Tag Archives: Congress

Trump goes nuts again!

I am running out of ways to express my dismay, disgust and disbelief at what I keep reading about the president’s Twitter tantrums.

Donald J. Trump launched another one, going after special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators. He says they have gone “absolutely nuts.” He says Mueller, a former FBI director, is burden by a loads of conflicts of interest. He declares — falsely, if you’ll excuse me — that Mueller worked for President Obama for eight years; he worked for Obama for a couple of years after the new president asked him to stay on after President Bush (who hired him) left office in 2009.

It looks for all the world to me like classic “projection.” The president, not Mueller, has gone “absolutely nuts.”

Mueller is trying to finish his probe into “the Russia thing.” He has sent some of his lawyers home. Word is out that he and his team are drafting their final report. He has proceeded quietly, never saying a word publicly about what he knows, or where he has come up empty.

Meanwhile, the president continues to blast away with idiotic Twitter messages. He seeks to undermine an ongoing federal investigation. He disparages the Justice Department, the FBI, you name it.

Meanwhile, rather than focusing intently on preparing for the next Congress taking office in January — a body that will look quite different from the current Congress — Trump is busying himself with these goofy Twitter tirades.

The president needs to prepare a legislative agenda that should be considered by a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats. He needs to study the piles of reports his staff (presumably) has prepared for him. Oh, I forgot: He doesn’t read reports, being blessed — as he has said — with a brilliant mind.

OK. Let’s all get ready for the second half of the president’s term. If you thought the first half’s ride was bumpy, it will look like a journey across placid waters compared to what lies ahead.

McConnell wants what? Bipartisanship? For real?

I gave myself one of those proverbial forehead slaps when I heard this tidbit: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants there to be more “bipartisanship” in the next Congress.

Huh? He said what? This comes in the form of an op-ed column from the obstructionist in chief on Capitol Hill?

It took my breath away.

This is the fellow who said in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Uh, huh. He said that. The 2012 presidential election, of course, dashed Leader McConnell’s dream. President Obama won re-election.

Then came the congressional Republican caucuses singular effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They staged countless votes in the Senate and the House. They came up short. Who led the charge? Mitch did, that’s who.

And then we had the obstruction to end all obstructions in early 2016. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon on the court, died suddenly in Texas. Justice Scalia’s body had barely gotten cold when McConnell declared that President Obama would not get the chance to replace him.

Oh sure, the president can nominate someone, McConnell said, but Republicans were not going to move the nomination forward. Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland — a supremely qualified man — only to watch his nomination wither and die. We had a presidential election to conclude and McConnell banked on the hope that a Republican would be elected. His gamble paid off with Donald Trump’s election.

Now the majority leader wants a more bipartisan atmosphere on Capitol Hill.

Pardon me while I bust out laughing.

The next Congress will be split. Democrats will control the House; Republicans will lead the Senate. Bipartisanship certainly is the preferred way to govern.

That such a call would come from the U.S. Senate’s leading obstructionist gives “gall” a bad name.

Vets could bring a return to congressional collegiality

I long have lamented and bemoaned the lack of collegiality in the halls of Congress. Political adversaries become “enemies.” They drift farther and father apart, separated by a deepening chasm between them.

There might be a return to what we think of as “collegiality” and “comity” in the halls of power on Capitol Hill.

It might rest with a large and hopefully growing class of military veterans seeking to serve the public in a political capacity.

They have shared experiences. They know the pain of loss of comrades in battle. They endure similar stresses associated with their time in battle.

I posted earlier today a blog item about U.S. Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw, a wounded Navy SEAL who is among 15 veterans elected to Congress in this past week’s midterm election. Crenshaw is a Republican from Houston. I don’t know the partisan composition of the congressional freshman class of veterans. It doesn’t matter. My hunch is that they are going to find plenty of commonality once they settle into their new jobs and get acquainted with each other’s history.

The Greatest Generation returned home from World War II and the men who served in the fight against tyranny developed amazing friendships when they found themselves serving under the same Capitol Dome.

Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii became lifelong friends with Republican Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas; they both suffered grievous injuries in Italy near the end of the war, went to rehab together and developed a friendship that lasted until Inouye’s death. There were so many others. Fellow aviators, Democratic Sen. George McGovern and Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater became friends for life, as did Sens. McGovern and Dole.

The Korean War produced its own crop of veterans who entered political life together.

Then there is the Vietnam War generation, which also featured lasting friendships that transcended partisan politics. GOP Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. John Kerry worked together to help restore diplomatic relations with Vietnam. Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel both represented their native Nebraska in the Senate, serving briefly together on Capitol Hill. Former Vietnam prisoners of war found commonality: Sen. Jeremiah Denton, Rep. Sam Johnson, Sen. McCain — all Republicans — were among that particular clique of lawmakers with a special bond.

The latest class of vets joins a cadre of veterans already serving in Congress. Democratic Sen. (and double amputee) Tammie Duckworth is among the most notable.

There always is much more to life than politics. My hope now is that the new crop of vets find a way to lead the way back toward a more civil era in Congress. I pray they can find a way to bridge the chasm that divides men and women of good will.

I am filled with a new sense of hope that these individuals with common life experience can cleanse the air of the toxicity that has poisoned it in Washington.

Civility now appears farther away than ever

Those of us who lament the lack of civility in our public debate between elected officials are going to be disappointed when the next Congress takes its seat in January.

We’ll have a divided legislative branch: Democrats will control the House of Representatives; Republicans will run the Senate.

The White House, of course, remains in GOP control.

Donald Trump has called — ostensibly — for “peace and harmony.” He said he wants it. He has vowed to work toward it. His performance in the wake of the midterm election suggests he doesn’t mean what he said.

Democrats are gearing up for a subpoena blizzard. The new congressional committee chairs are threatening to summon White House officials left and right to Capitol Hill. They want to question them on, oh, damn near everything under the sun.

Donald Trump now is declaring that the election that produced a Democratic takeover of the House and narrowing of the GOP margin of the Senate is a product of electoral fraud. Sound familiar? Sure it does. It’s the president’s fall-back position when the balloting doesn’t go his way.

Democrats are sure to be angry. Republicans are certain to be defiant.

Donald Trump is a lead-pipe cinch to continue his habit of lying through his teeth.

Peace and harmony are nowhere to be found.

Count me as one American who is continuing to be disappointed in our federal government.

Climate change might get a fresh look in Congress

It occurs to me that with Democrats soon to be running the show in the U.S. House of Representatives, some critical issues that Republicans seem intent on ignoring well could get a fresh hearing on Capitol Hill.

Let’s look briefly at climate change, for example.

It used to be called “global warming,” but that term has given way to “climate change.”

Republicans comprise a lot of climate change deniers among their congressional ranks. One of them happens to be the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax,” a figment of Chinese government officials who want to undermine the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

I happen to disagree with that. I happen to believe that Earth’s climate is changing. How that even can be a topic of debate is utterly beyond me. The only debate ought to center on its cause: human activity or part of the global cycle.

Do you remember the time U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., during a serious cold snap in Washington, brought a snowball onto the Senate floor and used that snowball as proof that Earth’s temperature isn’t warming? That was the mother of idiotic stunts.

Here’s my hope: Democrats who will control House committees will be compelled to conduct hearings with experts who will tell us — as they have many times already — about the danger posed by the changing climate. Yes, we need to hear from these individuals that deforestation along with the spewing of carbon gas into the air are causing the ice caps to melt, depriving wildlife of their habitat. They need to remind us of the hazard of rising sea levels that could inundate coastal communities.

What about those storms that boil up out of the oceans and bring the destruction ashore, such as what we have seen with increasing frequency and ferocity in recent years? Must we just live with the inevitable wrath and fury and not do a single thing to counteract it? I believe that is the height of irresponsibility.

Democrats appear to be more inclined to fear the consequences of climate change. They do not control the flow of information in the Senate, but they do in the House.

