An Exaltation of Larks

After the trauma of the Impeachment vote in the Senate and Trump claiming complete exoneration, I felt we all needed to read something that lifts our spirits.  This column first published in 2010 is designed to do just that.  Enjoy.

 

A very special book beckons to me from the shelves, An Exaltation of Larks, the fascinating collection by James Lipton, first published in 1968.  Lipton, an American writer, poet, composer and actor, traced the tradition in the English language back to the 15th century when groups of animals, fish and birds associated with hunting were given names to epitomize salient characteristics. Young gentlemen were taught the precise designation of their quarry. We are familiar with some: a pride of lions, a plague of locusts and a litter of puppies. The magic of this book is in the hundreds of collective nouns that identify the essence of the group to the reader for the first time — and the witty engravings by Grandville, a 19th century French lithographer, that accompany most of the terms and the text.

Here are a few groups of birds to whet your appetite:

A parliament of owls.

An ostentation of peacocks.

A banquet of pheasants.

A murder of crows.

A siege of herons.

A brood of hens.

An exaltation of larks.

Skylarks climb high together into the heavens while uttering their song — thus the poetic comment of exaltation.  In the interesting introduction to the book, Lipton traces the history from the 15th century to the present. He writes, “Obviously, at one time or another, every one of these terms had to be invented — and it is equally obvious that much imagination, wit and semantic ingenuity has always gone into their invention. The terms are too full of charm and poetry to suppose that their inventors were unaware of the possibilities open to them , and unconscious of the fun and beauty they were creating. What we have in these terms is clearly the end result of a game that amateur semanticists have been playing for over five hundred years.”

Part III of the book may be the most fun for readers since Lipton drew upon the Book of St. Albans, compiled in 1486, which included seventy references to people and life in the 15th century in addition to the birds, animals and fish for the hunt. The social references, scattered through the St. Albans book, are filled with wit and commentary about the manners and morals of the day. The lively, intriguing engravings accompanying these human figures capture the meaning and nuances in each term.  Here are samples from the 15th century:

A Herd of Harlots

A Converting of Preachers

A Doctrine of Doctors

An Incredulity of Cuckolds

A Riffraff of Knaves

A Drift of Fishermen

An Eloquence of Lawyers

A Worship of Writers (Ah, I love that.)

 

Lipton closes his delightful book with a challenge to the reader to join the “game” and create clever terms that illuminate intrinsic qualities of a group. He says, about playing the game, “like Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence. I found that spectators didn’t stay spectators for long. If you should feel the urge, there are more brushes in the pail.”

 

………………………………………………………………………………….Joyce S. Anderson

 

An Exaltation of Larks  is available online at Amazon.com

Impeachment Trial Epilogue

Wednesday, February 5 was the final day of Donald J . Trump’s Impeachment Trial.   He had given his State of The Union Address the night before to Republicans , Democrats  and Supreme Court Justices in the Congressional Hall.  House Speaker Pelosi and Vice President  Pence sat behind the president when he spoke.  Throughout his speech, Republicans rose and cheered, even chanted “Four More Years” while Democrats on the other side remained seated and silent. Adam Schiff and the six other House Managers had a copy of the Constitution on tables before them.

Donald Trump was confident  since he knew what the vote would be the next day.   He claimed a rebirth of the country under his leadership with examples of growth that were challenged by economic experts the next day.  He claimed that his leadership had brought a State of the Union that was better than ever before in “history”.

Viewers saw the bitterness between the president and the speaker at the beginning and end of his speech.  When he arrived at the front, he shook hands with the justices and then walked up to the lectern. He  handed Pelosi a copy of his speech and she reached out to shake his hand, but he turned to face the audience. When he completed his speech,  he stood to strong applause from the Republicans and she held the papers of the speech and  tore them apart vigorously.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Donald J. Trump was the fourth United States president to be threatened with impeachment.  There were two in the modern era, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.  One Republican and one Democrat.  Nixon was approached by Republican leaders who urged him to resign to avoid a trial where he would definitely be convicted.  He agreed and resigned from office. Clinton survived a trial where he apologized to the American people and was not convicted  and removed from office.  At the time, he had a 65 percent approval rating in the country.

