Coming home to Comey news

Because I was out yesterday evening at Bruce Borton’s retirement party, I was blissfully unaware of the news about the firing of FBI Director Comey for several hours until I returned home to hours of breaking news coverage.

In the United States, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is appointed and confirmed for a ten year term in order to insulate the FBI from political pressures. While one past director was removed after a lengthy review process for violating policy, this is the first time that an FBI director has been summarily fired with no notice.

The stated reason is that Director Comey violated policy by revealing information last July and subsequently about the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. You can read the letter from the Deputy Attorney General here. I am not disputing that this was wrong. The irony is that Donald Trump touted Comey’s revelations on the campaign trail and paid him compliments on his bravery, all while his crowds were chanting, “Lock her up!” Are we really supposed to believe that the President fired Director Comey for behavior that he lauded for months?

Certainly, the timing and suddenness of the firing are suspicious. The administration did not even have the courage to fire Comey to his face. He literally saw the news on television before he was told.

My fear, which is shared by millions of Americans, is that Comey was fired in an attempt to derail the FBI investigation into Russian interference in US electoral process and governance. I have been alarmed about this for months now, and the alarm bells are ringing more loudly all the time.

I hope that there will be an independent commission to fully investigate this issue. The Congressional inquiries are hobbled by political divisions. The Attorney General has had to recuse himself, although he was also supposed to be recused about the Clinton email investigation but somehow was in on Comey’s firing over it. The future of the FBI investigation is now uncertain.

We deserve to know the truth about who was involved with Russian hacking and interference, either wittingly or unwittingly. Our national sovereignty and the integrity of our government are at stake.

Update on May 12, 2017:  The President said in an interview yesterday that he had already decided to fire Director Comey before meeting with the Justice Department officials, so the idea that he was being fired because of the Clinton investigation is bogus. Also, he said in the interview that the Russia investigation was connected to the Comey decision.

SoCS: interference

Late in the night, about an hour before the media blackout before the French election, a lot of the documents from the Macron campaign, mixed with some false documents, were dumped onto the internet. Four minutes before the blackout, the Macron campaign put out a statement, but the media is not allowed to distribute or discuss it.

It looks like this was caused by the same Russian-backed agency that interfered in the US election last year.

These attacks on democracy need to be recognized as cyber-warfare. No one other than the French people, full informed with facts, should be determining the outcome of their election. No one other than the United States people should be determining the outcome of the US election. We know that their was interference from Russia in our last election and we are dealing with the dire consequences.

NO foreign interference! NO “alternative facts”!
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is  inter-. Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/05/05/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-617/

 

boycott

I had already been planning on not watching DT’s inauguration. Seeing and hearing him remind me too much of all the hateful things he has said and done.

I have even more reason to boycott now as a show of solidarity with Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta, Georgia.

Rep. Lewis said in an interview last week that he questioned the legitimacy of DT’s election, due to the interference of Russia.

I agree.

DT does not and excoriated Rep. Lewis on twitter, of course, on Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. Rep. Lewis is one of the last living stalwarts of the 1960’s civil rights movement dedicated to non-violence, who marched with Dr. King and bled at Selma, and the member of Congress widely known as its conscience. DT once again showed his pettiness and ignorance.

Also, DT showed his complete lack of the sense of irony, given that he spent five years questioning the birthplace and legitimacy of President Obama and repeatedly said during his own campaign that the US elections were rigged.

Many, many people are upset about this situation. Over thirty members of Congress are joining Rep. Lewis in boycotting the inauguration.

While I had already decided not to watch the inauguration before this happened, I am humbled to join my small, private boycott to theirs.
*****
Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/17/jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-17th17/

jjj-2017

 

SoCS: panic-inducing problems

Panic must be setting in.

Why else would I be up writing this post at 2 AM?

With DT’s inauguration less than a week away, more and more information is emerging about Russia’s influence in the election, and, even worse, about possible collusion between the campaign and Russia and about the threat that our incoming president could be blackmailed by Russia.

