Choices for America’s Voters


We all like choices. They help us feel empowered and in control of our own lives. Which is something no one has ever said about Congress.

Now, however, we sit in utter frustration, pinned down by Congress’s partisan paralysis and a deep public divide centered on Trump.

If public opinion coalesced on one side or the other, it could have a very real effect on what choices might be available.

For example, if public opinion said clearly “It’s too late for impeachment—wait for the 2020 election,” a lot of people would shrug and go along, content to litigate impeachment issues as part of the election campaign.

If public opinion overwhelmingly favored immediate impeachment and removal, the Congress would proceed now. Republicans, whose loyalty to Trump is based largely on the loyalty of Trump’s supporters to Trump, would then have ample incentive to consider their duty to the country and the Constitution.

Public opinion, unfortunately, shrugs with confusion and division.

As a result, we are going to see nothing but this issue for the next 12 months. The House will impeach, the Senate will acquit, and absolutely nothing will be resolved.  A meaningful majority of Americans who want to be done with Trump and get on with their lives will pin their hopes on 2020.

 Trump’s acolytes will relish his “exoneration” and continue their merry march to disaster.

Most disappointing, until we are rid of Trump much will remain in stalemate, and the world will remain in a state of unsettling and potentially dangerous flux.

Thus, at this vital moment in history, our choices all seem illusory!

It makes one wonder: Has REALITY left us for good?




Our country appears to have become so divided and partisan that it may in fact be impossible now to get the divided House and Senate to judge the Trump matter with any objectivity or impartiality,

There was no reason for the Founders to have anticipated the present impasse and stalemate. Although some were wary of political parties and warned of the dangers of factionalism to the new republic, parties themselves did not yet exist, and it would have been impossible to foresee a time when the very machinery of government would be consumed with securing partisan advantage over all else.

What might the Founders have thought and provided for if they had predicted the divides that exist now?

First, they would have realized that sitting Representatives and Senators in many cases would be prisoners in their own districts, subject to political retaliation from both directions for deviation from orthodoxy. That obviously makes it very hard for those officials to act independently or objectively, knowing their jobs and income are at risk.

Second, they would have looked for the equivalent of “electors” – a group of knowledgeable and independent people who could render impartial judgement free of political interest and influence. Fewer than one-third of Americans can identify the three branches of government. In the absence of widespread public understanding, it is impossible for a public consensus to emerge on impeachment.

Third, there are currently more than 100 former members of the House and Senate, and probably thousands of retired judges who could constitute a body of “impeachers” – enough to be sufficiently able to judge such a case without the partisan baggage that sitting members naturally struggle with.

Among the obvious reasons the founders never thought of those folks was that they did not yet exist!

Implementing such an extra-Constitutional solution today would require the House and the Senate to legislatively agree on a compromise process to put the question before a suitable group of ‘Former Representatives and Senators and Other Distinguished Public Officials.’ Accordingly, it seems exceedingly unlikely to occur. But as we stand at the precipice of losing all Executive branch accountability, we must do something.

Of course, there would be plenty to squabble about in the details of gathering a decent group of impeachers – political affiliation, time out of office — to collect a fair, knowledgeable and objective jury.

If we want to get this behind us and get on with running our great country, this might be an idea worth considering.

‘Normal’ Life, Impeachment Examples


The big question many are asking today is why Republicans – and a fair number of independents – have failed to climb on the impeachment bandwagon despite overwhelming factual evidence of the President’s “arms for investigations” shakedown of Ukraine for his personal political benefit.  In my view, the problem is getting Mr. and Mrs. America to understand and grasp, in terms they can personally relate to simply and easily, what impeachment means and how it works.

Impeachment resembles a trial in our criminal justice system. But it is NOT the same.

The procedural similarities are obvious: The House functions as a grand jury, investigating and, ultimately –when and if sufficient grounds are established – “indicting” (impeaching) the official in question (the Vice President and members of the Cabinet can also be impeached by the House of Representatives). From there, the matter goes to “trial” – the U.S. Senate, with all 100 Senators constituting the jury, and a 2/3rds vote (67) required to convict. Upon conviction, an impeached official is removed from office. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court acts as the presiding Juror in the Senate’s deliberations, though it is not clear who prevails in procedural matters??

