Rules Rein in Our Worst Impulses

Jerry over at On the Fence Voters provides us with an introspective summary of our government today … and why we must make some changes soon.

On The Fence Voters

Before the bizarre 2016 presidential election, Alt-Right hero Steve Bannon wrote, “The Tea Party in the United States’ biggest fight is with the Republican establishment, which is really a collection of crony capitalists that feel that they have a different set of rules of how they’re going to comport themselves and how they’re going to run things.”

Bannon and his Alt-Right compatriots were ready and willing, but not quite able, to crush conventions, to eliminate the establishment, and to relegate long-established rules to a bygone era. One must destroy the status quo in order to build Utopia.

They just needed a bellicose bull to obliterate the china shop. And along came Donald Trump.

Bannon portrayed the defenders of the status quo—particularly within “the Republican establishment”—as “a collection of crony capitalists that feel that they have a different set of rules.” So Bannon and millions of like-minded Americans set about to…

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Open Mouth, Insert Foot — Part I

This week, Donald Trump managed to royally piss off two of our allies, Sweden and India.  Say what you will about Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama, even George Bush, both Jr. and Sr., but not a single one of them were as adept at making enemies out of friends as Trump is.  It’s no wonder he didn’t have any friends as a child!

ASAP-rapper

Rakim Mayers aka A$AP Rocky

First, Sweden.  Turns out there’s a rapper known as A$AP Rocky (real name is Rakim Mayers) who went to Sweden earlier this month on tour and got himself in a bit of trouble.  It seems there was a street brawl and he and members of his entourage assaulted another individual, throwing the man, Mustafa Jafari, to the ground, then hitting and kicking him.  He and two others were arrested and are being held pending trial, which is scheduled to begin next week.

Mr. Rocky claims it was a matter of self-defense, but the prosecutor in the case says it was assault.  It is up to the courts to decide.  But … Donald Trump saw an opportunity and jumped in, as he so often does, without thinking.  On Twitter, naturally.

“I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky. So many people would like to see this quickly resolved!”

A Swedish police officer responded …

“Sorry Mr. President.  You have to respect and wait for the Swedish judicial system to process this matter.  The Swedish Prime Minister will not interfere.  And neither should you.”

The police officer’s Twitter account was promptly suspended, so I am told.

Apparently, Trump’s conversation with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven didn’t go quite as Trump had hoped.  In a statement by the Swedish government …

“Sweden and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven have been very clear in the dialogue with both the White House and directly with the American president, that in Sweden everyone is equal before the law and that the government cannot interfere in legal proceedings.”

Needless to say, Trump was not happy …

“Very disappointed in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for being unable to act. Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States. I watched the tapes of A$AP Rocky, and he was being followed and harassed by troublemakers. Treat Americans fairly! #FreeRocky”

“Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM. We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem! #FreeRocky”

Somehow, Kanye West and his wife, one of those shallow Kardashians, got involved by apparently asking Trump (since he’s their good buddy now, y’know) to intervene.  And then on Friday, speaking from the Oval Office, Trump said …

“I personally don’t know A$AP Rocky, but I can tell you he has tremendous support from the African American community in this country, and when I say African American I think I can really say from everybody in this country because we’re all one.”

We are???  Wait, wait, wait!!!  Isn’t this the same man who has been spouting racist rhetoric non-stop for the past week or two???  One commenter on Twitter hit that nail on the head …Twitter-comment

Karin Olofsdotter, the Swedish ambassador to the United States, responded to Trump …

“Prime Minister Stefan Löfven explained and emphasised the complete independence of the Swedish judicial system, prosecutors and courts. In Sweden everyone is equal before the law. The Government is not allowed, and will not attempt, to influence legal proceedings.”

Wow … they have separation of powers and the Prime Minister actually honours and respects the law!!!  What must that be like?  Whether Mr. Rocky is found innocent or guilty is less relevant at this point than the fact that once again, the Idiot-in-Chief has caused a diplomatic incident and embarrassed the hell out of this nation.  Where are his foreign policy advisors, for Pete’s Sake???


