Thursday, June 1, 2017

Potomac Dream

I've dreamed of the future since elementary school. For the record, it's a useless talent. When your days tend to blur together, dreaming of the future normally amounts to a faint sense of déjà vu when real life catches up to the dream. (This is not uncommon.)

Dreams are fleeting things, experiences that fade in the light of the morning sun. But a recent dream rather seared itself onto my consciousness.

I sat next to a bridge in Washington, D.C. on the edge of the Potomac. The ground was green with grass. A podium was set up with the river behind it, early in the morning. It's Inauguration Day.

I sat in the second row of a children's choir. I was full-grown so I have no idea why. Richard Nixon was sitting next to me. I knew it was 2017 and Nixon looked as old as he would have been if he'd lived this long.

The Rock got up to speak, and went on a rant about the evils of Obamacare. (Is Dwayne Johnson a conservative? Has he spoken on the ACA? I have no idea.) I saw Paul Ryan standing in the background. His eyes were a pure black, save for yellow pinprick pupils.

The Rock finished speaking and Nixon stood up to accept the Presidency. He turned to me then, and shook his head before he walked to the podium. He spoke for a bit, stated that he was resigning effective immediately, and walked away. Then I woke up filled with a certainty that Donald Trump would not finish out his term.

I'm not a skilled oneiromancer and, let's face it, this is all probably conjecture based on a bad Chipotle dinner. But this was a couple months before the Rock started joking about politics, and I don't trust Paul Ryan one bit. There's some new bit of nastiness coming from that man, mark my words.

But the main thing is it was a hopeful dream, in its way, and hope is a precious thing. Maybe it'll amount of nothing. But maybe, just this once, the tide will end up sweeping the big monster away before it can do too much damage.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

On The Firing of James Comey

Current mood: Makoto Niijima

I didn't plan to resurrect this blog for a political post, but I need a place to go over the last 48 hours in long form so I can get all the madness straight in my head.

Yesterday President Trump started his day by demanding Congress ask Sally Yates, under oath, how classified information was leaked to the press after she discussed it with White House counsel (sic). He did this with both his personal and official POTUS Twitter accounts, after reported attempts by his staff to pressure the Senate to cancel her appearance before a judiciary subcommittee. Trump’s tweets alone could be considered tampering with a federal witness testifying against him.

Sally Yates did testify and confirmed that she warned the Trump administration that Michael Flynn, who was Trump’s national security adviser, was lying to them about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador and that he could be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government. In short, he was compromised.

A report by NBC News the same day revealed that President Obama had also personally warned Donald Trump not to hire Michael Flynn. President Obama had previously fired Flynn from his post as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Former DNI James Clapper also testified before the Senate on Monday, and stated he was unaware of the FBI’a investigation into contacts between Donald Trump and the Russian government during the 2016 election. His prior statement that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russian government was rendered invalid. Despite that, President Trump repeatedly asserted Monday that Clapper testified again that there was no evidence of collusion. This was a lie.

Republicans on the subcommittee did not concern themselves with the fact that the Trump administration was directly warned that Flynn was compromised and refused to fire him for two weeks, and only after this fact was revealed to the press. Instead they questioned Ms. Yates on the leaks that led to Michael Flynn being fired, and her refusal to defend Trump’s travel ban as acting Attorney General, for which she was removed from her post. Ms. Yates acquitted herself well.

That was Monday. Today, Tuesday, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation.

He did so on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had previously recused himself from the Trump-Russia investigation because of his own ties to the Trump campaign and conversations with the Russian Ambassador. Today he recommended firing the man leading the Trump-Russia investigation, an act that has almost no precedent in American history. (The last FBI director to be fired was fired for multiple ethics violations, and was the first FBI Director to be fired in U.S. history.)

President Trump claims Comey was fired* because of his aggressive handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails, an action he previously claimed was being "soft" on Clinton and which he had previously praised Comey for.

What it actually looks like is that President Trump, after attempting to quash Ms. Yates’s testimony, is firing Director Comey to replace him with a surrogate who will end the Trump-Russia investigation. This amid breaking reports that grand jury subpoenas have been issued regarding Michael Flynn's business records, and with Director Comey scheduled to testify in a closed session of Congress on Thursday.

This sort of thing has happened before.

Trump's actions today are a blatantly impeachable offense, the latest in a long list of offenses against decency, honesty, and reason by the Trump administration. This is an unacceptable abuse of the President’s power, and it must end.

I will be calling my Senators and my Congressman tomorrow morning to request the following:

1. That they demand an independent commission to investigate President Trump's ties to Russia.

2. That they refuse to confirm any nominee to replace Director Comey who will not pledge to recuse themselves from the Trump-Russia investigation and appoint an independent investigator to complete it.

3. That they demand the immediate resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for violating his recusal and interfering with the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign.

4. That they draw up articles of impeachment against President Trump for interfering in an ongoing investigation into his own campaign.

I strongly encourage all those reading this to do the same, and to continue to pressure Congress to act until we no longer have an Administration that abuses its power at every turn for its own benefit. As much as this was ever a question of party, President Trump has pushed us beyond that point today. He must be held to account.

This is going to get worse before it gets better. But we have to keep working to make sure that it does get better.

One day, if we don't weaken.

*Fox News reports Comey resigned, which he obviously did not. Thank you Fox News.

Monday, January 2, 2017

GOP Pigs At The Trough

Tonight Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R, VA) introduced an amendment to the House rules package that moves the Office of Congressional Ethics under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee. That means:

1. The Office of Congressional Ethics, now the Office of Congressional Complaint Review, is no longer a bipartisan, independent office. It is under GOP control.

2. The Office can no longer investigate anonymous tips against lawmakers.

3. The Office can no longer disclose any of its findings to the public or other government entities.

The Republican conference passed the amendment 119 to 74. It will be voted on by the full House tomorrow as part of the Rules package. It will pass.

It's not even the first day of this Congress, Trump is not even in office, and the GOP are already acting like pigs at a trough. If you agree this is a problem, give Rep. Goodlatte a call at (202) 225-5431, and maybe call Speaker Ryan at (202) 225-3031 and your own Representative, and let them know how you feel.