Congress

Hypocrisy

A partial compendium of Trumpian distractions designed to keep your eye off the ball. Click the image for a larger view.

Reading time – 2:51; Viewing time – 4:13  .  . .

I keep wondering when the hypocrisy, the slimy self-serving and the blatant dishonesty will quiet enough for the nation to take a breath, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY), majority leader of the Senate, is the leader of the mob, all members of which seem to be able to make almost any nonsensical, self-focused thing come out of their mouths on command.

McConnell’s refusal of so much as a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, lasted for 293 days. McConnell based his judicial roadblock on his fact-less claim that no President had ever had a Court nominee reviewed in a president’s last year in office. That McConnell’s favorite, President Reagan, nominated Anthony Kennedy in his last year in office and that Kennedy was vetted and voted to the Court by a Democrat controlled Senate seemed to have escaped McConnell’s attention. When it was pointed out to him, he continued to deny a hearing for Garland and continued to base his intransigence on his original lie.

Now we’re offered the spectacle of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings focused on Judge Brett Kavanaugh as President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court. We witnessed Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) discharging his duties by refusing to make available to Democrats on the committee 90% of the documents pertaining to Kavanaugh. Included in the withheld documents are all those pertaining to his service in the George W. Bush White House, where he was part of the legal team and where torture was declared not to be torture, and other various legal atrocities were committed. Grassley refused parliamentary motions by Democrats to access that information and motions to delay hearings to accommodate a proper review of documents. He was ably assisted by Sen. John Cornyn, (R-TX), who sprayed fatuous lies about the room.

In June, attorney Cyrus Sanai sent a letter to Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) detailing the rampant sexual misconduct of Kavanaugh’s mentor, Judge Alex Kozinski. Sanai claimed this was important, pertinent information regarding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He and his information were ignored.

Currently, there is an accusation of sexual assault committed by Kavanaugh. Without an independent review of the facts, a confrontation before the committee between the accuser and Kavanaugh would degrade the hearings into a “he said/she said” session, much like the debacle of Anita Hill’s accusation of sexual misconduct by Justice Clarence Thomas in his 1991 hearings. That’s why Kavanaugh’s accuser has requested an FBI investigation, as well as asking that the committee hear witnesses testifying under oath about this alleged crime.

President Trump is the only one who can order an FBI investigation and he has refused to do that. Chuck Grassley is the only one who can call witnesses to testify before the committee and he has refused to do that. Apparently, the President and the Republican leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee believe that rape allegations aren’t pertinent to decisions about a lifetime appointment to the highest court in America.

The American people are left with the painfully obvious fact of partisan politics and self-serving actions being the only concerns of our Congress and President. Truth and integrity don’t matter, nor does what is best for our country.

The public approval of Congress is now at 17%; you do the math for the disapproval rating. Can you think of a reason why we would view these elected officials with such disdain?

I knew you could.

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Ed. note: I don’t want money (DON’T donate) or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people, so:

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

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Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Breaking Point, or

How Trump Successfully Diverted Attention From His Kidnapping of 3,000 Children

Reading time – 4:49;  Viewing time – 7:35  .  .  .

I’ve been pretty hard on Congressional Republicans in my recent posts, but I’m questioning if that’s still justified. Perhaps things are beginning to change, although Thomas Friedman doesn’t think so, nor does James Comey.

We’ve wondered over and over about which shameless Trump outrage would at last do him in; none has. Not the Access Hollywood grab brag; not the “nice people on both sides” Charlottesville racism; not the job-killing tariffs; not the attacks on our FBI and Justice Department; not his 6.5 lies per day; not the firing of James Comey specifically because Comey refused to truncate the FBI investigation into Russian hacking of our election and possible Trump campaign collusion; not the betrayal and abuse of Dreamers; not the attacks on our allies; not the kidnapping of children; no outrage has stopped the runaway Trump train. Now, though, I’m wondering afresh if we’ve reached a breaking point and I’m daring to be disappointed yet again.

Trump has consistently sided with Putin over our intelligence services regarding Russian hacking. Now, though, The New York Times is reporting that before the inauguration Trump was fully briefed by our top intelligence agencies leaders about Russian hacking and was even shown intercepted Russian military agent emails which show Putin himself was behind the entire effort to subvert our democracy. Still, Trump continues to refuse to forcefully lay the blame on Putin and punish him for his wrongdoing, much less take action to protect our 2018 election.