On Wednesday,  Chief Justice Roberts presided as The Two Articles of Impeachment were read in detail. The First: Abuse of Power. The Second: Obstruction of Congress.   All  one hundred members of the Senate were present.   Roberts advised them of the procedure to follow to vote.  Names would be called in alphabetical order.  The member would rise and say aloud “Guilty” or “Not Guilty” .

For  viewers watching on television, there was a large box  with the scores of each party as well as the two Independents as the procedure happened.    The final votes were 48 to Convict and 52 Not to Convict on Abuse of Power.   47 and 53 on Obstruction of Congress.  The one vote difference in the first was Mitt Romney who broke with the Republicans to vote for Conviction.

Earlier in the day Senator Romney had spoken of why he would vote for Conviction.  He has represented Utah for years and ran for president on the Republican ticket.  He is a devout Mormon and the son of George Romney,  governor of Michigan for three terms. His words stressed the meaning of the oath before God that the senators took before voting to be impartial.   That oath was the key to understanding his vote.  He spoke of what it would mean to his children and grandchildren as well as the people he represented in his state.  His conscience was the key.  He believed  the evidence had proven the case against the president  and he had pledged to keep an open mind and be impartial.

After the vote, political commentators called it a “Profile in Courage”.   It was replayed since his decision had been televised earlier many times on political programs that day and the following day as well.

In addition to Mitt Romney,  four Democrats who voted for Conviction are from states that Trump won in 2016 by very large margins.  Doug Jones of Alabama ,  Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. It is a certainty that Trump will visit each of those states often and attack these four senators with his usual fury and insults as he seeks reelection in 2020.   They all displayed courage and conscience in their vote for Conviction.

……………………………………Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

IMPEACHMENT TRIAL UPDATE

Lawrence Tribe, the legendary trial lawyer , Harvard professor and Constitutional scholar writes “Lawrence Tribe on Twitter” every day on Google. On Thursday, January 30,  he wrote about a shocking statement  from Alan Dershowitz, one of Trump’s lawyers. It was the first day of Questions from the Senators to either Trump’s lawyers or the House managers.  He was answering a question about Quid pro Quo…trading this for that. Dershowitz  said,  “ If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected  in the public interest, that would not be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

Lawrence Tribe commented, “ Of course! It’s the old Louis XIV l ‘etat c ‘est  moi” defense.”  I am the state.

It brought to mind the current television ad that Joe Biden is running on television in his presidential campaign. The emphasis is on CHARACTER in capital letters.  The pictures and text show Biden in specific times in  his life when his character was the key to his behavior and work activities.  Many Americans, especially older Americans remember when his first wife and young daughter were killed in an automobile accident when he was in D.C. getting ready to be sworn in for his first term as a senator.  He commuted to Delaware every day of his terms in office by train to be with his two sons as they grew up.  They also remember his service for two terms as Obama’s vice president, serving as his emissary abroad to strengthen our ties to our democratic Allies.

Today,  the impeachment trial of Donald Trump is focused on his holding back the financial  aid to Ukraine approved by Congress for an ally fighting Russian tanks  on their border.  The first article of impeachment is Abuse of Power detailing this event with emphasis on the quid pro quo the president wanted from the president of Ukraine ….. an investigation of Joe Biden, his rival in the current presidential election campaign and his son, Hunter Biden.

Today is the second day for Questions.  The Republican Majority leader of the Senate , Mitchell McConnell  has worked openly with the president from the start of trial preparations.  He has also aimed at a brief trial without witnesses or documents.  The Democrats have urged that they be a part of the trial, based on historic precedent as well as the need for them to be a part of a  “fair trial.” Every impeachment trial in the past has heard witnesses and seen important documents as evidence.