The standard for impeachment and conviction is defined in Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution and reads, in its entirety, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The intentions of the Founding Fathers around impeachment are clear: it was intended primarily to guard against kings or other foreign powers from interfering in U.S. affairs – especially against interference in elections.

In the only two previous cases of impeachment — where there was an indictment by the House followed by acquittal in the Senate – the accusations were well understood. In the case of Andrew Johnson, the crime was simply Johnson’s appointment of a person to a government post ‘solely’ on political grounds —more easily understandable today.  In Bill Clinton’s case, the crime was based on improper sexual behavior; also easily understood today.

The current case against Trump is based on a simple scheme to withhold U.S. taxpayer dollars authorized and intended by Congress for Ukraine’s defense in an explicit exchange for Ukraine investigating Trump’s likeliest political opponent in the upcoming 2020 election, Joe Biden.

The Johnson case was simply a political fight carried to extremes. With hindsight it failed correctly.

The Clinton case was improper personal sexual misbehavior by Clinton, which also with hindsight failed correctly.

Trump’s Ukraine transgressions came to light in the midst of a confusing mine field of Trump’s aggressive mistakes domestically and abroad, along with his trampling of democratic norms, Western alliances, and seeming inability to speak truthfully a lot of the times.

In short, today’s impeachment boils down to Trump putting his personal political future before U.S. national security by demanding something of value (investigations) in exchange for an official act (releasing the already appropriated funds). It really is a simple case, if one looks at the facts and evidence and puts aside the obvious partisan differences.

The facts are not in dispute – Trump and his minions (including personal hand puppet Rep. Devin Nunes) have not introduced a single piece of evidence that counter the allegations. Instead, they are trying to hide behind complaints about “process” and ludicrous legal arguments of “absolute immunity” from Congressional oversight to prevent officials at the center of Trump’s scheme from testifying.

So, to better understand this case, IMAGINE the mayor of your town,  your boss at work using other peoples’  money to tarnish the reputation of someone competing for his job and at the same time seeking to extend his own contract; or the head of your labor union telling a business she will launch a strike unless the business provides certain perks and a new contract to the union chief; or an unethical relative holding your child’s allowance – paid by you — hostage until that child cleans the relative’s garage!

If you can think of Trump’s behavior in those terms – regardless of all other considerations— it should be obvious that Trump’s scheme is a serious affront to America’s national interests (Ukraine, a U.S. ally is, after all, at war with Russia). More important, it becomes clear that impeachment and conviction are essential to ensure that no future president can place their own interests ahead of their oath of office to put the public interest first.

 Mr. and Mrs. America our precious democracy demands nothing less from you and all your neighbors.

Buttigeig For President?


“Mayor Pete” is an amazing person. He has a lot of the charm, warmth and brilliance of President Obama. By all accounts, he would restore integrity, honesty and true patriotism in the White House. The attached write-up highlights the possibilities of a “President Pete.” I find myself drawn to his candidacy based entirely on his potentially outstanding competence.


But what? Some will immediately focus on his issues with the African American community, borne in part of racial tensions in the city he governs. Others will wonder, as I do, whether America is ready to elect a gay man with a ‘husband’—does that imply he will be the first ‘wife’ who is also the President?

Central to both concerns, of course, is simply winning in 2020. The paramount issue for Democratic primary voters is “electability,” so evaluating the many candidates is less about comparing policy points than gauging their appeal to the much broader swath of voters who will cast ballots next November.

Elizabeth Warren provides a useful example here. She rose to the top of the primary heap, then fell quickly back to earth after outlining a $30 trillion health care plan. That doesn’t mean primary voters don’t want Medicare for All – many, many of them do, even at the cost of private insurance. What it does reflect is voters’ real-time assessments of electability. Whatever I might think of the plan, I don’t for a minute think it’s a smart pitch to general election voters.

