Open Letter To House Democrats

18 June 2019

Dear Representative ____________________________,

Today I read an article in the New York Times that said many democratic members of Congress believe impeachment is not what their constituents want.  I beg to differ.  In May, polls showed that 60% of democrats favoured impeachment, and a bit later, in early June, polls showed that 76% favour impeachment.  I am certainly among those who do.  If you claim your constituents overwhelmingly do not favour impeachment, and if 76% of democrats do favour it, then I’m unclear as to who you think your constituents are.

I understand that even if impeached by the House of Representatives, there is no possibility that the Senate will vote to try, convict, and remove Trump from office.  I further understand that he is likely to become even more unstable than he already is if the impeachment process is begun.  And, I also understand that at this juncture, you likely do not have the support of enough republicans in the House to gain a 2/3 vote for impeachment.  However …

If you begin the impeachment process, you will be able to pursue your inquiries and investigations that now seem dead in the water because of Trump’s obfuscation and cover-ups.  If you do your job properly, there can be no doubt that you will be able to build a case for impeachment, for Special Counsel Robert Mueller already did most of that work for you.  Starting with the obstruction of justice incidences that Mueller laid out, if you follow those leads, verify and confirm what you must, then I believe that you will be able to convince enough of your republican compadres that impeachment is the only recourse.

There are a few things I would like you to consider.  The first is that if Donald Trump is not held accountable for his crimes … and make no mistake, he has committed crimes against the citizens of this nation by both his actions and his inactions … then future presidents will feel they have carte blanche to act in a similar manner without reprisal.  This is an untenable situation and undermines the very foundation of our government.

Another thing to consider is next years’ election.  If Trump is successfully impeached in the House, even though not convicted in the Senate, his reputation will nonetheless be tarnished, hopefully to the point that he will not stand a chance of winning the election.  However, if he is not held accountable for his actions, his base will applaud, he will gloat, and quite possibly his base will actually expand.  Another untenable situation.

Along those same lines, you all worked hard last year to gain a democratic majority in the House.  It is my opinion that you will be putting that majority at risk by your inaction, for whether you believe it or not, the majority of democrats do want to see Trump held accountable, and the mechanism for doing that is impeachment.  If you fail to impeach, if you do not even try, I think you will lose many democratic voters who are disappointed and disgusted.  I, for one, feel very unrepresented at the moment, and I think you will find that I am far from being alone in this.

If you still believe that impeachment is not popular among your constituents, then get out there and talk to them.  Hold town hall meetings in your districts, talk to people, ask them what they think.  And I’m not saying talk only to the doctors and lawyers, the wealthy 1% of your constituents, but come down to our level, talk to people like me, my neighbors.  Talk to the average Joes in your district.  If you fail to do this, you may not be sitting in your office in the Capitol two years from now, and we may no longer have a participatory government.  Think about it.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, citizen, taxpayer, voter

Thoughts on Impeachment …

As most of you know, I have been vacillating on whether the time is right for the House to begin the process to ultimately impeach Donald Trump or not.  Still today, I have mixed feelings about it … I definitely think he ought to be impeached, but it’s not just that simple.  This morning I stumbled across a piece in The Opinionated by political analyst and author Bill Press, whose work I have always respected, and his words made a lot of sense to me.  The article helped clarify my own thoughts, both pro and con.

Bill-Press

Bill Press

With all due apologies, I know I’ve weighed in on the debate about impeaching Donald Trump in previous columns. The reason I take it up again is because so many Democrats still can’t decide how to proceed.

Democrats are split into two camps. Those who say it’s a mistake to start impeachment hearings because they’re bound to fail. Trump will still be in the White House because Senate Trumpers will never vote to convict him. And those who insist that — even if they’re sure to fail — Democrats must begin impeachment hearings anyway, because not doing so would in effect endorse Trump’s unacceptable presidential behavior. More than any other factor, how that issue is resolved, I believe, could determine what happens in 2020.