Four Republicans would need to join 47 Democrats to vote for Witnesses and Documents to be included in the trial.   There are three who appear to be leaning in that direction:  Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Merkowski.    Lamar Alexander has been seen as a possible fourth.  He is retiring in 2020 ,but is a very close friend of McConnell.   Pressure is strong on all Republicans not to break rank.   Trump has a history of attacking any members of Congress who dare to defy him.   Everyone who follows politics is aware of that.

Epilogue:

Newspaper articles today report that McConnell is planning to follow the Question time today with a call for a Vote on Witnesses and Documents.  If they are defeated, that would lead to a Vote To Acquit Trump  on Friday.

The president’s lawyers have made a case for the United States people to decide the fate of Donald J. Trump in the 2020 election next November.  We may know on Friday if we the people do indeed have that  ahead of us.

………………………………………………….  Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump

On Wednesday, January 15, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named  seven  Democratic House managers of the impeachment case against President Trump.  They were a diverse group of men and women who would prosecute the case for his removal from office. They were led by Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the  House  Intelligence Committee and Jerrold Nadler of New York, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Jason Crow of Colorado , a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was elected in 2018. He is a leading voice on national security. Val Demings of Florida , a former police chief, is known as a respected questioner in previous trials. Sylvia R. Garcia of Texas is a path- breaking Latina  lawmaker in the state. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, is a rising lawmaker who has emerged as a party leader. Zoe Lofgren of California is a veteran of the Nixon and Clinton inquiries.

Speaker Pelosi   signed the Articles of Impeachment slowly giving each manager a pen.  When the signing was complete,  she said , “President Donald J. Trump  is impeached for Posterity”.

The seven managers then carried the two Articles of Impeachment over to the Senate in a solemn procession.   There was coverage on all Cable networks of the signing and the procession.  This management team is far more diverse than the thirteen white men Republicans selected to prosecute President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial.

On Thursday,  January 16,  The Senate was in session with Majority Leader McConnell in charge and Senator Grassley, the longest serving member in the chair.   Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John G. Roberts,  wearing his black robes, was escorted  into  the chamber where the senators were seated.  Grassley  greeted him and then asked him to raise his right hand with his left on the bible  before he administered the oath of impartiality.  Roberts  replied that he would and they shook hands.  He then moved to sit in the chair and address the senators.

Roberts asked them all to rise and raise their right hands.  Then he read the oath that called upon them to be impartial  as jurors in the trial of the president.  They all replied  they would.  Then,  each senator approached a desk at the front of the chamber where a recorder gave  a pen to sign the Registry .  The names of four senators were read aloud twenty five times in alphabetical order.  99 senators signed; one man was absent due to his wife’s illness.   They each signed the book  as a permanent record of the oath they had taken to be impartial jurors. This included Chairman Mc Connell who had said he would work with Trump and not be impartial  and Graham, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee who had said he would not read documents.  Both men had already said they wanted a speedy trial.

Roberts then read some procedural notes and adjourned the session until the following Tuesday.

The role of the Chief Justice in previous impeachment trials was written about in many newspapers and discussed on cable television.  Presiding over the Clinton trial, Chief Justice Rehnquist is quoted as saying, “I did nothing in particular and I did it very well.”   He was  pictured with gold stripes added to the sleeves of his black robes for the  significant occasion.

There are three current cases before the Supreme Court regarding Trump’s finances.  Another case concerns Trumps efforts to withdraw protection from the DACA immigrants who have lived here for years aiming to become citizens.   Many political columnists are addressing whether Roberts will be called upon to take a more active role than Rehnquist in the Senate Trial. Adam Liptak wrote in The New York Times,  “An Impeachment Trial Thrusts Roberts Into  Partisan Warfare”   He quoted from the Constitution, “When the president of The United states is tried, the chief justice shall preside.”  But the founding charter says  no more.  And what role the chief justice is to perform has proved baffling.

During the four days before the Trial would resume, major events occurred that would affect The Senate Trial.

