Living Large In Carson City: Tis The Season To Be Jolly . . . Not Edition

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
John Adams

This week the House of Representatives voted to go forward with the impeachment inquiry laying down the groundwork of how the public hearing will be conducted. Conventional wisdom would have one to believe the Republicans would be somewhat mollified with the vote. Think again. Weeks of complaining about lack of transparency in the behind closed doors disposition hearings, lack of ability to cross exam witnesses by the Republican lawmakers, no official full House vote for an impeachment inquiry, and the old standby, the proceeding were unconstitutional, all fell by the wayside. In one contested vote of 232/196 , the Democrats answered and addressed those spurious claims by granting nearly all of the Republicans’ previous demands.

Tom Boggioni of Raw Story reported,

Prior to the vote, Republicans were already calling the impeachment hearing and vote a “sham.” They argued against it vociferously.

As for what happens next, the New York Times reports that the proposed resolution, “would authorize the House Intelligence Committee — the panel that has been leading the investigation and conducting private depositions — to convene public hearings and produce a report that will guide the Judiciary Committee as it considers whether to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump.”

Additionally, “The measure would also give the president rights in the Judiciary Committee, allowing his lawyers to participate in hearings and giving Republicans the chance to request subpoenas for witnesses and documents.” Raw Story

Rep. Loopy Louie Gohmert went so far as to accuse the Democrats of staging a coup, confirming in the minds of many that Loopy Louie doesn’t understand the difference between a coup and upholding the constitution. He continued with his derogatory comments by claiming his fear that the country will be thrown into a civil war if the Democrats get their way, and armed conflict won’t be out of the question. Besides verging on sedition, his comments on the floor of the House tell a distressing tale of just how far some in the Republican Party will go to drive the country into an outright oligarchy more than it has become under the reign of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.

It defies common sense how the Republicans seem to have forfeited their patriotism and love of the country to acquiesce to the demands of the president. The question of a quid quo pro between Trump flunkies and the Ukraine is proven day in day out as officials go before committee after committee and affirm that many in the mix of career professionals diplomats all found the president’s actions with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky little more than a strong arm tacit to illicit dirt on Joe Biden. Trump continues to cry “perfect telephone call” in the face of mounting evidence that perfect is not an appropriate adjective for what went down.

Yet another symptom of the rot that Trump brought to the table can be seen in the number of officials who have been served subpoenas, yet ignored them and refused to give depositions to relevant committees on the Ukrainian debacle. Imagine if a normal middle or lower class individual decided to ignore a subpoena from a grand jury. The ink wouldn’t have time to dry on the arrest warrant before the person would be picked up and placed in custody. Criminal defense attorneys, Broden and Mickelsen from Dallas, lay out the consequences for ignoring either a state or federal grand jury subpoena in their company’s blog stating,

Whether you’ve received a subpoena to appear as a witness or a subpoena duces tecum, it’s never a good idea to simply ignore the subpoena. If you ignore a subpoena, a judge could hold you in criminal contempt and punish you accordingly.

Under Texas law, the judge has the authority to impose a fine on individuals who refuse to cooperate with a subpoena. For misdemeanor cases, the fine is $100. In felony cases, the fine can be as high as $500. Judges in Texas also have the authority to issue an arrest warrant for individuals who fail to comply with a subpoena.

Likewise, under federal law, judges have the power to hold a person who refuses to comply with a subpoena in criminal contempt. The judge can impose fines or order the person jailed for up to six months. If the person is convicted for criminal contempt, the person could serve even more time in jail. Broden and Mickelsen

The fact that Trump’s minions under his direction decided to ignore the subpoenas is not a surprise. The lawlessness of this administration is a given at this point considering his lies and flaunting of the Constitution and the rule of law. A biting dog is going to bite. It’s in their nature, and they are unable to act any differently. No, the blame in this case lies squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats in the House. Police personnel are taught when they draw their weapon they must be committed to using it if the situation warrants violent response. The Democrats don’t seem to get that when it comes to subpoenas. If Trump and his underlyings choose to act criminally, they should be treated as criminals.

