Partisanship must never trump patriotism

“I am not a member of any organized political party,” humorist Will Rogers often said.  “I am a Democrat.”

Those who have watched or listened to the first set of Democratic debates in the 2020 presidential campaign or watched the catfights between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and a group of left-leaning freshmen members of her party in Congress can easily see what Rogers meant.

If the party of the jackass, or donkey, wants to have a real chance of unseating the scandal-prone and racist Republican president Donald Trump, they need to stop fighting each other and enough common ground to wage what should be the primary fight.

Should they?  Yes.  Will they?  Probably not.

Perhaps Trump will self-destruct with his latest rounds of race-baiting bigotry and hate but there seems to be enough racists and haters among voters to give him the votes he needs next year to win re-election.

Or maybe enough voters who possess enough common sense and a desire to put the country ahead of politics will actually vote next year to restore some sense of normalcy to America and its government.

It would help if Democratic primary voters choose an acceptable moderate to help galvanize those who vote in the general election to dump Trump.

Does America have enough voters who aren’t controlled by hate, white supremacy and racism?  Polls say yes, but those are polls from the same folks who told us Trump didn’t have a chance of winning in 2016.  Of course, it didn’t help that many of those who did vote that year let outright hatred of Hillary Clinton and leftover resentment of her philandering husband overcome reason.

So they turned to a lies-spouting con man who brags about grabbing his sexual conquests by their, well, you know where.

Trump’s very existence in the White House defies all of what used to be the norms of even the hypocrisy of politics.

Evangelicals and other fundamentalists religious “leaders” openly support a man who brags openly about his lifestyle of adultery and rampant sexual abuse and perversion.

Republicans, who used to claim they were the party of balanced budgets, now flock like cult followers to a president who ignores financial prudence and is plunging the nation into record levels of deficits.

The nation’s Justice Department, now run by a partisan Trump appointee who puts blind loyalty above the law, sits idly by while Trump loots the federal treasury to fatten his bank accounts and increase profits on his hotel properties by ignoring the emoluments law that is supposed to stop that sort of thievery.

Congress, controlled completely by Trump’s current political party in his first two years as president and still in control of the Senate, does nothing when he or members of his administration ignores the laws of the land.

Senior advisor Kellyanne Conway got caught violating the “Hatch Act” that forbids blatant political posturing in the White House, Trump said he doesn’t agree with the law and let her actions slide.  Others in his administration have done worse but he says he’s president and can do whatever he wants and Congress just nods and goes along.

Osama bin Laden, the late leader of al-Qaeda and mastermind of the 9-11 attacks, said his goals were to “destroy America and its way of life.”

He disrupted our way of life but did not destroy us.

Donald Trump is another terror who wants to destroy America.  He is a domestic terrorist who is also president, which gives him the power to kill this nation.  He cozies up to enemies of America — Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and North Korean madman Kim Jong-un — while insulting and alienating long-time allies.

An increasing number of Americans wonder if the nation’s current president is a traitor.  Ethically, he is.  Legally may depend on whether or not the prosecutor is a partisan or a patriot.

Republican leader/Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnel is now known as “Moscow Mitch” because he keeps killing any attempts to try and secure the 2020 election from Russian interference.  Such interference helped elect Trump and other Republicans in 2016.

“Mitch McConnel is a Russian asset,” read the headline of a column by Dana Milbank of The Washington Post.

Milbank adds:

Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.

That correct assessment by Milbank sent McConnell into a tirade but he’s also using it to raise money from Republicans who think like him.

Milbank’s observations could be said of any partisan who puts his or her “party” ahead of patriotism and true service to this country.

A sticker on the back of my motorcycle helmets expresses how I feel:

I am not a Democrat.

I am not a Republican.

I am an American.

There is a difference.

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Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

GOP hypocrisy on display in border fight?

President Donald Trump, with Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh, sheriff of Chester County, Pa., left, and AJ Louderback, sheriff of Jackson County, Texas, attends a roundtable discussion on border security with local leaders, Friday Jan. 11, 2019, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Barack Obama stunned Republicans when he bypassed Congress and — relying on what he called his pen and his phone — used executive powers to enact his agenda, including protecting millions of young immigrants from deportation.

Now, with President Donald Trump proposing an even more dramatic end-run around Congress to build his promised border wall with Mexico, many Republicans are uneasily cheering him on.

The potential use of a national emergency declaration by Trump for the border wall shows the extent to which the party is willing to yield on treasured values — in this case, the constitutional separation of powers — to steer clear of confronting the White House and give the president what he wants.

It’s a different accommodation from just a few years ago. Then Republicans often called out Obama as overstepping his authority in using executive actions when Congress failed to act on White House priorities. They complained about Obama as “king,” ″emperor” or “tyrant.”

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a leader of the House Freedom Caucus, said most conservatives would go along with Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency as “the last tool in the tool box” for building the wall.

“Does the president have the right and the ability to do it? Yes. Would most of us prefer a legislative option? Yes,” Meadows told reporters this week. “Most conservatives want it to be the last resort he would use. But those same conservatives, I’m sure, if it’s deployed, would embrace him as having done all he could do to negotiate with Democrats.”

Other Republicans say Trump has few options left after talks broke down at the White House over his long-promised border wall.

“This is not something you would want to do,” said Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, now the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

“But we’ve been put into this position,” he said. “The Democrats are forcing him into a choice of doing the national emergency because they won’t sit down and discuss it.”

On Saturday, the partial government shutdown will stretch in its 22nd day and Trump’s plans for ending the stalemate are shifting yet again.