On Friday, January  17,  Rachel Maddow conducted an in depth interview on MSNBC with Lev Parnas one of the men who worked with Rudy Giuliani on the stalking of  Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yuvonovich .  Parnas ,who is free on bail, described being  with President Trump often, supported by multiple pictures of them together at different times and places.  He agreed with Ambassador Sondland who said “everyone was in the loop.”  Also responded to Trump saying ,  “I don’t know the gentleman.  I take pictures with thousands of people.”   Parnas said bluntly,  “He lied.”   Parnas had become a cooperating witness and his testimony was on every talk show throughout the weekend.

Excerpts from Maddow’s interview were replayed many times by other commentators on Saturday and Sunday.  When the second half was shown on Sunday night, there were four million viewers.  Polls of Americans made clear that over 70 percent wanted witnesses and documents introduced into the Senate Trial.  Many said, “Whoever heard of a trial without witnesses?”

The big  news over the weekend  from The White House was that the president had added two “celebrity lawyers” to his team, Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz.   Since Trump appears to view the trial as a Television show, he was eager to have them join his regular lawyers.  Dershowitz immediately appeared on Ari Melber’s  hour and insisted that Abuse of Power in Article One is not a high crime and misdemeanor called for in The Constitution!  Ken Starr who ran the Clinton Impeachment was removed as Baylor University President over not acting on sexual abuses on the campus.  Both men have connections to Jeffrey Epstein the disgraced pedophile.

When the trial reconvenes tomorrow in the Senate, the men and women will not be allowed iphones  at their desks.  They must be silent and not ask questions.

Millions of Americans will be watching to see if Mitch McConnell will allow a rules change to include witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump.

Epilogue:

Tuesday morning January 21, 2020.  Last evening about six , Breaking News brought three BIG stories.   Donald J. Trump was boarding Air Force One to fly to Davos, Switzerland for the annual conference.  Mitch McConnell had released his plans for the Senate Impeachment Trial on a fast paced schedule.   He said weeks ago that he would work with the White House on the trial and the results shows that he did just that.  The third story was the White House lawyers release of a one hundred and ten page Brief (oxymoron) where they wrote that “the two Articles of Impeachment were constitutionally flawed and set a dangerous precedent”.

At about three this afternoon, the Democratic managers will begin their arguments in support of the Articles of Impeachment.  They will continue until midnight when most Americans will be sleeping.  Not prime time, for sure.    Each side will have 24 hours divided over two days.    By Saturday, this segment will be over.  Next week, the question of having witnesses, which 71 percent of the American public want will be raised.

At 1 p.m. today, the Trial will start.  I hope millions of Americans will be watching.   Perhaps Donald J. Trump will also watch in Davos.

……………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chief Justice John Roberts Writes His Yearly Report

As the country waited for The Impeachment Trial in the Senate of President Donald J. Trump,  Chief Justice Roberts ,who will preside over the trial, released his Yearly Report.   The focus was Civic Education and  knowledge of The Constitution with emphasis on The Rule of Law.

He wrote, “ We should reflect on our duty to judge without fear or favor, deciding each matter with humility, integrity and dispatch.  As the new year begins and we turn to the tasks before us, we should each resolve to do our best to maintain the public’s trust that we are faithfully discharging our solemn obligation to equal justice under law.”

The Report seemed to continue a conversation between the  Chief Justice and The President  that began in 2018. At that time, Trump called a judge of Mexican heritage who had ruled against his administration “an Obama judge.”  In response,  Roberts said, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.  What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing  before them.” He also said the president had misunderstood the role of the federal courts in the constitutional system.

Donald Trump took issue with the Chief Justice’s statement on Twitter. He wrote, “Sorry, Chief  Justice John Roberts.  You do indeed have Obama Judges. And they have a much different view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country.”

