I’m not sure I have much to say on the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump. But this feels like one of those moments in history that we’ll be reliving and coming back to for decades to come. So I feel compelled to set down a few thoughts.Continue reading The Second IMpeachment of Donald Trump
Every time we sing the national anthem we ask the question, “does that star-spangled banner yet wave?” amid the perilous fight and the bombs bursting in air.
These past two weeks, since violent insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capital, the answer has been in doubt. Not literally—Congress reconvened that same day and democracy carried on—but the spirit of the nation has been dazed as we suffered this terrible attack and reckoned with the deeper divide.
But today, Inauguration Day, as Lady Gaga belted out “The Star Spangled Banner” on the same Capital steps that two weeks ago held a swarming mob, it did the spirit of this nation well to see those broad stripes and bright stars so gallantly streaming.Continue reading There Is Always Light
Yesterday a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as a joint session of Congress attempted their Constitutionally mandated task of approving the electors for the next president. We spent yesterday watching the news unfold on Twitter and live TV.
I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m grieving for our nation.
There will be so many better opinions and commentaries and I hesitate to add to the noise, but I keep coming back to one thing that I think is important to emphasize.
An erosion of trust and a lack of common truth has imperiled our democracy.Continue reading The January 6 Insurrection: The Loss of Trust and Truth
Since 2020 has been such a dumpster fire, I thought it might help to recap a few accomplishments. One of the big ones is my latest book: Better Politics, Please.
I came up with this idea before the pandemic struck, but really fleshing it out and making it happen was a total pandemic project. I needed that. I needed something to focus on in the midst of all the chaos.
A project I worked on for 15 years came to an end at the close of 2019. I went into 2020 not knowing what was next (whoa, boy howdy!). Better Politics, Please was a fun way to try something different. It gave me a lot of hope, despite a real lack of hope in the rest of the world.
I’m grateful for all the help that made this project a reality. I couldn’t have done it without the many people who supported it.Continue reading 2020 Accomplishments: Better Politics, Please
I’ve been too busy to blog. We’re in a weird time here in 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic and probably the most important presidential election in my lifetime. That pandemic has caused an economic scare (never mind, you know, death), and things are just weird.
I wrote about it a bit this spring to capture my feelings, and those days feel so long ago. So maybe it’s time to do it again. (This is going to be a bit scattered, so I apologize in advance for that.)Continue reading Coronavirus: 5 Months In
A couple weeks back Senator Cory Booker appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to talk about George Floyd and the protests and the reaction. It’s an incredible interview and I encourage you to watch it.
The whole interview is about half an hour, but there’s about a 15-minute chunk that gets away from the current politics and focuses on racism and this moment in America that is just powerful stuff.
Booker and Colbert have been discussing the protests in Washington D.C. and how President Donald Trump cleared out Lafayette Park for a photo opp, and Colbert asks what it’s like in D.C. right now and if this is a harbinger of things to come. Booker launches into a very personal and emotional response that is worth your time:Continue reading Cory Booker: George Floyd Is a Referendum on Us
It’s Presidential Primary Day here in Minnesota. I like to capture my thoughts in the moment, because sometimes things change so much and so fast it’s hard to remember what we actually thought.
And sometimes it’s funny to see how wrong we are.
Back in November I shared my thoughts on the Democratic Presidential Primary. Folks have actually voted since then, and everything has changed. Pete Buttigieg dropped out Sunday and Amy Klobuchar dropped out yesterday, making this a simpler race.
I’m voting for Elizabeth Warren.Continue reading Super TuesDay 2020 Thoughts
I just wanted the U.S. House of Representatives vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
It’s only the third time in history a president has been impeached.
I watched it gathered around the TV with my daughter, watching as the votes came in and waiting for it to hit the magic number (thank goodness for PBS where the vote count was broadcast silently with no blathering commentary).
I wrote about impeachment before, and my view hasn’t really changed. Though I did notice that instead of directly responding to any of the charges and saying he didn’t do it or it’s not wrong or it’s wrong but not impeachable, they made a whole bunch of ridiculous arguments. Perhaps my favorite was that the economy is doing well, so you can’t impeach Trump.
