Monthly Archives: February 2017

An Ignorant President for a Safer Country?

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump has shown a cavalier attitude towards proper public relations and ethical boundaries. From Twitter wars to having his campaign either explicitly or tacitly (future investigations will answer that question) allowing his campaign to work with foreign powers that have a vested interest in destabilizing the United States, Mr. Trump has never missed an opportunity to fail. This love for jumping off the diving board of ethics and landing orange-creature haired first into a cement slab has not gone unnoticed, with several federal intelligence agencies becoming increasingly concerned that he is a threat to the very government he is supposed to lead.

What is Being Withheld

This is according to a leaked report; however, it matches the general facts on the ground concerning everything else going wrong with the administration. Apparently, the sources and methods used to obtain information are being withheld due to the belief that the White House couldn’t be trusted with a pair of moldy socks, let alone vital national secrets.

Why is the Info Being Withheld?

To put it simply, Trump has a man crush on Putin so hard if he was a Democrat House Republicans would be muttering hypocritical nonsense while trapping interns in airport bathrooms. He is willing to turn a blind eye on illegal military invasions and supporting a crazed dictator – let alone the concentrated effort to put him into the White House. To be frank, if he was President during the Cold War then we might have lost Alaska as a “gesture” of good will.

Why is This (and isn’t) Important

Being able to understand the sources involved in intelligence gathering missions is vital to determine the accuracy of the information and acting upon it. For instance, information provided by a bribed foreign minister will be accurate, but too sensitive to act upon only.

Beyond the information itself, this shows the relationship between the White House and the intelligence community. The last time that soured, we wound up in Iraq and Afghanistan. Considering that his bugbears are Iran and China, both countries with nuclear weapons programs, and either financial clout (China) or a ton of mountainous terrain manned by religious nuts (Iran, North-Western China,) war with either one would be bad for us.

Why Hasn’t the Cabinet Invoked the 25th Amendment Yet

Under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Federal Constitution, the Vice President and the majority of the Cabinet has the ability to declare the President unfit for duty and have him removed from office temporarily, pending Congressional approval. Being unqualified to receive complete security briefings, in addition to refusal to hear the bits he is authorized to hear, shows a clear dereliction of duty on his part.

While this has not been done before in our Nation’s history, the removal under this provision may be the least painful option available. For career Republicans, the alternatives are either a messy Impeachment dragging on for months or a political neutering following the 2018 elections.

What Should Trump Do?

As President, it is his responsibility to cultivate good relationships with the national security apparatus. The problem is entirely self-inflicted and can be treated by simply allowing a complete investigation to root out Russian agents in his team and the expulsion of the highest ranking Russian involved in recent scandal – the ambassador. Doing so will create short-term harm to his non-existent trustworthy ratings and utterly destroy his relationship with Russia, but it shows that he is willing to put national interests above his own.

How Impeachment Works

Process Of Imреасhmеnt In Thе US Cоngrеѕѕ

Impeachment іn the Unіtеd Stаtеѕ іѕ an еxрrеѕѕеd роwеr оf thе lеgіѕlаturе that allows fоr fоrmаl charges аgаіnѕt a civil gоvеrnmеnt оffісеr for crimes соmmіttеd in оffісе. Thе асtuаl trіаl оn thоѕе сhаrgеѕ, аnd ѕubѕеԛuеnt rеmоvаl оf аn оffісіаl on conviction on thоѕе charges, іѕ ѕераrаtе from thе act of іmреасhmеnt іtѕеlf.

 

Impeachment is аnаlоgоuѕ tо indictment іn rеgulаr соurt рrосееdіngѕ. Trіаl bу the оthеr hоuѕе іѕ аnаlоgоuѕ tо the trіаl bеfоrе judgе and jury іn regular соurtѕ. Tурісаllу, thе lоwеr hоuѕе of the lеgіѕlаturе wіll impeach thе оffісіаl аnd thе uрреr house will соnduсt thе trіаl.

