Sunday, February 19, 2017

Town Hall questions

This blog entry sets forth comments and questions regarding the tele-town hall of Rep. Gary Palmer (AL06) held on February 16th. An audio of the town hall can be heard at https://vekeo.com/event/usrepresentativegarypalmer-30691/.

I think most Americans are similarly situated and have similar interests relative to many of the important issues that were asked about in the town hall, including concerning Obamacare (and its repeal and replacement), Medicare, Social Security, education, jobs, infrastructure, regulations, energy, the environment, and the debt. On these issues, there is little basis for deep partisan divide (polarization) among average Republicans, average Democrats and Independents.

Some of the issues have trade offs. Most Americans are similarly situated regarding the trade offs, and the trade offs should not be a source of deep partisan divide as prevents a compromise balancing and resolution of the trade offs. While these issues that have trade offs ought not be a source of deep partisan divide, nonetheless deep partisan divide gets manifested on the issues.

For example, there are trade offs between energy and the environment. Most Americans (Republicans, Democrats and independents) are exposed in the same way to that trade off (i.e., all Americans need energy and most Americans want to pass on a decent environment to succeeding generations). There ought not to be deep partisan divide that prevents reaching a compromise resolution of the trade off, but nonetheless a deep partisan divide (polarization) gets manifested.

Some of the issues have differing generational perspectives, such as questions of reducing current Social Security benefits, or the "mandate"  under Obamacare. Again, though, in such cases there should not be a basis for a deep partisan divide.

All in all, it seems that there there has been growing polarization (hyperpartisanship)  for 20 years or more, which polarization is greater than objectively warranted given the similarity of the interests of most Americans.

Many think this hyperpartisanship has resulted in very substantial impairment of Congress doing its job properly for the American people.

A fair characterization of the Obama years was obstructionism by the Republicans.

Now the Democrats are taking up obstructionism against Donald Trump and the Republicans.

After one month of the Trump administration, many think that the country is more divided than it has ever been during the past thirty years.

Questions for Rep. Palmer:
1. To what extent do you agree with the above analysis that most Americans are similarly situated and have similar interests relative to many important issues for the country, and that there is a political polarization that is not warranted in light of how most Americans are similarly situated on the important issues?
2. Do you believe there has been political polarization in recent years that has impaired Congress in doing its job properly for the American people?
3. Do you think the way Donald Trump conducted his campaign, and the way he has conducted his Presidency in the first month, if the same is continued going forward, will deepen the political polarization in the country? Or do you think the way Donald Trump has conducted his Presidency in the first month, if continued, will work towards lessening the hyperpartisanship in the country?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Thursday town hall

To: Representative Palmer
Regarding your telephone town hall this Thursday, please, if you would, talk about Trump, Flynn, and Obamacare. Should Congress censure President Trump? See Censure. Thank you.
Update 2/15 Flynn is out because he lost the trust of the President. Would you please comment on whether you think the President has started to lose the trust of the American people? Thank you


YOU'RE INVITED!
On Valentine's Day, Tell Congress: Let's Make a Date! Hold a Town Hall Meeting with Constituents!
WHERE:REP. GARY PALMER'S OFFICE  (IN BHAM)
WHEN:TOMORROW, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 12:00 PM
WHAT:
 Rally to Tell Congress: Let's Make a Date! Hold a Town Hall Meeting with Constituents!
As Trump launches terrorizing immigration sweeps, gives handouts to Wall Street, and rushes forward the Dakota Access Pipeline—all while attacking our nation's courts and our health care and pushing through more dangerous Cabinet picks—we deserve the chance to meet publicly with our representatives to discuss these vital issues for our democracy.

But many lawmakers haven't yet scheduled town hall meetings with their constituents for the February congressional recess, which begins this weekend.
Every member of Congress needs to meet with constituents face to face, in accessible, public meetings. That's why tomorrow, Valentine's Day, Tuesday, February 14, we'll visit our senators and representatives' local offices with a clear demand: "Let's Make a Date! Host a Town Hall Meeting!"
Will you join MoveOn members and allies for a special Valentine's Day rally tomorrow in Bham to tell Congress: "Let's Make a Date! Hold a Town Hall Meeting!"?
A person holding a sign!YES, I'LL BE THERE!People holding signs!
I can't make it, but show me other events near me.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Alabamians tweeting for censure

ALABAMIANS TWEETING FOR CONGRESS TO CENSURE PRESIDENT TRUMP

TO: As many Alabamians as we can tweet to

This message is being tweeted to you individually.