First, let’s be clear. Why should Donald Trump be impeached? As Elizabeth Barrett Browning famously wrote, “Let me count the ways.” He’s debased the office of the presidency. He’s told thousands of lies. He played footsie with a foreign adversary to win an election. He obstructed justice, many times. He intimidated witnesses. He ordered top aides to commit crimes. He defied congressional subpoenas.

There’s no doubt, as Republican Congressman Justin Amash concluded after reading the Mueller report, Trump has “engaged in impeachable conduct.” Whether he actually committed crimes does not matter, Amash points out, because impeachment “simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct” — all spelled out in Mueller’s report.

Still, no matter how strong the case, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s advised Democrats in Congress not to rush into impeachment. They’re better off, she told them, focusing instead on three priorities: their legislative agenda, especially health care; oversight hearings and beating Donald Trump in 2020. And, for a while, most Democrats agreed to hold back. Until this week, when Trump did everything he could to force impeachment hearings.

For many Democrats, what made the difference was Trump’s stopping former White House Counsel Don McGahn from testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats wanted to hear from McGahn because, in his report, after revealing that Trump twice ordered McGahn to fire him as special counsel and then lie to the New York Times about it, Mueller says it’s up to Congress to investigate further in order to determine whether Trump is guilty of criminal obstruction of justice. By blocking McGahn’s testimony, Trump’s also blocking Congress from doing its job.

On top of that came Baby Donnie’s White House temper tantrum. In a political stunt clearly orchestrated ahead of time, Trump stormed out of an infrastructure meeting with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, supposedly upset because Pelosi had earlier accused him of engaging in a cover-up (which he has!), and went directly to the Rose Garden, where reporters were already assembled in front of a campaign-style podium with the sign “No Collusion. No Obstruction.” “I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump fumed. No, and Nixon wasn’t a crook, either.

With that, the anti-impeachment dam so carefully built by Nancy Pelosi began to crumble. A week ago, there were only a handful of Democrats wanting to start impeachment hearings right away. Today, there are 30 to 40, including at least one member of the House leadership, Rhode Island’s David Cicilline. It’s reached the point where House Budget Chairman John Yarmouth told me, impeachment hearings are now “inevitable.”

Still, Pelosi urges restraint, based on five arguments. One, doing impeachment would suck up all the oxygen and make it practically impossible to pass legislation on any issue. Two, impeachment has little public and zero, aside from Justin Amash, bipartisan support. Three, Democrats can achieve almost the same results by proceeding first with oversight hearings now underway in the judiciary, intelligence, financial services, ways and means and oversight committees. Four, as noted above, impeachment would hit a dead end in the Senate. Five, impeachment might actually help Donald Trump, by allowing him to run for re-election as a victim.

For now, I believe, Speaker Pelosi makes a strong case. Democrats are smart to hold off, while letting the case build against Trump for 2020. But that could still change, depending on how he responds to court rulings against him.

That’s the key. After refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas, if Trump also rejects court orders to comply, he’d be declaring war on not one, but two co-equal branches of government. At that point, Democrats would have no choice but to launch impeachment hearings. And it’s a safe bet that’s what’s going to happen.

Bill has also recently published a book, Trump Must Go: The 100 Top Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him)Bill-Press-book

♫ I Got You Babe ♫

Yesterday, our friend Ellen said she was surprised that I hadn’t played a Sonny and Cher song, for it was the 21st birthday of Sonny’s (Salvatore Phillip Bono) death.  Unlike Ellen, who is truly a walking encyclopedia when it comes to music, I don’t carry these details about in my head, so I didn’t know.  But, I promised to play one tonight.

I Got You Babe was written by Sonny Bono and at first Cher did not like it …

“Sonny woke me up in the middle of the night to come in where the piano was, in the living room, and sing it. And I didn’t like it and just said, ‘OK, I’ll sing it and then I’m going back to bed.'”

