WHY I SIGNED THE HISTORIANS’ STATEMENT ON THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP By SEAN MUNGER

SIGNING THE IMPEACHMENT STATEMENT – SEAN MUNGER

This week I was asked by a professional contact in the history community to add my name to this statement, called the Historians’ Statement on the Impeachment of President Trump. It was an easy call for me to do so. But, as has become evident over the last few days, this statement was much more than just another “online petition.” The historians who have signed this statement, now more than 2,000 of them, have had a measurable impact on the events that occurred in Washington, D.C. this week. Indeed, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referenced the statement in her floor speech beginning debate on the impeachment of Trump. As you know, the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. We historians have joined numerous other professionals whose expertise is relevant to the impeachment process, such as Constitutional legal scholars and public prosecutors, in stating that impeachment is warranted under the standards of the Constitution.

Some of the historians I joined in signing include Ken Burns (documentary historian), Robert Caro (biographer of LBJ), Ron Chernow (author of the biography of Alexander Hamilton that was the basis of the Broadway musical), John Fea (fellow history podcaster and author of the wonderful Way of Improvement Leads Home blog), Alan Taylor (Pulitzer Prize-winning historian), Matthew Dennis (my former academic advisor), and many, many more.

While the statement speaks for itself, I thought I would add a few words to explain why I signed it.

I marched in favor of women’s rights and solidarity on the day after President Trump was inaugurated in 2017. That action was political. My signing of the Historians’ Statement goes beyond politics.

Reason one: Trump’s actions are unquestionably impeachable.

The Constitution’s standard for impeachment is deliberately vague: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The fact that it’s vague doesn’t mean it’s always difficult to tell when the standard has been reached. The impeachment inquiry has proven beyond all doubt that Trump committed bribery by conditioning aid to the government of Ukraine on their investigation of the Biden family. That’s bribery. As for other “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” it seems difficult to argue that this standard hasn’t been reached either. If we could go back in time to the stuffy room in Philadelphia where the Founders met in the summer of 1787 to create the Constitution and give them the example of Trump’s actions, it’s abundantly clear that they would agree, probably to a man, that this is the kind of behavior they had in mind when they wrote the impeachment clause. The evidence is uncontroverted. I say that both as a historian and as a lawyer.

Reason two: The Constitution and its processes must be protected.

America was created with the notion that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Flawed, yes; imperfect, yes; subject to change in interpretation by future generations who are entrusted with it, certainly. But some things about it are absolute. If the Constitution’s standard for a President’s removal from office is reached, not taking the Constitutionally-required action to set that process in motion does violence to the primacy of the Constitution and its principles. Letting Trump’s unconscionable behavior slide, giving it a pass, is itself an affront to the Constitution and everything it stands for.

The action of impeachment entails considerable political risk. While it’s true that I voted for the other lady (you know, the one who got more votes than Trump did), I’m certainly not happy with the idea that, if Trump were to be convicted, his successor would be Mike Pence, a man whose bedrock principle is that I, as a member of the LGBT community, do not deserve basic human and civil rights, and once in office he’ll likely mobilize the power of the government to strip me of those rights–because he’s done it before. But that’s a political calculation. The risk to the Constitution in turning a blind eye to Trump’s crimes transcends politics, and it should. That’s what the primacy of the Constitution means.

The men who met in this room in the summer of 1787 believed they were serving principles larger than themselves. I think we have to honor that commitment, however imperfect the Constitution was (and still is).

Reason three: Trump must be taught that his wrong actions have consequences.

Even if the Senate takes the cowardly way out and does not convict him, the impeachment of Trump has considerable value on its own. One of them is to teach him something he apparently hasn’t learned during his nearly two years in office: he can’t just do anything he wants, and his bad actions have consequences. Apparently, he has learned that lesson. There is a report out of the White House this week that Trump was surprised, astonished and furious that he was impeached, and that he’s gone through violent mood swings as a result. Indeed, an aide is quoted as saying, “He’s very angry. It’s made a deep impression.” Trump is a man impervious to facts (such as the proven scientific reality of human-caused climate change) and incapable of empathy (such as when he ordered children to be placed in concentration camps). But if impeachment can get through to him on such a deep level, and tell him that his actions will receive push-back, from the Constitution if from no other source, then the impeachment is worth it on that score alone.

Reason four: Historical precedent shows impeachment has the effect of reining in a wayward President’s actions.

If you look back at the two Presidents who have previously been impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, you’ll see that, although neither was removed from office, impeachment had a profound effect on both of them: they took care to stop doing the actions that got them impeached in the first place. Andrew Johnson, in particular, was every bit as pugnacious and defiant about his impeachment as Trump is about his own. Yet, after the impeachment and Senate trial in May 1868, Johnson suddenly went quiet: he stopped trying to interfere with Congress’s power over Reconstruction and he took no significant action for the rest of his term.