Mayor Pete has three big “buts” sowing doubts about his electability:

  • Lack of support from Black and African American voters. Turnout in swing states will be key in 2020, and it is simply unknown whether voters of color will show up in numbers sufficient to drive the outcome. So far, Buttigeig has failed to spark any passion from this community. Will their disdain for Trump be enough to drive them to the polls, if he’s the nominee?
  • Doubts that America is ready for a gay President. Roughly half of voters say they’re OK with a gay president. That’s a thin margin to start with. But, again, primary voters are thinking more about the country writ large than their own personal comfort with the idea of a gay president. And only 40 percent of them believe the country is ready.
  • The idea that many black people won’t support a gay candidate. Recent press reports around this subject have largely debunked the canard that older black voters are “anti-gay.” But to the extent this stereotype persists in primary voters’ minds, it adds to the perception of un-electability.

I, too, am in the camp that is unsure that America is ready for a gay President. But I’m also troubled by the emphasis on winning at all costs. One suspects, after all, that a lot of Republicans in 2016 came around to Trump through much the same process.

The idealist in me, moreover, wants to believe that it’s always right to support the candidate you would choose if you were able to choose the winner. And I’m troubled deeply by the idea that ignoring my own values and focusing solely on the electability of a candidate simply perpetuates the hate. Shouldn’t we be better than that? Yes!

BUT, what is clearer still is that we’re not better than that – at least not yet.

Mayor Pete is, therefore, a VERY BIG gamble in 2020.

I will appreciate all your feedback!!


That one deplorable word lost the 2016 Presidential election.

And that same deplorable word is at the root of today’s Impeachment debate!

And, that word also describes the essence of a colossal revolution brewing in our democratic country.

We must face up to the issue honestly and frankly. And we must develop a practical strategy and tactics to defuse and deflect the problem, if we’re to get back on our 200-year track record toward a lasting democracy with a diverse population which shares liberty and respect for all in common!

When Hillary Clinton used the word ‘deplorables’ to describe her opponents in 2016, she stupidly and inadvertently revealed that she saw herself ABOVE the rest of the world. It was an attitude apparent in other ways – most famously her use of a private email server. Though Clinton was never, in my opinion, truly an elite in the best sense of that word, she has long sought to flaunt her status and privileges as if she were.

Hillary’s deplorable “deplorables” comment cemented in the minds of many who would ultimately vote for Trump the stereotype of elites looking down their noses at “middle America.” Today there are literally tens of millions of Americans who believe that most politicians and elites think of them the same way as Hillary let slip.

Hillary’s comment literally pushed these people into Donald Trump’s hands, where they’ve firmly stayed despite … everything. Even today, Trump’s support among Republicans exceeds his support during the 2016 Republican primaries. Most Republicans loathed him, but he managed to emerge from a crowded field. Hillary’s tongue took care of the rest.

But whatever the political ramifications of Clinton’s remark, when 300 plus million people start to split over who in America is deplorable and who is admirable, big dangers lurk in the cracks that our democracy is beginning to show.

We can NOT allow her state of mind to take over our world today simply because she was NOT elected. And it’s quite possible that Hillary’s superiority complex might have been as bad for the country (albeit in different ways) as Trump’s inferiority complex has proven to be.

My suggestion on how to deal with this new obviously deplorable problem is that we must ALL get openly angry with Hillary. The fact is, most elites today DEPLORE her because she was and is so selfish and wrong. 

We should show how we feel by appearing to lock our arms in unity and say, “Hillary was never speaking for us!!” and pass that message with appropriate photos around that point.

Now, together we must take our country back from the man who IS the epitome of deplorable, who also has a dangerous inferiority complex to make it even worse.

The Public Grasp Of Impeachment


This message is intended primarily for Adam Schiff. If any reader can get it in front of him or anyone on his staff, please do!

Even for law school graduates the language and meaning of the Constitution about impeachment can be confusing and abstract.

The language seems simple and straightforward: “if such officers have engaged in treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Between the Mueller report and the current congressional public hearings there has been a massive amount of facts, theories and charges. Depending on where people start on the subject – as Trumpers or non-Trumpers — their ability and willingness to absorb all this materiel differs widely.

Accordingly, the Congress must consider the methods of presenting its case to the people in such a way that most people can relate what they are hearing to their own life experience.