The problem is compounded by the fact that DT won’t release tax returns and won’t divest his business holdings, so there is no way to know if he owes money to Russian oligarchs or banks – or how many other countries or financial institutions may have financial power over him.

Further compounding of the problem is that many of his cabinet and staff picks have not completed financial disclosures and ethics agreements and that some may be confirmed despite that.

DT is also phenomenally unpopular. Public opinion polls show him with the lowest approval ratings of any incoming president and the approval rating for his transition is even lower.

Our Constitution does not prepare us for this situation. The Congress could impeach and try the president if their investigations show he committed high crimes or misdemeanors, but Vice President Pence would be implicated as well. If they were both out of office through resignation or trial, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan would become president in a nearly impossible governing situation.

Is it any wonder I am having trouble sleeping?
*****
Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and/or Just Jot It January! Today’s prompt was to base a post on a word beginning with the letter P. (I started with panic, but wound up more with problem and president.) Find out how to participate here: https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/13/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-and-jusjojan-jan-1417/

 

Open letter to the electors

Dear Members of the Electoral College,

On December 19th, you will meet to perform your Constitutional duty and elect the next president of the United States.

Your duty is to cast a vote for someone who is equipped to lead the country and ready to uphold and defend the Constitution, a person who has the support of the plurality of the electorate.

That person should be Hillary Clinton.

Clinton won the popular vote in the country by two percentage points, over two and a half million more votes than Donald Trump. The current electoral college system gives more weight to the votes cast in less populous states, as well as disregarding the votes for anyone but the winner in all states. This distorts the will of the people as a whole, which is why there has been a movement for electors to agree to vote for the winner of the national popular vote, even if their state voted for an opponent.

Even if you don’t believe that the largest number of votes should determine the winner of the presidency, electors have always been called upon to exercise judgment in their choice, to vote for a candidate who is qualified for office and who will put the country and its interests above party, personal gain, or foreign influence.

Consider this quote from the Federalist Papers (No. 68):

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men [and women] who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment.

Electors are to cast their votes to protect the country from candidates who have been compromised by corruption, which, sadly, Donald Trump has exhibited in recent weeks.

I was already alarmed by Russia’s interfering with the campaign process, but it has become clear that Russia intervened specifically to elect Donald Trump. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge this, or even to pledge to investigate further, is not worthy of the presidency, which needs to remain vigilant against undue foreign influence. Equally appalling is the fact that some of the Republican Congressional leadership opposed informing the American people about the level of threat of Russian interference in our election before the vote took place. These members of Congress put their party above the security and integrity of the American people and our electoral process. Trump is rewarding Senator McConnell by appointing his spouse to a Cabinet post. It also appears likely that Trump will choose Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, as Secretary of State, whose main qualification seems to be his cozy relationship with Russia and Putin, centered around oil drilling.

Even for those who don’t respect or believe the assessments of the intelligence agencies of the United States, Trump’s staff and Cabinet appointments have been alarming. Despite running his campaign as a populist who understands working class concerns, he is stuffing the Cabinet with insiders and billionaires, some who have records of profiting from illegal or unethical business dealings. In a nation that prides itself on civilian leadership, there are three recently retired generals in major posts, including his pick for Defense Secretary who is ineligible to serve under current law because he has only been retired for three years.

Some staff and Cabinet appointees have exhibited extreme views. Steve Bannon comes to mind immediately. Several are antagonistic to the departments for which they are assigned, for example, an education secretary who is not a great supporter of public schools and a head of the EPA who has filed suit multiple times against the EPA on behalf of Oklahoma fossil fuel interests. Others just seem spectacularly unqualified for the posts to which they are nominated. Dr. Ben Carson is a good brain surgeon, but even he admits that he is not a trained administrator and has no expertise in public housing policy.

