Tag Archives: US House

The power of education shows itself in this man

Elijah Cummings is the new chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee. He is a Maryland Democrat who’s represented the Baltimore area for more than 25 years in Congress.

“60 Minutes” interviewed Cummings tonight, exploring how he intends to run the committee that on Feb. 7 is going to question Michael Cohen, the convicted felon who once was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and his so-called “fixer.”

The interview covered a lot of ground, including Cummings’ background as the son of Pentecostal ministers; both Mom and Dad were preachers.

He talked about how his father instilled in young Elijah the value of education.

His father told him that “if you miss any school that means you died the previous night.” Cummings told “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft that he “never missed a day of school.”

That’s what I call discipline. Pay attention, Michael Cohen. You are going to be facing a tiger.

Rep. King has some serious issues to ponder

I cannot pretend to know what ticks inside the (so-called) heart of a rural Iowa congressman known for his big mouth far more than for any legislative accomplishments.

All any of us can do is to weigh the man’s words and wonder: Does he really believe this stuff? If he does, then the nation’s legislative body has a monster in its midst.

Republican Rep. Steve King told The New York Times that he doesn’t know how the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” have been cast as “offensive” language. I already have addressed that issue in this blog, noting that those terms are associated with hate groups that have exacted violence for far too long against non-white, non-Christian American citizens.

Why is ‘white nationalist’ a negative term?

Now we have the House of Representatives and whether it must take action against one of its 435 members. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the body will “consider” some form of punishment against King.

GOP members fire back at King

What troubles me about this individual is his history of what borders on hate speech. He was among the cabal of cretins in public life who continually questioned the birth credentials of the 44th president of the United States, who happens to be African-American; he has spoken of migrants “with calves the size of cantaloupes” smuggling drugs across the southern border from Latin America; his record of public commentary is full of similarly offensive remarks that barely hide his seeming contempt for racial and ethnic minorities.

Yet he remains in office, taking an active role in enacting legislation that affects all Americans. Sure, he gets sent back to Congress every two years, meaning that he has the endorsement of his constituents back home. That is their call to make.

Once he’s in office, though, his conduct becomes everyone’s business. Yours and mine.

Thus, it’s fair for me to say I do not want this man occupying one of those legislative offices responsible for the enactment of laws that govern all 330 million Americans.

Steve King is a disgrace to the U.S. Congress and given the reputation the legislative body has these days among Americans, that’s really saying something.

What do the networks have in mind for Cohen testimony?

You’re a TV network boss. You run a multibillion-dollar enterprise that relies on viewer interest in the programming  you present.

Then you hear that the U.S. House Oversight Committee is going to summon Donald Trump’s former lawyer/fixer to testify about the role he played in the president’s myriad activities relating to (a) the Russian government, (b) his alleged relationships with an adult film actress and a Playboy model and (c) other matters that have dogged his presidency.

What do you do? The Feb. 7 hearing might be a ratings blockbuster. Or, it might be a dud. Do you preempt your regular programming to show this testimony live? If I were in that place, I’d go with televising the hearing.

Michael Cohen is facing a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to campaign violations and assorted other felonies. He says he’s done lying to protect the president. He has been working with special counsel Robert Mueller’s legal team as it investigates alleged “collusion” with Russian operatives who interfered with the 2016 presidential election. Cohen might want to spill every bean in the bag in order to get a sentence reduction.

This hearing has the potential of turning the presidency of Donald Trump on its head. A lot of Americans have a keen interest in the future of this man’s presidency. His supporters want him to shake off the questions once and for all. The president’s detractors want, well, a vastly different outcome.

Michael Cohen’s testimony might be the proverbial game-changer. Or, it might not change a single thing.

If you are a network TV exec, you ought to gamble on the former.

I intend to clear the decks on Feb. 7.

This hearing ought to be an attention-getter

When was the last time you waited with bated breath for a congressional hearing? Oh, maybe . . . never? I get that. I suppose you can consider me to be a weirdo, as I have actually looked forward to these kinds of events.

Let’s look ahead now to Feb. 7. That’s when Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer/fixer for Donald Trump, will testify before the House Oversight Committee.

What does it mean? A couple of things.

First, it means that Democrats who have just taken control of the U.S. House of Representatives are going to start flexing their muscles in their search for facts surrounding the president’s conduct.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings is a Maryland Democrat who’s no one’s fool. He’s a smart man. An experienced member of Congress.

He wants Cohen — who faces a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to campaign-related crimes — to talk publicly about what he knew about the Trump campaign’s behavior in 2016.

Cohen paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels a six-figure sum for her to stay quiet about a sexual encounter she had with the future president; Trump denies the encounter occurred, but he paid her anyway. Go figure.

That is just the beginning.