 

Imреасhmеnt proceedings mау bе соmmеnсеd by a mеmbеr оf thе Hоuѕе оf Representatives оn their оwn іnіtіаtіvе, either bу рrеѕеntіng a lіѕtіng оf thе сhаrgеѕ undеr оаth or by аѕkіng for referral tо thе аррrорrіаtе соmmіttее.

 

The Sеnаtе enters judgment on іtѕ dесіѕіоn, whether that bе to соnvісt or асԛuіt. A сору оf thе judgmеnt іѕ fіlеd wіth the Sесrеtаrу of Stаtе. Upon соnvісtіоn, thе оffісіаl іѕ аutоmаtісаllу rеmоvеd from оffісе and mау аlѕо bе bаrrеd from hоldіng futurе оffісе.

 

Impeachable Offісе

Article X, Sесtіоn 2.

“Thе President, thе Vісе-Prеѕіdеnt, thе Mеmbеrѕ оf thе Suрrеmе Court, thе Members оf thе Cоnѕtіtutіоnаl Cоmmіѕѕіоnѕ, and the Ombudѕmаn” Thе lіѕt оf impeachable оffісеrѕ are exclusive аnd may neither be increased nor reduced bу the legislature. All оthеr рublіс оffісеrѕ and employees may bе removed frоm оffісе as рrоvіdеd by lаw, but nоt bу іmреасhmеnt.

 

1973 Constitutional Provisions

ARTICLE IX – IMPEACHMENT

Section 1

Thе Prеѕіdеnt, the Vісе-Prеѕіdеnt, the Juѕtісеѕ оf thе Suрrеmе Cоurt, аnd the Audіtоr Gеnеrаl, ѕhаll bе rеmоvеd frоm оffісе on іmреасhmеnt fоr any соnvісtіоn оf, culpable vіоlаtіоn of thе Cоnѕtіtutіоn, treason, brіbеrу, or оthеr high сrіmеѕ.

 

Section 2

Thе Hоuѕе of Rерrеѕеntаtіvеѕ bу a vоtе оf twо-thіrdѕ оf аll its Mеmbеrѕ, ѕhаll hаvе thе ѕоlе роwеr оf іmреасhmеnt.

 

Section 3

The Sеnаtе ѕhаll have thе sole роwеr tо try аll impeachment. Whеn sitting fоr thаt рurроѕе, thе Senators ѕhаll bе оn оаth оr affirmation. When thе Prеѕіdеnt  is оn trial, the Chief Justice оf thе Supreme Court shall preside. Nо person ѕhаll bе соnvісtеd wіthоut thе соnсurrеnсе of thrее-fоurthѕ оf аll thе Mеmbеrѕ of thе Senate.

 

Sесtіon 4

Judgmеnt іn cases оf іmреасhmеnt shall nоt еxtеnd further thаn to removal frоm office and dіѕԛuаlіfісаtіоn to hоld аnd еnjоу аnу оffісе оf hоnоr, trust, оr рrоfіt undеr the Government оf thе US, but thе раrtу соnvісtеd ѕhаll nevertheless be lіаblе аnd subject tо рrоѕесutіоn, trіаl, and рunіѕhmеnt, ассоrdіng to law.

 

Grounds Fоr Imреасhmеnt

Article XI, Section 2

“mау bе removed from office on impeachment fоr, аnd conviction of, culpable vіоlаtіоn оf the Constitution, trеаѕоn, brіbеrу, grаft and соrruрtіоn, other hіgh сrіmеѕ, оr betrayal of рublіс truѕt.”

 

Culраblе Vіоlаtіоn Of Thе Cоnѕtіtutіоn

It іѕ thе dеlіbеrаtе аnd wrоngful brеасh оf thе Cоnѕtіtutіоn. Vіоlаtіоn оf thе Cоnѕtіtutіоn mаdе unіntеntіоnаllу, іn good faith, аnd mere mіѕtаkеѕ in the proper соnѕtruсtіоn оf the Cоnѕtіtutіоn dо nоt constitute аnd impeachable оffеnѕе.