We who are tweeting to you believe President Trump evidences that he will not faithfully execute the office of President, as he swore he would do in the constitutional oath of office he took on January 20th.

We who are tweeting to you include persons who voted for Donald Trump and persons who did not vote for Donald Trump.

Our shared complaints regarding President Trump are:

1. His refusal to separate adequately from his businesses will improperly affect untold aspects of the governance of the country in the Executive Branch of the Federal government and also in the Legislative Branch. The recent episode of President Trump's tweeting about Ivanka and Nordstrom is one small example of Executive Branch governance of the country being improperly impacted. President Trump has been adamant that he can and will do whatever he wants regarding his businesses. We do not believe this is true, and we believe that Congress needs to tell President Trump that.

2. President Trump speaks to the American people with an immense lack of regard for "truth" and "facts." We do not understand why he does this, and it signifies that President Trump does not understand or refuses to understand things that are needed to properly execute the office of President. Congress needs to tell President Trump that.

3. President Trump's insulting, gratuitous, hyperbolic assaults on those who express disagreement are excessive in the extreme and improperly exacerbate divisions in the country. Congress needs to tell President Trump this is not "faithful" execution of the office of President.

4. [added 2/13] Various actions and statements of President Trump and his subordinates are portending that President Trump is going to violate constitutional separation of powers. Congress needs to warn President Trump about this.

5. [added 2/15] Michael Flynn is out because he lost the President's trust. Overnight developments are resulting in the President losing the trust of the American people. Congress needs to tell him that.

6. [added 2/20] The House and the Senate need to pass a joint resolution to the effect that it is the sense of Congress that the press is not the enemy of the American people.

To get Congress to censure President Trump, we want as many Alabamians as possible to request Senators Shelby and Strange and Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell to take action to have Congress censure President Trump. See Step One below.

We want recipients of our tweets to join in a "pyramiding" of tweets so that many thousands of Alabamians receive tweets. See Step Two below.

Step One
If you agree, you should send tweets to Senators Shelby and Strange and to Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell.

You can send tweets by clicking on the below links. The tweet you send will say "I think Congress should censure President Trump" and will have a link to this blog entry (Alabamians tweeting for censure).  Also your tweet will contain, and show up under, the Twitter hashtags #AlabamiansforCensure and #alpolitics.

Tweet here to Senator Shelby
Tweet here to Senator Strange
Tweet here to Rep. Byrne
Tweet here to Rep. Roby
Tweet here to Rep. Rogers
Tweet here to Rep. Alderholt
Tweet here to Rep. Brooks
Tweet here to Rep. Palmer
Tweet here to Rep. Sewell

Step Two
Send individual tweets to other Alabamians, which tweets have a link to this page. This will be to try to get other Alabamians to come to this page and send their own tweets to Senators Shelby and Strange and to Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell. and, after that, to join in sending tweets to more Alabamians. The goal here to get a large amount of "pyramiding" of tweets going.

A suggested tweet message to send to other Alabamians is:
Our AL reps in Congress should get Congress to censure President Trump.
http://al6thcongdist-ihaveuntiljan13.blogspot.com/2017/02/alabamians-for-censure.html
Then you need to find follower lists of other Twitter accounts in your geographic location that have a lot of followers. For example, if you live in the Jefferson County/Shelby County geographic area, the below would be examples of good Twitter follower lists to use:
https://twitter.com/GreaterShelby/followers
https://twitter.com/OTMJ_Life/followers
https://twitter.com/HomewoodHigh/followers
https://twitter.com/TrussTribune/followers

FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOUR TWEETING
A. General
This tweeting involves a non-standard use of Twitter, namely, the sending of large numbers of individually directed tweets to followers of other Twitter accounts (not your own followers).
A ground has been staked out with Twitter for this method of tweeting. See letter to Twitter @Support.
The object of this method of tweeting is to get a "pyramiding" of tweets going in Alabama.
(For questions or discussion about this tweeting, go to Google group topic Tweeting for Trump censure.)