The rest of it is likely to wander far afield undoubtedly. Why did Cohen lie to federal authorities? On whose instruction did he lie? To what extent did he lie? What does Cohen know about those mysterious meetings between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives who were working to interfere with the 2016 election?

Cohen already has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller, who sought leniency for Cohen from the federal judge who sentenced him. Instead, Cohen got a three-year prison sentence.

Cohen is no prince. He lied in search of personal gain. He once stood foursquare behind Donald Trump. Now he’s trying to atone for that, which now seems a bit late in the game to receive any sort of absolution. The sentencing judge scolded him harshly while handing down the sentence.

However, he well might have plenty to say in public to House committee members and their investigators.

If you’re a political junkie, as I am, you are going to await this drama.

I might even have some popcorn ready.

Wondering if term limits will return to debate stage

With all the hoo-hah in Washington about the battle of ideologies — conservative vs. liberal — I am wondering about the fate of the debate over term limits.

In 1994, Republicans led by U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, campaigned successfully on the Contract With America platform that included a silly proposition: to limit the terms of members of Congress.

Voters seemed to buy into the notion that we ought to place mandatory limits on the time House members and senators can serve. After all, we limit the president to two elected terms, thanks to the 22nd Amendment. Why not demand the same thing of Congress members?

Well, the idea hasn’t gone anywhere. It requires an amendment to the Constitution. Referring an amendment to the states for their ratification requires a two-thirds vote in both congressional chambers. Term limits proposals haven’t made the grade.

Term limits is primarily a Republican-led initiative. Democrats have dug in against the idea, saying correctly that “we already have term limits. We call them ‘elections.'”

I don’t favor mandatory limits. Indeed, there has been a significant churn of House members and senators already without the mandated limits. The new Congress comprises roughly a membership that includes roughly 25 percent of first-time officeholders. That ain’t bad, man!

Sure, there are deep-rooted incumbents from both parties who make legislating their life’s calling. However, I only can refer back to their constituents: If these lawmakers are doing a poor job, their constituents have it within their power to boot them out; if the constituents are happy with their lawmakers’ performance, they are entitled to keep them on the job.

Of course, we don’t hear much from the nation’s Republican in Chief, the president of the United States, about term limits. He’s too busy “making America great again” and fighting for The Wall. He can’t be bothered with anything as mundane and pedestrian as establishing limits for the amount of time lawmakers can serve.

But where are the GOP fire starters? Have they lost their interest? Or their nerve?

I’m fine with the idea remaining dormant. Just wondering whether it’s died a much-needed death.

Yep, some of us do care that she swore

I had to look this guy up before offering a comment on what he had to say. Mikel Jollett, I learned, is a musician and author, who is best known as the front man for an indie rock group called Airborne Toxic Event.

Now with that out of the way, I want to declare that I happen to care that a freshman congresswoman swore when she called for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. I do not support the president of the United States; I didn’t vote for what he calls a “racist sexual predator.”

The basis for my caring about Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s foul mouth is two-fold.

First, she is a brand new member of Congress who sought to make a name for herself right out of the chute. Mission accomplished. All she had to say was that she believes Democrats are going to “impeach the motherfu***r.” Washington is all abuzz over what she said.

Second, she could have made precisely that point without using the gutter language. I get that Trump has said all of that. He trash talks with the best of ’em. I am acutely aware of his history, of the language he has used to describe how he treats women. I am aware of the misogynistic nature of his comments.

None of that — zero! — justifies the use of the language that a heretofore virtually unknown rookie member of Congress has used to highlight (or lowlight) what she hopes happens within the halls of Congress.

I do not want the newly empowered Democratic Party congressional caucus to slide into the gutter occupied by Donald Trump and so many members of his “base.”

As for Mikel Jollett — whoever he is — the young man should cease assuming that “nobody cares” that an “incoming congresswoman” swore. He is mistaken.

Is there a ‘woodshed’ in Rep. Tlaib’s future?

Wouldn’t you know it? A rookie member of the U.S. House of Representatives blurts out a profane declaration, about how House Democrats are going to “impeach the mother***er” and fellow Democrats start expressing their anger at this upstart.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan has made her mark immediately. It’s not a pretty mark. She was seeking to fire up a crowd of progressive activists when she offered the foul-mouthed pledge to impeach Donald J. Trump.

Democrats getting angry

Other Democrats are upset that Tlaib has overturned their efforts to orchestrate an orderly transition to power in the House, now that they are in the majority. They don’t want to rush into what might turn out to be a foolish act if they seek impeachment before knowing all the facts related to the myriad issues at hand.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to file his report soon on his probe into “The Russia Thing.” Loudmouths like Tlaib are getting way ahead of themselves.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who calls impeachment a “last resort” — might need to escort the young freshman lawmaker to the proverbial “woodshed” for a woman-to-woman chat about how things get done in the People’s House. She ought to rethink her hands-off approach to Democratic caucus members’ fiery rhetoric.

It reminds of a time many years ago when a whipper-snapper U.S. senator named Rick Santorum sought to challenge one of the Senate’s elders about legislating.

The late Sen. Mark Hatfield, an Oregon Republican, chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee. He decided to vote against a defense bill to pay for a new nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Corpus Christi. Why the objection? Hatfield was a deeply religious man and he didn’t like the idea of a weapon of war carrying a name that translated from the Latin means “Body of Christ.” Santorum, a newly elected Republican from Pennsylvania, raised a stink about it and sought to have Hatfield removed from his key committee chairmanship.

One of the GOP Senate elders, Bob Dole of Kansas, took Santorum aside and said, in effect, “Young man, don’t even think about challenging Mark Hatfield.”

Santorum backed off.

There ought to be a similar scolding in Rep. Tlaib’s future as well.

That’s not how you make a name for yourself, young lady

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib wasted no time in calling serious attention to herself as she took office in the House of Representatives.

She said it’s time to “impeach the motherfu***er,” meaning the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump Sr.

Tlaib isn’t apologizing. She isn’t backing down. Indeed, she seems to be doubling, maybe tripling, down on that ridiculous profanity she shouted to a crowd of supporters.

She issued a Twitter statement declaring her intention to “speak truth to power.”

Good . . . grief! You can do all of that without resorting to the language the rookie Michigan Democratic congresswoman used.

I get that this kind of language is nothing new. Vice President Dick Cheney famously told Sen. Patrick Leahy to “go f*** yourself” on the floor of the Senate. Presidents Johnson and Nixon were known to pepper their language with what my dad used to call “the functional four-letter word.” I’m still reading Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” and it contains quotes from Trump and his chief aides that are littered with more f-bombs than one can imagine.

Hey, I’m not a prude about this kind of thing. I have been known to utter a profanity on occasion myself.

However, a freshman member of Congress speaking like that on her very first day in office goes a bit beyond what I consider to be acceptable, particularly when she’s referring to what might occur down the road with regard to impeaching the nation’s head of state.

I am left to offer you this statement from a reader of High Plains Blogger, who wrote to me: We’re quickly approaching a Taiwan-style Congress with fistfights on the House floor. Good! Maybe they’ll regain some civility if they know they’ll get a couple teeth knocked out.

That’s no way to talk, Rep. Potty Mouth

Consider this blog post an addendum to the previous post I wrote on High Plains Blogger. I had counseled the freshman Democratic House class about rushing to impeach Donald J. Trump, imploring them to wait for special counsel Robert Mueller to release the findings of his investigation into “The Russia Thing.”

Then this item emerged overnight.

Newly sworn in U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, exhorted her followers by declaring the House Democratic caucus intends to “impeach the motherfu**er!”

The epithet is aimed at the president of the United States of America.

Do I really need to inform this young, newly minted U.S. lawmaker about “decorum” and “dignity”? I don’t . . . but I will!

The tone and tenor of our political discourse has gotten pretty ugly in recent years. The nation does not need to hear filthy epithets spewed from members of Congress, especially newbies who don’t know their way around the halls of the Capitol Building, let alone around the halls of power within that grand and noble structure.

Tlaib already has made history by becoming one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and by being the first Palestinian-American to win a seat there.

However, my advice to the young lawmaker is this: Knock off the tough talk, settle down, set up your office and get to work on  your constituents’ needs, wants and demands. They sent you there to do their work, not to make an a** of yourself.

Young Dem rookies getting way ahead of themselves

Hold on, you young’ns who just took office in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Yeah, I’m talking to you rookie Democrats who are hollering about impeaching Donald J. Trump. You want to impeach the president already? Before the special counsel, Robert Mueller, releases his findings?

Don’t get ahead of yourself. In fact, listen to your congressional Democratic elders. They know a whole lot more about the process than you do. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is shying away from impeachment talk. Yes, she said it’s “possible” that Trump might be indicted, even while he still serves as president. She’s not jumping on the impeach Trump bandwagon now, however.

You see, no matter how y’all are able to cobble together a simple House majority that can impeach the president — for unspecified “high crimes and misdemeanors” — you’ve got this problem in the Senate. Trump would go on trial. A conviction requires a two-thirds vote. That’s 67 out of 100. Spoiler alert: The Republicans still occupy more Senate seats than Democrats. What’s more, impeachment is the most partisan political move that members of Congress can initiate. It isn’t a legal proceeding.

My advice to the House Democratic rookies is to wait for Mueller to finish his work. He’s been digging, scouring, poring over documents, evidence and mountains of other information gleaned from interviews with those close to the president.

It might be that Mueller delivers the goods relating to conspiracy, obstruction of justice, maybe even collusion with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Or . . . he might come up empty.

Wait for the man to finish!