Florida’s “last, best hope” to save Apalachicola Bay’s multi-million dollar shellfish industry will play out Oct. 17 before a federal judge in Albuquerque, N.M.
Senior U.S. Circuit Court Judge Paul J. Kelly, appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court in August 2018 to serve as a “special master” to oversee Florida’s 2013 lawsuit against Georgia, said the hearing would be nearly two months earlier than originally scheduled.
The lawsuit is the latest chapter in the “Tri-State Water Wars” dating to 1990 between Florida, Georgia and Alabama over water allocations from two river systems – the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa basin, between Georgia and Alabama, and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) basin that spans all three states.
In 2013, Florida filed its lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting it “equally apportion” water in the ACF basin, which originates near Lake Lanier and flows south to the Panhandle, by capping Georgia’s water usage at roughly 1992 levels.
In November 2014, the Supreme Court accepted Florida’s complaint and the case was reviewed by a “special master,” a post that often is appointed in jurisdictional disputes to hear evidence and issue a recommendation in cases that will go before the high court.
In 2017, Maine attorney and former U.S. Circuit Court Justice Ralph Lancaster – appointed special master by the Supreme Court an unprecedented four times before passing away in January at age 88 – determined Florida had not proven its case “by clear and convincing evidence” that imposing a cap on Georgia’s water use would benefit the Apalachicola River.
However, after hearing oral arguments – based on more than 7 million pages of documents, 30 subpoenas, 30 expert reports and 100 depositions – in January 2018, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Florida’s lawsuit should be revisited. Last August, it named Kelly as the new special master in hearing the case.
While Florida’s attorneys maintain booming Atlanta’s "negligent" water conservation policies have contributed to the diminished flow of ACF waters into the Panhandle, they cite agricultural water use in southwest Georgia as the primary culprit.
The ecological stress from low river flows and saltwater intrusion have decimated the oyster and shrimp industry in Franklin County’s Apalachicola Bay, which generate millions of dollars for the region and employs thousands, Florida states.
Georgia claims it has been a responsible stewart of the ACF’s headwaters and that it needs the water to sustain metro Atlanta’s 5.6 million people and to meet the demands of farmers in the state’s southwest corner.
Capping its tap at 1992 levels would have a catastrophic impact on the state’s economy, Georgia insists.
Both states will each receive 45 minutes to summarize arguments and answer questions from Kelly. Florida will then be given time for a rebuttal since it is the plaintiff in the case.
When he was named special master last August, Kelly said he would not accept new evidence or expert testimony and that he’ll work off the record built by proceedings since 2016 and, of course, the 7 million pages of documents, 30 subpoenas, 30 expert reports and 100 depositions already compiled in the case.
Kelly is expected to issue a recommendation sometime in early 2020 to the Supreme Court, which could choose to hold another hearing or accept Kelly’s recommendation.
Although Alabama is not a party in Florida’s lawsuit against Georgia, the three states have been engaged in litigative tussles over water since, at least, 1990, when the Lake Lanier project in Georgia was authorized by Congress as an impoundment for water that could be equally apportioned.
Battling Florida over ACF water was a campaign issue in Georgia’s hotly contested gubernatorial race won by Republican Brian Kemp over Democrat Stacy Adams.
In his last days as governor, Republican Nathan Deal lamented his failure to reach water-use agreements with Alabama and Florida – and the $50 million the state has spent in litigating – were among the biggest regrets of his eight-year tenure.
On the campaign trail, however, Kemp vowed to double-down on winning the court case, saying a compromise would leave “hardworking Georgians high and dry.
The Center Square
Politicians have no idea what gun control is all about. If they did, they would not want more “gun laws”. There are already “gun laws” for every criminal act they can think of, using a gun!
There are laws that cover any crime with a gun you can think of. Let me put it a different way…you cannot commit a crime with a gun that isn’t already a crime.
I am talking about acquisition, transportation, use, misuse, sale…any illegal act with a gun is already a crime. So what’s the problem…?
We do not enforce the laws we have! That’s the problem!