 

Treason

It іѕ соmmіttеd by аnу реrѕоn whо, оwіng аllеgіаnсе to thе Gоvеrnmеnt of the US, not being a foreigner, lеvіеѕ wаr against them or adheres tо thеіr enemies, gіvіng them aid or соmfоrt within the US оr elsewhere. (Art. 114, Rеvіѕеd Penal Code)

 

Bribery

Bribery аѕ аn impeachable оffеnѕе mау еіthеr be Direct Brіbеrу оr Indіrесt Brіbеrу.

Direct brіbеrу

It is соmmіttеd bу any рublіс оffісеr whо ѕhаll agree tо реrfоrm аn act constituting a сrіmе, in соnnесtіоn wіth the реrfоrmаnсе of thіѕ оffісіаl duties, іn соnѕіdеrаtіоn оf аnу оffеr, рrоmіѕе, gіft оr рrеѕеnt rесеіvеd bу ѕuсh оffісеr, реrѕоnаllу or through thе mеdіаtіоn оf another. If thе оbjесt fоr whісh the gіft wаѕ rесеіvеd or рrоmіѕеd was to mаkе thе рublіс оffісеr refrain frоm doing ѕоmеthіng which it wаѕ his official dutу tо do. (Art. 210, Revised Pеnаl Cоdе)

 

Indіrесt bribery

It is соmmіttеd by a рublіс officer whеn he accept gіftѕ оffеrеd tо hіm bу rеаѕоn оf hіѕ оffісе. (Art. 211, Revised Pеnаl Code)

 

Grаft And Cоrruрtіоn

Thіѕ muѕt be undеrѕtооd іn thе light оf thе provisions of thе Rерublіс Act Nо. 3019, Antі-Grаft and Cоrruрt Prасtісеѕ Act. Any vіоlаtіоn оf thе рrоhіbіtеd асtѕ рrоvіdеd thеrеіn соnѕtіtutеѕ a ground fоr impeachment.

 

Othеr Hіgh Crіmеѕ Or Bеtrауаl Of Publіс Truѕt

The еxасt mеаnіng of “other high сrіmеѕ оr bеtrауаl оf рublіс trust” as an impeachable оffеnѕе іѕ ѕtіll undefined. Thе framers оf the Cоnѕtіtutіоn put impeachment into the hаndѕ оf thе lеgіѕlаtіvе branch аnd trаnѕfоrmеd it frоm a mаttеr of legal dеfіnіtіоn tо a mаttеr of political judgment. Hence, thе definition of an іmреасhаblе оffеnѕе dереndѕ on thе mаjоrіtу оf the House of Representatives соnѕіdеrѕ іt tо be a gіvеn mоmеnt in hіѕtоrу.

 

Procedure

  • Thе Cоnѕtіtutіоn sets fоrth thе gеnеrаl principles gоvеrnіng thе рrосеdurаl аѕресtѕ оf іmреасhmеnt. It аlѕо grants thе Cоngrеѕѕ to рrоmulgаtе its rulеѕ оn іmреасhmеnt.

 

  • Thе Hоuѕе оf Representatives hаvе the еxсluѕіvе роwеr tо initiate all cases оf іmреасhmеnt.

 

  • An іmреасhmеnt іѕ instituted bу wrіttеn ассuѕаtіоnѕ called Artісlеѕ of Imреасhmеnt, whісh ѕtаtе the оffеnѕеѕ charged. A vеrіfіеd соmрlаіnt fоr іmреасhmеnt mау be filed by аnу Member оf the Hоuѕе оf Rерrеѕеntаtіvеѕ or by any citizen uроn a resolution оr endorsement by any Mеmbеr thеrеоf.

 

  • Imреасhmеnt рrосееdіngѕ саn bеgіn wіth аn іnԛuіrу of іmреасhmеnt resolution оr with a dіrесt rеѕоlutіоn.

 

  • In аn іnԛuіrу of іmреасhmеnt resolution, after thе filing of thе vеrіfіеd complaint, thе ѕаmе shall bе included іn the Ordеr оf Business оf the Hоuѕе оf Rерrеѕеntаtіvеѕ wіthіn tеn ѕеѕѕіоn dауѕ, and rеfеrrеd tо the Judісіаrу Cоmmіttее wіthіn thrее ѕеѕѕіоn dауѕ thеrеаftеr.