Clinton, similarly, toned down his act in his last two years in office. And you can bet that, at long last, for once in his life, he stopped running around with young women and lying about it. Both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were/are deeply flawed men who did monstrous things. But impeachment did put brakes on their reckless behavior. Even as defiant and vengeful as Trump is, I seriously doubt he’ll ever call up a head of state and ask them to interfere in our elections again. There’s no telling what other more subtle effects it will have that can serve the public good.

Andrew Johnson was, like Trump, a racist man, a white supremacist, and deeply incompetent at his job as President of the United States. But, his impeachment in 1868 did have an effect on his behavior.

I don’t like to see our Constitutional system tested and tarnished by the actions of President Trump. Our government has many important things that it could be doing right now, like taking immediate and drastic action on climate change. But the Constitution must be protected, and sometimes its enemies are within the walls rather than without.

I stand by the Historians’ statement. I only hope it’s not too late for our republic to be saved from the damage being done to it by self-serving people like Donald J. Trump.

All images in this article were either taken by me or are in the public domain.

Please check out Sean’s blog at: https://seanmunger.com/

DAMN, I’M TIRED OF BEING RIGHT ALL THE TIME – BY TOM CURLEY

OK, this is becoming a series. I’ve been having a problem coming up with posts lately because every time I want to write a post about what’s going on in the news I realize I already wrote about it a year ago. Or two years ago. It happened again today.

Bob Woodward’s book “Fear” is coming out. It’s about the Trump White House.

It documents how the staff literally took documents off his desk so he wouldn’t sign them and do things like START WORLD WAR III!!!!

When they did, the prez forgot they had been on his desk at all. Basically, if they could distract him for five minutes, he’d forget what he was talking about or doing.  What does this have to do with me?

I wrote a JOKE BLOG about this over a year ago!!! Here it is.


M.A.D, MADMEN, AND THE FIVE MINUTE RULE
By Tom Curley

The talk this week is that our “So-called President” is insane has ramped up to 11 out of 10.

It’s all anyone in the news can talk about. The biggest worry, of course, is that this nut-job has access to the nuclear codes and could start a war in under five minutes. During the cold war, the US and Russia and China operated under the idea of M.A.D., aka “Mutually Assured Destruction.”

Nobody considered what would happen if an actual Madman was President.

Everybody says nobody can stop him. That’s not quite true.

During the Nixon administration, towards the end, with Nixon drinking a lot and freaking out over Watergate, the Chief of Staff quietly put out an order. If the President ordered a nuclear strike or for that matter, any military strike check with him or the Secretary of Defense first. It was illegal, but they did it anyway.

They were right.

Maybe the current Chief of Staff (right now, it’s John Kelly, but hell, that could change next week) might be doing the same thing. We don’t know.

But I have a couple of other ideas that might also work, a couple of options to get around the “I’m bored and in a bad mood. Let’s start a nuclear war” scenario.

Option One:

In order to start a nuclear war, he has to get the nuclear codes. They are in a briefcase called “The Nuclear Football”.  An aide, whose sole job is to carry “The Football” around, has to bring it to him.

Here’s how it would go.

SCROTUS: I’m in a bad mood! I want to start a nuclear war! Bring me the nuclear football.

AIDE: Here you go, sir.

SCROTUS: Hey, it’s locked!

AIDE: Yes sir. You have to unlock it.

SCROTUS: I do? What’s the combination?

AIDE: I don’t know sir. You were supposed to reset it when you took office. President Obama was supposed to tell you that when he left office.

SCROTUS: I knew it! This is Obama’s fault!

AIDE: Well I guess we can’t start a nuclear war today sir.

SCROTUS: No wait! Try 123!

AIDE: Nope, doesn’t work.

SCROTUS: 000?

AIDE: Nope.

SCROTUS: 111?

AIDE: Uhh …. Nope.

Now the reason that his can work is because of “The Five Minute Rule.” He only has an attention span of about five minutes. After that, he gets bored or forgets what he was talking about and moves on to something else. Usually watching Fox News.

Five minutes later.

SCROTUS: I’m bored. What were we talking about?

AIDE: We were talking about how much “Fox and Friends” loves you, sir.

SCROTUS: Yea! Let’s watch TV!

Or …

Option 2: 

When he wants to start a nuclear war, we bring him an actual football.

SCROTUS: I’m bored! Let’s start a nuclear war! I want to bomb Rosie O’Donnell! Bring me the nuclear football!

AIDE: Here you go, sir.

SCROTUS: What’s this?

AIDE: It’s “The Nuclear Football” sir.

SCROTUS: It is? It looks like a real football.

AIDE: It is a real football, sir. Just nuclear.

SCROTUS: How do I use it?