The second incident involves another ally, India.  This one did not land on my radar until this evening when Keith commented about it, and I’m ashamed to admit that I had overlooked it since I allowed myself to be distracted by Trump’s childish tantrums and outrageous behaviour.  Remember what it was like to have dignity in the White House?  Was it really less than three years ago?  Seems like a lifetime.  Anyway … the story of India will have to become Part II of this post, for it is a more potentially serious faux pas that will require a bit of background information.  Stay tuned later today …

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.”

Image result for images of helsinki trump russia summit

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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Above The Law???

Trump says the Mueller report exonerates him, that it proves there was ‘no collusion, no obstruction’.  Those of us who can both read and think know better.  We know the Mueller report, in fact, proves that at the very least, Trump did attempt on multiple occasions to obstruct justice, to interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Today, Trump is still obstructing justice with his refusal to turn over his tax returns or financial records, his threatening and bullying those who have been subpoenaed by congressional committees, and more.  As usual, Robert Reich chimes in with words of wisdom …

In Fighting All Oversight, Trump Has Made His Most Dictatorial Move

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

The president is treating Congress with contempt. This cannot stand – and Congress must fight back

Sun 28 Apr 2019 01.00 EDT

“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” says the person who is supposed to be chief executive of the United States government.

In other words, there is to be no congressional oversight of this administration: no questioning officials who played a role in putting a citizenship question on the 2020 census. No questioning a former White House counsel about the Mueller report.

No questioning a Trump adviser about immigration policy. No questioning a former White House security director about issuances of security clearances.

No presidential tax returns to the ways and means committee, even though a 1920s law specifically authorizes the committee to get them.

Such a blanket edict fits a dictator of a banana republic, not the president of a constitutional republic founded on separation of powers.

If Congress cannot question the people who are making policy, or obtain critical documents, Congress cannot function as a coequal branch of government.

If Congress cannot get information about the executive branch, there is no longer any separation of powers, as sanctified in the US constitution.

There is only one power – the power of the president to rule as he wishes.

Which is what Donald Trump has sought all along.

The only relevant question is how stop this dictatorial move. And let’s be clear: this is a dictatorial move.

The man whose aides cooperated, shall we say, with Russia – the man who still refuses to do anything at all about Russia’s continued interference in the American political system – refuses to cooperate with a branch of the United States government that the Constitution requires him to cooperate with in order that the government function.

Presidents before Trump occasionally have argued that complying with a particular subpoena for a particular person or document would infringe upon confidential deliberations within the executive branch. But no president before Trump has used “executive privilege” as a blanket refusal to cooperate.

How should Congress respond to this dictatorial move?

Trump is treating Congress with contempt – just as he has treated other democratic institutions that have sought to block him.

Congress should invoke its inherent power under the constitution to hold any official who refuses a congressional subpoena in contempt. This would include departmental officials who refuse to appear, as well as Trump aides. (Let’s hold off on the question of whether Congress can literally hold Trump in contempt, which could become a true constitutional crisis.)

“Contempt” of Congress is an old idea based on the inherent power of Congress to get the information it needs to carry out its constitutional duties. Congress cannot function without this power.

How to enforce it? Under its inherent power, the House can order its own sergeant-at-arms to arrest the offender, subject him to a trial before the full House, and, if judged to be in contempt, jail that person until he appears before the House and brings whatever documentation the House has subpoenaed.

When President Richard Nixon tried to stop key aides from testifying in the Senate Watergate hearings, in 1973, Senator Sam Ervin, chairman of the Watergate select committee, threatened to jail anyone who refused to appear.

Congress hasn’t actually carried through on the threat since 1935 – but it could.

Would America really be subject to the spectacle of the sergeant-at-arms of the House arresting a Trump official, and possibly placing him in jail?

Probably not. Before that ever occurred, the Trump administration would take the matter to the supreme court on an expedited basis.

Sadly, there seems no other way to get Trump to move. Putting the onus on the Trump administration to get the issue to the court as soon as possible is the only way to force Trump into action, and not simply seek to run out the clock before the next election.

What would the court decide? With two Trump appointees now filling nine of the seats, it’s hardly a certainty.

But in a case that grew out of the Teapot Dome scandal in 1927, the court held that the investigative power of Congress is at its peak when lawmakers look into fraud or maladministration in another government department.

