Letter to the Office of Government Ethics

I just sent this letter to the Office of Government Ethics:

I am a citizen from Massachusetts. I am writing because I am concerned about the President-elect's conflicts of interest from his business. I am also concerned that your office sent out a tweet storm Wednesday congratulating the President-elect on his announcement that he will leave his business. His commitment to leave his business is vague. It is likely that he will retain a financial interest in his business, and that his children will be running his business. That does not constitute a blind trust. I hope that the Office of Government Ethics intends to more diligently ensure that the President-elect is not subject to conflicts of interest.

Thank you for your time.

I sent it to both their email address (ContactOGE@oge.gov) and to their postal address:

U.S. Office of Government Ethics
1201 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005

If you agree with the sentiment, I encourage you to do the same. I called the office, but was unable to find someone charged with taking messages from the general public.

Why I Oppose Trump Taking the Oath

I am in favor of several movements to stop Donald Trump taking the oath of office, such as this petition for the Electoral College to elect a President other than Trump.

My lack of confidence in Donald Trump goes far deeper than his positions, his conflicts of interest, and his incompetence. I am not confident that Trump will not launch a nuclear attack over matters as insignificant as those behind his Twitter attacks. I am not confident that Trump will allow free elections to happen during his Presidency. I am not confident that Trump will leave the White House peacefully when his term expires or after he is impeached and convicted of a crime.

Some warn that preventing Trump from taking the oath of office after what is believed to be a fair election will lead to civil war and destruction of our democracy. This is a valid concern and one I take seriously. However I also question the ability of our democracy to survive a Trump Presidency. Given the nuclear weapons under the control of the executive branch, I question the ability of human civilization to survive a Trump Presidency.

It is not too late for Democrats to take back the Senate

The election is over and 51 individuals who are currently registered as Republicans have been elected to serve in the 115th Congress, but I cannot believe that those 51 Republicans share Donald Trump's vision of America. Many Republican senators either withdrew their early endorsements of Trump or opposed him from the beginning.

The 2016 Republican Party is not the party that Republican senators joined. It is a party following the lead of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Trump's campaign statements were inconsistent enough to leave a glimmer of hope that his intentions were less horrific than some of his promises, but early signs paint a picture that is even more bleak.

One glimmer of hope is that the Republicans have a very narrow majority in the Senate. It is currently 51-48, with a run-off race for a Louisiana Senate seat scheduled for December 10. I believe that convincing two or three Republican senators to leave the Republican Party is achievable. The senators can either join the Democratic Party or serve as independents caucusing with the Democrats. This would create the system of checks and balances that our political system is supposed to provide.

My best guess is that the Republican senators most likely to consider this are Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Senator John McCain of Arizona is a career staunch Republican, but I doubt that even he wants Trump to take office without a strong opposition party.

A Democratic Senate would be a step toward providing the checks and balances needed to limit the damage of a Trump administration. It would help to prevent an extremist from taking a seat on the Supreme Court and to prevent hate-motivated legislation from passing.

Removing the Republicans' control over the Senate needs to happen, but it will not happen by itself. We all need to campaign hard for it.

Regardless of the political party of your Senators, please call them. If you are calling the office of a Republican senator, point out that the Republican Party has become one of white supremacy, misogyny, antisemitism, and homophobia — something very different from the Republican Party that the senator joined. If calling the office of a Democratic senator, ask that the Senator discuss this with his or her Republican allies in the Senate.

For my friends here in Massachusetts, Senator Ed Markey's office can be reached at 617-565-8519 and Senator Elizabeth Warren's can be reached at 617-565-3170. The Senate web site has phone numbers for current senators. If you have a newly-elected senator who is not in office yet, call the campaign office. This tweet storm by a former Congressional staffer has great advice. One of those pieces of advice is that phone calls are far more effective than email or any other medium. Talk to a human who is listening to you. Don't just leave a voice message.

Please also consider donating to or volunteering for Democratic candidate Foster Campbell. He is competing against Republican John Kennedy for a Louisiana senate seat in a runoff election on December 10. A Republican taking another senate seat would be very dangerous with Trump as President.

Please put forward a significant effort to making this happen. Call the offices of senators that represent your state. Ask your friends and family to do the same. Tweet. Blog. Post on Facebook. We can do this.

The Democratic Party

Yesterday I wrote the following:

Today the Republican Party is the party of Donald Trump. The party of Mike Pence. The party of blood coming out of her wherevers. The party of grab her by the… The party of travel bans for members of some faiths.

The Democratic Party nobly fights for many causes with which some will reasonably disagree. It fights for gun control in an effort to stop the wave of mass shootings that has plagued this country, but some believe that strict gun laws create an environment where only criminals have guns. It fights for a system in which health care is available to everyone regardless of his or her ability to pay, but some believe that government-managed health care creates so much bureaucracy that it reduces the quality of available health care while also increasing the cost. It fights for a progressive tax system so that the government can afford to provide services without straining those with low income, but some believe that this creates a system where the financially successful are unfairly penalized.

I have immense respect for third parties, but let's face it: the Democratic Party is the only party with a prayer of getting us out of this mess within the next four years. In order to do so it needs to quickly become the party behind which we can unite.

It needs to simplify the platform. It needs to become a single-issue party. It needs to become the party against fascism, against bigotry, against misogyny, against hatred, against discrimination. It needs to fight for the members of all races, all religions, all sexual orientations, and all gender identities.

Debates about gun control, health care, taxes, and many other issues should be had but they are trivial in the context of this country's crisis. As it stands today, there are many good reasons for someone to have reservations about getting behind the platform of the Democratic Party. This is healthy in a democracy in which both major parties have great intentions but different opinions. Sadly that no longer describes this country.

The Republican Party

Republican politicians like to claim that theirs is the party of Abraham Lincoln and the party of Ronald Reagan. It is not. A political party is made up of its current leaders, its current ideologies, and its current actions. The Republican Party was the party of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s. It was the party of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Today the Republican Party is the party of Donald Trump. The party of Mike Pence. The party of blood coming out of her wherevers. The party of grab her by the… The party of travel bans for members of some faiths. The party of the birther movement. The party of I'll keep you in suspense. The party of fat shaming women. The party of you have to go after the families. The party of 3am Twitter tantrums. The party of building a Berlin Wall between ourselves and our neighbors in Mexico. The party of I never said that. The party of conversion therapy. The party of leaving a Supreme Court seat vacant for a year.

Many politicians and voters joined and supported the Republican Party because of what it was. It has become something different, something horrific. If you are a member of the Republican Party, I implore you to reconsider your party affiliation. My greater hope is that Republican Senators and Representatives leave the party, removing its power from the legislative branch.