Allow me to give an example; prosecutors will not “add on” Federal Gun charges that add mandatory prison time because “they” have decided that enough is enough and jails and the courts are overloaded and more time doesn’t increase the chance that this “bad” guy will see Jesus and stop the crimes he specializes in.
There is/are law(s) in the National Firearms Acts that demand “add on” mandatory, non-judicial discretionary time for committing a crime “with a gun that traveled in interstate commerce, at some time during its life”. In other words, if a bad guy commits a crime using a gun, after he serves his full sentence for that crime, if charged with this Federal Gun violation, he will get additional time Federally, added to his “State time” that cannot be served concurrent (at the same time) and MUST be served after he serves his full sentence, without any good time behavior allowed. If he gets 2-4 for Burglary with the gun and is charged as such, he has to serve the 4 and then the gun time will start. Next time it all goes higher. To prove that the gun traveled in interstate commerce, the government need only prove that it was “born” in say Connecticut and the defendant had possession in New York. There, a Judicial Assumption the gun traveled interstate! But Federal prosecutors, Democrats and Republicans won’t charge the Federal Gun violation. Any who say they will are liars. I…we …argued MANY times to charge the add on gun crime time but they would not, as the time would be too severe?! That mandatory time, by the way, increases with each crime on his rap sheet!
But you see, there are too many morons (politicians) who say ,”all that time is racist” because only “black people” are going to jail, and only black people are getting add on time and prisons are overloaded with blacks. Well the reason is …90% of those crimes are committed by black people!
That’s why Democrap politicians want to put more white people in jail…to make jails more even!
The simple minded will say about gun laws, “Why does anyone need an AR 15 to hunt?” Well, in the FIRST place…our right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment never mentions the word “hunt” or phrase “to hunt”. It simply says that the right to keep and bear arms may not be infringed. The purpose of the Second Amendment is clear… to prevent Tyranny and to protect our Constitutional Republic…NOTHING ELSE. Someone please read the Second Amendment Michael Moore-on!
The Second Amendment was NEVER intended to help shop for groceries, then or now! You see Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mr. Booker and the rest of you Democrap Candidates…the 2nd Amendment is intended to prevent people like you Democrap/Socialist/ Tyrants from becoming the Rulers you all want to be. The only one of you who even comes close to leveling with the voters about his Commie beliefs and intentions is Sanders, but even he lies about being a full blooded, red, commie, pinko…he’s a “Democratic/Socialist”, instead! See if you can find that definition online! Maybe we should ask him to do a DNA test like Warren!
Democrap Politicians will never admit that they understand that because they want to “Rule” and not “Lead”, which our Rule of Law prohibits and Amendments like #2 help to enforce it!
Politicians calling for more gun control have NEVER enforced ANY gun laws and have no idea what there is, how they apply, and what works. Most of the cases I worked for 6 1/2 years in the NYO involved guns and about half of the rest of my career involved guns. I was never able to charge the add on gun charges in either the Southern or Eastern District of NY and only once in the Western District for a full auto used in a Bank Robbery!!
If that’s true, and it is, why do all the left want more gun control and the elimination of “assault rifles”?
The answer is — they want to overthrow our government and take away our Rights under our Rule of Law and MUST take our guns in order to force us to submit to their superior knowledge…you know…what’s good for us, they know best!?
From the grip of my cold, dead hands will you pry my AR …!
It’s budget time again, and it’s obvious our national debt will continue to go up. I’ve concluded that, in spite of their claims to the contrary, most of our political “employees” in Washington don’t consider it a big deal. They sure don’t seem to be doing something about it. But how could this be? Perhaps they realized that our borrowed national debt is almost immaterial compared to “what we owe.” What? How can that be? It doesn’t make sense!
There’s something called “principles of accounting” that define how any organization reports their earnings, financial status, related measurements and disclosures. If comprehensive financial statements were available for the United States government (which there isn’t), they would include a measurement for our financial obligations i.e. the things we know we have to pay in the future. And I’m sorry to report that our national debt is but a small fraction of our total obligations.
The national debt represents the amount already borrowed for payments we’ve made. The U.S. government’s “regulatory accountants,” the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as well as other regulatory bodies, require businesses and non-profits to report total obligations. If it’s good for the goose (public and private companies, and non-profits), it’s good for the gander (the U.S. government). Let’s try to piece together at least some of this information.
