The Septuagenarian Speaks – published November 27, 2019, Siskiyou Daily News

While writing this column, I began to think déjà vu.  Didn’t I already write about this?  I don’t want to bore you by something I’ve already written.  This concern caused me to review previous articles to find out.  In doing so, I learned a couple of things.  First, I learned that I have been writing these columns for almost three years.  What?  Three years?  Holy moly!  That’s the problem with being a septuagenarian.  Three years feels like three months.  If I do this three more years, I’ll have to change the name of the column.  What comes after septuagenarian?  The second thing I learned was yep, I did write about this subject before, more than once.  This caused me to have concerns about my own mental health.  Have I become crazed?  Obsessive?  Maybe so.

Here’s what I agonize over, and what I see as a form of corruption that is harmful to the future of the country.  It occurs when our country’s legislators are confronted with an issue that requires them to seek the truth.  The scenario that I previously wrote about was in February of 2018 when the House Intelligence Committee was tasked with whether or not FBI and Justice Department officials acted legally and ethically when they presented to the FISA court an application for warrants to enable them to conduct searches, wiretapping, and other invasive surveillance of certain members of Donald Trump’s campaign committee.  The specific issue that the Committee faced was to determine whether the FBI and Justice Department withheld information from the FISA judge that the judge should have been given to fairly evaluate the warrant application.

How the Committee responded to this task was frightening.  The Committee issued a memo to the effect that the FBI and Justice Department acted improperly in the manner they applied for and obtained the FISA warrant.  The memo was joined in by the Republican members of the Committee, none of the Democrats.  The Democrats on the Committee issued a “rebuttal” memo making the opposite determination.  The Committee members voted 100% along party lines.  At the time I saw this as a form of corruption, and still do.  Not because it was partisan, per se.  It was because the Committee members were acting in a capacity similar to that of jurors in a jury trial.  They were fact-finders, whose mission was to determine the truth or falsity of specific facts, to wit, was the warrant based on the Steele Dossier, and was the FISA judge so informed. Partisanship has its place when the issue to be resolved is a matter of policy.  The Democratic Party and the Republican Party support vastly different policies.  That’s why we have a two-party system. A party-line vote is expected, and not corrupt, when the issue is one of policy.  Reasonable minds can differ on what policies are best for the nation.  What made the House Intelligence Committee members corrupt, in my mind, was that their job, like jurors in a jury trial, was to determine the truth of the matter before them, without a political agenda.

Katherine Timpf is a reporter that I respect.  She writes articles for the National Review and other conservative publications, often satirical.  She considers herself to be a libertarian (with a “small i”).  She recently wrote a great article, not satirical, about the recent Democratic debate where Kamala Harris attacked Tulsi Gabbard for having criticized President Obama during his time in office.  Harris’s rant “went well for Harris.  The crowd went wild,” said Katherine Timpf.  Then she went on to say, “Gabbard’s willingness to criticize people in her own party if she disagrees with them is not a flaw.  In fact, it’s exactly what’s missing from our discourse … Too many people don’t look at things objectively and try to see the facts; they instead look at them through their partisan lenses and try to figure out how to twist or spin them to fit their own ‘side.’  This is dangerous for two reasons: For one, the truth is always going to be the truth, no matter who does or does not recognize it – and the best way to start finding solutions to the problems that inhibit our reality is to start by acknowledging what reality is. For another, the people who have power over us can become too powerful if they know they will have everyone on their ‘side’ unabashedly defending any and all of their behavior, regardless of how egregious it might be.”

What is now scaring me is that, with few exceptions, the current impeachment fiasco has been entirely partisan, and likely will continue to be.  But impeachment isn’t a matter of policy.  It is a matter of ascertaining the truth.  Did or did not the President of the United States commit “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors?”  The triers of fact, who in this case are the members of the country’s legislative branch, should be loyal to their country not their party or their ambitions of being re-elected.  To me, for them to do otherwise is a form of corruption.

To paraphrase the words of John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your party can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Bob Kaster
Yreka, CA

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