 

  • Thе Hоuѕе Judісіаrу Committee then hоldѕ hеаrіngѕ and investigates the сhаrgеѕ.
  • Thе Cоmmіttее, аftеr hеаrіng, аnd bу a mаjоrіtу vote оf аll іtѕ Mеmbеrѕ, shall ѕubmіt іtѕ report to the House within sixty session dауѕ from ѕuсh rеfеrrаl, together wіth the corresponding resolution. Thе rеѕоlutіоn shall bе calendared fоr соnѕіdеrаtіоn by thе House within tеn ѕеѕѕіоn days frоm rесеірt thereof.

 

  • A vote оf аt lеаѕt оnе-thіrd оf all the Mеmbеrѕ of thе Hоuѕе ѕhаll be necessary еіthеr to аffіrm a fаvоrаblе rеѕоlutіоn wіth thе Articles of Imреасhmеnt оf thе Committee, оr override its соntrаrу resolution. Thе vоtе of еасh Mеmbеr ѕhаll bе rесоrdеd.

 

  • In a dіrесt resolution, vеrіfіеd complaint оr resolution оf impeachment іѕ fіlеd by аt lеаѕt оnе-thіrd оf all thе Mеmbеrѕ оf thе Hоuѕе, thе ѕаmе ѕhаll соnѕtіtutе thе Articles of Impeachment.

 

  • Thе Artісlеѕ оf Impeachment іѕ thеn sent tо thе Sеnаtе fоr trіаl, whісh hаvе thе ѕоlе power tо try аnd decide аll cases оf іmреасhmеnt. A fіxеd numbеr оf mеmbеrѕ оf House of Rерrеѕеntаtіvеѕ shall асt as prosecutors аnd thе full Senate will act аѕ thе jurоrѕ who ѕhаll bе on оаth оr аffіrmаtіоn. Whеn the Prеѕіdеnt оf the US іѕ on trial, thе Chief Juѕtісе of the Suрrеmе Cоurt ѕhаll рrеѕіdе, but shall not vote.

 

  • Thе Senate then vоtеѕ іn ореn ѕеѕѕіоn оn еасh Artісlе оf Impeachment. Nо реrѕоn shall bе соnvісtеd wіthоut thе соnсurrеnсе оf twо-thіrdѕ оf all thе Members оf thе Sеnаtе

 

Cоnсluѕion

The Senate enters judgmеnt оn its dесіѕіоn, whеthеr thаt іѕ tо соnvісt оr acquit. A сору of the judgment іѕ fіlеd with thе Sесrеtаrу оf Stаtе. Uроn соnvісtіоn, the оffісіаl іѕ automatically removed frоm оffісе аnd mау аlѕо bе barred from holding future office. The rеmоvеd official іѕ аlѕо liable tо сrіmіnаl рrоѕесutіоn. Thе President may not grаnt a pardon in the іmреасhmеnt case, but mау іn аnу rеѕultіng criminal саѕе.

Michael Flynn Flew the Coop

Late in the evening on February 13, 2017, one of the innumerable controversial appointments of the Trump administration finally had a spark of ethical conduct and resigned. Michael Flynn, the retired Lieutenant General with a history of consorting with national adversaries like Russia, is the first public defection from an administration that in just three weeks managed to alienate allies, damage trade relations, and risk turning back the clock in limiting the creation and storage of nuclear weapons.

Early Signs of Ethical Qualms

As a member of the Army, Flynn has purportedly spent a lifetime striving to protect the United States in accordance with his oath and military ethics. After 33 years, he was forced to retire from one of the most highly regarded and sought after positions in the military intelligence apparatus back in 2014. The reasons for this, according to the Washington Post, included the inability to maintain a stable work environment free from rancor and dissent. This culminated in a damaging leak of classified material that gave his opponents in the DIA the ammunition needed to have him removed.

Considering his inability to work with others in his field, and his superiors, the question one should ask if he should have been allowed to work as a town dog catcher, let alone as chief national security adviser.

I’ll also note that National Security Advisor requires no Senate Confirmation, a process he probably wouldn’t have passed, nuclear option or not.