So far, they have largely failed in achieving that goal because they have been excessively legalistic and abstract – the long emphasis on “quid pro quo,” now largely abandoned in favor of “bribery,” being one prominent example.

Good, solid cases can be made and argued that the facts currently before us constitute bribery – or even treason. Unfortunately, few people can see themselves in such situations and therefore have little grasp of those stories.

But the Constitution does not stop with treason or bribery. It’s famously vague “other high crimes and misdemeanors” is intended to give Congress ample leeway to remove an unfit leader. High crimes could be a lot of things: abuse of power, disregard for the independence and position of Congress, threatening witnesses, etc. Finally, to sweep up any messes left behind, the Constitution provides for misdemeanors, less felonious violations of law or non-criminal acts which might justify removal from office.

Hopefully, the Intelligence Committee’s wrap up report will go through all the facts and possible impeachment charges with simple to understand connections between the Constitutional language and the evidence of the case.

In addition, plain language examples from everyday life, such as a patrol officer demanding cash to ignore a speeding violation will illuminate what is really meant and intended by the Constitution.

Most of all, it must be KEPT SIMPLE! Save the legalese for the Articles themselves, and use the Committee’s report to lay out, for all to see, Trump’s grotesque abuse of the levers of government for personal gain.

Following my own advice, I will refrain from saying anymore!

Incans Circa 1500 In South America


Hiram Bingham wrote a riveting history of the Spaniards and the Incas and their population in the years around 1500 AD in South America.

There is one major take away from that history in today’s crazy world.

The Spaniards wanted to get the riches of gold, silver and jewels held largely by the elites –called the Incas –of that South American population of about 25 million people at that time.

Those elites numbered about 250,000 (the original “one-percenters”?) and to get at those riches the Spaniards basically slaughtered virtually all of them.

And, guess what happened? That population became, remained, and largely remains today without effective leadership.  

If today’s Trump wars to wipe out our elites is as successful as the Spanish in 1500, we just might turn out to be a large population with a lot of wealth and resources and nowhere to go and no way to get there????


The word assume is both quite funny and significant. It is true that when and if people assume too freely and easily, they often fall into the trap of being an ASS along with the person who mislead them.

Cohen Trump’s former personal counsel—now in jail for doing some of Trump’s dirty work—when asked during his trial how he understood Trump’s instructions, said Trump had a way of saying things obliquely. For example, if Trump wanted to see someone’s tax returns, he might say “I wonder if X has cheated on his tax returns?” Cohen took that to mean “Go get those tax returns!”

Cohen’s view was that Trump was clever enough to know what he should NOT do, that he never would say in so many words what he really wanted.

The QUID PRO QUO debate turns in large part on what Trump said. When there was still uncertainty about the connection between the withheld military aid to Ukraine and a Biden investigation Trump had demanded, Trump at that point in time volunteered out of the blue “Mind you there is no quid pro quo” which was the first time that phrase came into frequent use.

What possibly brought that phrase into Trump’s mind? Obviously, it was on Trump’s mind that there was in fact a quid pro quo which he had demanded, so in his oblique way, per Cohen’s observation, he said the reverse meaning there was in fact one that was worrying him.

This recalls a fascinating anecdote about J P Morgan. A Morgan partner –Lamont–had invited Mr. Morgan for tea.  Lamont invited his teen age son to join AND warned the boy NOT to notice or mention Mr. Morgan’s famous red nose. As the boy passed the tea and sugar to Mr. Morgan he asked Mr. Morgan “Would you like one or two noses with your tea.”

History is not clear on what happened to the boy.

But it was clear that the father’s advice on the nose was central in the boy’s mind which is how and why he made the mistake.

Trump spoke the truth in an inadvertent way when he brought up the very point he wanted to suppress.

I guess we could all agree that Trump at a minimum is an ASS!

Failure To Succeed With A Crime Is Not Exculpatory

There are rarely days when we tell ourselves that we need more lawyers to solve the problems they create!

Other days like today we may need more!

As far as impeachment is concerned, more lawyers might help us understand the situation, because understanding Constitutional legal language can be a bit technical and confusing.

