Tag Archives: US House

Democrats split over impeachment

So, here we are.

Congressional Democrats comprising the fiery left-wingers and the “establishment” wing are at each other’s throats over whether to impeach Donald John Trump.

The firebrands want to impeach the president now. They’ve heard and seen enough to persuade them that Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. Thus, it’s time to impeach — in the words of one of the House rookie Democratic bomb throwers — the “motherf*****!”

Oh, but wait. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is slamming the breaks on that move — at least for the moment. She opposes impeachment. Pelosi, one of the experienced hands on Capitol Hill, doesn’t want to go there.

“I’m not for impeachment,” she says.

Pelosi speaks wisely

I happen to agree with Pelosi. Yes, that’s right. Critics of this blog think I am frothing at the mouth to impeach the president. Not true.

I want to wait for special counsel Robert Mueller III to finish his job of investigating whether there was “collusion” between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russian government goons who attacked our electoral system.

Moreover, I also believe Pelosi’s mind can change if Mueller’s report reveals some impeachable nastiness. There’s also the Southern District of New York, the federal judicial district that is looking deeply into possible criminality. The SDNY also needs to finish its work as well before we should determine whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump.

But for now the speaker is speaking wise words of caution. She is a seasoned politician who knows if she has enough bipartisan support to proceed with impeaching the president. She has calculated that she doesn’t have it. Impeaching the president would be a loser for her and House Democrats.

Pelosi is a wise woman.

Just as Republican members of Congress engaged in fights between establishment politicians and TEA Party fanatics, Democrats are engaging in something quite similar at the other end of the big political spectrum.

The GOP establishment had the country’s best interests when it fought with the TEA Party over spending. The Democratic establishment has the upper hand over the issue of impeaching Donald Trump.

But . . . let’s wait.

Almost forgot about this guy’s bad manners!

D’oh!

I almost forgot this item. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican who tweeted a threat to Michael Cohen on the eve of Donald Trump’s former friend’s expected blockbuster testimony before Congress, has acted boorishly before.

He tweeted a threat of exposing alleged affairs Cohen had with women who aren’t his wife. Bad form, dude. That kind of witness intimidation can get you in serious trouble.

But then there’s the tirade he launched during a House committee hearing with survivors of the Parkland, Fla., high school massacre. He threatened to boot them out of the committee hearing because he didn’t like the tone they were using while giving testimony about gun violence.

I just hate it when members of Congress act like horses’ asses.

You may spare me the “both sides do it” crap. I get that already. I’m talking about this clown.

A member of Congress, a guy who writes federal laws that affect all Americans, needs to act with some measure of decorum and dignity. Matt Gaetz is sorely lacking in both qualities.

Why not a maximum age for POTUS?

Garland, Texas, resident Cynthia Stock poses an interesting question today in a letter to the editor of the Dallas Morning News.

She notes that we have a minimum age for U.S. senators (30 years); she doesn’t mention that you have to be at least 25 years of age to run for the U.S. House and 35 to run for president.

Stock wants to know why we don’t impose a maximum age for presidential candidates. Hmm. Let me think. Does she have a couple of senior citizens in mind, such as 77-year-old Sen. Bernie Sanders (who’s running for the Democratic nomination) and former VP Joe Biden (who might run for POTUS in 2020)?

The nation needs fresh ideas, fresh vision, fresh leadership, she writes. I wonder if “fresh” is code for “young.”

That’s not a half-bad notion, the more I think about it.

I oppose term limits for members of Congress. I suppose you could take that argument even farther by repealing the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that limits presidents to two elected terms; perhaps we could replace it with another amendment that places upper-end age limits on presidential candidates. Or would that amount to “age discrimination”? I’ll have to think about that.

Stock, though, makes another good point. She notes how the presidency has aged so many of its officeholders. President Franklin Roosevelt was not even 65 years of age when he died in April 1945 of a cerebral hemorrhage; same for President Johnson when he died in January 1973. The presidency took savage tolls on both those wartime presidents.

They were not old men when they died. The office made them much older than their years on Earth.

