Beware Grassley And McConell Et Al

Senators Grassley and McConnell, in your rush to judgment on Kavanagh you are doubling/tripling your party’s political risks, ignoring the lessons of history in a now probably already futile attempt to appoint him to the nation’s highest court.

The limited scope of Thursday’s proposed hearing underscores its limited ambition. Far from a pursuit of truth, your already-declared goal is to “plow through” to a conservative Supreme Court majority. The lack of even trying to investigate ensures a she said/he said standoff which will not satisfy most voters and Americans and will surely reduce the credibility of the Supreme Court for a very long time.

And, if you manage to drive the Senate to a successful confirmation prematurely, you will be exposed after Kavanagh is on the Court to the very real risk of his immediate impeachment for having lied to the Committee – on possibly more than one occasion and more than one subject before he was ever questioned specifically about Dr. Ford.

There is nothing to prevent independent investigators, whether Congress, the FBI or others, from seeking the full story of Kavanagh’s knowledge or involvement in controversies with Dr Ford, the George W. Bush administration – and, more importantly, how he has described his role in those positions during his recent Senate testimony.

Dr. Ford’s allegations, meanwhile, haven’t even begun to be investigated. How confident are you that whatever Kavanagh says next week won’t be undercut in a matter of days, weeks or months by as-yet-unknown evidence? It would in the interests of all concerned to get those facts on the table before proceeding.

It’s understandable, if infuriating, that you’ve been willing to bend Senate rules and smash Senate customs to build a Supreme Court majority that you hope will hold for a generation. What’s perplexing is why you’re sticking with this deeply flawed nominee, who will surely dig your hole even deeper.

Kavanagh is swiftly losing public support, and history conveniently illuminates the cost of being seen as not treating women’s claims of sexual abuse or harassment with respect and deference. From Anita Hill to the #MeToo movement, your party has suffered severely when you haven’t taken women seriously. The Democrats in the Senate rejected one of their own for groping!

Giving Judge Kavanagh a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court will virtually guarantee sweeping Republic losses in November – and may well spark a Democratic takeover of the Senate, an outcome you evidently currently deem to be remote. The damage to the Supreme Court and to the country’s legal system will be just as severe, and last much longer.

Republican Senators, wake up before it is too late! You surely violated the Constitution when you refused to let the Senate have any say on Merrick Garland. Then you shattered the last barrier to a highly partisan, politically-motivated Court: the filibuster. Now you are rushing to judgment, and possibly your own demise.

Have you no wit, conscience or shame?

Why do I care enough to WARN you about what you are trying to do as it most likely favors Democrats?

The answer is because I care about the integrity of our whole political process and the credibility of our Federal Court System.

You seem to have lost your way in the fog of Trump politics!

Advertisements

She Says – He Says – We Says

She: He attempted to rape me.

He: I never did such a thing.

We: Memory can be tricky, but her version is very credible, backed by corroborating evidence. He now admits to a lot of youthful drunkenness. Definitely have the FBI investigate and then reopen the hearings.


How does this end?

The FBI should be able to untangle the knot of conflicting statements and uncertain memories including that of the male friend present. If the evidence ends up supporting his version the nation gets a tainted justice for his life, if the evidence supports her version, he is toast.

It is conceivable that he was so drunk he never had a memory of it – not unusual. But when, and if, he ultimately recalls it in the face of dispositive recalled evidence, if he apologizes and withdraws, he just might be able to keep his present position?

Worse, what if he ultimately acknowledges it yet apologizes and seeks to dismiss it as simply a youthful indiscretion and refuses to withdraw? Would the Senate, which has proven itself spineless in confronting the President, suddenly change course and tell Trump to “try again”?

Otherwise we would we get a new Supreme Court Justice, deeply flawed and forever tainted?  In a perfect world, it’s obvious the Senate would demur.


It’s also obvious that this is NOT a perfect world, and readily apparent that this guy was a mistake from the start for several reasons.

We should not be surprised at this situation.

It is perhaps the most long lasting mistake coming dumped on us by Trump to date.

Trump’s End Game?

With Paul Manafort’s plea-bargain with special prosecutor Robert Mueller, it appears that President Trump’s maneuvering room has shrunk significantly. In agreeing to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation, Manafort has joined the ranks of Trump’s (sort-of) lawyer, his chief financial officer, and several others in deciding the personal cost of protecting Trump has grown too steep. In other words, there are now a plethora of people legally obligated to give Mueller whatever goods they might have – on Russia, tax evasion, bank fraud, campaign finance and wherever else Mueller’s team might be digging.

With the walls closing in, what are Trump’s options?

  1. With little left to lose, he might seek to fire Mueller NOW, or immediately after the midterms. Indeed, the slightness of Trump’s legal team (in size and expertise in these sorts of matters) suggests Trump was never going to let the investigation advance too far;
  2. Pardon himself and use the ensuing legal battle to ride out his last two years in office;
  3. Go “Full Nixon” and offer to resign to avoid criminal indictment or impeachment;
  4. Double down with the true believers in the hopes that it will be enough to avoid conviction in a Senate trial;
  5. Abandon the base and sidle up to Schumer and Pelosi in the hopes that his cooperation on issues dear to Democrats will make them favor him over his vice president;
  6. Call Putin and ask for asylum, and a chance to build his long yearned for Moscow Hotel;
  7. Ask Pence to resign, appoint Hillary Clinton as VP and then resign;
  8. Hold out as long as possible while raising as much money as possible for his re-election campaign, then resign and transfer the $80 million + to his charity (or, if regulators shut it down first, to a new one he controls); or
  9. Some combination of all of the above.

In other words, Trump’s options are as confusing as he and his Presidency have been.

Deep down, what Trump really wants is to emerge with his reputation – as he sees it – for sincerity, honesty and good intentions INTACT. That is, obviously, impossible and beyond his psychological capabilities in any event.

He also wants very much to be seen as the brilliant, VERY RICH deal maker beyond the reach of the law for anything he has ever done. No tax returns ever. No financial statements ever. No apologies ever.

All this presents him and his advisors with a tough agenda going into end game thinking.

In all likelihood the end game may be more confusing than the preliminary rounds we have been watching all along!!

“The Law”

Above or Subject to?

At this precarious moment in our nation’s history, perhaps the biggest question facing us is whether anyone is above the law, or all are subject to it.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, in previous writings and before the Senate committee considering his nomination, has made it quite clear that he believes that Presidents should be free from the distractions of investigations and indictments. He also believes that Presidents can pardon themselves. His reasoning apparently is that IF Congress wants to ‘deal with’ a rogue President, its only Constitutional remedy is simply impeachment for ‘high crimes or misdemeanors.’

Unfortunately, a lot has changed since the Constitution was written, and even without allowing for changes in what constitutes certain crimes and misdemeanors, Kavanaugh’s reasoning is sorely deficient in today’s world.

For example, if Congress was about to impeach and try a President for treason (like agreeing to go soft on Russia if they helped elect him in exchange) and that President then pardoned himself for his treasonous ways, could that President successfully deflect the impeachment?

In the light of his writings and testimony, it is hard to imagine today’s Supreme Court nominee sitting and ruling on that question.

The classic expression that ‘no one is above the law’ began somehow, sometime around the time of our Revolution when Americans wanted to get away from a royal king who WAS THE LAW and treated us accordingly.

While the precise ‘above or below the law’ language never found its way into the Constitution, it is deeply and inextricably embedded in all that it did say, and the many writings explaining and defending the Constitution that preceded its ratification.

The notion that a rogue President might pardon him/herself is so repugnant to our founding ideals that it is almost unbelievable that any American could or would tolerate it, regardless of politics.

There are a lot of reasons why Kavanaugh should NOT be confirmed but this one is dispositive.

Where Is The Center Of The Universe?

Nearly 2,000 years ago, in an extraordinary feat of scientific exploration, Claudius Ptolemy developed a geo-centric notion of the universe that accounted for the motion of stars and planets in the skies, while placing EARTH firmly at the center of it all.

He was, of course, colossally wrong, but it took another 1,400 years before Nicolaus Copernicus demonstrated conclusively just how wrong.

The history is well-known, but may offer lessons for our polarized times.

The center of every individual’s universe is themselves – a kind of homo-centric parallel to Ptolemy and Copernicus.  People naturally view the world as revolving around them. The only perspective they physically own is their own, centered in self and watching the rest of humanity revolve around them.

But even Copernicus didn’t get it quite right. It took the likes of Einstein to reveal that, universe-wise, everything is in constant motion, with every asteroid, planet, star and galaxy tugging on its galactic neighbors near and far, a galactic ballet operating on a scale that defies human understanding.

That, it turns out, is an apt model for considering human relationships. The primary human instincts – reproduction and survival, competition and greed – led us to gather into tribes, primarily because building communities offered the best chance of both sex and survival, while providing vast opportunities to exercise our less-desirable traits.

Just as the planets depend for their survival on the motions of other objects, humans depend for their survival on the actions of others. As we coalesce into like-minded tribes, we are unknowingly disturbing the delicate balance that keeps the world afloat!

The challenge then, is to figure out realistic ways to encourage more individual people to find and use their instincts of sex, love and friendship to balance their instincts of greedy competition?

First, see ‘new’ people as windows into exciting new opportunities that can enhance positive instincts and needs.

Second, try to see competitors as potential partners and enhancers.

Third, belonging to diverse groups often open eyes and ideas for more opportunities.

Finally, remember that, in the whole great continuing human experiment, we really, truly need each other.

Can you imagine 7 billion people pulling together on the oars of Earth to find our way to the nearest planet?

I want to be on that boat!

It cannot be far away.