Article II of the US Constitution is clear… But what does it really mean in everyday life in easily understandable terms?

Congress has dealt with this question only three times in our whole history and no President in more than 200 years has ever been impeached AND convicted. (Nixon would probably have been the first but resigned before the House could vote on articles of impeachment.)

Hardly any sane person likes the idea of removing a president from office. It does NOT do the U.S. credit, because it goes against the fundamental democratically expressed will of the voters, and it is, as we see today, chaotic and divisive.

Given those realities, what justifies putting a President out of office?

The facts in the current case are abundantly clear and beyond any real dispute. There is little doubt that Trump was making a serious and deliberate effort to get the leader of Ukraine to investigate the Biden’s – or at least publicly pledge to do so. His professed concern about corruption in Ukraine didn’t extend to any issue beyond the 2016 and 2020 elections, making it obvious his motives were purely political, because he hoped to disqualify in advance Joe Biden’s candidacy in 2020 (and, because he simply cannot restrain himself, he needs to relitigate 2016).

By any standard, that is all a rotten tomato.

It is also against the law in several ways. It is extortion, bribery and abuse of power because Trump’s “leverage” was withholding already-authorized U.S. taxpayer dollars intended to support Ukraine’s military against Russian aggression. (Conditioning a White House meeting on assistance in a political smear job is equally wrong, but probably less damning in the public’s eyes.)

As it happened, the US tax payer support was ultimately restored, and the sham investigation never occurred. To some Trump defenders, that amounts to “no harm, no foul, no impeachment.”

The law, of course, doesn’t judge success, but intent. Trying to kill a person is a crime, even if one is unsuccessful in the effort. Similarly, extortion and bribery are crimes, even if the attempt is bungled. Does any American want to create a precedent that failing to achieve your intended harm is exculpatory?

The magnitude of future danger is incalculable and is (or should be) NON-PARTISAN. After all, come 2021 and thereafter, there could be a Democrat in the White House. What if that person turns out to be every bit as nefarious, untruthful and corrupt as Donald Trump?

Now is the moment for all Americans to see through this shameless effort to subvert our Constitution!

One should not have to be a lawyer to know that using taxpayer funds for personal political gain is wrong.

Most of the lawyers in America clearly know that.

If you are unsure, ask one!

Trees Have A Lot In Common With People


The sweeping pool of humanity is remarkable for many things, none more fascinating than that each individual person is unique! While almost all people have four limbs, ten fingers and toes, hair that retreats with age and much else in common, no two people, so far, including twins, out of about 8 billion on earth, look or are exactly alike. We are, we tell ourselves, like snowflakes, whose crystalline structures afford infinite variety.

Less understood is that we are also very like trees. Despite their outward similarities like ours – with limbs and leaves [hair] and a central trunk [body], no two trees – are even close to being exactly alike.

Trees, moreover, are like us in ways people and science are only beginning to understand. Trees have their own subtle ways of communicating on various subjects including the ability to warn other trees of threats. Researchers have discovered, for example, that trees are able to ascertain the presence of diseases that spread, and to communicate to other trees defenses that help contain those dangers.

We do not know whether trees are as prolific as people. We do know that there are many more of them than us – some 3.04 trillion. While trees are immobile, their means of reproducing have been exceedingly effective, even in the face of myriad threats from man and nature alike.

Trees have never gone to war with each other, as far as we know (“Lord of the Rings” fans, please do not send me email about this). But they surely have been misused by us people in our wars.

So as trees whisper/murmur among themselves, I wonder how they see us and – is it possible? – think of us. They may notice that some people care a lot about them as trees, while others care less. Surely, it must stand out to them that across the globe, we cannot seem to get along with each other.

The trees that I relate to most closely tell me they have ideas on the subject, that 370 million years of peaceful co-existence have taught them about the value of differences (species in their world; race, religion and much, much more in ours).

I am insufficiently fluent in tree language to fully understand what they are saying. But, I suspect we’ll all need to learn their language if we want to unlock the secrets of trees and discover how we might ‘live and let live’ – and allow both trees and people to collaborate and persist through millennia.