This year’s Yearly Report appears to continue emphasis upon The Chief Justice’s theme. He wrote, “We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary , a key source of national unity and stability. The judiciary has an important role to play in civic education.  We have come to take democracy for granted and civic education has fallen by the wayside.  In our age, when social media can spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government and the protection it provides is ever more vital. “

Roberts emphasized the importance the federal courts play by reaching  “accessible decisions”, citing Chief Justice Earl Warren  who illustrated the power of a judicial decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas” , the great school desegregation case.  His unanimous opinion on the most pressing issue of the era  was a mere eleven pages– short enough that  newspapers could publish all of it, or almost all of it and every citizen could understand the court’s rationale. Today, federal courts publish their opinions on line giving the public instant access to the reasoning behind the judgments that affect their lives.’’

Chief Justice Roberts praised the many educational programs across the nation  offered by federal judges in which students are invited to visit courthouses.  He did not address the issue of camera coverage which does not occur at trials in federal courts.

The pending Impeachment Trial of  Donald Trump  was not brought up in the Yearly Report. However, a news story  reporting Representative Jamie Raskin,  Democrat , Maryland  being  interviewed on CNN became news on Lawrence Tribe Twitter, a column read by thousands every day.  Raskin said,  “McConnell and Graham are  disgracing the Senate and posing a dilemma for Chief Justice John Roberts. How can the Chief Justice in good faith administer the oath “to do impartial justice” to senators who have said they will be anything but impartial? “

McConnell is Majority Leader of the Senate who has said he will coordinate the trial procedures with the White House and not be impartial.  Graham, Chair of The Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he will not read any documents presented at the Trial.

Epilogue:

We, the American people wait to see if and when the Senate trial will take place.  McConnell and Graham want a speedy trial.  Donald Trump has said he wants a show trial to prove his innocence. However, he will not release witnesses and documents that have been subpoenaed by the House of Representatives from the White House.

The Speaker of The House, Nancy Pelosi, has said she will keep the Two Articles of Impeachment until Senator McConnell agrees to discuss the procedures for a fair trial with Senator Schumer and they reach agreement.

Amen says this American citizen……. Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chaotic Story of Trump’s Ukraine Aid Freeze

December 29, The New York Times broke what they called “An 84 Day Clash of Wills ‘’  An in depth article traced the people and events that occurred from the inception of Donald Trump’s idea that he would put a hold on necessary funds Congress had passed to help Ukraine withstand Russian tanks on their border.

The president was known to make impulsive decisions without the advice of his Security aides.  He refused to read the daily policy briefs that gave him the latest information on foreign and domestic affairs.  He also had a fixed idea that Ukraine was a corrupt state.  This was unsupported by current information that  newly elected President Zelensky was a reformer.

The Story Begins:  June 27 was more than a week after Donald Trump first suggested putting a hold on security aid to embattled Ukraine.   Mick Mulvaney, Acting Chief of Staff, was on Air Force One with Trump flying to Japan. Mulvaney sent an email to an aide in D.C. asking, “Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back?” The aide, Robert Blair, wrote back, “ Expect Congress to become unhinged “. He had written in a previous email that would happen if the White House tried to countermand spending passed by The House and Senate. The aid Congress had approved was $391 million for javelin missiles,  rocket propelled grenades,  sniper rifles, night vision goggles, medical aid and other equipment .

During July and August,  top lawyers at the OMB ,Office of Management and Budget, met with White House lawyers to see if Trump as Commander in Chief could be able to freeze the aid to Ukraine.  Mulvaney shared Trump’s demands across the administration while the OMB and Pentagon were kept in the dark.   Trump insisted about Ukraine, “They are all corrupt…. Terrible people.”

In late August,  Mulvaney was joined by Defense Secretary Mark Esper,  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton. They  arranged a meeting in the Oval Office with Trump sitting behind the Resolute Desk.   One by one, each man presented his case for lifting the aid freeze.   They were powerful men in important positions and all agreed that this should not happen.  The discussion was long and heated.  However, Trump had decided and they were not successful in changing his mind.  He declared, “Ukraine is a corrupt country…. And we are pissing away our money.”