B. Your tweet message
A suggested tweet message to send to other Alabamians is:
Our AL reps in Congress should get Congress to censure President Trump.
http://al6thcongdist-ihaveuntiljan13.blogspot.com/2017/02/alabamians-for-censure.html
C. Persons to send your individually directed tweets to
The object is to find Twitter accounts in your area have a lot of followers. If a person's twitter profile indicates the person lives in Alabama, be selective or indiscriminate as you choose in sending the person a tweet or not.
Do not worry about redundancy and whether others participating in this tweeting bank may also be tweeting to the same person.
For example, if you live in the Jefferson County/Shelby County geographic area, the below would be examples of good Twitter follower lists to use:
https://twitter.com/GreaterShelby/followers
https://twitter.com/OTMJ_Life/followers
https://twitter.com/HomewoodHigh/followers
https://twitter.com/TrussTribune/followers

D. How to send your tweets efficiently
In doing your tweeting, you are repetitively sending the same tweet message. This can be done very efficiently, at least on a laptop computer. Get the tweet message on your mouse clipboard, go to the follower list  you are using for your tweeting, start with the first person on the list you want to tweet to, and do this:
1. Right click on person's Twitter name.
2. Choose "open in new tab"
3. Go to the new tab.
4. Click on the "Tweet to" button.
5. Paste the tweet message in the box.
6. Hit the "Tweet" button.
7. Close the tab, which takes you back to the list
8. Go on to next person, and repeat above steps.
You should be able to send 35 to 70 tweets in a half hour. Send as many tweets as you are willing to. Don't worry about any duplication that you think may arise.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Censure (supplement)

TO: Representative Gary Palmer, Alabama 6th Congressional district

This supplements the preceding Censure entry.

A. Impeachment effort already underway
An impeachment effort is already underway, as reported in this January 27, 2017 article Hundreds of Thousands Sign Petition to Impeach Trump for Violating Constitution over Biz Interests.The impeachment effort is being led by the organizations Free Speech for People and RootsAction.

B. Please answer the below
NBC News reports the following about Rep. Chaffetz yesterday  ‘Do Your Job!’: Rep. Jason Chaffetz Faces Angry Town Hall Crowd in Utah.

I tweeted you the video in the report and asked about the President's oath of office and "faithfully."
As the video in the link shows, Rep. Chaffetz does not get beyond saying, as to President Trump, he is exempt from the "conflicts of interest" statute. 

Can you please answeer: Have you raised with Rep. Chaffetz and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee the questions I posed for you in November, to wit:
1. What is the relationship between the constitutional oath of office to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" and the exemption for the President that is provided in the "conflicts of interest" statute? What does the word "faithfully" mean in the constitutional oath of office? Can President Trump do anything he wants in service of the interests of his businesses and his family, or does the word "faithfully" limit what President Trump can do?
2. If the word "faithfully" limits what President Trump can do, do you think President Trump understands that?
3. What is the role of Congress in overseeing whether the President is "faithfully" executing his office? Can Congress impeach the President if it determines that the President has failed to faithfully execute his office? What if the President has one view of what "faithfully" means, and Congress has a differing view?
Can you please provide some information on this, Rep. Palmer?

C. Bigger picture
The novel case of President Trump and his businesses raises big picture questions of how governance and electoral politics are going to be conducted in the country.

President Trump is opaque about ideas he may have, but there are inklings.

One inkling is President Trump's "art of the deal" mentality and his picking of individual companies to "target" and "negotiate" with personally for implementing his policies. This is novel in a President.

This form of governance is autocratic and needs contrasting with regular modes of governance by the Executive Branch. The regular modes start with Congress passing laws, making appropriations, funding programs and incentives under the law, and specifying punishments for non-compliance with the law. The Executive Branch executes the laws Congress passes, including by means of administrative agencies which act by general rule making and by enforcement in particular cases for which there are administrative and judicial protections for those against whom enforcement is sought.

The Trump businesses could be used by President Trump as an adjunct of this autocratic mode of governance. President Trump could use his extensive web of business contacts to elicit support for his legislation, including that they contact their Congressional representatives to urge the representatives to support Trump legislation. Trump could couple his requests with indications of favorable treatment of business interests of his contacts who help out, and Trump may even signal that failure to support Trump legislation could be met with some unfavorable business treatment by the Trump administration.

"Pay to play" risks would increase greatly.

For further elaboration of the foregoing matters, please read Trump Inc.

Don't you agree that the Committee, Congress and the country need to get a handle on what is going to happen with the country's governance and politics? Don't you think this should be done by the Committee taking up its responsibilities regarding President Trump and his businesses.