Thus, one half of our legislative branch of government is in the hands of folks who give a damn about climate change and concur with the belief that Earth’s changing climate and its dire consequence pose a national security threat.

Yes, elections do have consequences.

Cool it with the accusations, Democrats

So much to say about the 2018 midterm election … so I’ll start with this item.

The presumptive speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said prior to the election that Democrats should cool it with talk of impeaching Donald J. Trump. She said impeaching the president is a non-starter and she didn’t want the campaign to be decided on that issue.

Here is her chance to make good on that plea.

Democrats seized control of the House last night. Senate Republicans gained a couple of seats, cementing the GOP control of the upper legislative chamber. The former House “ranking members” will become committee chairs. They’ll be able to call the shots in the House. The ballots were still being counted Tuesday night when word came out of Washington about Democrats wanting to subpoena the president’s tax returns, which he has (in)famously refused to release for public review.

I want to see them, too. However, Democrats also campaigned for office demanding that “pre-existing conditions” are honored if the House considers amending the Affordable Care Act. They have health care to consider.

They also have budgeting issues to ponder. They have to consider potential new tax cuts. That budget deficit is spiraling out of control.

The president called the new speaker last night to congratulate her for the Democrats’ House victory. The two of them reportedly talked about bipartisanship and working together to get things done on behalf of the people.

I don’t know if Trump actually means it, given his propensity for lying. Pelosi should heed that call, even if the president reneges down the line.

Those of us who want to see government re-learn how to function on behalf of the “bosses” — that’s you and me, folks — must demand that a divided Congress learn to unite within itself. We also must demand that the president and Congress set aside the fiery rhetoric and start acting as if they mean what they said about cooperation and compromise.

Clinging to a hint of conventional wisdom

Donald John Trump’s election as president of the United States should have taught us all a valuable lesson.

It would to be toss conventional wisdom straight into the crapper.

A first-time candidate for any public office had no business defeating a former first lady, former U.S. senator and former secretary of state. But he did. He whipped Hillary Rodham Clinton. Not by a lot. But he won.

That all said, I am going to cling to a bit of conventional wisdom as the 2018 midterm election comes hurtling toward us. It is this: 29 million ballots were cast nationally in early voting, compared to 21 million early votes cast prior to Election Day 2014. The conventional wisdom holds that the bigger the turnout the better it is for Democratic Party candidates.

This could portend a good thing for the immediate future of our system of government.

I know what you’re thinking. Sure, you’d say that. You’re a Democratic partisan. You’re biased toward those weak-kneed, socialist-leaning Democrats. You’ve stated your bias against the president. You can’t get over the fact that he was elected president.

Actually, my bias rests with divided government. Yes, I am unhappy that Trump won. I wanted Hillary Clinton to be elected president and I would support again today if I had the chance.

I’ll continue to rail against the president for as long as he holds the office to which he was elected legitimately and according to the U.S. Constitution.

However, good government needs a better form of “checks and balance” to stem the tide that Trump is trying to ride. He has hijacked the Republican Party and has turned into the Party of Trump. It’s now a party that foments fear, incivility, prejudice. It speaks Trump’s language. By that I suggest that absent any serious dissent from within the GOP’s congressional ranks, Trump is virtually unfettered, given that the GOP controls both congressional chambers.

That well might change after the midterm election. The House of Representatives appears likely to swing into Democratic control. The Democrats will handle the committee gavels. Democrats will decide the flow of legislation. Democrats will call the shots in the People’s House.

Moreover, they will act as a careful check against the Republican stampede that Trump wants to trigger.

Tax cuts for the wealthy? Slashing Medicare and Medicaid? Appropriating money to build that damn wall across our southern border? If Trump and the GOP maintain control of Congress — both House and Senate — the game is over. If Democrats manage to wrest control of the chamber where tax matters originate, then we’ve got a chance that Trump will be taught a lesson in how divided government works.

Conventional wisdom might be an endangered species. It’s still alive and breathing. It well might rise again to help produce a federal government that actually works.

If you haven’t voted already, you have a big day awaiting you next Tuesday. Be sure your voice is heard.