Decades later, when Richard Nixon tried to block the release of incriminating recordings of his discussions with aides, the supreme court decided that a claim of executive privilege did not protect information pertinent to the investigation of potential crimes.

Trump’s contempt for the inherent power of Congress cannot stand. It is the most dictatorial move he has initiated since becoming president.

Congress has a constitutional duty to respond forcefully, using its own inherent power of contempt.

I leave you to ponder.

What’s Next???

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

That is the oath that every president must take before taking office.  Donald Trump took that oath on 20 January 2017.

On Monday, Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that existing law did not give Mr. Trump the power to enforce the policy, known as “migrant protection protocols”, that would force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases proceed.

Sunday night, Trump fired his hard-nosed Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, because she had refused to engage in activities that were illegal, activities in which Trump was overstepping his authority.

Last June, Judge Dana Sabraw ruled against Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children at the border, and yet recently Trump has said he plans to re-implement that policy.

And last Friday, Donald Trump, the ‘man’ who was placed into office by the auspices of the electoral college despite losing the election, gave a little speech to Customs and Border Patrol agents, telling them not to allow any migrants into the country:

“We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple. If judges give you trouble, say, ‘Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.’”

After Trump left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.  Okay, it’s nice to know at least somebody has some good sense, but still … the person who took the oath of office had the gall to blatantly and publicly violate that oath.  He is thumbing his nose at not only the Constitution, but at We the People.

In order for the system of checks and balances as defined by the U.S. Constitution to work, the executive branch must respect the prerogatives of Congress, from appropriations to oversight, and the interpretations by judges of the law and the Constitution.  What does it say about a ‘president’ who defies the rule of law, who defies the very Constitution he took an oath to uphold?  And what does it say about members of Congress who continue to allow such perfidy?

There have been a number of areas in which Trump has defied the Constitution during his nearly 27 months in office.  Just two examples …

  • Trump is violating both the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution, by accepting payments from foreign and state governments at the Trump International Hotel in DC.
  • Trump’s first executive order banning travel from six Middle Eastern countries was in violation of the establishment clause of the 1st  Amendment.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

“When someone becomes president, that person’s responsibility is to the country and doing what is in the best interest of the American people and, at that point, business interests need to be put aside because people need to have faith that their leaders are working for them, not that their leaders are working for their own financial benefit.” — Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

It is painfully obvious that Donald Trump has absolutely no concern for the people of this nation.  And yet, some 40% of the people in this nation support him.  The current ‘president’ of the United States violates his oath of office on a regular basis, his speech is more fitting for a trucker’s hangout than the White House, he incites white supremacists and supports anti-LGBT groups … and 40% of the nation still love him.  I’m stunned, but that isn’t my point at the moment.  My point tonight is something I want you to really think about.  What’s next?

If he feels so emboldened that he can blow off the U.S. Constitution, that he can defy the orders of federal judges, then where does he stop?  Is there any limit to what he will do?  Yesterday he signed more executive orders taking away state’s rights to halt oil pipeline construction – construction that would harm the environment and wildlife.  Yes, there will be lawsuits and the courts are unlikely to rule in Trump’s favour, but he has already shown that he does not respect the courts.

Until the last month or so, although I was frustrated and sometimes enraged by his behaviour, I felt that the courts and Congress would keep him somewhat in check.  I no longer believe that.  I now think that this ‘man’ envisions himself as a ruler, a dictator, perhaps even a king.  And what choice do We the People have?  Congress has proven useless, the courts are being proven useless … where does that leave us?  I ask again … what’s next?

Dear Senators …

For quite some time now, even for years before the current administration invaded the White House, we have seen a Congress so divided that it almost makes a mockery of the words “democratic process”.  We have seen a Congress that pays little, if any, heed to the will of the people, the betterment of the nation, but rather are acting in their own best interests.  It speaks volumes when even former members of Congress are speaking out against the uber-partisanship and asking Congress to step up to the plate and do what they were elected to do.

A group of 44 former senators has penned a letter to the current and future senators, asking them to set aside their partisanship and self-interest for the sake of guarding our democratic principles.  Will they listen?

Dear Senate colleagues,

As former members of the U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans, it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.

