The Congress doth protest too much

If you’ve been paying attention to coverage of the impeachment process, you’ve heard things like this from the Republicans:

“This is a coup.”

“Democrats are trying to overthrow the duly-elected President.”

“We have to defend the Constitution from this attack.”

“Democrats are trying to undo the election, and the will of the American People.”

Either they are ignorant of basic civics, or they believe you are.

It’s a A Coup!: A coup is a sudden, violent, illegal seizure of power from a government. It is an egregious lie, especially for Congressmen, to call this a “coup.” Impeachment is a process prescribed by the Constitution. It’s every bit as constitutional as the Electoral College, which put Trump in office despite his losing the popular vote. Impeaching and/or removing a President from office is a major step, and one that ought to be taken with caution and solemnity. But there is nothing coup-like about it.

He was Duly Elected!: If I hear “duly-elected” one more time… Yes. He was duly elected. Of course he was. All Presidents are duly-elected. Otherwise they wouldn’t be President. The Founding Fathers still believed we needed a mechanism to remove one from office if necessary. This is the dumbest and most pointless argument out there. Ignore it.

The Constitution is Under Attack!: Yeah, we noticed. There are a whole bunch of Congressmen calling its instructions a coup, and saying you can’t impeach a President only a year before an election, even though the Constitution says no such thing.

Democrats are trying to undo the election!: Nope. Even if Trump is convicted by the Senate and removed from office, Hillary won’t become President. Mike Pence will. Everyone who voted for Trump voted for him, too. You might even say that he was duly elected.

We can debate what the founders meant by “high crimes and misdemeanors.” We can argue over whether or not Trump’s actions rise to that standard. But let’s not be fooled by transparently false claims about the impeachment process.

And it may be worthwhile to ask ourselves, if Congressional Republicans are willing to lie so blatantly about the process of impeachment, how can we believe a single thing they say about its substance?

All Hail the Chief (Or Else)

The American Dream can take many forms, and can mean different things to different people. But some people’s stories match the description in uniquely fitting ways. Alexander Vindman is one of those people.

Alexander was three years old when his Jewish family fled Soviet Ukraine. They came with $750 and the hope that life in America would be better than life under communism.

It was better, and Alexander (after graduating from college) as well as his two brothers all chose to serve in the US military. He was awarded the Purple Heart when he was injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb. After his active duty, he served the Army as a foreign area officer—a job he was well-suited for thanks to his master’s degree from Harvard in Russian, Eastern Europe, and Central Asian studies. He has served at our US Embassies in Ukraine and Russia. In 2018 he joined the National Security Council. (Source: New York Times.)

A Jewish refugee from communism, so committed to America that he bled for her, and devoted his career to her, rose through the ranks all the way to the White House. That’s an American Dream life. Who could argue that Alexander Vindman isn’t a patriot?

I’ll give you one guess.

Today, Vindman became the first sitting White House official to testify about Trump’s infamous Ukraine call. Appropriate, since Vindman was actually on the call.

“I was concerned by the call,” Vindman’s opening statement says. “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine.” (source: NBC News.)

In fact, Vindman was so concerned by the call that he reported his concerns to the National Security Council’s head attorney—twice.

In normal times, under a normal administration, in a country not diseased with fevered partisanship, we would expect a man like Alexander Vindman to be taken at his word. But these are not normal times, not a normal administration, and we are leprous with fevered partisanship.

So, we get this:

Vindman’s motives are being impugned, despite a complete lack of evidence as to his political leanings.

And this, from recently-retired Republican Congressman Sean Duffy:

On Fox, Laura Ingraham and her guests suggested Vindman might even have been engaged in espionage on behalf of Ukraine.

Got that? The wounded Iraq War vet who has spent his entire adult life serving the United States is actually a traitor secretly advocating for Ukraine, because he lived there as a baby.

This slavish devotion to one man, and the reflexive (and nonsensical) attacks on anyone and everyone who offers the slightest criticism or principled concern over his actions, is not the behavior of people with a functioning value system.

It’s the behavior of a cult.

Clown show at the Capitol

I know, I know. Evergreen title.

But Rep. Matt Gaetz and his posse of House Republicans took things to a new level yesterday with their dishonest stunt. Here’s the story—from Fox News, for those who are inclined to call me biased. Gaetz led about 30 Republicans into the closed-door impeachment hearing, demanding to know what’s going on. They’ve called it a “Soviet-style” process, claimed there is no “due process,” and the President himself tweeted that the “Do Nothing Democrats allow Republicans Zero Representation.”

Let’s review the facts.

  • This is not a trial. If the President is impeached by the House, a trial will take place in the Senate, in which the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides, House members present the prosecution’s case, the President is represented by his own attorneys, and each side has the right to call and cross-examine witnesses. A two-thirds supermajority is needed for conviction and removal from office.
  • So far, what’s happening in the House are not formal impeachment proceedings; they are an impeachment inquiry. Republicans are angry about it, but it’s not unconstitutional. Congress has the right to conduct inquiries.
  • Three House committees are authorized to sit in on the closed-door hearings: Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight. These committees total 108 members of Congress. Of the 108, 46 are Republicans. Despite what you’ve heard from Matt Gaetz and the President and your angry uncle on Facebook, 46 Republicans have had full, unrestricted access to every single second of the impeachment hearings.
  • Republicans have not been allowed to call witnesses, but they have had equal time to question the witnesses who have appeared.
  • House Congressional rules govern these proceedings, the ones Matt Gaetz and Friends are so loudly decrying. But who set the current rules? Republicans. Source: Fox News.

