On a personal note: Paul Pelosi, my own hammer attack, and thoughts on stopping political violence

The scene outside the Pelosi home in San Francisico. (Photo: AP)

Oct. 30, 2022 by David Silverberg

In the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 28, Paul Pelosi, husband of the Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.), was attacked with a hammer in his San Francisco, Calif., home by an assailant screaming, “Where’s Nancy?”

As of this writing, Mr. Pelosi is in the hospital recovering with a fractured skull and other wounds. The assailant, David DePape, is in custody. No doubt many more details will be revealed in the days to come. Mr. Pelosi certainly has all the thoughts, prayers, best wishes and good will I can send him.

As horrifying as an act of political violence can be, when I heard of it, I felt a special chill run up my spine.

I know exactly how it feels to be attacked with a hammer.

Spoiler alert: It hurts. A lot.

In 1981, a mugger tried to kill me with a hammer and nearly succeeded.

Actually, being hit with the hammer didn’t hurt me at all. That’s because the blow that slammed the back of my skull knocked me unconscious.

Even after I woke up on my back on a sidewalk in a pool of blood with police, emergency medical technicians and blue flashing emergency lights all around me it didn’t hurt. It didn’t hurt in the ambulance or at the hospital when I gave a statement to police and drew a picture of my assailant.

Only when the excitement died down and people left my side and I was on a gurney awaiting X-rays and further examination, did it start to hurt. And then the pain built, intensified, became overwhelming and obliterated all else. It bore like a twisting corkscrew into the center of my brain. And when you have a head wound you get no pain relievers because the doctors don’t know how you’ve been affected so you just have to tough it out, fully conscious and awake.

Technicians came and asked the date (in my case, Nov. 19, 1981). They asked the name of the sitting president (Ronald Reagan). They asked for my name. Fortunately, for me, I had it together and could answer the questions.

I hope Mr. Pelosi similarly has it together. Speaker Pelosi asked for privacy and she and her husband deserve it, so some details will be withheld.

It’s clear, however, that Speaker Pelosi was the target of this assailant—and this is hardly the first time she’s been targeted for violence.

Both Pelosis are victims of a rise in violence and violent rhetoric in American political life. That trend has a single, recent and obvious point of origin. It’s a bad trend. Even if it can’t be stopped cold, there are nonetheless ways it can be confronted. Indeed, one small measure has just come out in—of all places—Southwest Florida.

And for the record, nobody—nobody—should ever be hit with a hammer.

A Maryland mugging

To fill in the rest of this story: What happened to me was an attempted robbery on a street in Silver Spring, Md., a suburb of Washington, DC.

On the night in question, I passed two young men on a deserted street at about 10 pm. My assailants never spoke to me or asked for money. After one hit me on the back of my head with his fist, the other attacked with a ball peen hammer. After a brief defense with a bag holding books (I was returning home from the National Press Club book fair), I fled. The hammer-wielder caught up with me, knocked me unconscious and then, when I was down, hit me again on the back of the head.

Police had been watching and were on the scene almost instantaneously. But the hammer-wielder wasn’t done yet. The first plainclothes policeman to arrive was only carrying a radio. The hammer-wielder hit him full force in the face, smashing his jaw. Then the assailant turned and charged the rest of the team coming up the street. One detective told me he had his gun drawn and the assailant in his sights but another policeman ran into the field of fire. Otherwise that would have been the end.

A police car raced up the street and rammed the hammer-wielder just as the rest of the team grabbed him. All of them went tumbling over the car’s hood but the hammer-wielder was finally apprehended. The other mugger ran in the other direction and was arrested with less drama. He was carrying a big fire hydrant wrench that he unsuccessfully tried to use as a weapon.

As the police told me later, when would-be robbers use blunt instruments, their intention is to kill. A robber armed with a gun or knife usually just wants to scare people into giving up money or valuables. But people using clubs or hammers fully intend to do bodily harm or kill to get what they want.

