An Open Letter to Senator Pat Toomey, on the Occasion of the Impeachment Trial of President Donald Trump

Senator Toomey,

I proudly voted for you in your first two terms to the Senate. I know you have a justified and well-earned reputation for being fair-minded and keeping the interests of the country first, even above the interests of your party.

I am concerned, however, that your silence about the impeachment proceedings these past few weeks may indicate that you will simply vote along the party line on votes that would do incredible damage to the structural and institutional integrity of our Constitutional process of holding the Executive accountable for its actions.
Continue reading


On Trump: Looking Back; Moving Forward [GUEST POST]


This is a guest post from a friend of mine, Paul Warner. In political issues and especially economics, he is one of my most well-researched, reasonable, and articulate friends. The day after the election, he posted this on Facebook, and I wanted to share this with everyone here. It casts a vision of what’s happened, and how we might move forward. It’s a fairly hot take, and much has been written elsewhere since then. Yet, I think it’s still a refreshing and candid look at the immediate aftermath of this strange campaign season.

Well, I am incredibly disappointed with the election results. But I will accept them because I still believe in democracy and I still have hope for our country.

I do have a few initial comments, though, as I am trying to think through this as objectively as I can because I have to try to process this.

1. If you are a Trump supporter, please muster some sympathy for a lot of people who woke up very scared after the election.

  • People with terrible medical conditions who only have health insurance because Obamacare eliminated the pre-existing condition restrictions
  • Muslims who have experienced an increase in harassment and abuse
  • Women who have sexually abusive husbands or bosses
  • Blacks who watched the KKK walk across a bridge in NC last week in full celebration
  • Young adults born in Mexico but brought to the US by parents at a young age who consider themselves Americans but now fear deportation
  • Much of Europe that is scared the US may abandon NATO

There are a lot of very scared people. Please respect that. Additionally, please refrain from the “do not despair” rhetoric. It’s not helpful – it seems insensitive right now, regardless of your intent.
Continue reading

Thoughts on the final debate {#4} [GUEST POST]

Last night was the Presidential foreign policy debate. It was completely uneventful. Today, I was going to post my musings on the final debate of this Presidential election (as I have for Debates 1, 2, and 3) . But, I realized last night I’m tired of the politics. Believe it or not, I am. Prepare for my comments on this stuff to become fewer from now through election day.  I’ve pretty much said what I need to say. So, instead, I wanted to post the take-aways of a friend of mine, Nikita Hamilton, a Ph.D. student in Communications at USC’s Annenberg School. But first, I’ll only make three quick observations:

  • Iran does not pose an imminent, existential threat to either America or Israel (and Israel knows it). The sanctions, instead, are killing Iranians and making them more angry with the U.S. rather than spurring on some revolution there. The world’s saber-rattling only spurs on Iran’s nuclear protectionism. Of course they want a bomb! They are more at existential risk from others in the world than anyone is from them. Also, even if they got a nuclear weapon: what would they do with it? They know that the second it’s employed, they would be “wiped off the map”. It’s defensive. And we’ve created the environment where they feel like they need to be that way.
  • Romney’s final statement (which he repeated twice–no accident under pressure here) that “American is the hope of the earth”. Says more about the naiveté, hollowness, and failure of our nation’s foreign policy than anything the two of them have said in this entire campaign.
  • My roommate pointed out (and Wikipedia confirmed) that in high-end ties with diagonal stripes, you can tell where the tie was made based on the direction of the stripes. In the first, domestic policy debate, Romney wore an American-made tie. In this foreign policy debate, he wore a European tie (see picture above). That Romney may have actually put this much thought into this says a lot about him.

Okay, on to Nikita’s comments!
Continue reading

A Presidential Debate Debrief {#3}

Last night was the second debate in the 2012 Presidential Election. It was a Town Hall formet where the candidates walk around freely and take questions from audience members. Yesterday, I talked about what question I would ask if I was there, and I invited others to post there’s as well (incidentally, that post got picked to be highlighted on the front page of, and so there’s a lot of lively discussion to join over there, if you’re interested). Anyway, as I’ve done for each debate, here are some of my thoughts (here are my thoughts on the first Presidential Debate and the Vice-Presidential debate): Continue reading

Some post-Presidential Debate thoughts… {#1}

Well, last night was the first debate in the 2012 Presidential Election. Be sure to check out the various Fact-Checks going around the web (here’s The New York Times and POLITICO). So far, it looks like Romney stretched the truth or was wrong more often, but that was because he said so many more specific things than Obama. These were some of my thoughts from the evening: Continue reading

I’m a one issue voter: some responses & clarifications {Pt.2}

“Free people, remember this maxim: We may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost.” –Jean-Jacques Rousseau

[UPDATE: Part 3, “specific abuses of Executive Power” is up]

Yesterday, I wrote a post about how I’ve become so burdened by the abuse of civil liberties by the Executive branch, that I have decided that this is a big enough of a deal–and the time is crucial enough–to warrant this being the one issue I use to determine who I’m voting for this Presidential election.

I knew I was brief yesterday, but wow. That post ended up causing a lot of emails, texts, comments and Facebook posts from people really cautious about what I had said, and had a lot of clarifying questions for me. Some issues will become clearer as I continue to write about this, but I wanted to address some crucial things up front.

First, some definition

As Wikipedia puts it: “Civil liberties are simply defined as individual legal and constitutional protections from entities more powerful than an individual, for example, parts of the government, other individuals, or corporations.” To put it another way, our “civil liberties” are what is clearly laid out in the Bill of Rights.
Continue reading

For now, I’m a one issue voter: a President’s Day lament {Pt.1}

“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty…is finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people” — George Washington

[UPDATEPart 2, “some responses & clarifications” is now posted.]

[UPDATE II: Part 3, “specific abuses of Executive Power” is up]

America’s Founding Fathers consistently referred to our country as a  “grand experiment”, and on this President’s Day–and good ol’ George’s birthday–I want to meditate on this for a little bit. What was (is?) so “experimental” about America?

There seems to be a repeated  “life-cycle” to nearly every great power in the entire history of the world. In the beginning of most of these nations, the “power” and authority is more or less decentralized (perhaps in a localized, tribal, or feudal system–or in our case, States).

Over the course of time, though, this “power” becomes increasingly centralized: first, into one part of society (usually to the wealthy and their businesses), then it gathers into one part of the government, and then it continues onward until it is ultimately centralized in one person.
Continue reading

10 Random Thoughts on the State of the Union

1- I really wish the entire idea of teleprompters would die a quick, painful death. I would much rather get back to the days when Presidents wrote out their speeches and had sheets in front of them during the speech that they were speaking from, rather than reading from.

2- I’ve got to admit it, Mitch Daniels did pretty darn good in his response. It was a very refreshing change in style from Paul Ryan and (oh my god) Michele Bachmann last year. It still had a definite ideological twinge, and still sounded more like a stockholders meeting where the executive must, under any circumstance, talk about how good their company is and how weak their competition is, no matter the results or numbers. But in the end, it was far more thoughtful and intelligent than anything else the Republicans have put out in the past few years, even if it was completely devoid of real, genuine suggestions on moving forward on anything.

3- The media is already painting this as a speech primarily about wealth disparity. First, he talked about a lot more than just that, and secondly, he proposed nothing more radical than letting temporary tax cuts expire for them. Wow.

Continue reading