But worst, and most hypocritical, the Republicans who stormed in on the hearings went barging into a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.) A SCIF is a highly-secured room, built and operated explicitly to prevent the classified information being discussed within from falling into the wrong hands. Locking cabinets are located outside the room for electronic devices, which are strictly prohibited. But some of the Republicans walked right in with their phones.

The defense we’re hearing today is that those members aren’t accustomed to SCIF protocol because they don’t sit on those committees. In other words, they didn’t know any better. They didn’t mean to endanger national security. They didn’t mean to mishandle classified information.

Sound familiar?

If it’s wrong for one side, it’s wrong for the other.

Gaetz’s grandstanding is political theater. Schiff’s speech on the House floor was political theater.

What if both parties stopped rewarding and promoting clowns? What if we demanded that our leaders behave like rational adults and statesmen?

A girl can dream.

Greetings from No Man’s Land

I became homeless in March, 2016. Up until then, the GOP had been my political house. They could count on my support in every election, even though I was occasionally less than enthused about their candidates. I even served as a delegate for my district in the 2016 primaries. 

But Trump happened. I watched in amusement, then disbelief, then horror, as a lifelong big-government liberal with the morals of a mob boss and the personality of a middle school bully steadily climbed in the polls. I watched the debates, trying to figure out what people saw in him, but all I saw were lame insults and half-baked policy ideas, delivered with comical bravado. 

So many times, I thought he’d committed political suicide, that his campaign would surely not survive his latest offensive remark or clear exposure of his unfitness for office.

  • He doxxed a fellow candidate on live TV. 
  • He promised over and over that Mexico would pay for a wall. (How did anyone ever take him seriously after this? How?)
  • He said this about his only female fellow candidate, Carly Fiorina: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?”
  • He retweeted white supremacists when they praised him.
  • He declined to disavow David Duke, claiming he didn’t know who he was. (He did.)
  • He retweeted this image of Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi, alongside Melania Trump: 
  • He publicly repeated a National Enquirer tabloid story insinuating that Ted Cruz’s father helped Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate JFK. 
  • He said this to Jeb Bush during a debate: “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Remember that.”
  • But even if we put all those aside, as long as I live, I will never, never understand how this was not the end of it:

And this is just the primaries, folks. I haven’t even touched on the presidential campaign, or his administration so far. 

The point is, I stopped considering myself a Republican as soon as it became clear that the party was willing to allow a man like this to become their standard-bearer. I love this country too much. I respect myself too much. 

I can already hear the outraged cries from many of you, dear readers. “But Hillary!” Bear with me. I have not forgotten her. 

The most accurate way to sum up the 2016 election is that each side nominated the only candidate who could possibly have lost to the other. All Democrats had to do was not nominate Hillary Clinton. She was the most unpopular presidential candidate since they started tracking the statistic over 30 years ago (with the sole exception of—you guessed it—Donald Trump.) Not only did they nominate her, they screwed over Bernie Sanders in the process, angering his supporters and losing part of their base. Whine about the FBI all you want. If you don’t want the FBI involved in a presidential election, don’t nominate someone under FBI investigation. Denounce Russian meddling all you want—I certainly will. It happened, and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen again. But Russians didn’t force HRC to take Wisconsin for granted, or to call half the country “deplorable.” Most Democrats I know still have not admitted that they lost this election because Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate. Embrace the truth, my friends. It will set you free—free to choose a better nominee next time. 

Many of my friends and relatives, people I love and respect, voted for Donald Trump in November of 2016. A few were enthusiastic about it. I will never understand that sentiment. Most of them, however, held their noses and cast a vote against Hillary Clinton. I can understand this. I disagreed, then and now, but I understand. 

I have Democrat friends and relatives, too, people I love and respect, who voted for Hillary Clinton. A few were enthusiastic about it. I will never understand that sentiment. Many of them weren’t enthused about her, but felt it was an easy choice to cast a vote against Donald Trump. I can understand this. I disagreed, then and now, but I understand. 

I’ve seen Democrats on social media urging NeverTrump conservatives like me to vote Democrat just until Trump is out of office. To help restore some modicum of sanity to our government. I don’t blame them for trying, and I know some Republicans are planning to do just that. But other than opposition to Trump, what does the Democratic Party have to offer me? They call me callous and greedy for disagreeing with them about how best to fix health care, even though their last sweeping health care legislation has been the worst thing my government has ever done to my family. They virtually call me a murderer every time someone else shoots up a school. They tell me that if my young son experiences gender confusion, he is definitely, literally a girl, and I if I hesitate to give him irreversible, life-altering treatments, it’s because my heart is filled with hatred and bigotry—even that I am abusive, and the government should take him away from me for his own safety. Then the same people tell me that that same son I felt growing and moving in my womb was not a human being, and that I had a sacred right to kill him if I chose. All while claiming to be the party of science. 

No. There is no place for me in that party. 

So. I’ll wander for a while, here in the political wilderness. Maybe the GOP will be salvaged someday. Maybe it will purge the xenophobes and demagogues and hypocrites and outright racists from among its ranks. I’m not holding my breath.  

I can wait. It’s lonely here, but I sleep well at night.