AIDE: You just go outside and shout out the name of the country or person you want to bomb and then you just throw that football as hard as you can.

SCROTUS: It’s that easy?

AIDE: Yup.

SCROTUS goes outside, yells “Fuck Rosie O’Donnell and throws the football. A secret service agent catches it and runs away shouting “Rosie O’Donnell sucks!” and returns the football to the Chief of Staff’s office and puts it in the bin with all the other footballs — and the actual combination to the real “football.”

By now, about five minutes has gone by and the aide turns on Fox News.

Crazy you say? I agree. But when you’re dealing with crazy, you have to think crazy.

 

BECOMING A POLITICAL PESSIMIST – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I used to look forward to reading the news. I know it sounds crazy, but every day I looked forward to reading about another advance in the Mueller investigation. It seemed to be moving inexorably toward its ultimate goal – the exposure of the crimes of Trump, his campaign and his family.

In my fantasy world, there would be a day of reckoning. Trump would be forced to resign or would be impeached. We’d get to watch all the shady characters around Trump get their comeuppance. Justice and the rule of law would be restored. And all this before the 2018 midterm elections!

Mueller is my only hope that something so cataclysmic will be revealed that even the soulless, spineless, amoral Republicans will throw up their hands and say “This is enough! We’re out!”

Unfortunately, my fantasy world is crumbling around me. The forces of evil seem to be winning – or at least not losing. Instead of anticipating exciting news from Mueller’s probe every day, I dread the day I’m going to read that Ron Rosenstein has been fired and that the Mueller investigation has been terminated. I know it’s coming. It’s just a question of when and how.

Once Mueller is gone, I’ll have nothing positive to look forward to politically except the 2018 elections. And they are too far away to get my blood boiling yet. Without my daily dose of hope from Mueller, I have nothing to blunt the impact of three and a half more years of a Trump Presidency. That is truly depressing.

I also don’t put too much hope for salvation on the upcoming elections. Even if the Democrats win the House of Representatives in November, they can impeach but they can’t convict and remove Trump from office. Only the Senate can do that with 67 votes – way more than the Democrats can even dream of winning.

So, barring a thunderbolt from Mueller, and soon, I can’t foresee anything keeping Trump from serving out his full term. And the damage he can do in three and a half more years is mind blowing!I feel for the country and fear for our democracy. I cringe at the thought of what this country will look like after four full years of a Trump Presidency.

I’m also selfish. How will I get through each day of Trump without a total moral and emotional breakdown? What will I cling to each day to get me through to the next? I can try to avoid the news. But for me, that can only last for a few days. I’m addicted and so is my husband. He’s even worse than I am.

Maybe after November, it will be enough for me to watch a Democratic House pummel Trump and renew criminal investigations into him and his merry band. Maybe that will be enough to keep me sane. Maybe it will be gratifying enough to watch the inevitable decline of the Republican Party. Maybe that will keep my spirits up.

Maybe watching Trump squirm under a Democratic thumb will brighten my days.

Who knows what will have happened by the time November rolls around? I pray it will be something with which I can maintain my equilibrium until the next national election.

THE SADNESS OF HUMOR – 2017

2017 was big with late night comics, but depressing to real people. Like us.

We laughed because comics are funny, but we weren’t really laughing. Wrapped around the humor was the realization we weren’t going to get out of this mess for years to come. Like — three years — if we do it right. Please, let us do it right!Remember way back in 2016 when Clinton said, “Look, I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald.” She was lying. I knew it. You knew it. I suppose it was the best she could do. She still thought she had to be polite.

We have all learned otherwise in the year since. His children are as awful as he is, though mostly they have a better education … yet they stayed surprisingly stupid. I didn’t know you could get that much education and remain so stupid.

In 2016, I could think about the high points of the year. I don’t believe there were any high points in 2017, except that Roy Moore wasn’t elected to the senate. Otherwise, it’s been a down and dirty year with another one on the way. I’m trying to feel better about it. If we beat the crap out of them in 2018, I might begin to breathe.

Not only does history come around again, but so do cartoons

But here’s a link that brought tears to my eyes. It a video of dreams, our hopes for the future. Check it out. It’s better with music.

This year may turn out to be hilarious at some point in the future, when the world has gone around the sun a few more times.  Maybe very funny. If I live long enough, it’ll be ROTFL for me and mine.

But not yet. My sense of humor needs an attitude adjustment.

PARDON YOU, PARDON THEM, PARDON ALL

So suddenly, I thought to myself:

“Hey. If Trump wants a pardon and if in return, he will resign forthwith and go away forever … might that not be worth it? There would still be a whole administration to prosecute and since Trump doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone but himself, the Feds will get a free pass at everyone who isn’t Trump, right?”