This really is the most important midterm election … ever!

Politicians say it all the time. It doesn’t matter their partisan affiliation — Republican or Democrat — they sing it off the same song sheet.

“This is the most important election in our history!”

That’s what they say. They might mean it. Or they might be saying just to fire up their respective supporters.

Guess what. I think this election, the 2018 midterm, actually is the most important midterm election in U.S. history.

What’s at stake? Plenty, man!

Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House. The executive branch, the White House gang, is being led by a man, Donald J. Trump, who doesn’t know what he’s doing. He entered the presidency without a lick of public service experience, let alone any interest. He is a dangerous fellow who doesn’t grasp the limits of his power, or how the government is designed to function.

The House of Representatives presents the Democrats with their greatest opportunity to seize the gavel from their GOP colleagues. They need to do precisely that if for no other reason on Earth to act as a check on the runaway agenda being pushed by Donald Trump and endorsed by a GOP congressional majority that is scared spitless of the president.

I am among those who believe the Senate is likely to remain in Republican hands when the ballots are counted next Tuesday. Indeed, it appears to be entirely possible that the Senate’s GOP majority might actually increase by a seat or two; Republicans occupy 51 seats at this moment, with Democrats (and two independents who favor the Dems) occupying 49 seats.

The House, however, must flip. It must act as a check on Trump and on the GOP members of Congress who give this seriously flawed president a pass on so many issues. They excuse his hideous behavior; they refuse to call him out vigorously when he refuses to condemn haters — such as the KKK and neo-Nazis; they roll over when he pushes for repeal of the Affordable Care Act or enact tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; they pledge to cut money for Medicare and Medicaid to help curb the spiraling annual federal budget deficit.

Divided government has worked in the past. Barack Obama had to work with a Congress led by the other party. So did George W. Bush. Same for Bill Clinton. Ditto for George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

It lends a greater air of a need for compromise.

If the Democrats fall short on Tuesday, clearing the path for Trump and the GOP to run roughshod over the rest of us, well … we’re going to have hell to pay.

Yes, this is the most important midterm election in U.S. history.

Sen. Rubio wants aid for Florida … but with caveats?

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wants the federal government to fast-track aid to hurricane-ravaged Florida, which he represents in the Senate.

He says it’s the government’s responsibility to help Americans in distress from natural disasters.

I agree with the Republican lawmaker. He is right. But let’s remember that when Super Storm Sandy pounded New Jersey in 2012, Rubio wasn’t quite so quick to rush to New Jersey residents’ aid. He voted against an appropriation to assist Sandy victims, citing “pork barrel” spending provisions buried deep inside the bill.

It reminded me of the time then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pushed back against relief for victims of a tornado that tore through Joplin, Mo. The Virginia Republican argued that Congress needed to cut money from other programs to pay for the Joplin relief package.

Rubio demands federal response

I have an idea. Why doesn’t Sen. Rubio insist publicly, clearly and loudly that any Hurricane Michael relief aid is free of the kind of excessive and non-essential spending he alleged was contained in the Sandy relief legislation?

If it does contain that kind of excess, would the senator then be willing to vote “no” in the name of fiscal responsibility?

I doubt he would do that. Serious political courage, though likely would require Sen. Rubio to speak the truth about the way Congress doles out relief aid.

This election really might be one for the ages

It seems that every two years politicians declare the upcoming election — whether for president or for Congress — to be the “most important election in our lifetime.”

Barack Obama joined that chorus today. Others have said that the 2018 midterm election is the most consequential election in memory.

The more I think about it, they might be right. This midterm election might be the most important such event we’ve seen in some time.

Think of the stakes. A president seems to careening out of control. Congress stands as a possible deterrent to the president’s most dangerous impulses. The House of Representatives well might shift from Republican to Democratic control.

What happens if the House flips from GOP to Democratic? Hearings. Lots of hearings. That “Russia thing” will take an even more prominent place on center stage.

So … yes. This election seems like a real big deal.

Maybe the biggest ever?