Update 2/15
The below op/ed piece is deserving of consideration related to above.

The Wall Street Journal

The ‘Blind Trust’ Snake Oil

American voters have bigger things to worry about than Trump’s business interests.


Let’s just say the precedents aren’t good.
Lyndon Johnson was the first president to place his family assets in a blind trust. That didn’t stop him from installing a special phone line, bypassing White House operators, so he could apply presidential suasion for the benefit of TV and radio stations nominally owned by Lady Bird.
Leonard Goldenson, who led ABC at the time, later complained about the president calling up and strong-arming him over the network’s decision to take a college football game away from Johnson’s Austin TV station.
And does anybody think Mike Bloomberg did not involve himself in the running of his financial news empire while mayor of New York City? Halfway through his term, even Mr. Bloomberg dropped the pretense, conceding that, while he “stayed out of the day-to-day stuff,” he regularly spoke to his executives about financial matters, major product changes and lawsuit negotiations.
Yet nobody should doubt that politicians like Mr. Bloomberg and Johnson were concerned, first and last, with political success. When American presidents abuse their offices, it’s for political reasons. Biographer Robert Caro tells of Johnson threatening to block the merger of two Texas banks unless the Houston Chronicle, on whose board one of the bank presidents sat, dropped its hypercritical tone and endorsed Johnson for president in 1964. (The paper did.)
To expect Donald Trump to be unaware or indifferent as to how his businesses are faring in the hands of his kids is unrealistic. Sadly, however, the discussion has been too much influenced by Richard Painter and Norman Eisen, former Bush and Obama White House ethics lawyers, respectively, who have been exploiting the situation to drag out their 15 minutes of fame unconscionably.
They appear everywhere, in op-eds and on TV, encouraging a false idea that a president without business interests is therefore somehow a president devoted to the public interest. Their ideal of a president is almost like Silicon Valley’s dystopian vision of AI, namely a computer that knows what’s good for us and intends to do it without our input.
Messrs. Painter and Eisen fret continually about an “appearance of conflict,” when the thing to worry about is the nonappearance of conflict, the hidden reasons a president favors one course over another that are often lost on everybody but the special interests at his elbow.
Will foreign leaders feel obliged to check into the Trump hotel when visiting D.C? We can take this as a given. Who, when seeing the president, wouldn’t want to be able to say how nice the stay was at his hotel? So what?
Will his overseas buildings become terrorist targets? If so, all the more reason for local partners to take his name down, even if they have to keep paying for its use. It’s the host countries, not the U.S., that have the obligation of protecting local landmarks from terrorist attack.
Will the Trump children parade around in semi-regal fashion, signing deals that wouldn’t otherwise come their way if their father wasn’t president? Again, so what? Two words: Billy Beer.
Of all the things to fret about with President Trump, these are the least important. But ankle-biting America—a longstanding facet of our national character—is getting a chance to air the sanctimony and resentment on which it thrives.
Messrs. Painter and Eisen are the embodiment of the aphid side of the law—the side that glories in the dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s, irreparably confusing form and substance. Like a two-man Supreme Court, they’ve ruled, based on nothing, that the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause means a president can’t own a stake in a business whose operations might be patronized by a foreign government official. Well, then, sell your McDonald’s shares, ambitious U.S. politicians, lest an Indonesian junior minister stop by the drive-thru window.
Unfortunately the aphid side of life is the side that Washington specializes in. It supplies full-time occupations for rule makers and rule enforcers plus their cheering section, the lobbyists and lawyers who make a living by hindering other Americans from going about their business.
Don’t doubt, though, that these forces are a threat to any president who offers his opponents so many opportunities to tie him and his businesses up in lawsuits.
The more likely outcome is that Mr. Trump’s businesses will wither on the vine while he attends to his presidential duties, not exclusively limited to issuing ruckus-causing tweets. We may not have our new president to kick around after a couple of years, as he hurriedly hands over power so he can go back and save his flagging business empire.
By the way, for urban dwellers, aphids, or “plant lice,” according to Wikipedia, are “small sap-sucking insects” that are “among the most destructive insect pests on cultivated plants in temperate regions.”

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Censure

TO: Representative Gary Palmer, Alabama 6th Congressional district

On January 9th, Rep Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (on which you sit), said the Committee will continue to investigate Hillary Clinton's private email server. (See CNN story here.)