Then, I thought some more. Maybe we could get the same deal for the whole mess of them. Offer everyone a pardon if they pinky promise to resign and guarantee they will slink off into the quicksand. They are forbidden to involve themselves in politics on any level other than voting. No television, talk shows, or “tell all” books. They would have to promise to effectively vanish from the public view — never to be seen by us in any format, wide or narrow screen.

After which, we could then have a “do-over,” politically speaking.

I used to dream about travel. Now I dream of a sane political system. How times change!

Bill Day / Cagle Cartoons

Isn’t that a great idea? That they would go away and never come back? I could live with that. In fact, it would make me very happy. I don’t have any idea if it is legal — or possible in any way — but I need my dreams.

It’s just a thought. In case you were wondering what I was thinking.

IT’S A CRAZY IDEA! BUT IT JUST MIGHT WORK – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m not the first person to notice  or comment on this, but  60 to 70 percent of Americans have been going thru the 5 Stages Of Grief after the election of, well, you know who.

freep.com

A few are still in Stage One, Denial. A lot are still in Stage Two, Anger. Most still seem to be stuck in Stage Three, Bargaining. Particularly the press. “Pivoting” and becoming “Presidential” are daily talking points.

youtube.com

youtube.com

Many have reached Stage Four, Depression. A few have made it to Stage Five, Acceptance.  Now as any grief counselor will tell you, people go through these stages at different times and some go through some stages but not all.  For example, I’ve gone through the first four but I can’t get to the fifth. Unless disgust counts as acceptance.

handheldpyrometer.com

handheldpyrometer.com

But here’s the thing.

No matter what stage of grief you are currently in, or whether you will go through all of them or just a few …

THIS GUY IS STILL GOING TO BE

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!!

capitolhillblue.com

capitolhillblue.com

THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, what are we going to do about it?

business2community.com

business2community.com

We don’t have a lot of options, but one of our best options is the hope that he does nothing.

By which I mean NOTHING.

Nothing that’s Presidential, like “Running the Country” kind of stuff. Believe it or not, the government would survive.  If you’ve ever worked for a large corporation you know that if the CEO goes on vacation for a month the company still runs just fine. Sometimes even better.

The US government is a huge company and like any giant ship of state, it has a lot of inertia.

Our Ship of State (titanicstory.com)

Most government workers have worked there for decades. Their bosses come and go every four years, but they stay. They know what to do. George W Bush took 407 days of vacation during his two terms. That is one year, one month and 12 days of vacation for an 8-year job.  Looking back, would it have been so bad if he had taken even more time off?

crewof42.com

crewof42.com

So the problem becomes how do we prevent the new President from doing any “Running the Country” kind of stuff? In this case I don’t think it will be too hard. We, the American People need to KEEP HIM BUSY!

nytimes.com

nytimes.com

Think about it. For the first time ever, because of Twitter, a single individual can directly interact with the President of the United States and actually get his attention! He responds with amazing consistency. He must fight back over any “Mean Tweet”. “Mean Tweets” have occupied him from a few days to more than a week or so at a time.

youtube.com

youtube.com

So, we have to come up with “Mean Tweets.” Tweets that will cause him to retaliate.

Here’s an example:

@HeyLookOverHere! Hey Mister President! Why are your feet so small?! Why is nobody talking? Has the cover-up already started? SAD! #TinyPedaledPOTUS  #TeenyFeetInChief #TenLittleTinyPiggies

smosh.com

smosh.com

I checked this out on Snopes.com and it’s actually true!

There’s been  lots of talk and jokes made about the size of the New Commander In Chief’s hands.  But why has nobody noticed or mentioned his feet?  Turns out, they’re not that big! Proportional to the rest of his body, his feet are tiny!  According to the scales and tables set up by the “American Association of Podiatry Advisory and Measurements Board,” the President-elect’s feet are “… between 20 and 28 percent smaller than they should be for a person of his height.”

triloquist.net

triloquist.net

And people are starting to notice. People are saying they’ve heard that he buys shoes that are too big and stuffs them with paper ripped from the Wall Street Journal.

thefineyounggentleman.com

thefineyounggentleman.com

That should occupy him for a day or two. We have to all help by re-tweeting each week’s “Mean Tweet”. The more people that re-tweet a “Mean Tweet,” the more the President will notice. He pays close attention to this stuff!

politicususa.com

politicususa.com

It’s even better if the press picks up the “Mean Tweet”. That almost guarantees a rapid response from the Oval Office.

We all must work together! Organize! Come up with a schedule!! That’s the most important part. A schedule! We have  to keep him busy for four years.

purepursuitauto.com

purepursuitauto.com

But we’re Americans! We can do it!

We don’t have to stop at Twitter. Get him involved with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat,

isys6621.com

isys6621.com

My Space!  (OK that last one’s a joke for the old folks. The ones older than 20)

This is how the next four years have to go.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Sir, the Ambassador from (fill in the blank) is here.