We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and the House’s commencement of investigations of the president and his administration. The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability.

It is a time, like other critical junctures in our history, when our nation must engage at every level with strategic precision and the hand of both the president and the Senate.

We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.

During our service in the Senate, at times we were allies and at other times opponents, but never enemies. We all took an oath swearing allegiance to the Constitution. Whatever united or divided us, we did not veer from our unwavering and shared commitment to placing our country, democracy and national interest above all else.

At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy. Today is once again such a time.

Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.

Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), Richard Bryan (D-Nev.), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), Max Cleland (D-Ga.), William Cohen (R-Maine), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Al D’Amato (R-N.Y.), John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), David Durenberger (R-Minn.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Wyche Fowler (D-Ga.), Bob Graham (D-Fla.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Gary Hart (D-Colo.), Bennett Johnston (D-La.), Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Paul Kirk (D-Mass.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), David Pryor (D-Ark.), Don Riegle (D-Mich.), Chuck Robb (D-Va.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.), Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), John W. Warner (R-Va.), Lowell Weicker (I-Conn.), Tim Wirth (D-Colo.)

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.

Fool On The Hill — Mitch McConnell

The date was 23 October 2010 — nearly two years into President Barack Obama’s first term and two weeks before the first midterm elections of his presidency. Speaking to the National Journal, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made a now-infamous statement: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”  A statement that congressional republicans intended to do everything in their power to thwart President Obama could not have been any clearer.  But, listen to what McConnell had to say on Fox News earlier this week …

“Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country?”

Say WHAT???

Here is McConnell’s OpEd, enhanced by Filosofa’s snarky comments in blue:

Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) There are worse pictures of him.Last Tuesday I was proud to see that the American people voted keep Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate. But we also learned that, come January, the Republican Senate majority will be dealing with a House of Representatives under Democratic control. What goes around, comes around, Mitchie.

Needless to say, the past two years of unified Republican government will be remembered as a period of historic productivity.  Define productivity???  You haven’t done a damn thing worthwhile!

Both houses of Congress have taken swift action to right-size a bloated federal regulatory state. The Senate has shattered records in confirming the president’s well-qualified judicial nominees, including two outstanding jurists to serve on the Supreme Court.  Um… Mitchie … ever hear of a little thing called “climate change”?  Those regulations were in place in an attempt to save our earth.  And one of your “outstanding” jurists is a sexual predator!

And together, we passed the first comprehensive reform of the nation’s tax code in a generation. Already, Americans’ paychecks are growing, consumer confidence is high and unemployment has reached a near 50-year low.  Have you looked at the federal debt/deficit estimates lately?  And do you realize that your damn tax reform robbed from the poor and gave to the rich?  Rather a reverse Robin Hood!

After this prolific run, I was not surprised to be asked over the past week about just how much the American people can expect from the next Congress under divided leadership. What can we realistically accomplish?  Restoration of sanity and accountability is my hope.

I have good news: reports of the death of bipartisanship in Washington have been wildly exaggerated. In fact, some of the most significant accomplishments of this Congress have been delivered with overwhelmingly bipartisan support.  Eh?  Such as?  Name one, please?

Under bipartisan committee leadership, we took major steps toward restoring regular order to our appropriations process. The Senate passed more funding measures before the beginning of this fiscal year than at any point in the last two decades.  Funding for what?  Certainly not to help the poor, the homeless, the ill.  Nothing that I can see that benefits the people in any practical manner.

The measures included the largest year-on-year increase in defense funding in 15 years, which put an end to the Obama-era atrophy of our armed forcesGeez, Mitchie … the U.S. already had the largest military budget in the western world!  How is that “atrophy of the armed forces”???  Ever hear the term ‘guns or butter’?  We. Don’t. Need. More. F***ing. Military. Toys.  Get it?  We need help for the poor, we need healthcare!

