Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reed, Trump, and the Sinking Ship



As day after day more scandal and hypocrisy seethes out of the White House I can't help but wonder where the tipping point is. At what point do the Republicans who have been fawning over Trump finally realize that by sticking with him they are only hurting themselves? When do the rats finally bail on the sinking ship?

Tom Reed is under Trump's wing. He's been there from the beginning. And he seems ready to remain there until the end. According to this Buffalo News article Tom had a meeting with Trump today and left the meeting saying, "I am very confident after talking to the president personally and candidly that there's just nothing there on the Russia issue."

If you've been avoiding the news the past few days (and I don't blame you if you have, it's nauseating), then you should know that more and more lines are being drawn between the Trump administration and the Russian government. Everything is murky and unclear, and all these politicians are working overtime to cover their asses and play the innocent victim.

Image result for obama sanctions on russiaThe problem as I understand it is this: Back last fall, Russian hackers worked the various systems to influence the US election, specifically, fix the election for Trump. The CIA stated that this was accurate, though Trump denied it. It was a scandal! Sort of. Not really.

When I heard, I wondered why we didn't just call a mistrial and start over, so to speak. How can a foreign government's interference in our election be okay? But, not much was done about it. President Obama vowed sanctions. Meaning, the US kicked out of the country a bunch of Russian diplomats, closed two waterfront estates which Russian intelligence officers used for their "activities," and named some Russian intelligence agencies to be further targeted with sanctions. Right. Wow. If someone denied me access to my fancy waterfront estate (if I had one) that would sure teach me a lesson. Russia vowed to return their own sanctions.

Life went on for the rest of us, with or without our beach houses, but now we've got Trump, and here we are finding out that Michael Flynn, who was Trump's National Security Adviser for the first 24 days of the administration, was lying. He said he didn't, but turns out he did spend some time chatting up the Russian Ambassador about the Obama Administration's sanctions and the Russian retaliation sanctions. Maybe he told them not to create sanctions against the US, maybe he took money from them, maybe he was being blackmailed, maybe who the hell knows what he said? But the result was that Putin decided he wouldn't put any sanctions on the US. What a coincidence!

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Flynn says he's really sorry, but he gave "incomplete information" in saying that he didn't talk to the Russians during the campaign or the transition. Trump, via Kellyanne Conway said the administration had "full confidence" in Flynn. Several hours later, Flynn resigned.

The Trump folks are insistent that Flynn's lies and hypocrisy are not the problem here. The problem is the criminal act of leaking this information to the press, which is all apparently a Democratic conspiracy.

Pay no attention to the man behind the lies, it's the puppy that should be locked up for sliding the curtain aside to reveal him.

After all this, we come back to Tom. He's pleased with where he's at. "When the president of the United States gives you an hour of his time, it's vitally important. We were focused on the broader agenda, on long-term relationship building," said Tom in the Buffalo News article. That's right, who cares about a pesky thing like lying government officials or a foreign country fixing our election, when you have the chance to sit across from the King of Lying himself and take a lesson. I hope that Reed does indeed build a long-term relationship with Trump. and when the ship goes down, which it will, they can cling to each other's rat tails to keep from drowning.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lies

By Sarah Posegate

It’s difficult to decide which issue to address next; the Muslim Ban, the dismantling of the EPA, unqualified cabinet appointments with mile long lists of conflicted interests, Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns or to divest his businesses. Some of my friends have contacted Reed about this last issue and have received a reply from Reed that blatantly lies about Trump divesting, which he has NOT done. At least two friends have received this same reply:
Dear ----,
Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding President Donald Trump’s decision to transfer control of his business to his children. I appreciate hearing from you and I care about your thoughts. They are important to me and they help me to better represent you. 
It is only right that those elected to serve the people are in compliance with all ethical standards. The business of the people should never be exploited for personal gain. That is why the president, shortly before he was sworn into office, divested his business interests. This was done to ensure that there will be no conflicts of interest while he is in office. We will continue to follow this issue to ensure that all ethical requirements are met. 
Please stay in touch and share your views as we discuss these issues in Congress. Call one of our offices and visit our website, where you may find additional information on important issues. I encourage you to visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter where we can continue our conversation.
Sincerely,
Tom Reed
Member of Congress


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Now, I understand that this may be complicated. I am a teacher, not a businesswoman. I don’t understand all the ins and outs of what it means for Trump to divest so that we can trust him to be running this country for us and not for himself. To whatever extent he has removed himself from his businesses there is still much evidence that he is taking advantage of his position for his own financial gain and going against his promises not to do so. But I do think I can see for myself that Trump is making decisions that are in his best interests and not ours as a country.

If he is meeting “all ethical standards” why won’t Trump release his tax returns? Reed was one of 23 Republicans who voted no on a proposed measure to force the President to do so. This seems like a very basic and easy way to ensure the President is being ethical and yet they voted no. And they had some very lame excuses as to why.

Perhaps, if pressed, Reed would not admit to lying but would relent that his letter does not fully address the complexity of the situation. But that is exactly my problem with Reed and many of our Members of Congress. We are treated as though we do not care nor could we understand the complex situations that face us as a nation. How about giving a link to the “ethical requirements” that we are trying to meet? How about being more specific about how and what he has divested or not to this point. In this digital age we should expect our leaders to reply by email with links and graphs and evidence. If we are to have real, productive dialog, if we are to make informed choices, if we are to truly understand and compromise, it has to start with our Members of Congress replying to our inquiries with substance.

~~~~~

Sarah Posegate lives in Ithaca, NY with her husband, Russell, and three children. She enjoys a well placed expletive, satirical news shows, and knitting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

This Week in the House - February 13


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Every Saturday, the Majority Leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy, whose slogan is "A new day for American Conservatism," posts the schedule of Bills and Resolutions that the House will consider in the following week.

Monday, February 13:
1) H.R. 609 – To designate the Department of Veterans Affairs health care center in Center Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the “Abie Abraham VA Clinic” (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly / Veterans Affairs Committee)

2) H.R. 512 – WINGMAN Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ted Yoho / Veterans Affairs Committee)

3) H.R. 244 – HIRE Vets Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Paul Cook / Veterans Affairs Committee)

4) H.R. 974 – BRAVE Act (Sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Rice / Veterans Affairs Committee)

Tuesday, February 14:
H.R. 428 – Red River Gradient Boundary Survey Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry / Natural Resources Committee)

Wednesday to Friday, February 15-17:
H.J.Res. 42 – Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to drug testing of unemployment compensation applicants (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady / Ways and Means Committee)

H.J.Res. 66 – Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to savings arrangements established by States for non-governmental employees (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg / Education and the Workforce Committee)

H.J.Res. 67 – Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to savings arrangements established by qualified State political subdivisions for non-governmental employees (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Francis Rooney / Education and the Workforce Committee)

H.J.Res. 69 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule of the Department of the Interior relating to Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Don Young / Natural Resources Committee)

H.J.Res. 43 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule submitted by Secretary of Health and Human Services relating to compliance with title X requirements by project recipients in selecting subrecipients (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Diane Black / Energy and Commerce Committee)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Contribute!

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I'm looking for help here at the blog. I'd like to find a handful of writers/activists/engaged citizens who want to contribute to this blog on a somewhat regular basis. Ideally, we'd have people interested in different topics, who could follow current legislation in the House, Tom's votes, and news related to that topic. In that way we could cover a lot of issues and share a lot of information. 

I hope to make this blog fit into the growing list of important resources for NY's 23 District, but I can't do it alone. If you want join the resistance and have the time to work on this, leave your name and email in the comments here and I'll be in touch. 

In solidarity!