The current national debt is about $23 trillion, and growing, but that doesn’t even come close to measuring all of our future obligations. We need to add the unfunded obligations of Social Security, Medicare Parts A,B, and D, federal employee benefits, veterans benefits, and some other programs. Some argue that government trust funds, such as those for Social Security and government employee retirement plans, will mitigate the problem by providing their own funds necessary to pay their obligations. Remember that those trust balances are just IOUs from the federal government, not deposits or cash! To ignore the portion of the federal debt that is represented by these inter-government IOUs, would be like you paying off a car loan with a home equity loan and thinking you’ve reduced your debt. It doesn’t work that way!
If we could add up all the elements of U.S. unfunded obligations which would be reported using General Accepted Accounting Principles, as required of corporations by the SEC and others, we would arrive at a number that’s really scary! Unfortunately, the exact amount of unfunded obligations is not routinely determined, but estimates range from about $125 trillion to over $200 trillion. Therefore, our total obligations is in a range from about $150 trillion to over $220 trillion. That’s very imprecise, but whatever the actual amount is, the national debt we worry so much about is only a fraction of the obligation total.
Some would focus on reducing “waste, fraud, and abuse” to solve a major part of the problem. That would be a “good thing” but we’re so far “in the hole,” accomplishing that would be like the proverbial “drop in the bucket.” If you want a tax on the rich to solve the problem, you’re out of luck. If we took all the wealth away from the richest Americans, we couldn’t even pay off the national debt, and the entire unfunded liability would remain untouched. If that were done, there would be no more rich people to tax, nor could we depend on them for capital investment. That would be dismal.
The problem is so huge, it’s hard to even image such large amounts of money. No wonder our politicians may have “relaxed” on the relatively small amount of our national debt. I can’t believe I wrote “small amount,” but it is small compared to our total liabilities. The CBO recently stated: “The prospect of large and growing debt poses substantial risks for the nation and presents policymakers with significant challenges.” The first step in finding a solution would be to admit there’s a problem. Then let’s restructure Social Security, and other main drivers of the unfunded portion of obligations, prioritize and reign in other budget items, and then just keep fixing.
Nalani Quintello quit ''American Idol'' to be in the U.S. Air Force – that's how excited she was to join up. Now, she's serving her country as the lead singer of Max Impact, the service's six-member rock band. Its mission? To travel the world honoring our vets, connecting with communities and inspiring patriotism through music. It's something she never saw coming as a kid, but now she can't imagine doing anything else.
You’re from a military background. How did that shape your upbringing?
My sister is also in the Air Force, and my dad was in the Army before I was born. He was stationed in Germany, where he met my mother, who was full German. I was born in Germany and raised there for about eight years, then my family ended up moving back to Florida, which is where I spent the bulk of my life. I actually had to learn how to speak English because I had a terrible German accent. So, I grew up bilingual, which was really cool.
You tried out for season 14 of 'American Idol' shortly after graduating high school. What was that experience like?
I had started college and was performing at 12 local nursing homes, restaurants and festivals on the side. But I wanted to do something more with it, and I knew of a couple people who tried out. I grew up watching the show, so I wanted to see where it would go. I got to audition in front of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr., and luckily, I got three yesses. I went to Hollywood and experienced the much-dreaded group rounds, where you have to find a group late in the day and then stay up all night rehearsing the song they choose for you. Then the next morning, you have to perform it. I made it past the group round and the solo performance, then got to come back home for a little bit before flying back out for the showcase round, which is right before the live rounds.
The Air Force came calling when you made AI's Top 48, so you dropped out to join Max Impact. Was it a difficult decision, and how did people react to it?
I couldn't do both because of contractual issues, so it was a very easy decision for me. I knew right away that's exactly what I wanted to do – to serve my country. I just never thought I'd be able to do it in the capacity in which I'm doing it now, as a member of the Air Force band. My family already knew what my decision was going to be. The ''American Idol'' producers were shocked, but they ended up granting me a waiver to leave. They were actually really cool and understanding about it. So, I ended up going straight from AI to basic military training, which was pretty crazy.