Is it possible that Congressional Republicans now have something in hand that is so not okay that they’ll stop being jellyfish? Well even some formerly silent Republicans are speaking out. You can read many of their comments here – it’s important that you have a look.

Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX) wrote an essay that you’ll want to read: He begins,

“Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the C.I.A., I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them”

Newt Gingrich is pushing back, however tepidly:

Even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is managing to counter the President and his refusal to accept the undisputed evidence of our intelligence community. Ryan said,

“They did interfere in our elections – it’s really clear,” Ryan told reporters in Washington. “There should be no doubt about that.”

“Not only did Russia meddle with our elections, they’re doing it around the world,” he said. “They did it to France. They did it to Moldova. They’re doing it to the Baltics. Russia is trying to undermine democracy itself, to delegitimize democracy, so for some reason they can look good by comparison.”

Shifting now to Democrats for one specific point  .  .  .

Having been Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton knows a thing or two about foreign affairs and has a question for Trump:

Great question. Which side do you think Trump plays for? And if you think it’s the USA, exactly what evidence can you offer to support your opinion? And, no, a MAGA hat doesn’t count. It’s just a hat.

If you’d like to revisit an accurate prediction of what national security would look like with Trump as President, have a look at this video from October 31, 2016 – at least watch 6 minutes starting about the 14-minute mark. You’ll find it an eerily and frighteningly precise description of what has happened since then. It’s not as though we weren’t warned.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is onto Trump’s cave-in to Putin and is poking at what is in the back of everyone’s mind:

Trump is making the world demonstrably more dangerous with his every insult and lie about our friends and allies and with every suck up to Putin, Kim Jong-un and Xi. He is isolating our country and destroying our protections. It is impossible now to avoid the key questions:

  1. What does the United States of America get out of Trump’s capitulation to Putin and his attacks on our friends? We have some answers to that question and they aren’t pretty.
  2. What does Trump himself get out of that? The answers to this question will illuminate all. Have a look at conservative Ross Douthat’s take on this.

If President Obama were selling out America the way Donald Trump is, can you imagine any Congressional Republican whose hair would not be on fire? The volume of the outrage would be deafening. The calls for impeachment and imprisonment would be continuous.

The thing is, in that scenario, the Republicans would be right. Their indignation would be justified. Their red, white and blue righteous fury would befit the wrongdoing.

But this isn’t Obama’s malfeasance; it’s Trump’s. So, where is the Republican hair-on-fire, the outrage, the indignation and righteous fury and the calls for impeachment and imprisonment? Perhaps they are starting, albeit slowly. Maybe we’re hearing the first crack of the breaking point.

The Republicans in Congress have both the power and the obligation to take action to stop this treachery, this betrayal of our country. Pray that Trump’s sell-out of the United States and all of western democracy is the breaking point for Republicans and that they at last stand up against Trump’s treason. Better yet, call them and demand that they do their job.

Trump’s deception, his double-dealing, his breach of faith and trust constitute a clear and present danger that threatens America. That is why over the past week you shifted your attention away from 3,000 kidnapped children; Trump is a master of distraction. Stay focused on democracy, because worse distraction is on the way and you may be tempted to forget Helsinki by next week. Don’t do it – for the sake of our democracy.

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    Ed. note: I don’t want money (DON’T donate) or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people, so:

    YOUR ACTION STEPS:

    1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
    2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all be better informed.

    Thanks!

Address to Congress, January 3, 2018

Reading time – 4:52; Viewing time – 7:07  .  .  .

Mr. President, colleagues, fellow citizens, I rise today to speak to the obvious. That I do so is grounded in the Confucian admonition, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.” Once so named, the resultant clarity may spawn wisdom.

If we take as most fundamental and do so in unanimous agreement, that we are here to act on behalf of and for the benefit of the American people, and if we use that understanding as the standard by which our actions are to be valued and judged, then it is possible – even likely – that we are falling far short of the mark and that we do so with frightening regularity. Such a condition implores us to identify and name the causes and then deal with them so that we do what we were sent here to do. That it is important that we do so can be substantiated by our approval ratings from the American people, which have languished at a disreputable level below 20% for most of the past two decades. It’s possible we’ve been missing something important.