(Look at ’em, Trumping away!)
The Day’s Gonna Come
It’s a dark day for the United States when a president can so brazenly flout the rule of law, and even worse that a political party will blindly allow him to do so. I don’t have much hope that Senate Republicans will do the right thing and remove Trump from office.
They’re going to wish they did, because a reckoning is going to come.
My daughter’s social studies class watched some of the impeachment speeches in the House today, and she came home so incredulous about the ridiculous things all those old, angry, white men were saying (and she’s not wrong on that lack-of-diversity slam). It’s not even like we’ve talked that much about impeachment in our house. She figured this out on her own.
I think voters can figure it out as well.
(Well, I hope they can. I hoped the same thing in 2016 and was proven so horribly wrong.)
So What Now?
- Call your representative and thank them for a ‘yes’ vote or let them know how you feel about a ‘no’ vote (or a ‘present’ vote, ug, Gabbard).
- Call your senator and ask them to vote to remove.
- Find out who’s running in your area, for every level of office, and get involved somewhere, somehow.
I’m sitting here in the first week of the public impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives. With so much news and commentary flying around in today’s fast-paced world, it’s hard to capture how we’re actually feeling in a given moment. Rather than adding to the noise, I’m hoping to just capture my thoughts in this moment.
First, it’s hard to come to grips with how momentous this moment really is. Impeachment gets thrown around a lot and it’s been threatened against nearly every president. But it’s usually pretty fringe and not taken very seriously.
So to have an impeachment inquiry supported by a majority in the House and public hearings happening, that’s big. It’s only happened with three presidents before, so—as we might expect—Trump is really in a unique class here. Which is not a good thing.Continue reading The Impeachment of Donald Trump
So I read the Mueller Report. Or technically, Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. I came away with a few key lessons:
- Trump and his campaign did not conspire with Russia.
- Russia absolutely did attack our election.
- Trump tried to obstruct the investigation.
Reading the Report
With all the talk about the report and possible impeachment, and all the lies about the report, it seemed worth reading it for myself.
It’s very long and took me a while to get through—and I read a lot. It wasn’t so much the legalese that made it hard, but the incredible amount of detail. Mueller basically laid out every single rabbit hole they chased down and gave a report on everything, whether there was something there or not. So in many cases there’s a lots of detail about what happened, lots of detail about the laws involved, and lots of detail about why the evidence does or doesn’t support criminal charges.
It’s an exercise in covering your ass.
Thorough and detailed. And that’s what it should be. We’re talking about our democratic process, the very institution that defines our government. It has to be thorough so we know, once and for all, whether something bad happened.
And something bad did happen, regardless of your political leanings.
I don’t know if everyone needs to read the report. It’s so involved, it’s probably not worth it. The legal language mostly isn’t too bad, but there were a few times when it does get intense. The redactions didn’t seem excessive to me either (though it was hard to tell in my ebook version). It is probably worth reading the summary sections, just to know what it says for yourself.
1. Trump Didn’t Conspire With Russia
So the first conclusion I came away with is that Trump and his campaign did not conspire or coordinate with Russia (collusion is a made up word and not a legal thing, as the report explains, so let’s stop using it). At least this report found no evidence of that. And they dug pretty deep, so I think we can have reasonable confidence in the conclusion.
And even though I do not like Trump at all, I’m very happy with this conclusion. What a sigh of relief. The idea that the president of the United States would conspire with a foreign power to get that job—that’s terrifying.
I think this conclusion is good for America, no matter where you are politically.
Trump continually touts this conclusion, as he should. But it’s far from the end of the story.
2. Russia Attacked Our Election
The next big conclusion from the report is that Russia attacked our election. This came in two forms:
- Creating social media disinformation campaigns. More than just bots, these included fake social media profiles that organized real life political rallies. These fake accounts were quoted in the media and used to show what “real voters” think. Facebook estimates these fake posts may have been seen by 126 million people. (As propaganda campaigns go, that’s shockingly effective.)