PRESIDENT: Leave me alone! I’m trying to pick the right default Instagram filter for all pictures of me!

coolmaterial.com

coolmaterial.com

So again:  It’s a crazy plan, but it just might work!! And remember, any article or email or post you receive that starts with the statement: “I checked this on Snopes.com and it’s true”  … ISN’T!

I obviously made up the story about his feet. But that’s no reason not to re-tweet it. Twitter has been his secret weapon and he’s been using it well. It can also be his kryptonite.

On a separate note, I’m sort of proud that I could write this whole blog without once actually typing the name Donald Trump.

 

pinterest.com

pinterest.com

Crap.

BE NICE. STOP FIGHTING. FIX THE WORLD.

What’s wrong with this picture? Other than you know … that face. When I found this on Facebook, it gave me pause for thought.

trump-division-facebook

I am not a fan of Trump. However much I dislike his politics and pretty much everything he stands for, he is not why we this country is divided. We were divided long before Trump. Basically, this country has been divided to one degree or another — usually more rather than less — for our entire history. What Donald Trump did was successfully parlay our existing divisions into his victory. He used our prejudices, bigotry, hatred, distrust and willingness to believe the worst of others — and turned it into political capital.

We let him win. Collectively. We allowed this to happen. 

Trump did not create the divisions. We did that ourselves by allowing partisanship to infiltrate every aspect of American life. Trump is the payback and our punishment. Karma is a bitch.

We should think about this. If we want a less divisive political system, what do we need to do to achieve that? If we want to live in a less angry society, how can we make that happen?

dwight-david-eisenhower-quote-i-do-not-believe-that-any-politicalWe might start by being nicer to each other. We can be civil, kind, polite, and friendly. Personally and online. It might catch on and become a trend. Obviously, it’s not a panacea. It can’t fix what’s wrong with the world, but it’s a start. Baby steps.

Next, it’s time to start letting go of old grudges, philosophical differences, and meaningless principles. We don’t only fight with “the enemy.” We constantly fight with each other over all kinds of nonsense.

It’s reminiscent of the battles within anti-establishment groups of the 1960s. Wrangling about every stupid little thing splintered us. Groups which should have been pooling resources could not let go of petty differences. Today, either no one can remember what the fighting was about … or it seems so trivial, it’s hard to believe anyone cared.

It’s Big Picture time. We need to define common ground — not our differences. Because there will always be differences. If we let our division define us rather than the stuff we have in common, we will never win.

Living in Israel, where government is via a parliamentary system, I always wondered how the religious right got what they wanted while the rest of us — center to left liberal majority and not a small majority but a huge one — seemed to not count, even though we vastly outnumbered the right. The answer was simple. Obvious. They stuck together presenting a solid wall. Whereas what the rest of us had in common was not being them. To effectively work as a power bloc, you have to find the core issues, the stuff that really matters to everyone — and let the rest go. Otherwise, we will lose. Again.

WHY TERM LIMITS ARE A TERRIBLE IDEA — AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN

I keep reading the same crap. Why is this so hard to understand?

So you believe term-limits will solve our political problems. Why would you think that? Are “old timers” in congress the big problem — as opposed to the bloated egos and narrow minds of those you voted for? How about those inexperienced, right-wing religious nutters? The Tea Party crowd? They were recently elected , have no understanding of how government works, and care nothing for the American people. Look how much they’ve fixed everything. Yeah, that went well.

Exactly what problem do you think you solve by making terms shorter? Will that attract a better quality of candidates for office? Will it convince people to vote for better candidates? Doesn’t this past presidential election prove that people will vote for a bad candidate even when all logic and reason should tell them he or she will not to serve their interests?

So you believe we will get better government if no one in congress gets to stay for a long time. Why would inexperience result in better government? Would you choose an inexperienced surgeon? A lawyer fresh out of law school? A barber who has never cut any hair? In what field do we prefer raw recruits to proven veterans?

Oh, right, the presidency. How’s that working for you?

Why do you want amateurs making your laws?


Our founding fathers specifically excluded term limits. Their experience under the Articles of Confederation (the document that preceded the Constitution) showed them good people are not interested in temp jobs for lousy pay in a distant city. Those elected to office walked away from their positions — or never took them up in the first place. There was no future in it.

When the Constitution was drawn, its authors wanted to tempt the best and the brightest to government service. They wanted candidates who would make it a career. They weren’t interested in amateurs and parvenus. The business of governing a nation has a learning curve. It takes years to get the hang of how things work, how a law gets written. How to reach across the aisle and get the opposition to participate.

The Articles of Confederation contained exactly the ideas people are promulgating today. They failed. Miserably. Do we need to learn the same lesson again?

