By Doug Porter
Several hundred people crowdfunded a full page ad in the Union-Tribune on Tuesday, inviting Congressman Darrell Issa to a town hall in Vista on February 21.
For weeks now people in the 49th Congressional district have been calling, writing, and even picketing hoping to get Issa to directly engage with them on issues of concern, especially what in store for them with the promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
The wily congressman tried to dodge the issue by staging a “telephone conference” involving carefully screened callers. He rolled out a proposal for ‘accessible’ health care, hoping people wouldn’t notice they’d have no way to afford it. It didn’t work.
People figured out the scam, namely, that Issa isn’t interested in what they have to say. So they passed the hat and called him out in public. Word is that if Issa doesn’t show up at the Jim Porter Recreation Hall in Vista next Tuesday, they’ll place a cardboard cutout of the congressman on the stage.
This follows a national trend of congressional avoidance of direct contact with constituents in the face of a national organizing campaign to raise voter awareness.
San Diego Weighs in on Trump Travel Ban
Hundreds of people reached out to their city council representatives earlier this week, urging support of a motion to join the legal battle against President Donald Trump’s executive order prohibiting refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
The City Council chambers were overflowing yesterday, as more than a hundred people signed up to testify. Republican members of the council, including Scott Sherman, Lori Zapf, and Mark Kersey, left the room once testimony began.
Sherman ended up being the lone no vote in the 8-1 decision, saying it was “unacceptable to expend valuable and limited resources in the City Attorney’s office on an order that could be rescinded at any moment.”
From the Union-Tribune:
The closed-session vote was prefaced by a morning of testimony from a broad section of the community who asked council members to join the brief. Dozens spoke in support of joining, and two spoke against it. Many rallied outside City Hall in favor of the brief.
There was no public discussion among council members after the vote was announced, but council members David Alvarez, Chris Ward — both Democrats — and Sherman issued statements.
“I’m proud that San Diego is joining the State of Washington in the effort to strike down the Executive Order issued by President Trump that restricts immigration and admission of refugees into the United States,” Alvarez said. “This short-sighted action taken by the president is un-American. It has torn families apart and is detrimental to our economy.”
Your thoughtful testimony on the travel ban’s impacts led to this bipartisan vote. San Diego’s voice will be heard. https://t.co/YSrNuAM9uj
— SD City Attorney (@CityAttorneySD) February 15, 2017
GOP Fiddles While the White House Burns
Each day I rise with an increasing sense of dread. For those too young or not living in the nation’s capitol during the Watergate era, what we are experiencing now is what it felt like. A month feels like a year, as the rat-a-tat-tat of Breaking News overwhelms our lives.
Here’s a summary of what’s happened over the past day or so:
We now know Sally Yates, then the acting attorney general, told the White House on January 26 that national security adviser Mike Flynn had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador during the transition and therefore was vulnerable to Russian blackmail. (Four days later, on Jan. 30, Trump fired Yates, citing her unwillingness to enforce his border order.)
The New York Times, and then CNN broke the news: “Trump aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign.” Clearly, intelligence types are releasing a steady stream of information gleaned from communications intercepts. Trump will rue the day he crossed old-line cold warriors in DC.
Here are the details from the Times article:
- “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of … Trump’s … campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”
- “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering” that Russia was” hacking the DNC.
- “[T]he intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president.”
It turns out Trump has known about this since the transition, according to CNN’s Pamela Brown, Jim Sciutto and Evan Perez: “President-elect Trump and then-President Barack Obama were both briefed on details of the extensive communications between suspected Russian operatives and people associated with the Trump campaign and the Trump business.”
Wikileaks ‘Good,’ DC Leaks ‘Bad’(?)
Here’s a snip from the NBC story suggesting this story adds up to more than the sum of its parts:
Before these stories were published, the Trump White House denied that campaign officials had contact with the Russians. Neither the Times article nor the CNN report contains a smoking gun. But then add them to all of the other Russia-Trump storylines:
- Trump’s constant praise of Russia’s Vladimir Putin (“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Trump tweeted during the transition).
- Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election to benefit Trump’s campaign.
- Trump’s embrace of that interference (“Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks,” he said in the final days of the ’16 campaign).
- And National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation after misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump officials about his communication with Russia’s ambassador.
Isolated, these seem to be unprecedented stories for a presidential campaign or incoming new administration. But taken together, they have the potential — and we have to stress that word right now — to be something even bigger. Meanwhile, President Trump has reacted via Twitter to the newest Russia-related stories. “This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign,” he said. “Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia.”
Be a Wild Card
There is no guarantee the institutions of democracy will stand thru what appears to be a category five constitutional crisis developing.
Republicans in the Congress are neutered, bound by the terms of a deal allowing them to enact their social agenda in return for support for the economic/nationalist leanings of the White House.
The citizenry is the wild card in this scenario. Only if our elected representatives (from both parties) sense that their own political survival is on the line will they decide to investigate and take actions to protect the rule of law. The press (with the help of some serious leakage from the intelligence/industrial complex) can’t do it on their own. The courts are limited in what they can address.
You are the answer. Call or write (petitions and emails get ignored) your member of Congress. Demand an investigation. Make so much noise that nothing else can get done. Even Rep. Duncan Hunter will figure out something’s amiss sooner or later. Here’s some guidance on what to say. Here’s how to find your representatives.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill
— Moms Demand Action (@MomsDemand) February 15, 2017
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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