Working closely with counterparts in the House, we found common ground on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. In fact, America’s Water Infrastructure Act – designed to improve interstate commerce, water quality and flood safety – passed the Senate by a vote of 99-1.  Let me just pop over to Flint, Michigan and see how much help you’ve given them …

And in August, the Senate voted unanimously to expand Americans’ opportunities to receive technical and career-focused education.  Meanwhile, you’ve done nothing to improve our public schools, and have made a college education damn near out of reach for the average citizen!  There is much, MUCH more to education than technical and job training …

We’ve passed 22 pieces of legislation produced by the bipartisan work of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. From improving the efficiency of Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities to enhancing access to post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits, each of these pieces of legislation was designed to help America keep its promises to returning heroes and their families.  Not what I’m hearing from the vets.  Have you talked to anybody from AMVETS lately?  I have.

And last month, the Senate passed a landmark package of targeted resources to combat the opioid epidemic. The legislation was produced by five bipartisan committees and included direct input from 72 different senators.  Whoopee.  Meanwhile, those of us who need medications such as insulin to stay alive, cannot afford them. 

Of course, these are just a few highlights of a Congress that has conducted as much serious, cooperative work as any in recent history.  Hah! Let me ask Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi if that’s true …

So make no mistake. The Senate has proven its ability to reach bipartisan solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation.  I think you mistake the meaning of “bipartisan”.  I’ve seen naught but infighting and chaos in the 115th Congress.

And looking ahead to the coming year, there will be no shortage of opportunities to continue this impressive record of cooperation across the aisle and across the Capitol.  Opportunities, yes.  But will you put aside your love of all things Trump and join the democrats in holding him accountable?  Will you put the 99% ahead of the 1% just for once?  Will you act with the interests of the nation in mind?

What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?  Look in the mirror and ask that question, Mitchie.

Last week, the American people made it abundantly clear that they prefer that Congress focus on making a difference.  Is this a new concept to you?

That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle.  Not ‘fanning the flames of division’, Mitchie … it’s called ‘accountability’.  Look it up in the dictionary.

But however Democrats interpret the latest message from voters, Senate Republicans will continue our commitment to delivering results.  Continue???  When did you start?

We’ll keep working to lift the burden on American job creators and small businesses. We’ll stay focused on helping communities across the country seize new opportunities and realize greater prosperity. We’ll seek new ways to make life easier for working families.  “Lift the burden”???  WTF???  The burden is on the poor and middle-class, not the big corporations whose so-called ‘burdens’ you seek to ‘lift’.

Most importantly, in the face of whichever tactics the far left chooses to employ next, we’ll continue to stand for the rule of law. We’ll continue to confirm more well-qualified nominees to serve on our nation’s courts.  Rule of law?  Where is that, Mitchie?  Where was rule of law when Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath?  Where was rule of law when you and your cohorts refused to ban assault weapons because you are in the pocket of the NRA?  Where, indeed, is rule of law in Trumpdom?

This is what the Senate’s Republican majority was elected to do. And we’ll continue to get it done.  Bull. You’ll keep right on licking the boots of the fool in the White House.

It is obvious to me that McConnell was doing damage control, making it clear to the Fox viewers, which likely includes Trump’s & McConnell’s followers, that whatever goes wrong in the next two years will be the fault of those mean ol’ democrats.  Mitch McConnell has been in Washington far too long … time for him to retire!

He Who Would Be King

It must be galling to Donald Trump that he has to sit tight on the things he has planned.  He is one who filters neither his speech nor his actions.  If he thinks it at any given moment, it free-falls from either his mouth or his thumbs on Twitter.  If he wants to say it, he says it.  If he wants to do it, he does it.  Rarely in his life has he seen any lasting consequences for his speech or actions, so why stop now?  But now he is being strongly cautioned by his top advisors, lawyers, and the GOP that to act now would almost certainly doom the Republican Party on November 6th, and likely bring about the ultimate end of the Reign of Trump.  Democracy hangs in the balance, and if he wishes to defeat it, he must bide his time.

What are those plans he is being forced to sit on?  All the steps that would lead to ending the Mueller investigation, the last remaining impediment to his autocracy.  Plain and simple.  Listen to what he had to say on Fox and Friends this morning when asked if he is planning to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

“I’m not doing anything — I want to get the elections over with, we’ll see what happens. I’m very disappointed that we go through this witch hunt, this ridiculous witch hunt… there’s no collusion. There is no collusion. There’s no collusion. There is collusion with Hillary Clinton and the Russians, but there’s no collusion with the Republicans, and there’s certainly no collusion with Donald Trump. And everyone knows it, and they ought to get it over with and save a lot of money, and a lot of time.”

