Point of View Columns

The End of an Error

End of an Error

With the end of the Trump presidency it would seem that the entire nation, indeed the entire world, breathed a sigh of relief with the hope that the Trump Pandemic would be gone. There is now no doubt that Trump was the worst president in the history of the United States vanquishing Richard Nixon, Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore and Andrew Johnson in a race to the bottom. But there is also no doubt that it is at least possible that Trump has made it possible that there will be a president worse than him sooner than later.

By shattering all presidential norms, treating governmental institutions like his personal property and treating the American people as his subjects he has certainly cleared the way for another, even more malign version of himself. After all, over 74 million presumably conscious and functionally intelligent Americans voted for Trump – warts and all.

The end of the Trump presidency actually began with the inauguration of Joe Biden. President Biden delivered what was arguably one of the best inaugural speeches in presidential history. Lifting the stain of Trump from the fabric of American politics will take a long time, but President Biden spoke to this issue with the very clear statement – “Don’t tell me things can’t change”. It does remain to be seen how long it will take for things to change.

It is noteworthy that President Biden became the first president in history to declare war on white supremacy and the nihilist domestic terrorists who espouse this vile philosophy. Of course, it is also noteworthy that it was not until the year 2021 that an American president declared war on white supremacy.

And as much of the nation struggled to wrench the memories of the January 6th Insurrection from our collective memory, a true ray of hope and possible dreams made itself known. For following President Biden’s inaugural speech, and Lady Gaga had sung the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez had sung America the Beautiful, a glorious National Poet Laureate appeared. Amanda Gorman is a 22-year-old Black woman who embodies genius and spectacular vision.

She delivered a poem which was written for the moment, just as Amanda Gorman was born for this day. There would be no way to recount all of the content of that poem, but let it suffice to say that she brought tears of joy and hope and remembered pain to the face of America. It is almost a travesty to quote her poem because the entire masterpiece deserves to be quoted and remembered and memorized. The pearls that she offered to the world included:

  • Too often Just Is is not Justice
  • There’s always light if only we are brave enough to see it

And so very much more. Her words belong to all who made that day possible – indeed her word belongs to the ages already.

The celebrations of the rest of the day were amazing and uplifting and inspiring. But it remains to be seen what happens when the real work of repairing the spirit of a nation and its people begins.

And, as we witness The End of the Error, it is so important to make sure that America does not make the mistake of not taking fascist and authoritarian rhetoric and those who utter such words seriously. It is true that no one could imagine that Trump could be as bad as he turned out to be. Clearly we suffered from a failure of imagination.

America dodged a nuclear powered laser beam of tyranny and destruction……this time.

As a nation we cannot afford to ever fail this way again.

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Point of View Columns

Don’t Believe Your Lying Eyes

It is a crystal clear fact that by now the question is no longer could or should Donald Trump be impeached. The only question is whether he will be impeached as the known facts give a sufficient basis for impeachment, even in this highly partisan political universe in which we live.

We have heard Trump supporters such as Senator Marco Rubio proclaim that Trump was just joking when he publicly asked the Chinese government to investigate Joe Biden and his son. And the only response that might even be remotely useful is to ask those supporters to turn back the hands of time to 2015 and to consider their response if President Barack Obama had publicly asked the Chinese government to investigate Mitt Romney and his many sons.

Not that logic has a place at the table these days, but it is simply impossible to imagine any president of the United States, from the hapless Warren G. Harding to the racist and hate-soaked Andrew Johnson to the venal Richard Nixon, who on their worst day would not have asked a foreign nation to assist them in their reelection efforts – much less to “find dirt” on them. And it is a sad but true commentary on the times in which we live that there is even a conversation as to whether Trump’s ham handed attempts at international electoral intrigue are objectionable and impeachable – of course they are.

The real question now is whether institutions established over two centuries ago will withstand the stress test of a President of the United States – and his enablers – who simply refuses to accept or respect the legitimacy of these institutions. The further test is whether norms and protocols of conduct not necessarily set forth in the Constitution will have any future meaning or value if Trump can simply wipe his considerable feet and tiny hands on them without any consequence.

It is clear that at this point in time that Trump feels that he need not treat Congress as a branch of government co-equal to that of the Executive branch. If he can ignore a valid subpoena from Congress without obtaining some kind of judicial approbation, then he is literally declaring the supremacy of the presidency over both the judicial and legislative branches of the federal government. And this, it should be pointed out, is exactly what the framers of the Constitution sought to avoid.