The Democrats are not without enforcement powers. One of the more effective powers is the process of “inherent contempt” of Congress. Roll Call , a Washington based political publication on all things to do with Congress, describes the “inherent contempt” process like this,

Inherent contempt is Congress’ power — as implied but not directly stated in the Constitution — to enforce congressional subpoenas or respond to actions seen as obstructing their oversight and legislative processes.

Each chamber has the authority to unilaterally exercise that power by adopting a resolution authorizing its sergeant-at-arms to execute an arrest warrant against an official who refuses to comply with Congress. Roll Call

Why the Democrats are reluctant to exercise their right to penalize subpoena scofflaws is puzzling to say the least. Conventional wisdom would expect Trump to immediately pardon anyone scooped up and processed for breaking the law, but that might trigger even graver consequences for the president. Obstruction of Justice charges could be filed against him for further eroding the legislative process and the check and balance powers belonging to Congress. Possibly, the Democrat leadership wants to make as few waves as possible on the political front in fear of being blamed for staging a real “witch hunt” and alienating Independents and moderate Republicans who are in agreement that the subpoenas should not be ignored.

The one thing for certain is that America is deeply divided and getting more so every day. With the Trump media constantly repeating his lies to a rabid base and people like Gohmert making outlandish predictions, it is little wonder that the country is being torn apart due to Trump’s criminal activities. One wonders if there are any Republicans in Congress that see what is happening and will turn back to protecting the Constitution and the three branches of our Democratic republic. Or is it already too late with too many lies backed, too many scandals brewing, and a defiant tyrant seated in the Oval Office.

In the quote at the top of the page, Adams posits, “There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” This is the position that Americans find themselves in today. Is Democratic suicide inevitable? Can Congress pull the country back from the brink? Will cooler heads prevail and redirect the country’s debilitating demise away from ending this country’s glorious run on the world stage? The next few weeks should tell. 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: The Crazies Are In Control Of the Asylum Edition

Any serious shift towards more sustainable

societies has to include gender equality.   Helen Clark

The Trump clown car just took a hard right to the edge of the proverbial cliff and shows no signs of slowing down . . . again. As if the administration, and Republicans in general, didn’t have enough on their plates what with the Muller investigation, subverting the rule of law, subpoena scoff laws, a basic misunderstanding of how tariffs work, or even Donald, Jr.’s lying to Congress woes, now they are after women and LGBTQ people . . . again. Some days it appears conservatives are really just B actors auditioning for stand up comedy roles in a not funny and sad parody of a panned episode of The Office. Their efforts, as sincere as they might be, are hard to understand, and at times, just downright loopy.

Example 1: Let’s continue to take away a woman’s right to choose . . .  again.

If Americans haven’t been paying attention, and let’s face it, many Americans tuned out the demise of Western Civilization the day Trump took office, those pesky fly over, southern, evangelical wackos are at it again. The tune is as old as the Women’s Movement, “Abortion bad, ugh! Man say no.” Of course, this is just another verse of the old favorite, “98 Feminists on the Wall” sung to the tune of “98 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” but meaner and less enlightened. From Alabama to Ohio, Neanderthal state legislators are trying to undo 45 years of Roe vs Wade. Correction: not undo it, but rather, smash the hell out of it.

Early abortion bans, known as ‘heartbeat bills,’ are being proposed in at least ten states. So far, those in MissouriMississippiTennesseeGeorgia, and Kentucky have advanced the farthest in state legislatures.

The bills would outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat is present, which can be found within six weeks of the beginning of a pregnancy.

Despite the wave of new proposed legislation, every ‘heartbeat’ bill passed to date has been overturned in state or federal court.

In other states, those bills were never signed into law. NBCNews

It’s actually understandable that this would be happening now. If Donald Trump is anything, he understands tapping into the angst and anger of his solidly loyal base. It’s hard to imagine the Orange One caring about anything other than his own ego, but by backing his people on an issue like this one, no matter how unpopular they may be,  he knows he can depend upon them come 2020. But Americans might say, the article states that all of the passed bills have been overturned or never signed into law. True, but that isn’t what this is about in the end. This is one of those situations where evangelical Christians are throwing everything they can up against the wall and hoping something sticks.