- Hacking the computers and emails of campaign officials and election officials. More than just stealing information from candidates (which is still illegal, though Trump seems to endorse this idea), this included trying to break into and comprise our election system. While you might laugh at a silly campaign manager gullible enough to fall for a phishing attempt, it’s a lot more serious when it’s an election official in charge of safeguarding out ballot boxes.
The fact that this happened is startling. Not so much that hackers exist and they do bad stuff, but that the U.S. was specifically targeted and attacked by a foreign government. This wasn’t just ‘fat kids in their mom’s basement,’ this was the Russian government. That’s outrageous.
But what’s really mind boggling about this is the complete lack of a response from Trump. He’s denied that Russia has attacked us for so long, whether it’s back in Helsinki when he took Vladimir Putin’s word over our own intelligence agencies or even now that the report is out and he still jokes about it. He recently met with Putin and joked about how he told him not to hack us.
The president joked with a foreign leader about their attack on our democracy.
Just take a moment to wonder at the madness of that. Imagine any other president doing that. The cavalier way that Trump just dismisses this attack on democracy should be chilling.
I think Trump’s failure to protect and defend American democracy is the real high crimes and misdemeanors in the Muller Report that he should be impeached for.
3. Trump Obstructed the Investigation
The final conclusion is that Trump repeatedly tried to obstruct the investigation. There are a ton of examples of this, some with more evidence or weight that others.
This section of the report got a little hard to follow because there were so many egregious examples and so much legalese analyzing what was required in each case to bring charges or make a case.
It’s mostly Trump trying to cover his butt and get out from under the cloud this investigation cast on his presidency. And his own actions only made it worse.
In some ways I get how people can argue that this is a process crime, and it’s not that big of a deal. Trump personally didn’t do anything wrong with Russia (except for that whole failure to defend the country thing), so who cares if he wanted the investigation over?
Of course there’s that whole rule of law thing. You can’t lead a ‘lock her up’ chant about Hillary Clinton’s emails and then ignore all the actual crimes of your own people (the “best” people, remember?).
But aside from that, what really gets me is that Russia attacked the U.S. and Trump tried to kill the investigation.
The word ‘treason’ has been thrown around a lot in these arguments, but those are actions that might actually deserve the word.
When a foreign government attacks our country, you investigate and get to the bottom of it, no matter how bad it makes your people look. To do anything else is treasonous. To actively try to stop that investigation to cover your own ass—those are not the actions of a president who defends the country, they’re the action of a selfish man worried about his own image.
So what happens next? Based on my conclusions above, I think Congress should open impeachment hearings.
Of course that hasn’t happened (yet).
Instead everyone is playing politics.
The Republicans are sticking by Trump and claiming there’s nothing in the Mueller Report. They’re clearly deluding themselves. It’s fair to say they’ve neglected their oath of office. And since Republicans control the Senate, even if the House files charges of impeachment, the Senate will never convict.
Meanwhile the Democrats are afraid of public opinion. There’s not enough public support for impeachment yet, so they’re too afraid to go down that road (especially if it will fail in the Senate). They want to win, whether by impeachment or election, and losing impeachment could endanger winning the election. So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has this strategy of building support over time with an onslaught of investigations, but the White House refuses to cooperate and it all just drags on so slowly that the public loses interest.
I’m not surprised this whole thing has become so political.
But what’s buried in all the arguments, theories, strategies, and fake news is doing what’s right. Screw public opinion. Screw whether or not it’s successful.
Integrity means you do what’s right, no matter the result or public opinion.
Neither party seems to have much integrity right now.
And that sets a terrifying precedent. We’re allowing a vanity president to ignore attacks on our country. The message this sends to the world is that you’re welcome to attack our democracy, and we’re too politically immobilized to do anything about it.
The United States has to be more than Democrats or Republicans, each trying to win no matter what. The country has to come before party, and right now both parties and the president seem to be obsessed with themselves.
I’d love to see Donald Trump lose the 2020 presidential election by a huge margin, to have an electoral repudiation of his presidency and his policies. That would be cathartic.
But I also think Trump has neglected the duties of his office, and failing to hold him accountable for that is to be guilty of the same crime.
Hold Trump accountable. Make Republicans vote for Trump over country, and then win or lose you’ve done the right thing.