Tag Archives: Capitol Hill

Moore’s unfitness for Senate pre-dates sex abuse allegations

Let me be crystal clear.

Roy Moore gave me the heebie-jeebies the moment he won the Alabama Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat that’s about to be filled. That was before the allegations of sexual abuse/predation surfaced about the former two-time Alabama Supreme Court chief justice.

Even if these allegations hadn’t been leveled against, I would be frightened beyond measure about the prospect of this guy joining the Club of 100, the so-called World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

This fellow doesn’t deliberate over anything. He’s a man of strong opinions about religion, the U.S. Constitution and whether elected officials should obey the Constitution or follow their own religious beliefs.

Moore does not seem to understand that the U.S. government is framed by a secular document.

He was kicked off the Alabama high court the first time for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the court grounds. The state’s judicial ethics commission said the Commandments’ presence violated the Constitution’s implied separation of church and state. Out he went.

Then he returned. What did he do the second time? He said that county clerks did not have to obey the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage throughout the nation. The judicial ethics panel weighed in again. It determined he was unfit to serves as chief justice. He hit the road … again.

Now he’s running for the U.S. Senate in the midst of the allegations against him. His fellow Republicans say they want no part of him, although some of them are backtracking on that declaration as the election draws closer; Alabama voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

What’s more, Moore now has the full backing of Donald John “Groper in Chief” Trump. These guys deserve each other.

Why am I interested in this, given that I live out here in Texas and don’t have a vote in Alabama? Because this fellow could be empowered to make federal law that affects all Americans — of whom I am one.

I don’t want this guy anywhere near the Senate chamber. I don’t want him on Capitol Hill. He scares the bejabbers out of me.

It has nothing to do with the notion that women have accused him preying on them when they were underage.

As Sen. Richard Shelby, another Alabama Republican, said: “I think, so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip — when it got to the 14-year-old’s story, that was enough for me. I said I can’t vote for Roy Moore.”

Those allegations just have poured gasoline on the fire.

Sexual harassment accusation takes weird turn

I never thought sexual harassment could become such a, um, creative endeavor.

I am not making light of it, but the case of former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., has taken this saga down a strange, dark and bizarre path. He quit the House of Representatives effective immediately after reports surfaced about how he reportedly wanted to impregnate a congressional staffer so she could become a surrogate mother.

Reports surfaced a few days ago about Franks “discussing” surrogate pregnancy with female staffers. He announced his decision to quit in January. Then he changed his mind and walked away now. He’s gone.

Politico reported the new developments, citing “sources” close to the situation. According to Politico: The sources said Franks approached two female staffers about acting as a potential surrogate for him and his wife, who has struggled with infertility … but the aides were concerned that Franks was asking to have sex with them. It was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization. Franks opposes abortion rights as well as procedures that discard embryos.

Aides fretted over Franks’ intentions

Franks has run for the House while proclaiming his deep religious faith. To be candid, I kind of smell a rat here. If he was referring to IVF, that would something he could clear up with a simple, declarative statement. Yes?

If he meant something else, well, is that why he decided to vacate his office much sooner rather than later?

Yep. This sexual harassment matter is likely to claim a good many more powerful men.

Franken bows out … with no apology

Well, there wasn’t much contrition today in Al Franken’s announcement that he’s quitting the U.S. Senate.

Indeed, the junior Democratic senator from Minnesota said some of the allegations from women that he groped them were “untrue” and said he remembers others “differently” from what the women have alleged.

But he’s gone. He should be gone. The accusations were too credible to be denied. Sen. Franken couldn’t possibly continue in that body, particularly when most of his Democratic colleagues had demanded that he quit.

The culture in Washington well might be changing. Women have come forward to level serious accusations against powerful men. Those men are now being held to account for their behavior. Franken has been caught in the sausage-grinder that is pulverizing careers.

He did take note, however, that while he is quitting the Senate, a man who has admitted to committing acts of sexual assault — Donald John Trump — still occupies the White House as president of the United States.

Life ain’t fair, right?

While much of the political attention was focused on Al Franken, another member of Congress — Rep. Trent Franks — announced his resignation. Franks is a Republican — and a deeply conservative, deeply religious one at that — who is now the subject of an ethics investigation into, um, sexual harassment. 

Franks supposedly discussed surrogate parenting with some female staffers. He says he regrets having that discussion and the discomfort it caused “in the workplace.”

Now he’s gone.

My trick knee is telling me the congressional purge is just beginning.

If Moore wins, his victory will be pyrrhic

Talk about “pyrrhic victories.”