Trump indicated he was slowing what had appeared to be momentum toward the national emergency declaration as the way out of the stalemate. Invoking the power would allow him to tap unspent Defense funds to build the long-promised wall along the border that was central to his presidential campaign.

On the campaign trail, the president often said at rallies that Mexico would pay for the wall. But Mexico has refused forcing Trump to ask Congress for the money instead. Trump walked out of negotiations this week when Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats refused to give, saying they support dollars for border security just not the big wall Trump envisions. They call the wall ineffective and say it’s a symbol that does not reflect the nation’s values.

After having talked for days about invoking the national emergency power to unleash the funds, the president hit pause Friday. “I’m not going to do it so fast,” Trump said during an event Friday at the White House.

Experts have said even though the president may have the authority to invoke powers under the 1976 National Emergencies Act, using it will almost certainly bring on a court battle. The courts did not allow President Harry Truman to nationalize the U.S. steel industry during the Korean War.

Moreover, they say, it could lead the country into unchartered areas. Declaring an emergency could give the president access to many other powers, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

“The president thinks that he can do whatever he wants by declaring something a national emergency,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii who serves on the Judiciary Committee. “I think it’s a very dangerous thing.”

But what cuts to the core of the concern on Capitol Hill is the executive branch wading into legislative domain to shift money Congress has already approved to the wall.

The constitution provides the Congress, not the White House, the power of the purse, and lawmakers are not eager to cede their role to the president, even for a wall many Republicans support.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill objected to the administration eyeing shifting unspent disaster funding Congress approved last year for Army Corps of Engineer projects to help hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, Texas and other areas to pay for the wall. By Friday, lawmakers said they were being told those projects will not be touched and the White House was now looking for other funds to pay for the border wall.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, part of the GOP leadership, said at a forum Friday in Austin that the lawmakers “worked very hard to make sure that the victims of Hurricane Harvey – their concerns are addressed and Texas is able to rebuild.”

He said, “I will tell you that I will oppose any reprogramming of Harvey disaster funds.”

Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, acknowledged the dilemma, especially as the shutdown continues with no end in sight.

Trump invoking a national emergency “might break an impasse and it needs to be broken one way or another,” Shelby said as the Senate adjourned. But he prefers a negotiated settlement with Congress. “I’m still hoping we’ll have a breakthrough, but right now I don’t see one.”
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Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Political hypocrisy of Trump and his supporters

Removing someone who disagrees with Donald Trump from one of his rallies. (AP Photo)

The debate (if what happens in political disagreements nowadays can be called an actual “debate”) over the uproar from tweeter-in-chief Donald Trump and his band of hardcore followers against a restaurant owner who asked press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave her establishment is a classic case of hypocrisy.

Trump supporters claim the owner of Red Hen Restaurant violated the law and was rude by asking Sanders to leave the establishment in Lexington, VA Friday night because her presence upset the staff.

Owner Stephanie Wilkinson, by all accounts, handled the matter quietly, asking Sanders privately to leave between the appetizers and dinner.

Sanders then used her boss’s favorite communications tool, Twitter, to tell her followers about being told to leave the restaurant and claimed the incident and her reaction said more about Wilkinson than her.

She used her “official” White House twitter account to attack a private citizen, which has raised eyebrows of ethics experts.

“Sarah, I know you don’t care even a tiny little bit about the ethics rules, but using your official account for this is a clear violation of 5 CFR 2635.702(a). It’s the same as if an ATF agent pulled out his badge when a restaurant tried to throw him/her out,” tweeted Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics.”

The actions of Sanders as spokesman for the president who lies constantly to the media, the public, Congress and just about everyone else tells us more than we need to know about her and her involvement in the most sordid presidency since Richard Nixon.

Sanders repeats Trumps lies in press briefings, claiming they are facts that do not exist.  Like her boss, she berates reporters, calls mainstream media “fake news” and conceals far more truth than facts.

Trump, in a tweet complaining about what happened at the Red Hen, said:

The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!

Those who frequent the Red Hen say Trump’s claims are not true.  Experts in the restaurant and retail business agree that the president, as usual, is lying.

“Look at the eaves under the roof,” says John Asadoorian, founder of Asadoorian Retail Solutions in Washington, in an interview with The Washington Post.. “They look awfully clean. If it was in really bad shape, it would be black. That paint could be peeling. Take a [look] a block up and down the street from this restaurant, and that building looks like the nicest building within a block.”

Lexington health inspectors, who monitor food service establishments in that area, have found no health or sanitation problems.

In February, the heath inspector gave the restaurant a clean report.

The same cannot be said for what health inspectors have found at the Trump International Hotel’s food facilities in Washington or Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where the president spends most of his weekends at taxpayer expense.

In April of this year, inspectors in Washington, DC, found the hotel dirty in nine categories — unsanitary food contact surface, improper food holding temperatures and improper food storage that results in cross contamination.

The inspector also found the hotel’s license did not list four separate food preparation area.  The inspector told the hotel to contact the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affaires to “remedy the issue.”

Then inspectors returned in May, they found the hotel out of compliance in at least four areas and the district regulatory is still waiting to hear from the hotel.

Mar-a-Logo routinely fails inspections.  Florida found 13 code infractions in 2017.

At Trump rallies, security personnel operate on orders to “forcibly remove” anyone who protests or questions the president in a manner he feels is “inappropriate.”

Trump has offered to pay the legal expenses for anyone who attacks those who oppose him at rallies.  He urges his faithful to “kick their ass.”

Trump supporters stand and cheer when he assails his opponents with threats, obscene slurs and promotion of violence against those who disagree with him.

But they decry anyone who takes action against Trump.

Double standard?  Absolutely.  In the world of Donald Trump, it is also standard operating procedure.

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Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue