ways in which McConnell is changing not only the Senate, but the whole of the U.S. system.  I think his words are worth sharing …

 

Robert Reich-4How Mitch McConnell Killed The Senate

by Robert Reich

Congress has recessed for two weeks without passing a desperately-needed disaster relief bill. Why not? Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t want to anger Donald Trump by adding money for Puerto Rico that Democrats have sought but Trump doesn’t want.

America used to have a Senate. But under McConnell, what was once known as the world’s greatest deliberative body has become a partisan lap dog.

Recently McConnell used his Republican majority to cut the time for debating Trump’s court appointees from 30 hours to two – thereby enabling Republicans to ram through even more Trump judges.

In truth, McConnell doesn’t give a fig about the Senate, or about democracy. He cares only about partisan wins.

On the eve of the 2010 midterm elections he famously declared that his top priority was for Barack Obama “to be a one-term president.”

Between 2009 and 2013, McConnell’s Senate Republicans blocked 79 Obama nominees. In the entire history of the United States until that point, only 68 presidential nominees had been blocked.

This unprecedented use of the filibuster finally led Senate Democrats in 2013 to change the rules on some presidential nominees (but not the Supreme Court) to require simple majorities.

In response, McConnell fumed that “breaking the rules to change the rules is un-American.” If so, McConnell is about as un-American as they come. Once back in control of the Senate he buried Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court by refusing even to hold hearings.

Then, in 2017, McConnell and his Republicans changed the rules again, ending the use of the filibuster even for Supreme Court nominees and clearing the way for Senate confirmation of Trump’s Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Step by step, McConnell has sacrificed the Senate as an institution to partisan political victories.

There is a vast difference between winning at politics by playing according to the norms of our democracy, and winning by subverting those norms.

To Abraham Lincoln, democracy was a covenant linking past and future. Political institutions, in his view, were “the legacy bequeathed to us.”

On the eve of the Senate’s final vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act in July 2017, the late John McCain returned to Washington from his home in Arizona, where he was being treated for brain cancer, to cast the deciding vote against repeal.

Knowing he would be criticized by other Republicans, McCain noted that over his career he had known senators who seriously disagreed with each other but nonetheless understood “they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively.”

In words that have even greater relevance today, McCain added that “it is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning’.”

In politics, success should never be measured solely by partisan victories. It must also be judged by the institutional legacy passed onward. The purpose of political leadership is not merely to win. It is to serve.

In any social or political system it’s always possible to extract benefits by being among the first to break widely accepted norms. In a small town where people don’t lock their doors or windows, the first thief can effortlessly get into anyone’s house. But once broken, the system is never the same. Everyone has to buy locks. Trust deteriorates.

Those, like Mitch McConnell, who break institutional norms for selfish or partisan gains are bequeathing future generations a weakened democracy.

The difference between winning at politics by playing according to the norms and rules of our democracy, and winning by subverting them, could not be greater. Political victories that undermine the integrity of our system are net losses for society.

Great athletes play by the rules because the rules make the game. Unprincipled athletes cheat or change the rules in order to win. Their victories ultimately destroy the game.

In terms of shaping the federal courts, McConnell has played “the long game”, which, incidentally, is the title of his 2016 memoir. Decades from now, McConnell will still be shaping the nation through judges he rammed through the Senate.

But McConnell’s long game is destroying the Senate.

He is longest-serving leader of Senate Republicans in history but Mitch McConnell is no leader. He is the epitome of unprincipled power. History will not treat him kindly.

Steve King Strikes Again!

Back when I was still doing my Idiot of the Week posts, in March 2017 to be exact, I awarded Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award to a member of Congress named Steve King of Iowa.  Mr. King apparently appreciated the award so much that he keeps flitting across my radar, begging to be given some additional recognition, it would seem.  All I can say is that he’s lucky I don’t live in his home state of Iowa!

Let’s face it … any representative that earns a score of zero from the Humane Society, but an ‘A’ rating from the NRA is not somebody you’re really going to look up to!  Now, King has a reputation, well-earned, of being a racist and a bigot.  He is firmly against LGBT rights, has spoken cruelly against Mexicans in general, against Muslims, was against President Obama because of his ethnicity, loves Donald Trump, supports racial profiling, is a climate-change denier and … need I go on?  There is a word for people of his ilk … it starts with a ‘J’, ends with another word for a donkey, and if I have to tell you what it is, then you are in the wrong blog!

So, what has King done now, you ask, to ruffle the Filosofa’s feathers? Back in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit both the Florida and Louisiana coasts and nearly devastated much of New Orleans, as parts of the levee system were breached, King was one of 11 members of Congress who voted against a federal aid package for New Orleans.  On Thursday, 14 years after the devastating hurricane that took the lives of at least 1,500 in Louisiana alone, King spoke at a Town Hall meeting in his district.