In a recent report from the Congressional Management Foundation, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the working of Congress, they wrote that, “.  .  .  we  in Congress need to be much better able to absorb, organize and use knowledge to make laws and policy.” In other words, while living in this age of the avalanche of information, we are woefully deficient in knowledge and poorly skilled at using what little knowledge we have.

Colleagues, I’m confident you’ve experienced this deficit repeatedly and know from frustrating experience that your votes are all too often supported by ignorance and confusion. That isn’t particularly important when we are naming a new post office or agreeing unanimously that the hybridization of watermelons to be seedless has added mightily to the quality of life for all Americans. Yet there are times when we are dealing with issues of great substance and which will have enormous impact on our country and on our countrymen. In such times, ignorance and confusion have no place and serve only to ensure the least beneficial outcomes.

The impact of our ignorance is exacerbated by our own actions designed to protect ourselves, our position, our power and our wealth. We have enacted rules that ensure that predatory sexual behavior by one of our members can be hushed; that allow manipulation of Congressional districts to the benefit of incumbents, rather than that of constituents; that effectively permit one-party rule by declaring the reconciliation of a bill; and that allow leaders to prevent the filling of a Supreme Court vacancy for over a year in order to tilt the court.

Most recently we passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which may have been attractively named, but which was created and enacted in a most undemocratic fashion. I speak now primarily of the process, not to the substance of the bill; that has been examined in numerous exposés and found to fall somewhat short of the suggestion of the label affixed to it. Nevertheless, it is useful to unmask a few examples in order to find our way to a larger view.

Contrary to the claims boasted to our citizens, this bill is not the biggest tax reduction in U.S. history, nor is its design likely to benefit primarily our poor and working class Americans. Indeed, the over $1 trillion debt it will create will be will be summarily dumped upon the backs of our poor and working class, even as it enormously benefits our ultra-wealthy, all protestations in conflict with this notwithstanding. This bill is fundamentally regressive and unlikely to generate higher wages or more jobs for Americans, at least not in numbers remotely resembling those claimed by proponents. Furthermore, like much legislation, it contains provisions that have nothing whatsoever to do with tax reform, some of which greatly benefit many of our own members, but which impact Americans substantively and most often negatively. All of this is listed solely for the purpose of making obvious the question of how we in this deliberative body could have done this.

One answer to that important question lies in our process. This legislation was crafted in secret and by one political party only – everyone but Republican ideologues were excluded. There were no Democratic voices heard at all and few moderate Republican voices. There were no tax or economic or financial experts called upon to provide their wisdom and their calculations of the far reaching effects of this massive change. For the estimate of the impact of this legislation we were left to rely solely upon people largely ignorant of the complexities. So much for our having the necessary knowledge of the impact of what we were doing.

Perhaps as crippling as anything, there were no deliberations on the floor of either house of Congress. There were no open session hearings. There was only the cramming of a poorly considered law through the chinks in our system, this at 1:50AM on a Saturday when nobody was watching.

The entire process for creating this hugely consequential Act spanned only six weeks, the reason for which was the entirely valueless goals of meeting a timetable which was based on nothing more than a Presidential whim, along with gaining the opportunity to crow of having a “win” before the end of the year. The artificial deadline made careful deliberation impossible and that undermined and at last devastated any hope of focusing on benefit for the American people.

To summarize, our process guaranteed that we would be deficient in the knowledge required to create the vehicle most likely to engineer what is best for our people. Further, our rules and our process ensured that we in this august and hallowed hall, with the echoes of giants still reverberating in this chamber, succumbed to enhancing our own security, power and wealth, all to the detriment of our fellow citizens.

With the Confucian admonition in mind, the obvious has been stated and things have been appended with their proper names. It now falls to us to find the wisdom. The voices of our Founders ring through the centuries directly to us, with an unambiguous call that we find that wisdom and act in accord with it. Our people deserve no less and it is our duty to do far more.

Mr. President, I yield the remainder of my time.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we’re on a path to continually fail to make things better. It’s my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!) and engage.  Thanks!

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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