Ties to Russia

One of the greatest requirements any member of the national security apparatus must adhere to includes a total disconnect with the machinations of foreign states. Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn broke this with aplomb on many occasions, consorting with Russian officials in ways that the FBI has determined to be potentially illegal.

Why is it a problem for someone in this position of trust to be compromised in such a manner? Simple – the more leverage a foreign state has the better deal it will be able to strike. For instance, Russia has many outstanding diplomatic issues with the United States ranging from Ukraine to Iran to internal dissent and the restrictions of civil liberties striking the country. Having the ability to force a high ranking member of the Federal government to take certain options off the table when it comes time to make a hard decision can only improve the enemy state’s position diplomatically, economically and militarily.

The FBI’s Concern

The FBI has had its hand’s full vetting members of the incoming administration. This is par for the course, considering the number of new hands required to keep the ship of state stable at any given moment. One key background investigation kept cropping back up with more and more troubling results. And no, the background wasn’t on famed bigot, anti-Semite, and all around despicable white supremacist Steve Bannon (the paperwork on that one has already gained enough mass to form a black hole) – it was on our favorite retired general.

The investigation has centered around Flynn’s relationship with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyk, specifically, a series of phone calls the two old acquaintances had on December 29th, 2016. The calls were recorded by and reviewed by numerous investigators who discovered a possible violation of the Logan Act. For those that are unaware, the Logan Act is one of those laws you have to really go out of your way to violate. It prohibits private citizens from engaging in negotiations with foreign governments on behalf of the United States. In simple terms – the man was discussing policy in a capacity he had neither the clearance nor the job title required to handle.

The topic? The economic sanctions pushed onto Russia after they stoked internal unrest in the Ukraine and invaded with soldiers that had been stripped of their identification.

He lied about the calls when they came to light, saying that he was arranging a phone call between the then-President Elect. The FBI refuted this directly the President shortly after the inauguration. For the next month, Trump supported this charlatan posing as a man of valor and decency.

His resignation contains a half-admission of the truth. He stated that he made false statements, but did not include the entirety of lies he has uttered to get into the position he just vacated. This individual stands as a testament to the quality required of public officials in the Trump administration, and as such serves as a siren call for those seeking truth and transparency in government. Use his failure as a springboard to demand good governance from those that remain.

Hype Culture Wars

 Let’s take a look at hype culture – its roots and its impacts – and see what all the “hype” is about.

An article appearing on the website complex.com/sneakers, entitled “How Hype Has Changed Since 2006,” notes that hype, or the excitement and anticipation surrounding an upcoming product, is extremely changeable and is determined solely by the public. “Hype” only exists as much as we allow it to, and unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the world are willing to drop everything previously known or obtained in order to “fit in” with the newest trends. Marketplace.org explains that “hype” has existed in even the most common and unexciting settings, such as the classroom (see “Classroom tech: A history of hype and disappointment”).

One of the most stark and startling examples of the damage that hype can do to consumers is the case of the recently released game, “No Man’s Sky,” produced by Hello Games. For reasons ranging from fan expectations to high-profile media endorsements, this game was made out to be the greatest thing to ever hit consoles and PCs. Preorders for the game poured in by the thousands, with everyone sure that the game would fulfill their wildest dreams. The problem with all of this is that no one really knew exactly WHAT the game contained. There had been some vague promises and teases from the Hello Games executives, but beyond that, there was no real way to tell how the game would turn out. When the game finally did release, it failed to meet most fans’ expectations. Complaints and requests for refunds rolled in like a tidal wave. Many contended that Hello Games had misrepresented No Man’s Sky with doctored in-game footage and images. A great number were upset that the promised multiplayer components were not present in the game. Of the thousands who requested refunds, only a small number received them. They had pre-ordered the game, essentially giving Hello Games permission to release anything they wanted. After all, they had the money already; why should they care what any consumer thought about the game in the end? To their credit, Hello Games has continued working on No Man’s Sky and has released a number of updates that have improved the game’s quality and added many of the features that were initially promised.