Depending on what side of the fence you stand, this is either a beautiful love song or pure schmaltz. To Sonny Bono, it was sincere – an earnest declaration of commitment and support …

“The lyrics of my songs are very important to me. I never write anything until that very moment when I feel the emotion conveyed in the words I write. I know what it is like to be kicked around because you dress differently. I know what it is like to see the girl you love hurt because a hotel refuses you admission because of your dress. I know what it is like to have that one person stand by you. There are a lot of other people who have experienced these things and I’m trying to put our feelings into words for everyone.”

Sonny went on to enter politics and served as the Mayor of Palm Springs, California, from 1988 – 1992.  He then made a bid for the U.S. Senate in 1992, but failed to win the Republican nomination and the seat ended up going to Democrat Barbara Boxer.  However two years later, in 1994, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he served until his death due to a collision with a tree in a skiing accident on January 5th, 1998.

Bono remains the only member of Congress to have scored a number-one pop single on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I Got You Babe
Sonny & Cher

They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you

Babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
I guess that’s so, we don’t have a plot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got

Babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

I got flowers in the spring
I got you to wear my ring
And when I’m sad, you’re a clown
And if I get scared, you’re always around

Don’t let them say your hair’s too long
‘Cause I don’t care, with you I can’t go wrong
Then put your little hand in mine
There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb

Babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

I got you to hold my hand
I got you to understand
I got you to walk with me
I got you to talk with me
I got you to kiss goodnight
I got you to hold me tight
I got you, I won’t let go
I got you to love me so

I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

Songwriters: Sonny Bono
I Got You Babe lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

CHAOS!!! — Part II

When I wrote Chaos yesterday, I had no intention of it becoming Part I of a series, but as the day progressed into evening, I knew I wasn’t finished, so here is Part II, and Part III seems likely.

Okay, I know you are all sick and tired of hearing about ‘the wall’, and so am I.  But, since the child sitting in the Oval Office is throwing spoons again demanding his fribbin’ wall, we are not done hearing about it, much as it is giving us all ulcers.  The latest …

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, after vacillating between determination to shut the government down if he doesn’t get initial funding for his wall, and willingness to sign a short-term spending bill and delay this argument until next February, he finally gave his final word before leaving for a ‘vacation’ at his bloody estate in Florida:

“I’ve made my position very clear. Any measure that funds the government must include border security.  Walls work, whether we like it or not. They work better than anything.”

Okay, nothing new there, right?  Except that … the unthinkable … the House of Representatives caved and instead of passing the short-term spending bill approved by the Senate, House Republican leaders hurried to appease the president, pulling together a bill that would keep the government funded through Feb. 8 while also allocating $5.7 billion for the border wall.  CAVED!  Threw the hard-working citizens of this nation under the bus!  $5.7 billion!!!  For a useless, destructive wall, only because it’s what his ego demands.  Nobody with an IQ over 45 wants that damn wall!  $5.7 billion!!! 

The legislation passed the House on a near-party-line vote of 217 to 185 last night, over strident objections from Democrats who criticized the wall as immoral and ineffective and declared the legislation dead on arrival in the Senate. No Democrats voted for the House measure, and eight Republicans voted against it.

Yo!  Republican members of the House of Representatives!  Where are your cojones?  You knew all along that this wall is a waste of money, and the $5.7 billion is barely the beginning, for all reasonable estimates put the total cost between $50 billion and $75 billion.  This is not your money you’re throwing away … it is OURS!!!  Remember us?  We The People?

And in case you need a real laugh right about now, a man, a veteran named Brian Kolfage has started a GoFundMe site to raise funds for the wall and is asking that every American contribute $80!  Over my dead body!  But the sad part is apparently an awful lot of people in this nation have more money than they have common sense, for thus far more than 100,000 people have contributed and the account has raised more than $8 million.  I am truly sickened by this.  Why?  Because … do you see Mr. Kolfage raising money to help out starving children or provide medical care for families in need?  No, instead he is directing his efforts to a useless piece of steel & mortar that will only harm humans, the economy and wildlife.  Mr. Kolfage, as well as those 100,000 people are not humanitarians.  They are fools who care not one whit for any but themselves.  They are, in my book, white supremacist cowards, afraid to share their nation with those whose skin may not be quite as pale as their own.

Kolfage claims that Trump has “followed through on just about every promise” he made in his campaign, and that it is every citizen’s duty to help Trump “overcome Democratic resistance to the wall”.  Whoa … hold up Brian … more of those ‘citizens’ whose duty you claim to know are democrats than are republicans.  You’re saying, basically, that it is the duty of democrats to overcome their own resistance?  Have you read any of the studies about the wall, the harm it will do to wildlife, the damage to the economy of the border states?  Open your eyes, man!

There are so many more important issues in this nation than a wall along the southern border.  Do we really want to live in a walled-in nation?  I know I don’t. Are we really so afraid of families fleeing for their lives, or starving children, that we are willing to plunge this nation into massive debt in order to keep “them” out?  Yes, I am angry … no, wait … between this wall thing and Trump’s asinine claims that he will be pulling our troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, I am well beyond angry … I am furious.  Republicans … please, wake up and demand a stop to the madness before the planet explodes into a fiery ball of violence!  Demand that our legislators be the adults in the room, since Trump cannot.  This madness cannot continue … it simply cannot.  And now, I shall leave you to go in search of happier blogs.

Just for a chuckle …

I’m sorely in need of a laugh … okay, I’ll settle for a chuckle … and figured perhaps you are too, so just for a laugh at the end of the day, I give you … Andy Borowitz …

Putin Loses Control of the House

The Morning After …

Donald Trump claimed that this election, the 2018 mid-term election, was all about him.  He was right, but not, perhaps, in the way he meant it.  The very narrow taking of a majority in the House of Representatives was all about Donald Trump … it was a referendum by democrats … a statement that said, “We have had enough.”

Contrary to what many predicted, it was not a sweep, there was no ‘blue wave’.  And in fact, at several points it looked rather dim, and I had even written a morning post based on the assumption that the GOP maintained their control over the House — it was a glum post and I was happy to send it to the trash about 2:00 a.m.!  There were some mega-disappointments, albeit not unexpected:  Andrew Gillum, Stacy Abrams and Beto O’Rourke.  At this writing, there is still a slight chance for Stacy Abrams, for the margin is narrow enough that a run-off election might be called for … we can hope, although I suspect the odds are slim.celebration.jpgNow, we’ve had a moment of relief … some, no doubt, celebrated with champagne and noisemakers … it’s time to take stock, time to take a sobering look at the reality.  The newly elected 116th Congress will not be seated until January 3rd, 2019 … nearly two full months from now.  Have you considered what might happen during that two-month period?

I have no inside information and speak only as a decades-long observer of the political scene, and a more recent observer of Trump-antics.  As such, it appears to me that the main thing Trump would like to see put to bed before he is actually held to account for his actions in two months, is the Robert Mueller investigation into possible criminal interactions between Trump, his campaign, and Russian manipulators during the 2016 presidential campaign.  I will not be surprised to see some staffing changes at the Department of Justice in the next two months.

Trump, in his usual fashion, started the ‘morning after’ with threats …

“If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”

“They can play that game, but we can play better because we have a thing called the United States Senate and a lot of questionable things were done between leaks of classified information and many other elements that should not have taken place.”

Whoa … wait just a minute … you don’t own the Senate, and they don’t even work for you, Donnie boy! Would somebody please inform him that this is not junior high school???

And later, this …

“According to NBC News, Voters Nationwide Disapprove of the so-called Mueller Investigation (46%) more than they Approve (41%). You mean they are finally beginning to understand what a disgusting Witch Hunt, led by 17 Angry Democrats, is all about!”

Funny, isn’t it, that the mainstream media of which NBC News is a part is “the enemy of the people” and “fake news” until they report something that suits his purposes?

Is there no work for Trump to do … has he nothing better to do than play childish games?  Or is he simply petrified of what investigations into his tax returns and his business’ finances since he took office would reveal?

Another sobering thought is that the Senate seats gained by the republicans last night may make a democratic majority in the Senate improbable anytime before 2022 … another four years.  It is true that the majority in the House has given democrats an opportunity to insist on some oversight, will put an end to the free ride he has had thus far and hold him accountable for his actions.  However, the importance of the Senate should not be downplayed.  First, it is the Senate that confirms or denies Trump’s cabinet choices and, even more importantly, Supreme Court nominees.  If the republicans hold the majority in the Senate for another four years, it is almost a certainty that Trump will place three more justices on the Court, making 5 of the 9, Trump picks.  For life.

Second, it is the Senate that must come up with a two-thirds majority in order to convict and remove Trump from office if the House were to vote to impeach.  I keep hearing people say that once there is a democratic majority in the House, Trump will be impeached.  He might be, but he will remain in office just as Bill Clinton did.  The difference is … consider Trump’s temperament … you think he’s abominable now?  Imagine if he were to be impeached, and yet still remain in power.

It is not my intent to spoil the party here, but just to remember that while last night’s win was a positive step, it is not the end of Trump’s reign of idiocy.

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?

New Maps for Pennsylvania!

Twice this month, I have written about the gerrymandering case in Pennsylvania (links below in case you missed them).  You may remember that the congressional district map was heavily gerrymandered to give the GOP unfair advantage, and the state Supreme Court ordered the legislature to re-draw the map to be more fair by February 9th, and the governor to approve and submit the new map by February 15th, or the court would have the map re-drawn.  Well, a couple of the legislators balked, both deadlines were missed, so the court held true to its word and had the map re-drawn.

The new map on the left more closely reflects the partisan composition of the state, providing a more equitable opportunity for Democrats to pick up 2-3 additional  U.S. House seats in November. It’s also more compact than Republicans’ original map, and it splits fewer counties and municipal areas. While Democratic candidates for the state’s 18 U.S. House seats tend to capture about half of the statewide popular vote, that’s translated into just five of the 18 seats in each election held since the 2011 redistricting.

In the last election, 2016, the majority of the popular vote was actually for democrats, but due to the manipulation of congressional district boundaries, democrats only won 5 of the 18 seats in the House.  Fair?  Hardly, but then the same could be said of the same year’s presidential election also, where the majority lost the election due to the electoral college.

It is a safe bet to say that the republican-led legislature will challenge the new map, but they have few options to do so, as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case, effectively upholding the ruling of the state court.  The only plausible argument would be that the maps violate the Elections Clause of the Constitution, which vests in the state legislature the power to choose rules for congressional elections, and even that is a long shot.

But meanwhile, you know Trump couldn’t resist an opportunity to put his two-cents’ worth in, and he took to Twitter early this morning:

Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new “pushed” Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Your Original was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money! – 8:11 AM – Feb 20, 2018

Appropriate remark for a president?  No, but then when are they ever any more?

Gerrymandering, for any who may be unclear on precisely what the term means, is a means of re-drawing district maps to manipulate the boundaries in order to favour one party over the other.  The Washington Post published an excellent article explaining the process back in March 2015  that I urge you to take a look at.  The graphic below, taken from that article, provides a pretty good visual explanation.

gerrymanderingIf the map provided by the Pennsylvania  Supreme Court is allowed to stand, it is quite possible that the democrats will pick up an additional 2, possibly 3 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in November.  It is a start, but there are more states with unfairly drawn congressional district maps that need to be challenged this year.  Thus far, Pennsylvania and Florida are the only two who have taken this step.  The 10 most gerrymandered states are …

  1. North Carolina
  2. Maryland
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. West Virginia
  5. Kentucky
  6. Louisiana
  7. Utah
  8. Texas
  9. Arkansas
  10. Ohio

Let us hope that Pennsylvania’s new map is not overturned, and that more states, particularly the ones listed above, get on the bandwagon to re-draw more fair and equitable maps.  I am not asking for any special treatment for democrats, merely an opportunity for a fair election, such as is called for by the U.S. Constitution.

Related links:

Judicial Independence … Going, Going …

Senator Above The Law?