This term turns my stomach, but they really are “playing the long game” here. Their goal and end destination in mind is the United States Supreme Court. The high court that Trump has appointed two sycophant cronies to in the persons of Neil Gosurch, and wait for it, “I like Beer” Brett Kavanaugh.  Gorsuch showed a flair for choosing the worst quote possible for his Columbia University yearbook when he quoted Henry Kissinger who once said, ” “The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” Kavanaugh isn’t worth quoting in this post, simply because, he may not have ever had an original thought in his head as demonstrated in his confirmation hearing.

Evangelical legislators understand the dynamic of the Supreme Court today and hope against hope that one of their “heartbeat bills” makes it on the docket in months or years to come. There again, however, there seems to be a bit of hope, in that, the court has ruled on Roe vs Wade many times and seems reluctant to go against precedent. Still, hope springs eternal in the tiny minds of these seriously misguided legislative hacks.

Example 2: Hell, they’re queer. They don’t deserve no stinkin’ rights.

This one is just downright batshit crazy. The players include run-of-the-mill wacko evangelicals, wacko evangelical United States Congressmen and women, and the American LGBTQ community. The bill was presented to Congress stating,

Introduced in House (03/13/2019) This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.

As Ronald Reagan once said, “America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere”, one would think that ensuring a portion of American society has equal rights would not be an issue. Think again. On one chilling note, when the bill made it to debate, some of the amendments proposed were down right laughable. One is more than a little, well, confusing,

The distinction for the most condescending and superficial amendment goes to Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), who proposed an amendment to change the Equality Act to to the “Forfeiting Women’s Rights Act” . . .

A total of 34 amendments were submitted Friday to the House Rules Committee, which will evaluate the measures during a committee session and determine which are eligible for a vote on the floor . . .

Republicans proposed 28 of those amendments, many of which are anti-trans in nature or seek to broaden the religious exemption in the bill to allow anti-LGBT discrimination. The Washington Blade

Some of the amendments were meant as clarification like exempting abortion from the mix, securing parental rights, and others that tried to water down the impact of the bill, but some were downright frightening,

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who has a long anti-LGBT record in Congress, proposed an amendment that would restore the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, making anti-LGBT discrimination possible under that law. Fourteen of Gohmert’s Republican colleagues co-sponsored the amendment. The Washington Blade

This is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s safe to say there is an overarching anti-LGBTQ tenor to the Republican amendments to the point of paranoia. Granted, this is a flash point issue, one that evokes strong opinions on both sides. Yet, in the 21st century, to read the hateful thoughts of  some of our elected officials who have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States demonstrating their true beliefs on this topic does, and should give, every American pause. Just for the record, the Trump/Pence White House came out in opposition to the bill.

Example 3: Trump and Bob Barr are beyond redemption

A Raw Story headline says it best, Shocker: Trump and Barr refuse to defend ban on female genital mutilation. Yes, you read correctly, female genital mutilation, or FGM. One might ask why is this an issue in America? For the last 20 years, it hasn’t been because of a ban on the procedure. The ban, however, was recently struck down because of a loophole found in a court case discussed in the article. Now, normal thinking Americans who love their daughters and mothers would naturally assume that the ban would be looked at, the loophole closed, reinstated, and everything would be peachy. You would be wrong. Not in Trump and his lapdog Attorney General, Bob Barr’s, world.

The DOJ could have appealed the ruling, but Francisco told Feinstein there’s no legal basis to defend the 20-year-old ban, and therefore it’ll allow the law to disappear. It’s up to Congress, the Trump administration wrote, to amend the law or to pass a new one. If that sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve seen this tactic before. This is also how Trump dealt with DACA as well as his current strategy for repealing the Affordable Care Act. Kill it then use it as leverage. It wouldn’t shock me if we discovered Trump planned to use the FGM issue as a negotiation ploy, just like the ACA and DACA. We haven’t heard any rumors to that effect, but the precedent exists. The Raw Story

Negotiation ploy? Let’s be clear. Trump and Barr are willing to allow young girls to be physically restrained by their families, or worse, by complete strangers, to be held down, their most private parts removed in the most horrific manner, or as the article states, “. . . using everything from “knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass or razor blades”, and this is not an issue our president finds worthy of supporting a ban on?

Before I began writing this post, I thought America was in crazy times. Now, it’s Mad Max and the Thunder Dome reality. Don’t be alarmed by the sound of a revving engine. It’s Trump’s clown car picking up speed.