As to President Trump's potential business conflicts, Rep. Chaffetz reportedly noted that the law‎ exempts the president of the United States, and called the push from Democrats to launch a committee investigation on Trump's business ties "premature at best." (See CNN story here.)

I tweeted you yesterday asking whether you thought President Trump is "faithfully" executing the office of President when he tweets in favor of Ivanka and against Nordstrom in connection with the business relationship of Ivanka and Nordstrom. See Ivanka and Nordstrom.

The potential problems that President Trump's businesses pose for his being able to fulfill his constitutional oath to "faithfully" execute the office of the President have been obvious since November.  Have you given any consideration to them as I requested in Priority questions for AL legislative delegation?

I don't know whether Rep. Chaffetz still thinks that investigation into the Trump businesses is "premature at best," but I think urgency is getting to be needed.

Urgency is needed because so much about President Trump is novel, questionable developments are rapidly occurring and revealing new elements of concern, and there is an expanding amount of information needed to be obtained, understood and evaluated by the Committee. If the Committee ultimately decides that corrective action needs to be taken against President Trump, that should be decided sooner rather than later.

It is up to you and other members of the Oversight Committee to consider and judge the novel situation presented by President Trump.

Quite simply the country has never had an outsider businessman becoming President, and bringing along a very large business organization, which operates domestically and in many foreign countries.

Some of the possible problems associated with the the novel situation of President Trump's businesses have been identified.

The Democrats on the Oversight Commitee sent a seven page letter to Chairman Chaffetz on November 28, 2016, which gave a starting list of problems.

On January 11th, President-Elect Trump had a press conference in which he set out what he was going to do to separate himself from his businesses. This plan has received a large amount of criticism as not doing enough, and the matter is far from resolved. After he took office on January 20th, lawsuits were started against President Trump under the emoluments clause.

While some of the possible problems have been discerned, others are being learned only as time goes by.

Further, President Trump's nature and style have the potential of tremendously exacerbating problems. His tweeting regarding Ivanka and Nordstrom has resulted in his taking up cudgels for the personal interests of Ivanka and his family and stoking more divisive battle between his supporters and opponents who are leaping into the fray.

This is a mess, it is detrimental to the country, and it is almost certain to get worse.

To me, it seems that the Oversight and Government Reform Committee has a responsibility to not duck the mess, and to take up the problems that President Trump and his businesses are creating for the country.

You and the other Republicans on the Oversight Committee are going to have to decide: Are you going to shirk your responsibility by not addressing the problems, or are you going to discharge your responsibility and investigate, evaluate and judge the novel situation of President Trump and his businesses.

Please keep in mind these important questions:

1. What is the relationship between the constitutional oath of office to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" and the exemption for the President that is provided in the "conflicts of interest" statute? What does the word "faithfully" mean in the constitutional oath of office? Can President Trump do anything he wants in service of the interests of his businesses and his family, or does the word "faithfully" limit what President Trump can do?

2. If the word "faithfully" limits what President Trump can do, do you think President Trump understands that?

3. What is the role of Congress in overseeing whether the President is "faithfully" executing his office? Can Congress impeach the President if it determines that the President has failed to faithfully execute his office? What if the President has one view of what "faithfully" means, and Congress has a differing view?

If the Oversight and Government Reform Committee decides to investigate, evaluate and judge the situation of President Trump and his businesses, the Committee should consider whether censure of the President by the House of Representatives would be an appropriate action to take if the Committee thinks corrective action by Congress is called for.

Update 2/10/17. See Censure (supplement).

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ivanka and Nordstrom

To Senators Sessions and Shelby and Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell:

Can you please comment on whether President Trump is faithfully executing the office of the President when he tweets in favor of Ivanka and against Nordstrom in connection with the business relationship of Ivanka and Nordstrom? For background to this request, please see Priority questions for AL legislative delegation and Chaffetz letter.

  
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by . She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!






Saturday, February 4, 2017

Dodd-Frank

In his inaugural address, President Trump pledged: "The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer." And "You will never be ignored again."

With President Trump's announced goal of rolling back Dodd-Frank, who is he looking out for? Is President Trump looking out for the forgotten men and women of our country, or is he looking out for Wall Street?

The Dodd-Frank Act helps to prevent the big banks from cheating Americans and crashing our economy. We must fight to stop the Republicans from gutting Wall Street reform.

It's time to demand Wall Street reform and fight for a strong middle class.
MY.ELIZABETHWARREN.COM