“Here’s what FEMA tells me. We go to a place like New Orleans, and everybody’s looking around saying, ‘Who’s going to help me? Who’s going to help me?’ We go to a place like Iowa, and we go, we go see, knock on the door at, say, I’ll make up a name, John’s place, and say, ‘John, you got water in your basement, we can write you a check, we can help you.’ And John will say, ‘Well, wait a minute, let me get my boots. It’s Joe that needs help. Let’s go down to his place and help him.'”

What. A. Jerk.  FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), by the way, denies his claim. It should be noted that King’s state, Iowa, is predominantly white, whereas New Orleans is 60% African-American.  If New Orleans were predominantly white, King would almost certainly not have made such a ridiculous statement.

Once again, as has happened multiple times in the past year, his fellow republicans took him to task.  Representative Steve Scalise, whose district includes parts of New Orleans, said …

“His comments about Katrina victims are absurd and offensive, and are a complete contradiction to the strength and resilience the people of New Orleans demonstrated to the entire nation in the wake of the total devastation they experienced.”

Last weekend, King came under fire for this Facebook post …Steve-King-fb-post

Nice, huh?  And in January he was stripped of his committee assignments in the House for white supremacist remarks he made.  When asked about an apology for his remarks, he refused to apologize.  Even Mitch McConnell condemned King’s remarks …

“There is no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind. I have no tolerance for such positions and those who espouse these views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. Representative King’s statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position. If he doesn’t understand why ‘white supremacy’ is offensive, he should find another line of work.”

The late night hosts didn’t miss the opportunity …

The people of Iowa have elected this doofus nine times now!  This nation is undergoing a very tense, divisive time and the very last thing we need is an obnoxious white supremacist with a loud mouth in Congress, for we already have one in the White House.  Iowans … PLEASE remove your heads from your patooties, wake up, and vote Mr. King out of Congress next year!!!

An Open Letter From Adam Schiff

Yesterday, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff of California published an open letter in The Washington Post to his republican colleagues.  I am sharing this letter, for in it Mr. Schiff makes a number of very valid and valuable points that the republicans in Congress need to hear, and not just from Mr. Schiff, but also from We the People.  I have sent a copy of his letter with my own plea to the republicans who represent my state/district and with a rather stern warning that if they fail to step up to the plate, I will do everything in my power to unseat them next year.

Adam Schiff: An open letter to my Republican colleagues

By Adam B. Schiff February 21 at 6:06 PM
Adam B. Schiff, a Democrat, represents California’s 28th Congressional District in the House and is chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

This is a moment of great peril for our democracy. Our country is deeply divided. Our national discourse has become coarse, indeed, poisonous. Disunity and dysfunction have paralyzed Congress.

And while our attention is focused inward, the world spins on, new authoritarian regimes are born, old rivals spread their pernicious ideologies, and the space for freedom-loving peoples begins to contract violently. At last week’s Munich Security Conference, the prevailing sentiment among our closest allies is that the United States can no longer be counted on to champion liberal democracy or defend the world order we built.

For the past two years, we have examined Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and its attempts to influence the 2018 midterms. Moscow’s effort to undermine our democracy was spectacularly successful in inflaming racial, ethnic and other divides in our society and turning American against American.

But the attack on our democracy had its limits. Russian President Vladimir Putin could not lead us to distrust our own intelligence agencies or the FBI. He could not cause us to view our own free press as an enemy of the people. He could not undermine the independence of the Justice Department or denigrate judges. Only we could do that to ourselves. Although many forces have contributed to the decline in public confidence in our institutions, one force stands out as an accelerant, like gas on a fire. And try as some of us might to avoid invoking the arsonist’s name, we must say it.

I speak, of course, of our president, Donald Trump.

The president has just declared a national emergency to subvert the will of Congress and appropriate billions of dollars for a border wall that Congress has explicitly refused to fund. Whether you support the border wall or oppose it, you should be deeply troubled by the president’s intent to obtain it through a plainly unconstitutional abuse of power.

To my Republican colleagues: When the president attacked the independence of the Justice Department by intervening in a case in which he is implicated, you did not speak out. When he attacked the press as the enemy of the people, you again were silent. When he targeted the judiciary, labeling judges and decisions he didn’t like as illegitimate, we heard not a word. And now he comes for Congress, the first branch of government, seeking to strip it of its greatest power, that of the purse.

Many of you have acknowledged your deep misgivings about the president in quiet conversations over the past two years. You have bemoaned his lack of decency, character and integrity. You have deplored his fundamental inability to tell the truth. But for reasons that are all too easy to comprehend, you have chosen to keep your misgivings and your rising alarm private.

That must end. The time for silent disagreement is over. You must speak out.