I am beginning to believe that Alabama voters are going to send a man accused of sexual abuse of children to the U.S. Senate. Republican Roy Moore well might become the Senate’s newest member.

If that happens, it will be to the ever-lasting shame of those who backed this guy.

There now also appears to be zero chance that the Senate will expel its newest member. Republican Senate leaders don’t want him among their ranks. Democrats damn sure don’t want him anywhere near Capitol Hill.

But, by golly, he has the endorsement of Donald J. Trump Sr., the president who’s also got his share of difficulty involving accusations of his own behavior with women. If Moore wins, Trump will crow about it. He’ll take all the credit in the world for pushing this twice-ousted state supreme court chief justice over the finish line ahead of his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones.

It’s going to be sloppy, chaotic and confusing as Moore takes his seat.

I cannot get past the prospect of a U.S. senator being politically neutered — yes, I meant to use that description — the minute he takes his oath of office.

And that brings me back to the question I cannot shake: Do the voters of Alabama really want to elect someone who can do nothing for the folks who sent him to the U.S. Senate?

Sure, he’ll have a vote. He’ll be able to have his voice heard that way. He’ll be the only voice one will hear. I cannot imagine his fellow Republicans standing with him as he makes policy pronouncements or declares his loathing of the “fake news” mainstream media, or the so-called godless heathens who oppose him on, oh, just about everything.

Yes, indeed. Roy Moore’s possible election is likely to sink the level of policy discourse in the halls of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body to depths it hasn’t seen since, oh, the days of Joe McCarthy.

God help us.

Conyers has ‘retired in disgrace’

John Conyers has given us a new definition of how a politician leaves public life.

The Michigan Democratic congressman today has announced his retirement effective today. By my standard, he has decided to “retire in disgrace.” He didn’t just resign. He didn’t wait until the end of his term to walk away.

Conyers, facing sexual harassment allegations — and a settlement he paid to one of his accusers — has called it a career.

It’s a fascinating and correct end to a lengthy career in politics.

Conyers is the longest-serving member of the U.S. House. He’s been on the job for 53 years. He has held positions of extreme power and influence and, according to several women, allegedly abused his power and influence in disgusting and disgraceful ways.

Here’s a serious non-shocker: Conyers is citing factors unrelated to the allegations as his reason for retiring. According to The Associated Press: “Conyers’ attorney, Arnold Reed, has said Conyers’ health would be the paramount consideration in whether he decides to step down from his House seat. He has already stepped aside from his position as ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”

This is what politicians do. Faced with mounting pressure stemming from misbehavior, they cite other “reasons” for deciding to give up the fight. Those “reasons” might have merit or … they might be made up to divert attention from the reality of the moment.

I don’t know about Rep. Conyers’ health, although he is past 80 years of age. So, I suppose his health might be an issue.

Whatever the case, the man needs to go. He’s served long enough and from this moment forward every single day he remains in office will be clouded by the hideous allegations that have become all the talk in Washington, and Hollywood … and even on Main Street.

GOP repays Democrats with ham-handed strategy

Do you remember the days when congressional Republicans accused congressional Democrats of ramming legislation through without consulting them?

They were angry, man! Barack H. Obama wanted to enact sweeping health care insurance reform. He reached out to Republicans. They were having none of it. So the Democratic president turned to his allies in Capitol Hill.

Why, that just infuriated Republicans.

The GOP’s response once they took control of Capitol Hill? How did the Republicans decide to legislate when one of their guys, Donald Trump, was elected president?

They chose to do the same thing. They sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something else. They had no Democrats on board with that fight. The ACA repeal-and-replace effort failed.

Donald Trump just had to have a legislative victory. So he turned to tax overhaul.

Here we are. Both legislative chambers have approved versions of a tax overhaul bill, except that it was done with a Republican-only majority. The debate has been joined, with both sides arguing from across the room at each other. It’s going to blow up the federal budget deficit, which Republicans used to hate; Democrats say the rich will get a break, while middle-class Americans get the shaft.

Thus, we have more of precisely the same kind of ham-handed bullying that Republicans alleged against Democrats.

As the fictional philosopher Tonto once told The Lone Ranger: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Conway: Votes matter more than integrity?

Republicans all across Capitol Hill are singing the same verse: They believe the accusations that have been leveled at Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

They believe the women who have accused the Alabama candidate of making improper sexual advances on them when they were underage girls.

Is the senior policy adviser to Donald John Trump one of them? Apparently not!

Kellyanne  Conway has told “Fox & Friends” that the Trump administration wants Moore’s vote on tax cuts. It seems to matter little to the president or to Conway that they might be welcoming a pedophile to the Senate.