‘Everyone’ knows it?  Who, exactly, constitutes ‘everyone’?

More of what he’s been saying all along?  Sure, but … remember a couple of weeks ago when he had summoned Rod Rosenstein to the White House, everyone was certain he was about to fire him, then … nothing?  My best guess is that he had every intention of firing him that day, but people with functioning minds strongly warned against it so close to the mid-term elections.  The stakes are high next month for the GOP and they are not about to let Trump blow it if they can help it.

We already have enough evidence pointing to the Russians having intervened on behalf of Donald Trump in the 2016 elections.  Where there is smoke, there’s bound to be a fire.  Robert Mueller’s team is under the gun to make certain they can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that what they report is true, for their report will no doubt be subject to the highest scrutiny, held under the strongest magnifying glass and picked apart many times over.  The ‘I’s must be dotted and the ‘T’s must be crossed.  That takes time.  Trump’s goal is to make certain they don’t have that time.

What happens if Trump has his way, if the mid-term elections result in an ongoing republican majority in both the House and the Senate, if he fires first Sessions, then Rosenstein?  Trump does not have the legal authority to fire Rosenstein directly, although he thumbs his nose at the limits of his legal authority, and in many cases gets by with it.  Solicitor General Noel Francisco is next in the line of succession if Rosenstein were gone, and he would then have oversight of the investigation.

Trump could legally pursue a number of options from telling Francisco to stop Mueller from pursuing any avenue of inquiry that involves Trump’s financial records or other sensitive topics, or he could order him to fire Mueller and either allow the investigation to continue with a replacement (or without a special counsel at all) or shut it down entirely.  In the past 21 months, Trump has neatly skirted the law more than once, has taken the stance that he, as president, is above the law, that it simply does not apply to him, and, because of a consenting majority in Congress, has pretty much had a free reign.

The Mueller investigation is not a witch hunt, is not a hoax, and is very much a legitimate investigation that is expected to produce eye-opening results that should lead to some changes in our government.  If it is shut down, or Mueller’s hands tied tightly as the FBI’s were in the sham of a Kavanaugh investigation, then folks … we are in trouble.  Today we still have a voice … we can vote the sycophants who have given Trump free rein out of Congress in less than four weeks. We can work to convince others to vote to remove that boot-licking republican majority from Congress so that Congress can once again become what it was intended:  an oversight on the power of the executive branch.  I predict that if we fail in this mission, we may not have another chance in our lifetimes.  Many will argue that the Constitution will protect our freedoms, but I believe that the strength of the Constitution has already been chipped away and eroded by the current administration and it is only a matter of time before it is burned.

The moral of this long-winded story:  VOTE!!!King trump

Advice to the Free Press …

I wrote a post last night that was intended to occupy this space this afternoon.  It was a blowing-off-steam rant, and while it might have felt good to write, and while you might have declared “Hear! Hear!!!” upon reading it, it was of little or no value other than as a vent for my own angst.  So, I scrapped it … well, actually I still have it and you may yet see it one of these days, but just not today.

Robert ReichInstead, I came across this video clip by former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, that I think has far more value than my rant.  Reich served under Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton, and has been the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley since January 2006.  He speaks with reason rather than rants, reminding me much of our friend Keith.

In September 2015, his book Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few was published. In it, he warned that widening inequality would generate a blue-collar backlash that could take the form of a demagogue who blames immigrants and minorities for the growing economic stresses felt by the working class.  Sound familiar?

Since Donald Trump took office in January 2017, Reich has produced a number of articles and short videos explaining the dangers he believes lie ahead under Trump and his team of wealthy cohorts. In this particular video, he offers 9 points of advice to the free press that I find to be both reasonable and imperative for the press to observe if they are to remain relevant in this “Era of Trump”.

The video is short, just 2 minutes 34 seconds, and I really hope you will all take the time to watch, for although you and I are not writing for The Washington Post or the New York Times, we are writing for a public audience, our voices, albeit small, are heard, and we have a responsibility also.  So, without further ado, I give you Mr. Robert Reich …