Both muggers had commuted to Silver Spring by Metro from inner city Washington, specifically to commit crimes. The hammer-wielder was named Paul Edward Sykes. He was charged with my attempted murder and assaulting a police officer. Sixteen years old, he was tried as an adult because of the capital nature of his crime and sentenced to 19 years for the attempted murder and 19 for hitting the officer, to be served consecutively. It was later commuted to just 19 years.

I was lucky: I made a full recovery. I believe I lost some hearing and I can’t sleep on my left side anymore because when I fell, I fell on my face and it may have injured nasal passages. But one of the worst effects of a hammer injury to the head is the uncertainty of its effects. Just exactly what brain functions had been affected? A victim is left wondering, sometimes for years.

(Murder with blunt objects takes place regularly in the United States. According to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, 243 people were killed with blunt objects in 2021. Southwest Florida had its own such experience in 2015 when Dr. Teresa Sievers was killed with 17 blows from a hammer in her Bonita Springs home. Her husband, Mark, is currently awaiting execution for arranging the murder.)

In my case, when it was all finished, I felt that justice had been done. I was able to make a victim impact statement before sentencing and received restitution. In fact, so unusual was it to see the system work the way it was intended that I wrote an essay about it that was published in the “Periscope” section of Newsweek. In those days that was a big deal.

The accomplice, Lawrence Hardy, was 15 years and 9 months old and tried as a juvenile, receiving a much lighter sentence. I still have an apologetic greeting card he sent me. It’s titled “Sorry about your accident.”

The history of violence

The attack on Pelosi—and the attempt on the Speaker—is part of a dark side of American history.

Political violence has marred American politics in the past. In 1804 Vice President Aaron Burr killed former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel. In 1856 Rep. Preston Brooks (D-SC) savagely beat Sen. Charles Sumner (R-Mass.) with a cane at his desk on the floor of the Senate. There have been other duels and fights among politicians as well, most before the Civil War.

Since then politicians have carefully refrained from advocating or threatening actual physical violence. They’ve known that nowhere is the Golden Rule applied more forcefully than in politics: what you do unto others will most certainly be done unto you. It largely kept violent language out of the public arena, no matter how impassioned the issues or debates.

That applied until 2015. It’s not hard to find the starting point for rise in violence and violent rhetoric in recent American political life. It starts with Donald Trump. As a candidate, Trump broke the taboo against invoking or encouraging violence. At his 2016 campaign rallies, Trump said things like, “I’d like to punch him in the face,” of a protester and “part of the problem is no one wants to hurt each other anymore.” Speaking of behavior at his rallies, at one point he said “the audience hit back. That’s what we need a little bit more of.” And in reflecting on a protest the previous day, “I’ll beat the crap out of you.”

Illustration by Jesse Duquette.

Trump didn’t slow down when he was elected president, infamously equating violent neo-Nazis and racists in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 as “good people on both sides.”

He made other statements too. But, of course, his most infamous act was inciting the crowd at his Jan. 6, 2021 rally on the Ellipse to physically attack the United States Capitol and members of Congress and lynch his vice president. In a presidential vehicle, he himself violently grabbed the throat of a Secret Service officer who wouldn’t take him to the Capitol.

What is most striking about Donald Trump is that he’s physically a coward. He’s never put himself in harm’s way as a member of the armed forces. He’s always been protected and never been physically attacked. He has no idea what it’s like to be on the receiving end of violence. To him, urging violence is a game, a show of machismo, an abstraction, a catharsis, something he can get away with without consequences. As he infamously put it: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”

The closest he ever came to feeling what it’s like to be attacked was when an eagle he was using in a Time magazine photo shoot tried to bite him. Clearly, the eagle wasn’t impressed with his tweets, his wealth or his fame.

Candidate Donald Trump flees the wrath of a bald eagle named Sam during a Time magazine photo shoot in 2015. (Photo: Time)

At the grassroots

Trump’s acceptance and encouragement of violence has leached down to grassroots America and the attack on Paul Pelosi is one example of it.