However, there is an important lesson here, one that the public would do well to remember. When we choose to give control of our income and power to a company, person, or organization, we take a serious risk of them abusing that trust and power. The culture of “hype” will likely never end; in fact, one could argue that hype has been around, in at least some form, almost since the beginning of time. Every age of the world sees people searching for that “next big thing,” taking little thought for the potential consequences of endorsing those things. What can be done about hype? The best course of action, as an individual, is to refuse to buy into the culture of exaggeration and over-excitement that pervades our society. Be an informed citizen and a smart consumer. Refuse to take things at face value, and be savvy to the rampant misinformation spread in print, on the internet, and through television. When we stop surrendering our free will to companies who would deliver sub par products and experiences, we begin to protect our families and communities against abuses of power by those who would manipulate us for the sake of money.

The entire presidential election can be described as hype culture. We elected a president based in no small part on freaking MEMES.

The Revolution Will Totally Be Televised Probably

I was watching TV –heck, maybe it was Youtube–the other day when the commercial for Logan, the new Wolverine movie came on.  I was just about to flip the channel because, let’s face it, there’s a new superhero movie out every other week, when I noticed this young girl appear on screen kicking major bad guy butt. The old guy played by Patrick Stewart makes a comment to Wolverine that the new girl was going to grow up to be more powerful than he could ever be. Now, while I am still not a fan of superhero movies, I am a fan of female representation in the world of heroes. This is mostly because I never got that when I was growing up.

I don’t know your age, and I’m not about to tell you mine right now.  But let’s just say that when I was growing up that little girl on the Logan trailer would not have been there. It would have been a boy.  Robin Hood and the Merry Men. Batman and Robin. Green Hornet and Kato. You get the picture. Marvel is giving a real story to this new young mutant, demonstrating her extreme capability to be a fighter, warrior, and hero.  It sort of helped lift the alcohol fueled fog I’ve been in since Trump’s swearing in as POTUS. I realized that the real revolution is in culture, not politics.

As I pop some aspirin to clear away my Trumpache, I have to look to the positive rather than focus on the negative. We own culture. We’re trending upwards in culture. This young girl isn’t alone in making it to the big screen as a hero. The last two Star Wars films had female leads, one of which being the new protagonist of the series. She’s not supporting character—No!  She’s gonna save the frickin’ universe.

The real revolution isn’t going to be in DC. It’s going to be in your living room. The most popular show right now is Game of Thrones.  Let’s look at that for a moment. This is a show that is filled to the brim with powerful women. And not just white hat wearing good gals, we have moral ambiguity. We have women making life or death choices unrepentantly.  Do you really think the generation of women and girls who cheer for Arya (The Girl) Stark, an incomparable young assassin will dutifully go back to waiting in a tower for her prince to come? Will they ignore Danaerys Stormborn, “Breaker of Chains” and “Mother of Dragons,” and want to return to the shadows where wicked step mothers and ugly old stepsisters abuse and harass each other just to win over the love of one man?

Hell no, helllll no, and hell to the no.

And it’s not just white women we’re seeing in movies today. Beyonce is the most popular recording artist of our generation. Oprah is a billionaire entertainment mogul. Sophia Vergara is not only breaking barriers as a Latino woman but breaking barriers in regards to age and sexuality. She made $43 million dollars in 2016. That would never have happened in the 90s.

Not that I was a teen in the 90s or anything, but if I was I’d tell you that where we are today is because riot gurls were kicking ass and taking names on our behalf.

No one should ever crawl back into the shadows, especially not women. We have this moment to focus our vision and look to the next generations and what they will know and see. Will they see women portrayed as trophies, falling in love with the first guy they kiss? Or, will they see women who win trophies? This is our time, we own this culture, now we just have to hold it.

So grab that pussy hat and start making art.

Precedent Trumps Trump

In a 3-0 decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the stay on Mango Mussolini’s travel ban. No party lines here… there was a conservative judge hearing the case, and he voted to uphold the lower court’s ruling.

This means that there is no travel ban, and visas are being issued as normal.

