Tag Archives: Congress

High Time To Impeach?

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Our Chief Executive, Donald Trump, has been under investigation, starting with the 2016 presidential campaign, when he was a candidate, for selling out the nation to the Russians to get elected.

Perhaps, in exchange, Trump was expected to ease sanctions against Russia should he get elected.

Russia’s digital black jobs and widespread high tech deceits were contrived to influence the election entirely to Trump’s benefit.

Former FBI Director Comey refused to assure Trump he was not under investigation, nor would he give Trump’s security adviser Mr. Flynn a pass for concealing talks that Flynn had about sanctions with the Russian Ambassador.

Trump fired Comey because of the Russian investigation, and said so.

After 22 months, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who picked up where Comey left off, had a lot to say about Russia’s misconduct, but reserved his most forceful analysis for 10 instances of obstruction by Mr. Trump.

Mueller wrote a road map for the U.S. Congress to consider possible impeachment.

Remember how Shakespeare wrote of a ruler’s corrupting influence on a nation state.

Hamlet said, “The time is out of joint; – O cursed spite.”

He continued, “That ever I was born to set it right!”

Our time is “out of joint” and we must very soon “set it right.” Continue reading

A nation of suspects – that’s no worthy memorial

towersburningWhen we enter any public building, however responsible, respectable or harmless we are, we are likely to be patted down – like a criminal.

We are presumed to be suspect since 9-11, an unworthy memorial for those who died that day.

I was a congressional chief of staff, working in the Cannon House Office Building, when 9-11 occurred.

Police, Fire and rescue workers, and many citizens ran to help others, risking their lungs and their lives, some dying to save persons that they did not know.

Most members of Congress, in contrast, went to ground, and were not found until the all-clear signal.

Members of Congress told the nation it was safe to fly, while they stayed put in Washington.

Some Members of Congress thought to deny access to government buildings, defying Thomas Jefferson’s admonition that a government closed to the public was no democracy.

Some Members talked about dropping nuclear weapons on foreign nation-states – although they weren’t certain which ones.

Congress spoke with gusto about our freedoms as they rushed to crush them in the ironically named Patriot Act. The Benedict Arnold Bill would have been a more fitting name for betraying every person’s right to be free of suspicion. The wrongly named Patriot Act allowed warrantless searches of our information and lately we’ve learned how extensive this intrusion by NSA into our privacy was. Congress nevertheless has been debating in recent days whether to extend these invasive practices.
On the evening that Congress took up the Patriot Act, unable to stomach the debate, I went for a run before the vote, making my way from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. It was dark. I found a candle lit vigil by the reflecting pool, and stopped to hear ordinary citizens, arranged in a circle of life, discussing, in respectful muted voices, the terror but also the bravery of American men and women on that fateful day.
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Their love of the nation, the honor they bestowed on others, the hope they represented for the nation stood in stark contrast to their Congress at work, not that far away, voting that very evening to suspect every one of these good people and every other American.

We had a chance to come together after the terrible events on 9-11, to harness the can-do feeling and courage of our citizens, also to join hands across the oceans with nations around the world.

We forged instead a separation that divides our house at home and abroad.

Even now, we have to debate whether to take the Patriot Act off life support.

Even now, we war in Iraq.

This nation must set a new course in memory of who we were before 9-11.

We are all in this together, working toward that more perfect union, but so very imperfectly, and we can’t presume there’s anything exceptional about this nation if it won’t treat our neighbors better at home and abroad.

I attended a High School reunion at a Jesuit School in the Bronx, and, having nothing to do while waiting, studied a mural, of persons ministering to the young, the sick, and the old.

These are the Christian values that our pols speak about but disregard in their workaday quotidian practices.

Whether we honestly hold these values, by religious belief or political or ethical philosophy, it is the path, by which we may put an end to our inward-turning, self-centered dystopic culture of fear making us all suspects instead of citizens in the land we once proudly described as the land of the free and a home for the brave.

1984

John Flannery 1984

John Flannery 1984

In 1984, I was running for Congress, as the Democratic nominee for the 10th Congressional district, standing on the floor of the Democratic convention in San Francisco, when New York Governor Mario Cuomo challenged the convention and the nation to get on with the business of the American people.  What he said then remains as urgent today.

As it was true of President Ronald Reagan, we shall soon experience a Republican leadership in our U.S. Congress who invoke the golden rule but their actions and words tell us that what they really believe is “social Darwinism” that, as the Governor said then, means the nation “should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest,” so that “what falls from the table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class.”

Republicans who so easily invoke Judeo-Christian “values” believe, not what Jesus said in his  Sermon on the Mount, namely, that the meek shall inherit the earth, but that only the strong shall.

I believe, as the Governor said then, that “we can make it all the way with the whole family [of men and women, children and seniors] intact.”  This is a more worthy legacy for public service than what we’ve been getting.  Millions now have health care who didn’t.  The Republican leadership looks to deny that coverage. Continue reading

The scent of reform

Lawrence Gaughan, 5th District Congressional Candidate (photo by John P. Flannery)

Lawrence Gaughan, 5th District Congressional Candidate (photo by John P. Flannery)

Lawrence Gaughan, 47, his family name pronounced “Gone,” as in “Gone with the Wind,” has launched a special political campaign in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District as the Democratic nominee.