But even Southwest Florida has reflected Trump’s attitudes. In the 2020 congressional campaign in the 19th Congressional District along the Paradise Coast, the multitude of Republican candidates promoted their rage and especially their affinity for firearms in their campaigns. Candidates insulted each other and fired weapons on screen, at times directly threatening each other.

Then-state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen takes aim in a 2020 campaign ad for state Senate in which she warned her opponent to stop lying about her record. (Image: Campaign)

Nor has the violent rhetoric eased. For example, on June 16 of this year extreme conservative farmer and grocer Alfie Oakes called for the public execution of federal judge Christopher Cooper of the District of Columbia, for sentencing anti-vaccine doctor Simone Gold for her role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“Simone Gold likely saved more Americans than anyone in history… by prescribing millions of doses of ivermectin.. She is a true American hero!” Oakes posted. “The bought and paid for corrupt DC judge that sentenced her to 60 days in jail is a traitor to this country and should be publicly executed!” (The post, originally appearing at https://www.facebook.com/alfieforamerica/posts/pfbid02qcYvDbunLP7JzVdoK5R227rmaKvPnbaHDRT8W3P4GqcaufMGhWxJwQZiPNcuiwxXl, was removed after many days online.)

But as one reader, Matt Fahnestock, posted in reply: “We need a plan of action.”

Deterring violence

The use of violence for political ends is a bad road that leads to a bad end. In their classic 2018 book How Democracies Die, authors Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky write: “We should worry when a politician 1) rejects, in words or action, the democratic rules of the game, 2) denies the legitimacy of opponents, 3) tolerates or encourages violence or 4) indicates a willingness to curtail the civil liberties of opponents, including the media.”

They also list four criteria for judging incipient use of anti-democratic violence in politics: “Do [authoritarian politicians] have any ties to armed gangs, paramilitary forces, militias, guerrillas, or other organizations that engage in illicit violence? Have they or their partisan allies sponsored or encouraged mob attacks on opponents? Have they tacitly endorsed violence by their supporters by refusing to unambiguously condemn it and punish it? Have they praised (or refused to condemn) other significant acts of political violence, either in the past or elsewhere in the world?”

Remember, that was written in 2017.

People do not have to feel helpless in the face of incipient violence. The use of violence is illegal, it’s still punished under the law. Honest, impartial law enforcement can and must crack down on the criminals who engage in it, as is happening in the Paul Pelosi case and in the prosecution of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. Opponents of violence have the law on their side.

It’s also important that existing authorities and governments express their condemnation of political violence. Here, Southwest Florida is leading the way.

On Tuesday, Oct. 25, the Collier County Board of Commissioners issued a proclamation condemning bigotry, anti-Semitism and hate crimes. (Full disclosure: This author conceived and drafted the text.)

That proclamation “condemns any call to violence or use of violence for any purpose at any time; and resolves to actively and vigorously oppose, investigate, and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law any advocacy of violence, acts of violence, or crimes manifesting hatred against any person, property, or institution based on faith, race, gender, creed, sexual orientation.”

A government proclamation won’t end or stop violence. But it puts the government, the legitimate elected local authority, on the record against it and makes clear that there’s no acceptance or tolerance of it in the jurisdiction. It means that local authorities are committed to enforcing the law.

If every town, city and county in the country adopted the Collier County proclamation, it would at least put them on the record opposing political violence and deny its legitimacy. It would help ensure that political violence is neither condoned, accepted nor excused. What is more, getting localities to issue the proclamations is something that activists and everyday citizens can do at the local level in their own home towns.

Beyond the larger concepts of violence and politics and democracy, violence is horrible at any level. It maims. It kills. It ruins lives. It leaves widows and orphans and families bereft and devastated. It weakens communities. It destroys social unity. It can bring down democracies.

And on a personal level, this author can authoritatively attest that it hurts like hell. It doesn’t take a hammer to drive that point home.

Here’s blessings and luck to Paul Pelosi. May he swiftly recover and be made whole. And may we all, with the help of God, protect these United States.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

Help defend democracy in Southwest Florida—donate here!