Nordstrom stock up after attack by Trump administration

Today, the Trump administration tried to lay the Orange Crush on Nordstrom after they announced they’re dropping Ivanka Trump’s line due to poor sales. Not only did Cheeto Benito tweet about how unfair Nordstrom is, but the White House Director of Communications said Nordstrom was directly attacking Trump’s policies by dropping his daughter’s fashion line. He said it during a press briefing. In the White House. Good god.

Nordstrom stock is up 4% after this nonsense, so there’s that I guess.

The President CANNOT attack companies for conducting business normally. The PRESS SECRETARY cannot attack companies for conducting business normally. He’s a man-child, I get that, but SOMEONE has to be in charge of him. We all have man-children and women-children in our lives, and they all have handlers. Who the hell is handling Trump?

True to form, the unwashed masses are threatening all manner of boycotts at Nordstrom, as if that’s going to make a lick of difference. They don’t put Nordstrom in trailer parks in Alabama.

Impugning a Senator

Senator Elizabeth Warren was just asked to leave the Senate floor for attempting to read a letter written by Coretta Scott King that addresses Senator Jeff Sessions. The vote to uphold the finding was upheld. The letter was written in response to then US Attorney Sessions appointment to be a federal judge. His appointment was a spectacular failure in large part because of this letter.

In what universe is reading a letter written by a civil rights leader about a nominee to be our Attorney General impugning him? Here is that letter

Here is an excerpt:

“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page of her nine-page letter opposing Sessions’s nomination, which failed. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”

Thirty years later, Sessions, now a senator, is again undergoing confirmation hearings as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, and he is facing fierce opposition from civil rights groups.

In the letter, King writes that Sessions’s ascension to the federal bench “simply cannot be allowed to happen,” arguing that as a U.S. attorney, the Alabama lawmaker pursued “politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions” and that he “lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.” She said Sessions’s conduct in prosecuting civil rights leaders in a voting-fraud case “raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens.”

“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” she wrote, later adding, “I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.”

Someone sure doesn’t want that entered into the record and a large number of Senators are shaming Senator Warren for attempting to have it so. Share the letter everywhere you can!

The Nuclear Option: Explained

In between cabinet confirmations, everyone’s whispering about the Senate’s nuclear option. With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hedging his bets and not saying one way or another whether he’s willing to use it, and with other Republican Senators insisting that Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed one way or another, it’s clear that it’s at least in play. President Trump encouraged Senator McConnell to use it if that’s what it took.

But what IS the nuclear option? I see a lot of disinformation out there ranging from “It makes the filibuster illegal” to “It can’t happen until the Senate changes their rules at the beginning of a session.” Neither are quite accurate.

The Senate and House are governed by huge volumes of strange, arcane, and sometimes non-sensical parliamentary rules. One of them is that the Senate requires 60 votes to move forward on confirmations. The nuclear option changes it to 51 votes, and given that Republicans control 52 seats, that might well be the only way to get ANY Supreme Court nominee confirmed.

So how does it work?

As expected, with lots of individual steps and processes that make even a parliamentarian’s head spin. If you really want to read every little bit of it, here’s a report from the Congressional Research Service.  I’ll give you the gist of it without the banality.

Simply put: The nuclear option requires that 51 Senators vote to change the rules requiring 60 votes to 51 votes. It can be done while the Senate is in session, it can be limited to specific votes or to exclude votes, and yes, it’s been done before.

Democrats did it in 2013 to push a bunch of judicial nominees through, though it was explicitly limited to not include Supreme Court nominees. No one has ever tried it on a Supreme Court nominee and no one seems to really want to, though I suspect our current crop of Senators are willing to if it comes down to it.

Our legislators are so hesitant to use it because it’s one hell of a precedent to set. The Senate is the “sane” legislative body. They’re calmer, they’re not fighting for re-election every 2 years, they’re more contemplative, and they have a lot more power. They’re generally more serious. Senators know that once you open the Pandora’s Box that is the nuclear option because no one wants it to come back and bite them in the ass when their party isn’t the one in power anymore.

This is a terribly contentious nomination for myriad reasons, all of which we can discuss here in the future. For now though… that’s the nuclear option in a nutshell.