2019/12/30

I read a Fox News article

Disgraced former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich looks back at the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 and remarks on the differences between then and now.

Some observations about that:

1. Both the President and Congress were highly productive in 1998. This is true. According to the Clerk of the House, there were 547 roll call votes in 1998, but there were 701 roll call votes in 2019. So yes, the Congress of 1998 was busy, but the Congress of 2019 was busier.

2. Many Democrats voted to impeach Clinton. Again, this is true. The Republican Party is much more cohesive and united today then Democrats  were back then. As a blogger has pointed out though, the case that Republicans have made that the President is innocent of the charges against him is awfully threadbare. "And at that point, the president and his party said the impeachment process was unfair because … well, just because."

3.
Now, we are watching the culmination of Pelosi’s two-and-a-half-year impeachment effort – in which the Democrats failed to find anything close to a crime.
Couple of quibbles: Pelosi herself has not been conducting all of the various investigations of the President and Congress did find specific statutes that he violated. There's a reason the Constitution includes the vague term "high Crimes and Misdemeanors." But certainly the President has been investigated for pretty much his entire term.  Gee, I wonder why that is:
Democrats have also charged Trump with obstruction of Congress based on his stonewalling of the House’s impeachment inquiry. The White House has refused to provide documents to congressional investigators and has instructed top advisers and government officials to defy subpoenas and refuse to testify.
It's not like people have examined the evidence and have decided that the President is innocent, it's that We The People have been spending this whole time trying to uncover the evidence.

2019/12/07

More presidential overreach - Puerto Rico

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on why the Trump Administration felt free to refuse to spend money that Congress had appropriated for the purpose of arming Ukraine: 

“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney said, adding “Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.”

Well, now it seems that there's yet another Congressional priority that the Trump Administration just doesn't feel like spending money on, Puerto Rico's hurricane damage. Ben Carson, the Secretary for HUD, is the one who's doing the actual withholding of money. His reason is allegedly that Puerto Rico is incapable of managing that money without turning it to corrupt purposes. The people from HUD made it clear to Congress that they had no statutory authority to withhold funds. They just arbitrarily and unilaterally decided to do that.

The blogger cites the case of the $31k dining room table that Secretary Carson wanted for his office and asks, quite reasonably I think, what on earth makes Carson qualified to supervise any other office to spend money in a responsible manner? Why does any Cabinet Secretary need a dining room set to begin with? If he or she wants to entertain lobbyists, citizens, friends or relatives, they have restaurants in the area they can do that at. In 2018, Carson had around $180 million in personal assets. He's perfectly capable of buying his own dining room set and moving it into his office at HUD if he likes. If not, for eating in the office, the regular government supply office can supply perfectly adequate tables.

Again, the Trump Administration is playing fast and loose with the spending of money. If the president can spend or not spend money however he pleases, the separation of powers, the ability of Congress to control spending, becomes meaningless.

BTW, my favorite example of Carson and how he administers HUD is still the "Oreo" incident. He confused the term REO (Real Estate Owned) with the cookie. What the hell is wrong with someone who had been in office for over two years and still didn't know basic terms?!?!?!

2019/12/04

Two claims from the President

President:
“The Democrats have gone crazy… they have to be careful because when the shoe’s on the other foot and someday hopefully in the very long distant future, you’ll have a Democrat [sic] president, you’ll have a Republican House and they’ll do the same thing because somebody picked an orange out of the refrigerator and you don’t like it.”
So, the Democrats should be aware that something like Bill Clinton's 1998 impeachment could happen. The Republican Party could undertake a completely partisan impeachment for trivial reasons. Hmm. Okay. Got it.

Why the President doesn't want any of his people testifying at the impeachment hearings:
“I would like them to testify but these are very unfair hearings,” the president insisted. “For the hearings, we don’t get a lawyer, we don’t get any witnesses. We want [Joe] Biden, we want the son, Hunter. Where’s Hunter? We want the son. We want Schiff. We want to interview these people.”
So he'd prefer a lot of distractions as opposed to serious witnesses who would shed light on his actions. Why is this? Unfortunately, starting with President Nixon, but really accelerating with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the Republican Party has become hyper-partisan. We saw this extreme partisanship during the presidency of Barack Obama, with the Senate Minority, then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, sacrificing national well-being, goals and priorities for purely partisan gains.
The Republican Party under McConnell never showed why the ACA/Obamacre was a bad thing or how it could be improved upon, it just dug in its heels and opposed it, period! During the President's impeachment hearings, we have not seen any members of the President's party crossing the aisle to condemn Trump's actions, even though Democrats have made a very clear case that the crimes he has been charged with are very real, have been amply proven and are very deeply serious.