SWFL reps vote to deny mothers baby formula

The final vote in the House of Reprentatives to provide funding for baby formula funding. (Image: C-SPAN)

May 19, 2022 by David Silverberg

Southwest Florida’s congressional representatives voted last night to deny $28 million in funding for the emergency purchase of baby formula in the face of a nationwide shortage.

The bill, Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 (House Resolution 7790) passed the House of Representatives yesterday, May 18, at 9:36 pm by a vote of 231 to 192. All opponents were Republicans.

According to its official summary, the bill “provides appropriations for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to (1) address the current shortage of FDA-regulated infant formula and certain medical foods in the United States; and (2) prevent future shortages, including by taking the steps that are necessary to prevent fraudulent products from entering the US market.”

Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) all opposed the bill.

“It is essential that we ensure the federal government has the resources it needs to get baby formula back on the shelves,” said House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) in a floor statement urging passage.  “And as the President said, we want to do it quickly but we do not – we must do it safely, and we must do it with caution, so not so fast as not to be safe.” 

As of this writing, Donalds had not issued a statement explaining his vote. However, on May 13 he charged in an interview with The Floridian that the baby formula crisis “blew up in Joe Biden’s face” and criticized the administration for seeking aid to Ukraine when there was a formula shortage.

In his statement explaining his vote, Diaz-Balart tweeted, “The American people will not be fooled. House Democratic Leadership’s legislation DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to put more baby formula on store shelves, or hold the FDA accountable. Instead, all it does is wastefully increase big government socialist bureaucracy.”

Steube was similarly scornful in a tweet: “Record inflation, no baby formula, war in Ukraine, invasion on our southern border, record crime in our communities, and what have Democrats focused on this week? UFO Hearings! Democrats are literally using UFOs to distract the American people from their incompetence.”

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

Help defend democracy in Southwest Florida—donate here!

US House passes bill legislating women’s right to choose; SWFL reps oppose

The US Capitol. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Sept. 24, 2021 by David Silverberg

The US House of Representatives today passed the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 (House Resolution (HR) 3755) permitting health care professionals to provide abortions, by a vote of 218 to 211.

The bill, introduced in June by Rep. Judy Chu (D-27-Calif.), effectively codifies the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in legislation by making abortion legal nationally.

All of Southwest Florida’s congressional representatives voted against measure, along with the rest of the Republican caucus.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-28-Texas) was the only Democrat to break ranks and vote against the bill.

“Today, Nancy Pelosi is bringing the most radical pro-abortion legislation ever for a vote,” tweeted Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), who has long characterized himself as anti-abortion. “This indefensible bill would remove every protection for the unborn and would allow taxpayer-funded abortions up until birth. I’m proudly standing for life and voting NO.”

As of this writing, neither Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) nor Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) had issued statements explaining their votes.

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) urged passage of the bill in a speech from the House floor.

“This is the first time…that we have a pro-choice Democratic [Majority] with a Democratic president,” she said. “And the timing could not be better, because of the assault that has been made on the constitutional rights of women in our country.”

She stated the Texas law effectively banning abortions “unleashes one of the most disturbing, unprecedented, far-reaching assaults on health care providers and on anyone who helps a woman in any way access an abortion, by creating a vigilante bounty system that will have a chilling effect on the provisions of any health care services.  And what’s next?  What’s next with these vigilantes and their bounty system?”

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby (R-27-Volusia County) introduced House Bill 167 in the Florida House of Representatives to follow Texas’ lead in restricting abortions.

HR 3755 now goes to the US Senate, where passage is uncertain.

Liberty lives in light

© 2021 by David Silverberg

Southwest Florida reps follow party line in opposing American Rescue Plan, which passes House

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi gavels an end to the vote approving the American Rescue Plan. (Image: C-SPAN)

March 10, 2021 by David Silverberg

The US House of Representatives today approved a Senate-amended version of the American Rescue Plan (House Resolution 1319) by an overwhelmingly party-line vote of 220 to 211.

It will be finalized by the signature of President Joe Biden, expected on Friday, March 12.