The absence of term limits in the Constitution is not an oversight. The writers of the Constitution thought long and hard about this problem.

A little more history


Under the Articles of Confederation, our country fell apart. Elected representatives came to the capital (New York), hung around awhile, then went home. Why stay? The job had no future and their salaries didn’t pay enough to cover their costs, much less support families.

Term limits were soundly rejected at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. They were right. The Constitution’s aims to get professionals into government.

Term limits remove any hope of building a career in government. It becomes a very hard temp job with no future.

Myth Busting 101: Congress isn’t overpaid


Maybe they are paid more than you and me, but compared to what they could be earning elsewhere, they are paid poorly. What you cry? How can that be?

Most members of congress are lawyers. The 2011-2012 salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate was $174,000 per year. A third year associate at a good law firm will do that well and after six to twelve years (1 – 2 senate terms), a competent attorney in a good market makes much more.

Senators and representatives have to maintain two residences, one in their native state, the other in DC. If you think $174,000 will support two houses and send the kids to college, you are living in a fantasy world. Which is why many members of congress have other income streams.

Curiously, our Founding Fathers expected congressmen, especially senators, to be men of means. They felt only wealthy people would be able to afford government service. And they would be less susceptible to bribery. On the whole, they were right. What they didn’t foresee was how many kinds of corruption would be available. Bribery is the least of our problems.

Skill and experience count


Writing a law that can stand up to scrutiny by the courts and other members of congress takes years. You don’t waltz in from Anywhere, USA and start writing laws. Moreover, great legislators are rare in any generation. A sane electorate doesn’t throw them away.

We are not suffering from an entrenched group of old-time pols stopping the legislative process. We are suffering a dearth of old guard, the folks who understand how to work with the opposition to make the process work. It’s the newly elected morons who are stopping progress. Sadly, our experienced old-timers got old and retired. Or died. They have been replaced by imbeciles.

Above and beyond the skill it take to write legislation, it takes even longer to gain seniority and peer respect. Frank Capra notwithstanding, Mr. Smith doesn’t go to Washington and accomplish miracles. Newly elected congresspeople hope to build a career in politics. With luck, one or two of them will become a great legislator, a Tip O’Neill, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Bob DoleTed Kennedy or another of the giants. Anyone you name connected to important legislation was a multi (many) term representative or senator.

Term limits eliminate all chance of having great legislators


Term limits guarantee a bunch of amateurs — or worse — fumbling their way around congress. As soon as they figure out where the toilets are and get reasonably good at their jobs, they’ll be gone. Does that make sense? Really?

Garry and Tip O’Neill

If you think your congressman or senator is doing a crappy job, replace him or her with someone you believe will do better.

If you don’t elect them, they won’t be in congress


We have term limits. These are called elections. Throw the bums out. Vote for the other guy. Term limits were an awful idea in 1788 and they haven’t improved with time. You only have to watch the news once or twice to see how our wonderful, inexperienced government is doing. If that doesn’t argue against the treasured (but stupid) belief that what Washington DC needs are outsides, I don’t know what will convince you. Assuming we survive 45s reign, we will desperately need intelligent, knowledgeable people to set America back on course.

We don’t need term limits. We need better candidates. We need men and women willing to learn the craft, who have ideas and can work with each other and other nations to get America’s business done. Our government does not rest on the Presidency. It rests on 435 congressmen and 100 senators.

The President isn’t supposed to run the country


Congress writes legislation and votes it into law. Ultimately, it’s you, me, our friends and neighbors who choose the people to make laws, pass budgets, approve cabinet members and Supreme Court justices.

Whatever is wrong with Congress, it’s OUR fault


The 535 members of congress are chosen by us and if you don’t like one, don’t vote for him or her. If someone gets re-elected over and over, you have to figure that a lot of people vote for that candidate. You may not like him, but other people do. That’s what elections are about. It doesn’t necessarily work out the way you want, but changing the rules won’t solve the problems. Make the job more — not less — attractive so better people will want to go into government. Otherwise, you’re creating a job no one will want.

It’s close to that already. Mention going into politics to an ambitious young person. Watch him or her recoil in horror.

Ultimately, it’s all about America. Partisanship, special interests, regional issues, party politics and personal agendas need to take a back seat to the good of the nation … and we need to agree what that means, at least in broad strokes. Term limits won’t fix the problem, because that’s not what’s broken.

We have mid-term elections in 2018. You want term limits? Vote the morons out of office.


Vote for people who believe the good of the country is more important than their personal agenda. Vote for intelligent people who understand about compromise, who have an understanding of law, justice, and believe in the constitution. That will produce change in a hurry.

You’re ALL out of order! Historically speaking.

MAD-Magazine-Anthony-Weiners-BackMy husband is astounded the people of New York could really seriously consider electing Anthony “The Peter Tweeter” Weiner. How can people be so dumb? Of course he knows the answer. He’s just in denial.