What would you say is your underlying mission as an Air Force musician? And what are your typical duties?
Our mission is to honor vets, inspire patriotism, connect with others and be an icebreaker through music. It's a universal language that brings people together. We stay pretty busy year-round. In the summer, we perform at the D.C. Air Force Memorial regularly, as well as National Harbor and the U.S. Capitol. On a normal duty day, we rehearse for about two hours, then we go do our other duties because we are a self-run organization. For example, our drummer, he's in charge of operations. He schedules the day-to-day logistics. I’m the marketing manager, so anything that has to do with advertising is on me.
Air Force Rock Band ‘Max Impact’
We got to headline an NFL Patriots vs. Giants game at MetLife Stadium. The stadium was sold out, and we actually got to headline the halftime show with one of our original songs that I co-wrote with our guitarist. To me, that was by far the most memorable – to be able to perform at a huge stadium in front of thousands of people was like a dream come true. To be able to represent the U.S. Air Force wearing the military uniform was a prestigious honor.
What is your favorite part about what you do?
After our performances, we take time to greet people and listen to their stories. That's my favorite part – the response from the audience members. We also get a lot of good feedback on our social media sites. One woman wrote us on Facebook and said she was dealing with cancer and really depressed, but when she listens to our original music, it gives her the power and strength and will to keep going. That's when I realized that what I do truly matters.
What advice would you give to other musicians thinking about joining the service?
Work extremely hard for your goals, and don't let the fear of reaching your dreams prevent you from trying. As cliché as that sounds, that's been the motto I've lived my life by. I've been told ''no'' so many times, and had I given up after every no that I'd received, I never would have achieved any of my goals. Instead, I used all of the ''no's'' as fuel and motivation to keep working harder.
To the Editor,
There is Chick-fil-a across the street from my office and every day the line extends far into the street, to the point of disrupting traffic. It is the most packed fast food place I have ever seen, often having a line five to tens longer than a McDonalds less than a block away and I also live in a liberal city even! LMAO
Needless to say, the majority of the population finds a chicken sandwich far more important than some liberals being offended.
I can't really think of any conservatives boycotting and protesting in front of liberal businesses. If a liberal doesn’t like something then no one should like it or frequent the place, if a conservative doesn’t like something, they don’t do it or frequent the place.... That’s the difference between the two sides.
Besides, if you are eating chicken your helping save the planet from cow farts! AOC would be proud of you!
David C. Atherton III
To the Editor,
I used to be ok with “reasonable gun control laws” it’s not like they were trying to take them all. But I eventually learned the right wingers weren’t crazy. Fast forward to 2019. Here we are. At gun confiscation!
As soon as this "semi auto" scary-looking gun ban goes through, and the next mass shooting happens with a handgun since nothing is actually being done about societal issues, there will be calls to regulate handguns.
So someone runs over people with a van in a fleamarket, do we ban Vas? when there is a mass stabbing, will we get knife control.
It's always more, because it's easier to ban scary tools then fix your problems.
Of course illegal immigration cost money,.... Hello??? This is one of the main reason to oppose it. We are not taking care of our own citizens like we care for illegals....
What the heck is up with that?
This country was made by immigrants, my folks came over in the 60’s they needed a sponsor who vouched for them, that they would not be a burden on American society and would have a place to live and have support until able to fend for themselves.
What happened to that?
In case you missed it, NFL superstar quarterback Drew Brees did the unthinkable. He encouraged children to "live their faith" and participate in "Bring Your Bible to School Day" on Oct. 3. Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family sponsors the occasion, which Brees helped promote in a 22-second video.
Far-left media, bloggers and social media pundits are apoplectic over Brees promoting the Christian faith. Even a few quasi-mainstream media organizations are attacking Brees for associating with a "hate group."
No way will the left allow a modern celebrity to promote Christian beliefs without trying to destroy him. Let's not forget the media's treatment of former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who thanked his "Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" during interviews.
Newsweek published an all-caps headline under the category "news" that said: "DREW BREES, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS QUARTERBACK, RECORDS VIDEO PRODUCED BY ANTI-GAY GROUP FOCUS ON THE FAMILY."