All Republicans and one Democrat voted against it: Rep. Jared Golden (D-2-Maine).

In keeping with the Republican Party position, all of Southwest Florida’s representatives voted against it as they had opposed it when it first passed the House on Feb. 27, and took the opportunity to denounce it anew.

The 628-page bill provides families with $1,400 in stimulus payments, speeds COVID vaccine distribution and extends unemployment benefits of $300 a week until Labor Day, Sept. 6.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) denounced the bill in the Budget Committee and on the floor of the House when it was first introduced in February. Before the vote he announced: “Today, I will again vote in opposition to the non-COVID relief package Democrats are falsely claiming to be COVID-19 relief. My fellow @GOP colleagues and I have exposed the outrageous pork and erroneous spending incorporated in this bloated bill and the people deserve better.”

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) warned before the bill’s passage that: “If this fake #COVID bill becomes law Florida’s seniors will be hit with a $30.8B Medicare cut over 10 years. Also, under the new funding formula #FL will receive about $1.2B less in direct funding than they would have under the formula in past bipartisan COVID bills.”

Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) complained: “Rather than stimulating the already healing economy, Democrats chose to turn our nation into a welfare state with more government handouts. This recent COVID ‘relief’ bill proves that there is no stopping their pursuit of socializing our workforce.”

In contrast, Democrats hailed the passage of the massive bill, the culmination of the efforts of Biden and House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.).

Pelosi called the day “historic” and “a day of fulfillment.”


Statement by President Joe Biden on the House Passage of the American Rescue Plan

For weeks now, an overwhelming percentage of Americans – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – have made it clear they support the American Rescue Plan. Today, with final passage in the House of Representatives, their voice has been heard.

Now we move forward with the resources needed to vaccinate the nation. To get $1,400 in direct payments to 85 percent of American households. To expand coverage and help with lowering health care premiums. To give small businesses what they need to stay open. To expand unemployment insurance, provide food and nutrition assistance. To help keep a roof over people’s heads. To cut child poverty in half.

This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance.

I want to thank all the members who voted for it, especially Speaker Pelosi, the finest and most capable speaker in the history of our nation. Once again, she has led into law an historic piece of legislation that addresses a major crisis and lifts up millions of Americans.

On Friday, I look forward to signing the American Rescue Plan into law at the White House – a people’s law at the people’s house.

Liberty lives in light

© 2021 by David Silverberg

BREAKING NEWS: Trump caves, signs pandemic relief bill; SWFL programs saved

President Trump after signing a bill. (Photo:AP)

Dec. 27, 2020 by David Silverberg

Under immense pressure from both congressional Democrats and Republicans, as well 14 to 20 million desperate Americans whose unemployment benefits ran out last night, President Donald Trump relented tonight and signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which had been passed by Congress last week.

As of this writing, a formal statement from Trump, who spent the Christmas holiday playing golf at his resort in West Palm Beach, Florida, had not been issued.

The 5,593-page bill appropriates money for nearly all the government’s operations next year as well as providing Americans laid off by the pandemic with $600 in benefits. It also pays for purchasing and distributing the COVID vaccine.

After months of negotiations and passage by both houses of Congress, Trump suddenly chose to denounce the bill on Tuesday, Dec. 22, throwing the government into chaos and threatening much-needed relief for Americans unemployed by the pandemic. People who needed unemployment benefits were denied them for a week, since the president missed the deadline for aiding them. His action could have also shut down the government at a critical time.

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) issued a statement immediately following the signing: “The signing of the bipartisan, bicameral coronavirus relief legislation is welcome news for the 14 million Americans who just lost the lifeline of unemployment benefits on Christmas Weekend, and for the millions more struggling to stay afloat during this historic pandemic and economic crisis.”

She continued: “Now, the President must immediately call on congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, which will be brought to the Floor tomorrow.  Every Republican vote against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny the American people the relief they need.”