Beyond all of these issues, there is the problem of Trump’s refusal to disconnect himself from his business, setting up myriad conflicts of interest. Trump used his campaign to promote his business ventures and to enrich himself by renting space, his airplane, etc. to the campaign. Since the election, he has continued to mix business with his duties to the nation, even allowing his daughter and business partner to meet with a foreign dignitary.  Foreign governments and organizations have been using Trump properties in hopes of currying favor with the president-elect; prospects for projects for the Trump brand abroad have been smoothed. Even if Trump doesn’t let his business interests affect his decisions, his connection to his business and brand will affect business and government decisions made by others, both domestically and internationally.

Donald Trump also has a long history of legal problems. He has been sued countless times and been connected with wage theft, hiring of undocumented workers, and housing discrimination. He threatens to sue others frequently. He has flaunted his sexual behavior, including his infidelities, showing over and over that he abuses his power and position to ogle, touch, and assault women, as well as rate them on their looks, overlooking all their other attributes as people.

He has espoused clearly unconstitutional views, including discrimination on the basis of religion and the denial of birthright citizenship.

He has also lied – a lot. Some in his circle have even said that facts don’t matter and that whatever the president does is legal by virtue of the fact that the president is the one doing it.

All of this illustrates why Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States.

An elector from Texas has publicly said he will not vote for Trump and suggests another Republican such as Gov. Kasich.  I applaud him for using his judgment as an elector to protect the country from Trump, but humbly suggest that he use his vote to reflect the winner of the national popular vote, including 3.8 million Texans, Hillary Clinton.

I realize there would be backlash if the electors choose Clinton on December 19th – and that her transition period would be very short, although she is well-prepared with policy positions and would be able to use the preparatory work that was done during her campaign to quickly put the major nominations in place – but it would save the country from the prospect of four years of corruption and interference from Russia that a Trump presidency would almost surely bring.

The electoral college was designed to prevent just such an occurrence, with the electors using their judgment and conscience to choose the most qualified candidate. In this instance, the electors have the backing of the popular vote count.

Please, Electors, for the good of the country, cast your votes for Hillary Clinton on December 19th.

Your fellow American,
Joanne Corey

If we really want to help Ukraine…

I have heard several things today through various media, including this blog post:  http://www.nofrackingway.us/2014/04/22/kerrys-shale-gas-bluff/  about the situation with Ukraine in regards to the dangers of losing access to Russian methane.

If the US really wants to help Ukraine and other European countries get out from under the thumb of Russian fossil fuel threats, it should help them quickly implement alternate energy sources, especially renewable ones. Help fund a transition to geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling. Find appropriate sites for solar and wind electrical production. Local, distributed energy systems will increase economic well-being and alleviate the fear of Russia cutting off Ukraine and, by extension, much of the rest of Europe from methane for heating during the winter.

Earth Day bonus:  It would be a huge help to the climate as we urgently need to stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible.

What I wish would happen in Ukraine

I, along with others in the US and around the world, have been anxiously watching the situation in Ukraine. It’s disturbing to see people in Crimea raising the Russian flag over Ukrainian government buildings and to see masked Russian troops controlling the airports and streets. The Ukrainian transitional government can’t fight the huge Russian army.

It seems strange to me that so many Russian-speaking Ukrainians consider themselves Russian. Putin apparently considers them Russian, too. Violating Ukraine’s sovereignty is not a good way to deal with this problem. I wish they would institute a peaceful way to resolve this without violence and without dividing the country. Perhaps Russian can set up a mechanism to re-settle ethnic Russians who do not consider themselves citizens of Ukraine in Russia. During a ninety day transition period, Russians and Ukrainians could patrol together to keep peace and those who choose to leave could settle affairs in Ukraine before leaving for Russia. Russia could still retain its military base in Crimea. If the US can have a military base in Cuba, Russia should be able to retain a military base in Ukraine.

I don’t know what will happen, but hope and pray that the situation can be resolved peacefully without dividing Ukraine.