"Drew Brees Records Video for Anti-LGBT Religious Organization," claims a headline in the New Orleans-based Big Easy Magazine.
The story went on to falsely accuse Brees of encouraging Christian children "to convert their fellow students at school." He did no such thing. He asked students to "share God's love with their friends."
New York-based Fatherly.com -- a popular parenting magazine for millennials -- published the headline "Drew Brees Supported the Bigots at Focus on the Family. So Where's the Apology?"
The Fatherly article by Patrick A. Coleman associates Brees with "The quasi-cult leader of Focus on the Family." That leader: James Dobson. That man, the author assures us, is guilty of "really hating gay people."
There's just one problem with that attempt at guilt by association. Dobson left Focus on the Family in 2010. He has no affiliation with the organization. Jim Daly has led Focus since -- the same Jim Daly who teamed with Ted Trimpa, a Colorado pioneer in the gay rights movement, to work against human trafficking.
Fatherly cited the Southern Poverty Law Center to further denigrate Brees and Focus on the Family. Turns out Dobson long ago founded the Family Research Council, which the Law Center blacklisted as a hate group. The Family Research Council separated from Focus 28 years ago, but let's not let another inconvenient fact stop a journalistic hit piece.
Media need to get up to speed. No informed person -- no matter how progressive -- cares what the Southern Poverty Law Center claims. The law firm is embattled by multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuits. The organization's disgraced founder, Morris Dees, recently left the firm under accusations he fomented racial- and gender-based workplace hostility.
Brees -- under siege by unfair headlines, articles, and hateful left-wing tweets -- went public to defend himself. If Focus ever disparaged the LGBT community, he was unaware.
"The only thing I was promoting was encouraging kids to bring their Bibles to school on national 'Bring Your Bible to School Day,' to live out your faith with confidence...," Brees explained.
And that is the true concern of the secularist left. They don't want children living out their family's faith with confidence. They must discourage such talk, and facts will be damned when they try.
Brees added: "I know that there are, unfortunately, Christian organizations out there that are involved in that kind of thing. And, to me, that is totally against what being a Christian is all about. Being a Christian is love, it's forgiveness, it's respecting all, it's accepting all."
That may be a bridge too far, Mr. Brees. "Accepting all" would include accepting pedophiles, violent criminals, and racists.
However, we know what Brees meant. He passes no judgment on the basis of sexual orientation. He does not judge or disparage individuals who don't look, act and believe just like him.
Brees advocates a life of love and compassion, as promoted by Jesus. He wants to live and let live. His critics, meanwhile, have zero tolerance for a man who promotes Christian faith and the Bible. They exude anti-Christian bigotry. Enlightened society should frown on that.
If you’re reading this, I’m talking to you! I don’t care what your religion is or if you are an atheist, that is what freedom of religion is, freedom to believe in what you choose. But why should we have to be so tolerant of the Muslim faith but are supposed to be ashamed of our own beliefs and not be allowed to lend support in a simple cause like Brees did here without having to worry about a media mob coming after him as he is now being attacked. Is this the country you want? Question is.....is it too late to stop it?
- Mark Sanford, the former representative and governor of South Carolina, has now joined former representative Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld in challenging President Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination.
Of course they have no chance. But the hope of some Democrats and NeverTrumpers is that a primary challenge will weaken the president enough that he will lose to his Democratic opponent in the general election.
Trump adversaries often note that no president who has faced a significant primary challenge in the last 50 years has gone on to win re-election.
They point to President George H.W. Bush, who lost in 1992 after a primary challenge by Pat Buchanan. To Jimmy Carter, who lost in 1980 after a primary challenge by Ted Kennedy. To Gerald Ford, who lost in 1976 after a primary challenge by Ronald Reagan. And to Lyndon Johnson, who withdrew in 1968 after a primary challenge by Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy.
How can Donald Trump have a chance to win in 2020, now that he is facing challengers of his own?
The answer is that there are primary challenges and then there are primary challenges.
To say the least, there is a significant stature gap between Sanford-Walsh-Weld and the challengers of the past. Robert Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy were major political figures at the height of their careers when they decided to take on sitting presidents. Buchanan was a well-known White House aide, commentator, television personality and all-around legend among conservatives.