Trump’s capitulation means that Southwest Florida—in addition to unemployment benefits for Southwest Floridians and vaccine distribution—will get the funding critical to Everglades restoration, agricultural support, and low-income and homeless housing programs. (For a fuller discussion of the benefits to Southwest Florida, see Trump suddenly attacks pandemic relief bill, dealing heavy blow to Southwest Florida.)

Comments from Reps. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.), who both introduced provisions to the bill, were not immediately available after the news broke.

However, yesterday, Dec. 26, Rep.-elect Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) went on Fox News to blame the holdup on Pelosi.

Rep.-Elect Byron Donalds on Fox News yesterday. (Image: Fox News)

“It is clear that Nancy Pelosi was playing politics with this bill,” said Donalds. “This is her fault. This is at her feet.” He called the bill “Pelosi’s wish list” and “a disaster” and said “It was awful, unconscionable, it was asinine and it has put everybody in the lurch.”

After Trump suddenly demanded that the $600 payment to individuals be increased to $2,000, Pelosi tried to increase the amount but was blocked by Republicans. A stand-alone bill increasing the amount is expected to be introduced in Congress tomorrow.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg

US House votes to protect, fund Postal Service; Rooney opposes, Diaz-Balart, Steube absent

Aug. 22, 2020 by David Silverberg

Tonight the US House of Representatives voted to protect the US Postal Service (USPS) from disruptive changes designed to impede mail-in voting and provide $25 billion in funding to ensure its continued operations.

The Delivering for America Act (House Resolution 8015) passed by a vote of 257 to 150.

Among Southwest Florida representatives, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.) voted against the measure, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) and Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) were absent.

“…For the sake of every senior who is delayed in getting his or her Social Security check, every veteran who is delayed in getting his or her medication, every working family who is delayed in getting their paycheck and every voter now facing the prospect of choosing between their vote and their health, we need to pass this bill,” House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) urged her colleagues in a speech on the floor.

She recounted a conversation with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy: “He said to me frankly, and I have to give him credit for his honesty, he said, ‘I have no intention of replacing the sorting machines that we’re removed from the Postal Service – offices.  I have no intention of replacing the blue mailboxes…’ that have been ripped from our neighborhoods and he had no plans for ensuring adequate overtime, which is critical, critical in the timely delivery of the mail.  He said he had no intention of treating ballots as First-Class mail.”

Documents released by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-12-NY), chair of the House Oversight and Government Committee, have revealed that DeJoy had deliberately misled Congress and could not be trusted.

DeJoy has since announced that the Postal Service will be treating ballots as First-Class mail.

In a pair of tweets today, President Donald Trump denounced the bill: “Representatives of the Post Office have repeatedly stated that they DO NOT NEED MONEY, and will not make changes. This is all another HOAX by the Democrats to give 25 Billion unneeded dollars for political purposes,  without talking about the Universal Mail-In Ballot Scam…. ….that they are trying to pull off in violation of everything that our Country stands for. Vote NO to the Pelosi/ Schumer money wasting HOAX which is taking place now. Then fight the $51 million unasked for Ballots. Only ABSENTEE BALLOTS are acceptable!”

Although Trump keeps drawing a distinction between mail-in ballots and absentee ballots, there is no difference. He has applied to vote by mail in Florida.

Steube also denounced the legislation in a tweet: “The latest political play from the Democrats is a conspiracy theory that Republicans are using operational changes to the USPS as a means to disenfranchise the American people. This is dishonest, ridiculous and even dangerous. Enough of the scare tactics, Speaker Pelosi.”

There were no immediate comments from Rooney or Diaz-Balart.

The bill now goes to the Republican-dominated Senate where it is unlikely to either pass or be brought up for a vote. Trump has threatened to veto it if it gets to his desk.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg

Floridian Rep. Val Demings named impeachment manager

01-15-20 Pelosi names impeachment managersHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi names House impeachment managers. From left to right: Reps. Hakim Jeffries, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry Nadler, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Val Demings, Sylvia Garcia, Jason Crow.

Jan. 15, 2020 by David Silverberg

Floridian Rep. Val Demings (D-10-Fla.) has been named one of seven impeachment managers appointed today by House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.).