I reminded him how the good citizens of Washington DC elected Marion Barry, Jr. multiple times, even after he was arrested, convicted and served time for cocaine. And he’s by no means the only known criminal to be elected after being convicted and serving time. Sex scandals, corruption, bribery, extortion, armed robbery, witness intimidation, drugs, embezzlement, murder. You name a crime and we, the American people have elected someone who committed it. Was known to have committed it. Was convicted in a court of law for committing it. And we elected them anyway, frequently more than once.

And then we have the gall to complain about the poor quality of our elected representatives? And demand term limits?

We have term limits. They are called elections. If you don’t want them, don’t elect them. It’s not as if foreigners sneak over the border and vote for their own candidate. We nominate and elect them. It isn’t the Russians, the Pakistanis or the Mexicans. It’s us. And we keep doing it. If ever a nation has the politicians it deserves, it’s the USA.

It’s funny, if you’ve got the right kind of sense of humor. The Hall of Shame list is broken down by presidency, governmental branch and by scandal, many of which have cool names that resound through history. Watergate. Teapot Dome. Iran-Contra. Koreagate. Only the juiciest scandals get really good names.

The number of indictments does not represent the number of crimes. It just shows who got caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Keep in mind many people convicted under one administration were actually appointed or elected during (or by) preceding administrations. They just didn’t get nailed until years later.

nyh-08-09-1974

My vote for top scandal of my lifetime: Watergate. I doubt I will live to see anything that can touch it for sheer bizarre excitement. Watching it unfold was a total reality show immersion experience. Nowadays, they try to create reality, but that was reality. Everyday, some totally weird new stuff showed up on TV. I used to carry a transistor radio with me so I wouldn’t have to miss the daily hearings. (Note: Transistor radios were predecessors of computers. You turned them on and live sound came out, but no pictures.) I turned on the TV as soon as I got home to watch the day’s events unfold. Crazy stuff! The best live continuing series ever.

I can’t believe I’m waxing nostalgic for great scandals of the past. With all the hoopla during the Clinton and Bush administrations, nothing matched Watergate. But that was just the big one in my lifetime. Historically, although there was no electronic media to cover the event, the biggest government scandal in American history? Take a guess. Let’s not always see the same hands.

It was the Whiskey Ring scandal. It took place during the massively corrupt administration of President Ulysses S. Grant’s (R) and involved whiskey taxes, bribery and kickbacks. It ended in 1875 with 110 convictions. That’s the record, folks. Hopefully, it will never be matched, much less beaten.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

Most crimes, serious or minor, were punished by slaps on the wrist. A couple of months, a small fine, probation or community service, most of which was made to “disappear” by a pardon from the next occupant of the Oval Office. Without regard for party affiliation.

In case you are detail-oriented, I put together a list of most of the elected and appointed officials on the Federal level who were convicted while holding office. It’s in a separate post, The American Hall of Shame. Originally part of this post, it was huge, so I gave it its own space. Wow, eh?

More than a few of the people who were convicted of crimes while in office were subsequently re-elected, some while still serving time. The list goes all the back to … well … George Washington. It doesn’t start to get really intense until the Reagan administration, not because there weren’t many criminals, but the because officials were virtually untouchable for many years. Everybody knew they were criminals, but no one was willing to point a finger.

Somebody might cut that finger right off. No, really.

See The American Hall of Shame for delicious details of the America’s elected and appointed criminals and scandals. History can be fun!

 

We live in a nation of laws … even when it’s not easy or convenient.

Today I read a rant on Facebook by someone who still can’t accept the cruel reality that the election ended and his candidate lost. He declares that President Barack Obama is not his president, will never be his president. As if he gets to pick his own personal President, separate from the inconvenience of a legal election.

Flag

I feel obliged to point out that if you are an American citizen, the legally elected President of the United States is your President, whether you like him, voted for him — or not. If you are unhappy with the results of the election and you are a citizen of this nation, you have only two choices.

  1. Obey the laws of this country including accepting the duly elected President as your President and as your Commander-in-Chief.
  2. Abandon your identity as an American, renounce your citizenship, and move to another country if you can find one that will have you.

There is no other choice until 2016 and there’s no guarantee that you’ll like the results of that election any better than you liked this one. Until then, Barack Obama is your president, my president, and the President of every other citizen of this country. You do not have a choice. This is a nation of laws which we follow even when it’s not convenient or easy. That is the price you pay for living in a democracy.

You cannot claim to be a patriot while simultaneously rejecting our system of government. I have lived through presidencies of men I thoroughly disliked, for whom I didn’t vote, and who I thought were harming our nation and myself, but I never had the temerity– or disrespect — to declare that the President wasn’t my President.