“This is the district,” Lawrence says, “where it all began,” a large district from Fauquier in the North to Danville, where the nation was conceived, declared independent of Great Britain, given birth when the constitution was ratified, and re-born at Appomattox after our civil war.

In a year with few rhetorical campaign excursions beyond the same-old wedge issues that manipulate voters at the polls in cookie cutter campaigns, Lawrence is staking out some plain talking common sense basics to get the nation going again, focusing on governing our nation, instead of tearing it apart.

Continue reading

Government inaction

There are dual claims to good government, first, we need access to know what the selected “elected” are doing, and, second, we need to have the truth when they purport to tell us what they’re “really” doing.

The political class often fails miserably to conform with either of these two basic principles of transparency which is absolutely necessary so that we can decide whether we need to appear at hearings, to object to proposed policy initiatives, and to vote for our representatives.

While this applies to all government, we cannot ignore the fact that the entire U.S. House of Representatives is up for election this year, so we have an amazing opportunity to get answers while these candidates are the most vulnerable, namely, when they want our vote.

We must demand that every congressional candidate tell us what he’s going to do differently to make Congress work, lest we fail to ask, and are forced to watch another season of that too terrible, long-running, reality c-span tv show, “Government Inaction!” Continue reading

The Worst Person in the Universe: Congressman Frank Wolf

Hat tip to Nolan Dalla for awarding Congressman Frank Wolf The Worst Person in the Universe award. Dalla writes:

Rep. Wolf is a longtime Republican congressman from Virginia.  He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives way back in 1980, riding the cozy coattails of Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory.  Since then, Rep. Wolf has been as faithful as a potted plant, deeply rooted to every corporate-funded, neoconservative, right-wing cause.  Like a slice of cold stale pizza, he’s one of the final leftovers of the late Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority,” a witch-hunting political movement of Bible-thumpers who once professed to know what’s good for us all, and was dedicated to transforming America into a modern theocracy named “Jesusville.”

In his so-called retirement, Wolf will continue to work with the worst theocratic elements in American society. His retirement statement says, emphasis and annotations mine:

Continue reading

Dick Black considering (or not) a run for Wolf seat

How exciting! Add Dick Black’s name to the list of “noted conservative swashbucklers” allegedly vying to replace Frank Wolf that currently includes Tareq Salahi, Barbara Comstock, John Stirrup and Ken Cuccinelli. But we don’t know why he announced his exploratory committee on Facebook yesterday, only to then have the announcement quickly removed from Republican sites. The post below has been disappeared. Oops?

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For all the careful image management of retiring Frank Wolf as a “moderate” Republican (despite all evidence to the contrary BENGHAZI BENGHAZI BENGHAZI FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENT), it would seem that moderates are suddenly in short supply.

Continue reading

A Bare Minimum

The minimum hourly wage

The minimum hourly wage

We are against slavery.

So, how little in wages may we pay so that we are not some latter day variant of the old South’s peculiar institution?

Are we going to pay so paltry an hourly wage that someone has to force an employer to do the right thing – to pay a decent wage?

The answer is yes – that’s exactly what we’ve had to do, and now the established “minimum” is itself too little.

This nation has an unflattering history of employers taking advantage of workers unfairly.

Children were forced to work in sweat shops under such harsh conditions that we had to outlaw this child abuse.

Workers were in harness for so many hours, they’d drop, and we had to establish legislative standards limiting how long an employer could force one to work.

There have also always been employers who paid too little for an hour of work.

We talk about compassion, but too many employers scrimp on what they pay a worker, take advantage of their desperation, increase their profits at the expense of a worker’s misery, by denying him a decent wage. 

Continue reading

Anarchy?

Henry David Thoreau said he heartily agreed with that Jeffersonian remark, “that government is best which governs least.”

He said, however, he’d go one better, believing “That government is best which governs not at all.”

Henry was, in truth and fact, a non-violent anarchist.

Some might think our current brand of green tea anarchists from mostly red states draw wisdom from Henry when enthusiastically shutting down the government – invoking the Affordable Care Act (ACA)(or Obamacare) as their pretext for what they’ve wanted to do ever since they’ve dominated the House Republican Caucus in the U.S. Congress and dictated what the Speaker may move to the floor for a vote.

But Henry’s no-government anarchism presumed a precondition, that would be satisfied “when men are prepared for it, [and then] that will be the kind of government which they will have.” Continue reading

Manhattan Declaration in action, the shutdown

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops lobbied Congress to hold the continuing resolution and debt ceiling bill hostage to anti-birth control ideology. In a September 26 letter, they wrote:

We are writing once again, as Chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, on an increasingly grave concern to our Church and many others: Preserving religious freedom and the right of conscience for all who take part in our health care system.
We have already urged you to enact the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940/S. 1204). As Congress considers a Continuing Resolution and debt ceiling bill in the days to come, we reaffirm the vital importance of incorporating the policy of this bill into such “must-pass” legislation.
Loudoun’s Chuck Colson inspired Manhattan Declaration lays out the programme for the tea party/”Christian” right led sedition.
…we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.
Chuck Colson Founder, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview (Lansdowne, VA)
Congressman Frank Wolf co-sponsored H.R. 940.
Thanks Frank!