A second-term member of Congress, Demings represents the area around Orlando.

Born March 12, 1957 (aged 62) in Jacksonville, Fla., she was first in her family to graduate college and began her career as a social worker in Jacksonville. In the early 1980s she moved to Orlando to join the police department and was named Orlando’s first female police chief in 2007.

She first ran for Congress in 2012, narrowly losing to Republican Rep. Daniel Webster. She ran again in 2016, winning with 64.9 percent of the vote and was re-elected in in a primary in 2018 with 75 percent of the vote.

The other impeachment managers as announced by Pelosi are:

  • Adam Schiff (D-28-Calif.), Lead Manager, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, serving his 10th term. Before Congress, Schiff was a California State Senator and served as federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles for 6 years, most notably prosecuting the first FBI agent ever to be indicted for espionage.
  • Jerry Nadler (D-10-NY), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, serving his 15th term. Nadler has served as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for 13 years.  Before Congress, Nadler served in the New York State Assembly for 16 years.
  • Zoe Lofgren (D-16-Calif.) Chair of the Committee on House Administration, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, serving her 13th term. She has played a role in three presidential impeachment proceedings: as a Judiciary Committee staffer during Nixon, as a Judiciary Committee Member during Clinton, and now as a Manager.
  • Hakeem Jeffries (D-8-NY), Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, serving his 4th term in Congress. He is a Member of the House Judiciary Committee.  Before Congress, Jeffries served in the New York State Assembly for 6 years.  An accomplished litigator in private practice before running for elected office, Jeffries clerked for Judge Harold Baer Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Jason Crow (D-6-Colo.), member of the House Armed Services Committee. Crow served as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Before running for elected office, he was a litigator in private practice in Colorado.
  • Sylvia Garcia (D-29-Texas), member of the House Judiciary Committee. Before Congress, where she is serving her first term, Garcia served in the Texas State Senate.  Previously, she was the Director and Presiding Judge of the Houston Municipal System and was elected City Controller.  She was later elected the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court.

The managers will oversee the impeachment trial in the Senate.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg

 

 

BREAKING NEWS: Rooney, Gaetz defy Trump, GOP, vote to restrict presidential hostilities against Iran

01-09-20 war-powers-4

Jan. 9, 2020 by David Silverberg

Rep. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.) defied President Donald Trump and Republican Party discipline tonight and was one of only three Republicans voting for House Concurrent Resolution 83 (HConRes) calling for restrictions on Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran.

In another astonishing vote, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-1-Fla.), a vociferous Trump defender, also voted for the resolution. The third Republican breaking ranks was Rep. Thomas Massie (R-4-Ky.).

Southwest Florida Reps. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) voted the party line against the resolution.

The final vote was 224 to 194, largely along party lines. Eight Democrats voted against the resolution.

As a concurrent resolution, the measure is not a law, is non-binding and does not require the president’s signature. Rather, it expresses the sentiment of both houses of Congress concurrently. Despite this, concurrent resolutions can be powerful indicators of congressional opinion.

As of this writing, Rooney had not issued a statement regarding his vote.

The resolution directs the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran.

“Over the past eight months, in response to rising tensions with Iran, the United States has introduced over 15,000 additional forces into the Middle East. The killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, as well as Iran’s ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases, risks significant escalation in hostilities between the United States and Iran,” states the text of the resolution. “When the United States uses military force, the American people and members of the United States Armed Forces deserve a credible explanation regarding such use of military force.”

While the resolution calls for termination of hostilities against Iran unless there is a declaration of war or a need to defend against imminent attack, it calls on the president to consult with Congress “in every possible instance” before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities as required in the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541).

In an 8:20 am tweet, Trump stated: “Hope that all House Republicans will vote against Crazy Nancy Pelosi’s War Powers Resolution.”

Gaetz explained his vote on Twitter and in a floor statement: “I represent more troops than any other member of this body. I buried one of them earlier today at Arlington. If our service members have the courage to fight and die in these wars, Congress ought to have the courage to vote for or against them. I’m voting for this resolution.”