Neither A Blue Tide Nor Red

What we’re really witnessing is a rising tide of Americans concerned with democracy and its future.

The devoutly wished-for blue or red tide in November’s elections will not come about – regardless of the outcome.

While a Democratic House is probably the likeliest outcome – and the only one that can forestall the republic’s collapse, the hidden import of this year’s elections is the possible emergence of a new breed of political leaders, neither enamored of nor beholden to the ruling class of politicians in Congress today, and to a person eager to transcend mere partisanship. While many – but not all of them – come with the “Democrat” label, they have serious differences with their party’s’ platform, priorities, and approach.

A recent series of articles about the interesting new faces running for Congress gives us real hope for the future. There are more women running than ever. There are many heroes – men and women – whose military service has compelled them to pursue public service through other means.

Their reasons for giving up great careers to run for Congress have one thing in common. They are largely fed up with Red and Blue and they feel that they can put their experience to work finding solutions to today’s tough problems by working together with all their colleagues, regardless of party affiliation.

They are an amazing bunch and it really looks like many of them will succeed.

This is an off-year election and it may take until the next Presidential election to see their numbers become large enough to create, in effect, a real NON party bloc in Congress. In the House, where even small groups of like-minded legislators can exert influence greater than their size, these new mavericks could become a [the?] leading group of politicians in the USA.

For all the talk of a new party (or many) over the last 40 years, the two-party dichotomy has handily persevered.  It may be that we have been too focused on the old way of doing things.

The new way, unfolding today, may become known as the ‘People’s Party’. They will write their own rules and reform the largely stagnant and sometimes malevolent way the Congress has gotten us into today’s mess, by working as insurgents on the inside.

This year we may see about 100 of these new types of Representatives – at all levels of government – and perhaps that number may double by 2020. A next step will be to see the same thing happen in the Senate, which will potentially see its first stage in 2020.

Though a majority of the States – as States are more Red than Blue – there are a large number of people in ALL States who are just plain fed up with colors and want their Representatives AND Senators to represent THEM and not some party primarily trying to perpetuate its powers and prerogatives.

That is the happiest thought I have had in quite a while!

What Are American’s 10 Options For Labor Day?

There’s been much talk recently of coping, of how people dismayed, disgusted and even traumatized by the actions of our President – in office and in getting there – can overcome the debilitating despair that is Trump’s stock in trade.  Here are ten potential coping mechanisms for the Reign of Terror Against Good Sense.

  1. Put your head in the sand and have a good snooze. RESULT – you will get what you deserve and what others decide for you.

 

  1. Rail to anyone who will listen and hope. RESULT—you may feel a bit better for a few minutes before reverting to the norm – the sad, depressing norm.

 

  1. Gather signatures calling for some kind of public action. RESULT—perhaps you may stir some others into some kind of action. You’ll feel good about this, but that good feeling may not survive the next tweetstorm branding women and black people “low-IQ.”

 

  1. Raise enough money to start a lawsuit on Constitutional issues with the best lawyers you can afford. RESULT — a lot of teeth gnashing, delays and perhaps some good ideas emerging.

 

  1. If you are a veteran, attend all sessions and make sure you are heard and help influence the military to do the right things. RESULT — keeps the military from going overboard.

 

  1. If you are gutsy, refuse in writing to pay your taxes to a government that is lying to you and disobeying laws and regulations with your money. People on the right have been doing this for years on the whacko premise that the federal government has no authority to tax individuals. Several of them have gone to jail, though, and none have persuaded a court of the rightness (legal or moral) of their cause. RESULT – potentially many years behind bars and an outstanding tax bill that grows precipitously.

 

  1. Put signs in your front yards or doors telling people that they are being misled by officials who are infringing their rights. RESULT – you’ll feel better telling people where you stand but may encounter cranky neighbors or “cease and desist” letters from your homeowners’ association.

 

  1. Park your car on a crowded bridge; get arrested and use the publicity to be heard. RESULT – you’ll lift the flagging spirits of others as despondent as yourself, at least temporarily, and may avoid a jail sentence.

 

  1. Get a couple of hundred ‘friends’ to hire some busses and go to DC and tie up traffic in front of the White House and the Capital. RESULT – snarled traffic and a long bus ride while the world continues to go to hell in a handbasket.

 

  1. Get a prescription of sleeping pills and spend the next 2 ½ years in a drug-induced stupor. RESULT – likely addiction, but you might escape the most maddening moments of the Trump presidency.

As the list shows, yes, there are things we all can do. What good they will do is less clear. What is perfectly clear, though, is that doing NOTHING will achieve just that. If you believe, as I do, that our President is a danger to our country, and to the very idea of democracy, it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something, and keep doing it, and then get your friends to do it with you, and then their friends, as well. Most of all, whatever you choose to do between now and November, make sure you and every right-thinking person you know shows up on November 6th to take the only action that can stop this President: electing a Democratic Congress.