But we are now long past the time for debating how many so-called Founding Fathers can stand on the head of a pin. Now that Trump has defied Congress and will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, Congress really has no way to enforce any aspect of its impeachment inquiry except by going to the Supreme Court.

If the majority of the Supreme Court – including recent Trump appointees Gorsuch and Kavanaugh – stay true to their political DNA Congress and the people who elected its members will continue to be stonewalled by the Trump White House and any subsequent impeachment action will be diminished. If the Supreme Court supports Congress the question still stands – how will the Constitution and the norms and protocols of the American government be enforced when the president simply refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Constitution and those norms and protocols?

We are literally at the precipice of an unprecedented constitutional crisis that, if not resolved soon, can end very badly for this country.

The danger is clear and present.

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Point of View Columns

Prelude to Impeachment

Since the evening of the  very day day he was inaugurated as President of the United States on January 19, 2009, the opposition to Barack Obama has sought to delegitimize his presidency, obstruct his administration all the while dismissing his achievements and exaggerating his missteps. The results have been mixed. President Obama was reelected by a sizeable vote in 20012. Today his poll numbers are at an all-time low. On the Planet Teapublican that means it is time to play the Impeachment Card.

Only two American presidents have been impeached – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton (Richard Nixon narrowly escaped almost certain impeachment and subsequent conviction by resigning and fleeing the White House in disgrace). It is worth noting that neither impeachment resulted in conviction, leading to the slightly obvious conclusion that these proceedings were politically motivated rather than being inspired by actual “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

The politically charged atmosphere of the Obama Administration where the clouds of  negative ions are almost visible, it should come as no surprise that Teapublicans are feeling more empowered to use the “I” word every day. Of course it is hard to bring impeachment proceedings just because his very presence in the White House offends the racial and political sensibilities of his opposition. That is where the Prelude to Impeachment becomes a part of the always rickety and forever bizarre Teapublican strategy.

While highly respected constitutional scholars like Sarah Palin and Darrell Issa have opined that there are already grounds to impeach President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner has settled on a game plan that begins with the House of Representatives filing a lawsuit against the president. The basis for this lawsuit appears to center around the use of executive orders and the president exercising his discretion in the face of historic Congressional inaction.

It must be noted that lawsuits have been filed by Congress against the President in years past. But this planned lawsuit must be seen within the context of a six year campaign to get Barack Obama out of the White House by any means necessary.

The “birther” mania, while brainless and idiotic, was given CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation through nuance, implication and inference by the likes of John Boehner, Mitt Romney and other “serious Teapublicans”, to say nothing of the braying of Donald Trump, the screeching of Sarah Palin and the caterwauling of Michele Bachmann. Even the dimmest of these dim bulbs have always known that the “birther” strategy was not going to work, but it represented a few grains of hope on the hard scrabble earth of truth and reality.

Now there is some real sustenance for the meat eaters on the right. A lawsuit sounds sane and reasonable and it involves real lawyers and real judges – nothing nutty like questioning the provenance of a birth certificate. A lawsuit by the United States Congress sounds reality-based and if it wasn’t in the sixth year of the Obama Era, it might possible that there would be a credible basis for legal action.

But this is the sixth year of the Obama Era and it is hard to separate the delegitimizing efforts of these six years from this proposed lawsuit. The fact that law school professors and other “scholars” have supported the notion of this lawsuit misses the point.

The proposed lawsuit is a clear Prelude to Impeachment. The Teapublican strategy can be described as follows:
1. File a lawsuit against President Obama claiming that he has overstepped his constitutional boundaries.
2. Tie up the Obama Administration and the media attention for the next few months.
3. Await the 2014 election results.
4. Regardless results of the election and the lawsuit commence impeachment proceedings in 2015.
5. Tie up the Obama Administration and media attention for all of 2015.
6. Even with the likely event that President Obama will not be convicted even if he is impeached, leave President Obama as the lamest of lame ducks in 2016 with his legacy forever tarnished.

This is the Teapublican strategy which, if you will notice, does nothing to address the economy, the environment, the infrastructure, immigration reform or healthcare. All that this strategy represents is the last major assault by the Teapublicans against President Obama. A last gasp, if you will.

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