Steube also issued his statement on Twitter:  “Today I voted against House Concurrent Resolution 83, also known as the War Powers Resolution. This resolution puts House Democrats’ political agenda ahead of American security by limiting the ability of the president to respond to imminent threats on American and our interests. During these uncertain times, the president must have the ability to take decisive action against the terrorist Iranian regime.”

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) denounced Trump’s attitude toward Congress as “disdainful” given his lack of consultation. She said the killing of Soleimani had not made the United States any safer.

“We must avoid war,” Pelosi told Mary Bruce of ABC News. “And the cavalier attitude of this administration, it’s stunning. The president will say, ‘I inform you by reading my tweets.’ No, that’s not the relationship that our founders had in mind in the Constitution of the United States when they gave power to the White House to do one thing in terms of our national security and to the Congress to declare war and to allocate resources and the rest.

“It’s a very big issue now because it’s nothing less than preventing war as we honor our first responsibility to protect the American people,” she said.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg

 

Steube, Diaz-Balart vote for Schiff censure, Rooney not voting

01-13-19 us capitol cropped

Oct, 22, 2019 by David Silverberg

In a procedural vote yesterday, Oct. 21, two of Southwest Florida’s congressional representatives voted to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-28-Calif.) who, as the chairman of the House Select Intelligence Committee, is leading the impeachment inquiry into whether President Donald Trump is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.

By a vote of 218 to 185, the US House of Representatives voted to table House Resolution (HR) 647. The tabling means that its consideration is postponed indefinitely, effectively killing it.

Both Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) and Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) had co-sponsored an earlier version of the legislation (HR 630) and voted for HR 647. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.) did not vote.

The censure bill accused Schiff of misleading Congress and the American public, specifically when he parodied President Trump’s summary of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In that call Trump requested that Ukraine conduct an investigation of Hunter Biden in exchange for releasing US military aid.

Trump has been tweeting relentlessly against Schiff, calling him “shifty,” “corrupt” and “a fraud.”

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) defended Schiff in her own statement, saying: “Rep. Schiff is a great patriot. America is well-served by his strategic leadership.”

After the vote, Schiff himself tweeted: “It will be said of House Republicans, when they found they lacked the courage to confront the most dangerous and unethical president in American history, they consoled themselves by attacking those who did.”

Liberty lives in light

© 2019 by David Silverberg

US House passes bill condemning Trump’s Kurdish decision; Diaz-Balart, Steube split, Rooney absent

10-16-19 Pelosi vs. TrumpHouse Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi confronts President Donald Trump over his Syrian withdrawal decision at a White House meeting.              (Photo: White House)

Oct. 17, 2019 by David Silverberg

In a definitive, bipartisan, overwhelming vote, the US House of Representatives yesterday condemned President Donald Trump’s precipitous withdrawal of US forces and betrayal of its Kurdish allies.

The bill, House Joint Resolution (HJRes) 77, “Opposing the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria” required a two-thirds vote to pass and did so decisively by 354 to 60 votes.

Southwest Florida’s congressional delegation split on the motion. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) joined 128 other Republicans in voting for the bill. Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) joined 59 other Republicans in opposing it. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.) was absent.

As of this writing, none of the congressmen had issued statements explaining their actions or absences.

In addition to opposing Trump’s decision and calling for an end to Turkish operations the bill also called on the administration to aid the Kurds with humanitarian assistance and restrain the Turkish military. Lastly, it called “on the White House to present a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

The bill has now gone to the Senate for consideration.

Following passage of the bill, House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) and Democratic lawmakers went to the White House to discuss the Syrian situation. That meeting devolved into a stormy confrontation between Pelosi and Trump, with Trump calling her a “third rate” or “third grade” politician and Pelosi telling Trump: “all roads with you lead to Putin.” Both sides characterized the other’s behavior as a “meltdown.” (An in-depth account of the meeting as reported by The New York Times can be read here.)

Liberty lives in light

© 2019 by David Silverberg