Sanford, Walsh and Weld are all former officeholders whose best years in politics are behind them.
"Let me ask you something," Buchanan told me in a recent conversation. "If Trump were not running in 2020, how would Joe Walsh and Bill Weld and Mark Sanford do in the New Hampshire primary? They would do nothing. Their calling card is, we can't stand Trump and he ought to be thrown out. If that's all it is, it's wholly negative."
Buchanan stunned Bush in New Hampshire in February 1992, taking 37% of the vote against the president's winning total of 53%. Buchanan went on to chip away at Bush, winning between 20% and 35% of the vote in primary after primary. When it was over, Buchanan totaled 22% of the vote overall.
He did it on the strength of a solid agenda. Reading Buchanan's Dec. 10, 1991, speech announcing his candidacy, one is struck today by how contemporary it sounds -- Buchanan staking out positions on trade, nationalism, interventionism, culture and the economy that seem remarkably current. "We will put America first," Buchanan declared.
Besides his obvious talent, Buchanan had other advantages over today's challengers. Perhaps the biggest is that he was the only GOP opponent of the president. The other was that Bush had always had a problem with the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.
"That's where the vacuum was," Buchanan recalled. "It was among conservative Republicans dissatisfied with Bush, who believed Bush had promised certain things, and hadn't delivered, and didn't care about them."
That is how Buchanan, a conservative favorite, won 37% of the vote in New Hampshire against a president of his own party. But is there an analogous situation today with Trump, not among conservatives, with whom Trump is quite popular, but with moderate Republicans? Perhaps there is an opportunity for a hypothetical not-Trump candidate. But it seems unlikely that Weld, or Walsh, or Sanford would be that candidate.
The president has serious reasons to worry about losing in the general election. In the RealClearPolitics average of polls, his job approval rating stands at 43%, against a 53.9% disapproval rating. Even though Trump won in 2016 with a high personal disapproval rating, there's no assurance the states that gave him the election by narrow margins last time -- Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin -- will go for him again next year.
But a Trump defeat, should there be one, would be the result of Trump himself, and not his GOP opponents. Separately or as a whole, today's challengers are simply not on the level of the Kennedys, Reagan or Buchanan.
Still, some of Trump's opponents hope a primary challenge might cripple Trump. Nothing is impossible, but the fact is, 2020 is not 1992, or 1980, or 1976. Trump might indeed lose, but it won't be at the hands of the retreads who are challenging him in the GOP primaries.
“Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, and punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”
-Article 1, section 5, clause 2
Most of us know how our Constitution laid out the branches and powers of our government. Article One established the legislative branch, we know as Congress.
Congress consists of two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. It established Congress’ enumerated powers and their ability to pass laws. It defined the powers of the states.
It vested the office of the President and designated the implicit powers of his office. It further detailed the structure and responsibilities of the judicial branch and their authority to judge if laws were or were not constitutional. And it also set forth the process for each branch to remove members in violation of the ethics of their office.
We are aware of the impeachment process and recall when Bill Clinton was indicted for lying under oath and obstruction of justice. Although there was compelling evidence to convict Clinton, an over-quoted phrase from his grand jury trial questioning the meaning of the verbiage "is" enabled him to obfuscate the truth during impeachment. “It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If it means he is and never has been, that is not – that is one thing. If it means there is none, that 'is' a completely true statement". After weeks of Clinton’s parlor games, along with unrelenting media criticism for impeachment, a frustrated Senate failed to convict him with a two-thirds majority vote.
Despite the clear violations of law during the Clinton impeachment, it demonstrated the “power of the press” that mocked the entire process. The sheer mention of impeachment is an ugly word for a president. When the media failed to elect their favorite daughter, Hillary Clinton, they went after Donald Trump. There was three years of supermarket tabloid pomp and circumstance by the media before this grammar school bullying mercifully ended. It was poetic justice when the Robert Mueller report dealt a knockout blow to anti-Trump forces that had invested their hopes in finally impeaching him.