It’s his vote that counts more than any crime he might have committed back in the old days, when he was a deputy district attorney.

I feel the need to inform Conway — as if she needs informing — that Moore quite possibly will be denied a Senate seat even if he wins the special election in Alabama set for Dec. 12.

The Senate GOP leadership, virtually to a person, wants nothing to do with this guy. He has declared political war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Does the president’s policy guru think McConnell is going to surrender to this clown?

Moore faces huge hurdle

A remarkably fascinating aspect of this is how “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade actually challenged Conway’s assertion that the president is depending on Moore’s vote to enact a tax cut. He reminded Conway that McConnell has pulled his support, along with the Young Republicans. Indeed, Kilmeade has said some rather unkind things about Moore himself.

It’s still quite stunning — after nearly a year into the Trump presidency — to hear a leading presidential spokeswoman place raw politics above principle.

They call it ‘tax reform,’ but is it … really?

Here comes the legislative bum’s rush once again.

Just as congressional Republicans sought to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act all by themselves, they’re trying the same thing with what they’re calling “tax reform.”

Except that it doesn’t “reform” anything. It cuts taxes for the wealthiest Americans and, according to at least one prominent study, will increase taxes for middle-income Americans.

The House of Representatives zoomed this tax cut through that chamber with a narrow vote. Now it goes to the Senate. And you know what? It’s running into trouble.

GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin opposes it because it does too little for small business. GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine opposes it as well because it cuts out the individual mandate required by the ACA. That’s two “no” votes. The tax plan is officially on the bubble.

I believe I’ll now mention what it does to the deficit. It explodes the deficit and for those of us deficit hawks, it piles on more money to the national debt, which Republicans are fond of saying increased during President Barack Obama’s two terms in office.

Senate puts up roadblocks

I keep circling back to this notion that no single party can do anything constructive without the other party. Republicans haven’t yet learned that lesson now that they control the White House in addition to both congressional chambers.

This star-chamber style of legislating — with major bills being discussed in private by members of one party — is harmful to legislative process and to the principle of effective governance.

As GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona has implored his colleagues, “Let’s return to ‘regular order.'” That means, among other things, bringing the other party into the discussion.

Beware of polls in Alabama

A word of caution may be in order.

Public opinion polling indicates that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore is falling farther behind his Democratic opponent, former federal prosecutor Doug Jones, in the race to join the World Greatest Deliberative Body.

A special election will occur in ‘Bama on Dec. 12. Moore has been swallowed up by a controversy involving whether he made improper sexual advances on young girls in the 1970s when he was a state prosecutor.

It’s been in all the papers, you know?

Be careful — very careful — about interpreting too much in these polls. You see, they at times can produce what political scientists call “phantom support” that manifests itself in voters being untruthful to pollsters.

Voters might be unwilling to say out loud to a pollster that they’re going to still vote for a guy who’s accused of pedophilia. Then they vote for the guy anyway. Indeed, this is why we call it a “secret ballot.” The fear is profoundly ridiculous, given that reputable polling firms do not reveal the identities of those they question about their voting preferences.

It’s all water over the proverbial dam anyway. Even if Moore manages to win the special election, I find if impossible for him to serve in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — against whom Moore has declared political war — likely will not allow him to take the oath and then tar the Republican Party with his very presence on Capitol Hill.

I’m just saying that as the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has shown us, the new normal in American politics has proven to be anything but normal.

Franken deserves to be censured … at minimum

Al Franken has acquitted himself surprisingly well in the U.S. Senate.

Until now.

The Minnesota Democrat has been snagged in a growing scandal involving members of Congress who have misbehaved badly in the presence of women. A television news anchor has come forth with an accusation that in 2006 Franken, before he was a senator, grabbed her and kissed her without her permission.

Franken has apologized for his conduct. He also says he remembers the incident — which occurred when the then-comedian was on a USO tour of the Middle East — differently from what the woman has alleged.

That is not good enough, senator.

The only aspect of this case that differs from the hideous accusations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore — who’s been accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls — is that the accuser was an adult when the incident occurred.

That doesn’t make it acceptable in any form or fashion.

You see, Franken is one of those lawmakers who likes to speak glowingly of his wife, their children and grandchildren. He presents himself as a devoted family man.

What should the Senate do? I think a censure is clearly in order. There ought to be a strong statement condemning one of the body’s colleagues — who until this week was actually discussed as a possible presidential candidate in 2020.

For those of us out here in Flyover Country who have admired the work he has done ever since he joined the Senate, Al Franken has just become a huge disappointment.