It is important to note that these three men had been subpoenaed by The House Intelligence Committee in their Impeachment Inquiry.   The president had told all his administration officials to refuse the subpoenas and they had agreed.  However, Ambassador Taylor,  Ambassador Yovonovich,  Colonel Vindaman  and  fourteen other witnesses   gave one hundred hours of sworn testimony and answered questions from members of The Intelligence Committee.

Trump orders freeze on Ukraine aid  be partially lifted on September 12. 

Then, on  September 25, he made his  famous call to President Zelensky asking  that he do us “a favor”.  The favor had two parts.  First, announce publicly that he would start an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter for unlawful activities in Ukraine.  Second, he would support the unproven conspiracy theory that Ukraine had meddled in the 2016 election.  In return, Zelensky would be invited to a meeting in the Oval office, a much desired boost to his prestige as a new president. Note:This meeting never happened and Zelensky never supported the conspiracy theory.

Later, during the Impeachment Inquiry,  Trump’s offer was described as Bribery, one of the two examples of  High Crimes and Misdemeanors named  in The Constitution.

Enter The Whistle Blower:  A C.I.A. official who had once worked in the White House learned of the phone call. He or she wrote a complaint that was declassified and given to The House Intelligence Committee.  For the record, The Whistle Blower Protection Act was passed by Congress in 1989. It protects whistle blowers who report activities that violate laws, rules and regulations in government as well as business and industry.

Epilogue:   On September 25. The New York Times ran a banner headline: Pelosi Will Open Formal Impeachment Inquiry, Accusing President of Betrayal of The Nation.”

……………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What We Saw and Heard During The Debate on The Articles of Impeachment.

On the day of the debate, each member was given one minute to speak.  Democrats alternated with Republicans over the long hours.  The entire session, carried live on cable channels,  gave the viewers a chance to see the vast differences between the Representatives of the two parties and to hear what they stressed.

As I watched and listened,  I saw the Republicans were mostly  old white men (  90 percent confirmed later). The Democratic white men (38 percent confirmed later) were joined by women (white and of color ) young  Blue Wave and  older  women alternated with  Black and Hispanic men.

Behind  Republican Jim Jeffords was a huge picture of the United States Map from the 2016 election with Red states and Blue states.  Trump states covered more space since his votes were spread out over the middle of the country, while the East and West coasts were heavily Blue.  The Title was “ Impeachment Is Their Only Option.”    The actual count of course, gave Trump 63 million votes.  Hillary Clinton polled 65 million votes despite James Comey’s press conferences and Russian interference for Trump, she won The Popular Vote.

During the speeches, Republicans  spoke with fury and anger  about  the act of impeaching  Donald Trump.   One compared him to Jesus Christ being nailed to the cross.  Another asked for a moment of silence for the sixty three million people who had voted for him.   They attacked the process of Impeachment throughout, naming Adam Schiff and others who led the Investigation in The House .

It is notable that not one Republican spoke of the president’s behavior , character, actions or morals in reference to the Articles based on his Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress of which they are all members.   He was portrayed as a victim.

Epilogue:

Donald J. Trump was impeached  on both Articles of Impeachment by solid majority votes in The House of Representatives.  He will forever have an asterix next to his name in the history books.  However, his fate lies with the Senate trial that should take place next.  The Senate decides on Conviction and Removal from Office or Acquittal.

The next step is a trial in the Senate.  However, a major problem has arisen, since the Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has made clear that he is working with the  president’s lawyers to produce the trial.   He has said,  “I am not impartial”  although he and every senator has to take an oath saying they will be impartial jurors.

As a result, The Speaker of The House, Nancy Pelosi has said she will wait until it is clear that there will be a fair trial before she will forward the Impeachment Results to the Senate.   Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has presented McConnell with ways that can happen.   Now, it is a waiting game until  Congress returns after the Recess

The American people will celebrate the holidays and The New Year in the weeks ahead.   Whatever our political persuasion… let us all hope for a fair trial that will  bring witnesses and documents before the Senate and the American public.   Then a vote would have meaning for the president and the American people.

………………………………………………. Joyce S. Anderson