I’m not endorsing what Ms. Stock has proposed. I just thought it to be worth noting.

Tax returns? Are they about to surface — finally?

Donald J. Trump’s mysterious tax returns might be about to see the light of day. Finally!

More than two years ago the one-time real estate mogul and reality TV celebrity announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States. He then declined to do what other major-party candidates had done since 1976, which is release their personal income tax returns for public scrutiny.

Trump cited a “routine” tax audit. The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t comment on specific audits, but it said immediately that an audit doesn’t preclude release of returns.

That didn’t persuade Trump to do the right thing. He has kept ’em out of public view.

Now comes the House of Representatives with its new Democratic majority. The House Ways and Means Committee appears primed to get those returns, hold hearings and then will seek to release them. The president is likely to fight that effort — even though he says he has nothing to hide!

Wow! What do you think about that?

Republicans suggest Democrats are applying a double standard, that they aren’t demanding it of over presidential candidates. Others, though, have released those returns. Only the president has declined to follow a 40-plus-year political custom.

Think for just a moment:

  • Does a “routine” tax audit drag on for years? No. It doesn’t.
  • Has the president ever produced a letter from the IRS notifying him of an audit? I haven’t seen it. Have you?
  • If the president says there’s nothing to hide, no wrongdoing to be discovered, why doesn’t he release them? Well, I believe he is lying.

That leaves us with his tax returns still in hiding.

The House Ways and Means Committee says it is seeking the tax returns simply for “oversight” purposes, that it isn’t motivated by any “gotcha” effort. Whatever the motives, it is important — for the sake of the transparency that Trump advocates — for the public to see precisely how the nation’s top elected official has earned his fortune.

The president calls it “harassment.” He blames Democrats for conducting a witch hunt. He insists he has done nothing wrong, just as he said that there’s no evidence of “collusion” with Russian election thieves. His behavior and bullying of special counsel Robert Mueller III suggest something quite different.

I remain one of those nosy-Nora Americans who has every right to insist on seeing how the president of the United States has earned his fortune, whether he has followed the letter of the law.

Let us remember this critical point: The president works for us. We are the bosses. Not him.

‘AOC’ makes an immediate impression

There once was a time when rookie members of Congress languished in the shadows. They weren’t to be taken seriously by their colleagues. They weren’t to be held up for praise by their friends or condemnation by their critics.

They needed to learn the location of the restrooms on Capitol Hill. Then they could be taken seriously, or so it used to go.

Then came social media. Rookie members of Congress are able to become immediate superstars.

One of them has rocketed to the top of the public relations totem pole. Her name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly minted Democrat from New York City.

She is so famous, in fact, that she now is being referred to as “AOC.” Yep, she’s up there with JFK, RFK, MLK, LBJ, FDR. This young woman, all of 29 years of age, has held public office for less than one whole month.

Here she is. She is the talk of D.C. She is in huge demand on TV and radio talk shows. She is a self-proclaimed socialist. She wants to tax the wealthy, redistribute wealth around the country; she favors Medicare for All and single-payer health insurance.

Why do you suppose she commands all the attention? Forgive me for mentioning this, but AOC is, shall we say, quite “telegenic,” which is a politically correct way of alluding to her physical attractiveness. Yes, she is well-educated and speaks well, too.

I am inclined — given my own political leaning — to listen to what she has to say. However, I am in serious head-scratching mode about AOC. How in the name of political seniority does a rookie member of Congress such as this one command everyone’s attention?

She has angered not just Republicans but also “establishment” Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is thought to be miffed that she occasionally challenges the elders within the Democratic Party.

Her faces shows up as a social media meme. I get these posts on my Facebook news feed from conservative friends who delight in ridiculing her occasional misstatements.

She is one of 435 members of the House of Representatives. I don’t believe she represents a serious threat to establishment politicians of both parties . . . at least not yet. She needs some serious seasoning. AOC needs to get a firmer grasp on how the system works on Capitol Hill.

I am just puzzled at how this young politician has thrust herself onto the center of a large and crowded political stage.

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.