Monday, June 18, 2018

Day 11: The absurd things staff can't tell you

Yet another installment in my quest to find out if my congressman (Faso, NY-19) has any thoughts on the world happening around him. (The full list of earlier efforts is linked at the end.)
I have a couple of questions I’ve been trying to get answered, and I’d like to follow up on.
First off, I still would like to know whether the congressman is working with his colleagues to rein in the trade war the president has launched with our closest allies.
I don’t deal with that area.
I’m also checking in on my question about Mr. Faso’s views on the extent of presidential power. If the president were to murder someone investigating him, would the congressman vote for impeachment?
OK, I’ll pass that along.
You realize the background for this question, of course, which is the statement by the president’s lawyer that Mr. Trump could kill James Comey and there would be no way to indict him. The only pathway to justice would be via impeachment and conviction. That means that the president is in fact above the law unless Congress is willing to impeach and remove him for a clear crime, such as murder.
If Mr. Faso wouldn’t vote for impeachment in the case of murder, then he is saying that the president is above the law. I really want to know if that’s his view.
[I can’t remember the full exchange in here, but at some point she dropped a mention about how questions are usually answered in about two weeks.]
This is the seventh time I’ve called in the last two weeks, so there’s a good chance I’ve spoken to everyone in the office. My name’s Karl Seeley—are you one of the people I’ve spoken to?
I don’t recall speaking to you.
I’ve been asking about the trade war since Monday, June 4th. I’ve been asking about presidential powers since Wednesday, June 6th. Everyone I’ve spoken to has been polite and professional. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said they’ll see that my questions are passed along to the congressman. And yet I still haven’t heard an answer.
So about two weeks is a normal time to get an answer?
Two to three weeks, usually.
OK, so if I haven’t gotten an answer in about three weeks, I should assume he’s blowing me off?
No, ...
I do have one more concern.
On our southern border, agents of our government are separating children from their parents. I was unable to find anything about that on the congressman’s website.
Do you know if he’s made any statement about it?
Yes, he was on NPR last week and said he didn’t agree with it.
I’m glad to hear that. Do you know if he plans to put anything on the website?
I don’t know about that.
That would be a useful service for his constituents who would like to know where he stands on that.
[Side note: It probably isn’t random that he goes on NPR and voices disagreement, while not putting anything to that effect on his website. Most of the ardent Trump supporters in our district are unlikely to be NPR listeners, so this way he can appear less inhumane to centrist and liberal constituents while not annoying his authoritarian base by criticizing the Boy King.]
What action is he planning to take to deal with the situation?
I don’t know.
The White House is saying that this set of crimes being committed by our government is the Democrats’ fault.
Can I assume that Mr. Faso knows that the president whose administration instituted this policy is a Republican?
I can’t answer that.
Can I assume that Mr. Faso is aware that the Republicans have majorities in both houses of Congress, so that any legislative fixes are primarily up to Republicans?
(Pause) Again, I can’t answer that on his behalf. [You can hear her frustration, but if you work for an absurdist party, you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself in absurd situations.]
This is simply comical. I suppose you also wouldn’t be able to answer whether he knows that two plus two equals four, but I guess that’s beside the point.
Given all that, what is the meaning of blaming this on so-called “obstructionist Democrats”?
Really, the only sense I can make out of the White House position is that, the Democrats won’t give us what we want on the border wall, so we’re going to keep separating families until they give us what they want.
The administration is stealing children from their parents and using them as hostages to get what they want from the opposition.
Look, they’re taking children away from parents for bathing, or a snack, and then not bringing them back.
There was an incident in which an agent of our government took an infant from its mother’s arms while the infant was nursing at the breast.
The congressman is an elected representative of the government that is committing these crimes. It’s nice that he doesn’t approve, but if that’s as far as it goes, it’s just empty words.
There are two very specific things Mr. Faso can do.
He can work with others in Congress to legally force the White House to change policy.
And he can call on the president to stop committing humanitarian crimes.
It’s beyond appalling to watch the country sliding into authoritarianism and have my elected representative not be willing to do anything to stop it.
The last few lines are condensed from what was a longer venting on the horrors happening. At one point, there was so little response, I thought the call had been dropped. “No, I’m just listening.”

I said I didn’t envy her position, and wished her a good afternoon, which she returned.

If you’re a Faso constituent and you call his office (202 225-5614), my advice would be to ask about and demand action.

My next call was on Wednesday, June 20th.

Here's the catalog of my earlier calls:

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