This will require courage. The president is popular among your base, which revels in his vindictive and personal attacks on members of his own party, even giants such as the late senator John McCain. Speaking up risks a primary challenge or accusations of disloyalty. But such acts of independence are the most profound demonstrations of loyalty to country.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III may soon conclude his investigation and report. Depending on what is in that report and what we find in our own investigations, our nation may face an even greater challenge. While I am alarmed at what we have already seen and found of the president’s conduct and that of his campaign, I continue to reserve judgment about what consequences should flow from our eventual findings. I ask you to do the same.

If we cannot rise to the defense of our democracy now, in the face of a plainly unconstitutional aggrandizement of presidential power, what hope can we have that we will do so with the far greater decisions that could be yet to come?

Although these times pose unprecedented challenges, we have been through worse. The divisions during the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement were just as grave and far more deadly. The Depression and World War II were far more consequential. And nothing can compare to the searing experience of the Civil War.

If Abraham Lincoln, the father of the Republican Party, could be hopeful that our bonds of affection would be strained but not broken by a war that pitted brother against brother, surely America can come together once more. But as long as we must endure the present trial, history compels us to speak, and act, our conscience, Republicans and Democrats alike.

A Letter From Parkland …

Today, February 14th 2019, marks one year since 17 people were killed, 14 of them students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  I would like to share with you a letter written by Jaclyn Corin, a senior at the school and the founder of March For Our Lives.  The letter was published yesterday in the New York Times.

Corin.jpgWhen I arrived at school on Feb. 14, 2018, like any junior, I was mostly caught up in Valentine’s Day chatter and events. But that all changed in the space of a few minutes that afternoon when a gunman opened fire on my classmates and my teachers, killing 17 of them and injuring just as many.

Despite the countless tragedies you see on TV, nothing prepares you for the day it happens to your community.

The familiar images of students fleeing their school as SWAT teams entered, of parents waiting by the perimeter desperately praying to get their kids back, were now my reality. They were my classmates and friends, too many of whom never came home.

After the shooting, my friends at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and I decided we couldn’t sit by as school shootings and gun violence became a normal part of life in America. We were determined to turn an act of violence into a movement, to do everything we could to send a powerful message to the country and to Washington.Parkland-2.jpg

There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of the shooting. When I hear the sound of sirens or fireworks, I’m taken back to that horrific afternoon. For me, Valentine’s Day will now forever be a reminder of loss.

Yet our community isn’t alone in its tragedy. In 2017, nearly 40,000 Americans died as a result of guns, an average of 109 people a day. And according to a tally from Education Week, there were 24 school shootings that resulted in gun-related deaths or injuries in 2018 alone.

While several states have taken positive legislative measures in response, there have been zero bipartisan investigations or new laws from Congress.

Not a single federal law has been passed since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 to address the crisis of school shootings. This year could be different — but only if we organize and insist on it.

Last week, Congress held its first hearing on gun violence prevention since 2011. This week, the House Judiciary Committee is poised to approve a bipartisan bill to requiring background checks for all gun purchases, a proposal that represents one important step toward keeping deadly firearms out of the wrong hands. However, it’s also likely this bill won’t get a hearing, let alone a vote, in the Senate.

That chamber’s majority leader, Mitch McConnell, needs to explain to all of us who have survived a shooting or lost someone to gun violence why the Senate won’t even vote on such a bill even though there’s been over half a million gun deaths since 2000, the year I was born.

And Americans should truly reckon with why this epidemic of gun deaths is treated so differently from any other health crisis in our country.

Imagine for a moment that all these gun deaths were caused by something else widely feared: airplane crashes. There’s no universe in which we wouldn’t see it as a national emergency worthy of our undivided attention.

In fact, 2017 was a remarkable year in aviation. No one died in a commercial airplane crash, meaning it was safer for me to fly than it was for me to go to high school. It would take hundreds of completely full Boeing 737 flights crashing without survivors to total the number of people who died by guns in America in just 2017.

If even a handful of such crashes occurred, the government would declare a national emergency. All 737s would be grounded, there would be an independent commission created to investigate the crisis, and Boeing would be called before Congress to answer for its failures.

So why then don’t more than 30,000 gun deaths in a year rise to the level of a national crisis for America’s conservative leaders?

The past year has been one with the deepest of lows and, at times, the highest of highs — moments when the hope that springs from fighting for a better world makes anything feel possible. On Thursday, the anniversary of the shooting, I will be in the only place that matters, nestled in my community and with my family.

And for the next four days, the organization I helped found, March For Our Lives, will go dark to honor those we lost and their memory.

I am deeply proud of all that my friends and I have accomplished in the last year. Still, I can’t help but wonder why so many lawmakers are ignoring — and, at their worst, enabling — the horrific gun deaths that occur in our country each day.

Parkland-1.jpgIn the year since the Parkland tragedy, nearly 1,200 more children have lost their lives to guns in this country.   When do we say, “Enough!!!”?  When do we put the lives of our children ahead of politics and corporate greed?  The sign above says it all … “Choose Me, Not Guns”.