“This Russia thing is far from over. They’ll be talking about it until next Valentines day.” - Chris Christie
The progressive left has spent three years trying to impeach Trump yet they have members in their own House who have proven far less fit for governing. And nobody has suggested that any of them be removed from office. Under the provisions of the Constitution, members of Congress may have their services ended by action of the house of Congress in which they are considered unworthy of serving. They may be removed from office by expulsion, or be determined incompatible for public office by their body of Congress. For a member to be removed from office from the Senate or the House, it requires a formal vote on a resolution agreed to by two-thirds of the body of its members.
Over the decades, several forms of discipline have evolved in the House. The most severe type of punishment is expulsion, which is followed by censure, and finally reprimand. But these are not the only penalties which the House may levy on members.
In the 1960s, the Committee on Ethics was given the ability to issue a formal “Letter of Reproval.” The Ethics Committee may also register its disapproval of an action or continued actions unbefitting for an elected official. Members may also be fined, stripped of committee leadership positions, suspended, or deprived of assorted privileges.
"Last year we said, 'Things can't go on like this', and they didn't, they got worse." -Will Rogers
Traditionally expulsion has been reserved to punish the most culpable conduct or crimes such as suspected treason against the government. It was used for the first time during the Civil War when three individuals were expelled from the House: Missourians John Clark and John Reid, and Henry Burnett from Kentucky who joined the Confederacy to fight in the Civil War against the U.S. Two members accused of selling appointments to U.S. military academies following the Civil War, North Carolina’s John DeWeese, and South Carolina’s Benjamin Whittemore, resigned their seats before the House voted to expel them. The House still censured both men, even after their resignations.
In 1872, George Train and Thomas Durant, of the Union Pacific Rail Road, formed a phony company to protect shareholders and charge the government extortionate fees during construction of a new western line. It enabled them to circumvent many of our federal finance rules. They were able to maintain this fraud by giving discounted shares to members of Congress who also agreed to support additional funding, The House submitted nine members for investigation: William Allison, James Bayard Jr., George Boutwell, Roscoe Conkling, James Harlan, James Patterson, and John Logan, along with Henry Wilson. Ultimately, Congress investigated 13 members and censured two.
“One way to find out if a man is honest is, ask him. If he says yes, he is a crook.” - Groucho Marx
In the last four decades, expulsion has been used on two other occasions, both of which involved egregious violations of criminal law and/or flagrant abuses of office. In 1980, Michael J. Myers was convicted of bribery and, in 2002, James A. Traficant was charged and convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery, fraud, receipt of illegal gratuities, obstruction of justice, filing false tax returns, and racketeering. A total of five House members have been expelled, twenty-one have been censured, and ten have been reprimanded. Two resigned but were censured on their way out of the door.
Richard Conway said, "We reserve the ultimate punishment for the worst of the worst.” Expulsion, censure and reprimand are fitting punishments for violations of ethics and dereliction of duties. But the House Ethics Committee has been too lenient by not handing out judgments to many current members of the House who have proven unfit to serve in Congress. If openly vowing allegiance to rogue regimes, condemning our country and the principles of our Constitution, inciting social and political unrest, promoting acts of violence, and protecting those who are breaking our laws aren’t grounds for discipline, what is?
“Let the punishment fit the crime.” - William Schwenck Gilbert
In its first productive act, the 116th Congress just passed a bill to modernize the legislative branch 418-12. The vote on Title II of the rules package was a non-controversial aspect of the Democrats’ rules package that most Republicans support.
For the first time in decades, we have a chance to address issues that have excogitated in Congress that has turned it into an odious carnival of reject thespian-orators. It is time for American voters to step forward and demand Congress adopts more stringent rules for policing themselves and handing out punishments to those who betray their duty to America by continuing to disrupt the governing of our nation. This opportunity is long overdue.
This is our government, and our chance to make the House more accountable to “we the people.” Each party leader will appoint six members, including two from the House Administration and Rules panel. But the caveat is, each party must select at least two “freshman.” Therefore it is vital every American voter watches this panel closely and continually voices their opinion on new rules before the final report is submitted to the full House for a vote at the end of this session.
It is time we let Congress know we want them to govern and start “cleaning house in the House.” And it’s also time to remind them that:
“The house of representatives can make no law, which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. -James Madison
The Center Square