Word count = 875 / Reading time = 3 minutes, 30 seconds
(Image courtesy of Luis Echeverria/AP in The Guardian)
I was going to work on a new short story in my Copperhead County series today but got sidetracked by a couple of disturbing news stories that caught my eye after reading and reblogging my friend A Lot From Lydia‘s post then reading the Washington Post‘s report that the U.S. House Intelligence Committee voted, along party lines, to release a memo that may be damaging to national security. Those stories together got me worked up enough to write my U.S. Congressman and Senators, a Democrat and 2 Republicans, respectively. I’m posting a mashup of those emailed letters below. If it reads a little awkwardly, keep in mind it’s combining 3 different letters.
***** ***** *****
Dear Representative Cooper and Senators Corker and Alexander,
I thank you for your service and hope you’re doing well today.
I’m writing in the hope that you can allay my concerns about the House Intelligence Committee’s decision yesterday to release a classified memo that allegedly contains proof of surveillance abuses by the FBI and DOJ without first allowing those agencies to review it and weigh in on its possible risk to national security. What is your opinion of the Committee’s decision to release the memo?
It seems to me that prominent and powerful members of our government, including Representative Nunes and President Trump, among others, are taking steps to undermine confidence in the DOJ, the FBI, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller and to try to politicize them rather than continuing to allow them to be independent. Do you have any concerns about that? If so, what can you do about it? What can I do about it?
I’m also concerned about President Trump’s decision not to impose any additional sanctions on Russia as required by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which he signed into law in August 2017 after it passed both houses of Congress with veto-proof bipartisan majorities.
I know that, when he signed it, the President stated he might not impose additional sanctions and that the bill was deeply flawed and had portions that were unconstitutional, so his actions now come as no surprise. I’m aware that, in accordance with CAATSA, the Trump administration has released a lengthy list of Russian political figures and extremely wealthy oligarchs, some of whom have already been sanctioned, to let them know they may face further sanctions in time. I’m also aware that the Trump administration provided an additional, classified, report to Congress and stated that there’s no need for further sanctions at this time because the mere threat of them is already having the intended effect on Russia’s and other nations’ actions.
What is your opinion on the President’s decisions? I’m hoping you can allay my concerns about the consequences of his inaction. Prominent voices on the American political left are decrying the failure to impose additional sanctions. Senator McCaskill and others have gone so far as to declare the President’s failure to follow the law a constitutional crisis. What is your opinion? Is the mere threat of sanctions having sufficient effect to justify delaying imposition of further sanctions? Does the President’s failure to impose additional sanctions now qualify as a constitutional crisis? Senator Corker posted a helpful statement on his home page that made me feel a little more confident in the administration’s actions, but I’m still curious as to how you feel about it.
Given the current divisive and confrontational state of our political discourse, each side aided and abetted in its opinions by a bifurcated media and countless unchecked Internet and social media outlets, I find myself daily adrift on an alien sea of conflicting reports, shouted accusations, and shocking actions taken by powerful members of our government who seem intent on leading us into an authoritarian autocracy ruled by people who consider themselves above the law and unaccountable for willfully spreading disinformation. I cannot help but be afraid of these fraught and trying times in which we find ourselves. I look to you for encouragement.
Thank you for your time and service. Take care, be well, and God bless.
***** ***** *****
Folks, I’m worried there’s a gaping and growing cavity right smack in the center of the United States government, and I’m scared almost shitless about the direction we seem to be headed. Irish poet & playwright William Butler Yeats said it best in his 1919 poem “The Second Coming”, and his words seem prescient today:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Clearly, we are deeply divided, Liberal vs. Conservative, and the moderate center our politics have relied upon to hold things together is shrunken and withered. Our inexhaustible menu of media options allows us to pick and choose our daily news, and social media increasingly allows us to huddle with our insular tribes. What can you do? What can I do? What can we do?
I’m trying harder every day to see, to understand, both sides of the story, but I’ve almost given up hope. Can anyone out there offer me some encouragement?