I believe in our system of government, laws, and justice system. It’s not perfect, but it’s way better than most. I don’t make a big deal about it. I don’t wrap myself in the flag. I just follow the laws, try to work within the system to effect change. I vote. I don’t trust people who make a big fuss about how patriotic they are. The more noise they make, the more I wonder what they are hiding.

I’m fed up with self-declared patriots who are not merely unpatriotic, but actually treasonous. If you don’t like our system of government, go somewhere you like better, but don’t tell me you’re a patriot. You’re not.

Obama wins second term!

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

Elected on hope in a season of despair, President Obama won his first term by being the right guy at the right time. He won his second term making Mitt Romney the wrong guy.

Obama turned what could have been a stinging referendum on his economic stewardship into a pass-fail test on Romney’s character. A multi-million dollar media blitz casting aspersions on his extraordinary wealth and successful business career began weeks before Romney had even earned enough delegates to claim the nomination. In a campaign reminiscent of former President Bush’s takedown of John Kerry’s military record in 2004, Romney was not only stripped of his greatest asset in a race about how to stimulate economic growth, it became a liability.

“Obama won by thoroughly and completely trashing Mitt Romney and his reputation,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “It is the classic definition of winning ugly.”

But to exclusively blame the attacks from Obama and his super PAC allies for Romney’s defeat overlooks the Republican nominee’s own shortcomings. The smoothly coiffed, buttoned-down financier struggled to come across as a man of the people, a problem exacerbated by his vow to perpetuate tax breaks for the wealthy, several foot-in-mouth gaffes on the campaign trail, and a secretly recorded video of him at a tony fundraiser dismissing “47 percent” of Americans whom he said pay no income taxes and consider themselves “victims.”

The first African-American president also capitalized on an increasingly diverse electorate and used sophisticated turnout tools to make sure supporters, even casual ones, cast votes. “It’s like the demographic changes are making the old rules about unemployment sinking an incumbent obsolete,” said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. “The Obama campaign knew they weren’t supposed to get re-elected, so they figured out who they needed to register to vote and turn out to change that.”

Again, Romney didn’t help himself amid the changing demographics, alienating the fast-growing Hispanic community by shaking an iron fist at illegal immigrants during the GOP primaries. He would have persevered over his more conservative but politically implausible Republican rivals, anyway — though as a Mormon who had spearheaded a government-led overhaul of health care as governor of Massachusetts, Romney was ill-suited to tap into the energy of the social conservative and tea party movements. He accepted the nomination as the least popular nominee from a major party in decades. Wrong guy, wrong time.

Romney badly misread the electorate, assuming the dragging economy would automatically turn voters against the president. Yet many still blamed the recession on former President Bush and were growing accustomed to incremental economic growth. It was a pitiable recovery, but a recovery nonetheless. Offering few details about his economic agenda, Romney didn’t look like a tempting alternative.

“The Romney team was convinced it was a time when likability was a secondary factor,” said Republican strategist John Brabender, who advised Romney’s one-time GOP rival, Rick Santorum. “They forgot they had to give people a reason to vote for Romney, not just against Obama.”

While Romney was still fending off Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, Obama was quietly opening campaign offices all over the country, re-launching his vaunted ground game from 2008. Then the Obama campaign went into overdrive; from the time Romney emerged as the likely nominee in April through most of September,

Obama outgunned him on television nearly three times over with predominantly negative ads, according to Kantar Media CMAG. Republican super PACs evened the score but didn’t control the damage. The Obama campaign and its allies branded the former chief executive of Bain Capital as a tax-dodging, job-outsourcing villain who would shred the safety net holding up the elderly and the poor.

Romney also blew silver-platter opportunities, fumbling through a high-profile trip overseas and allowing a cringe-worthy bit by Clint Eastwood to overshadow an otherwise carefully choreographed convention. In contrast, Obama made hay of his accomplishments, touting the auto bailout to overcome resistance from blue-collar workers and brandishing Osama bin Laden’s death to shore up his party’s traditional vulnerabilities on national security.

Democrats also drove wedges between Romney and two influential swing voting blocs – women and Hispanics – with ads attacking his positions on abortion and immigration. The ads suggesting Romney opposed birth control and abortion even in cases of rape and incest simply weren’t true, but he, not Obama, paid the bigger price.

It wasn’t until after the convention in September that Romney got serious about investing in Spanish-language advertising, and it wasn’t until the October debates that the self-described “severely conservative” candidate narrowed the gender gap by pitching himself as a political moderate. Then came Hurricane Sandy. In the pivotal homestretch, the focus moved off of Romney’s momentum and onto Obama’s role as commander-in-chief.

In the end, the damaged wreaked by the storm on the New Jersey shore was an apt metaphor for what Obama and his allies had done to Romney’s reputation.

See on www.theatlantic.com