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Caseythoughts I've been told over the years that I have a memory like an elephant (there's another reference to a political animal), although that may be unfair to the elephant population of the world. Perhaps a widely selective memory in certain topics might be remarkable. When it comes to politics, local and national, the gray matter rarely fails me.

I have to go back to two disgraced political figures to use quotes that may be relevant this week, first on a local level, the second instance is national.

Spiro Agnew is on no one's short list of admired people. I might assume he is now a resident of one of Dante's lesser circles of Hell reserved for petty crooks and receivers of bribes. Be that as it may he also would be in the running for an Academy Award if there were an Oscar for high-flying rhetoric, two dollar words and over-the-top literate thrashing of his enemies including the national media of the time. Many remember his 'nattering nabobs of negativism', but I am in mind of his "effete corps of impudent snobs". His speechwriters must have guffawed over their typewriters (as the nation's reporters choked on their coffee) when that phrase was read out loud.

Now, this is going to seem harsh, I'm sure, but I'm going to say it. A few members of the Tompkins County legislature last week jumped with both political feet into that 'effete corps of impudent snobs' prior to voting on spending upwards of two million dollars for a property and parking lot in Fall Creek. Let the issue of a local government out of control and spending like a drunk sailor on payday rest for the present. Here's the latest for your consideration:

Bryan McCracken, the Ithaca's historic development planner, submitted a letter to the legislature on department letterhead (thus, an authentic and authorized opinion of the city Planning Department) and stated, more or less, that there were serious and legitimate concerns about how the county's plans for a three (or FOUR!) story building would fit into that quiet residential neighborhood. The letter also quite correctly and appropriately pointed out that at least 'part' of that property lies within the Dewitt Historical District and would be subject to review by the Ithaca Landmark Preservation Committee in addition to the normal city site review process (oh, fright...).

You could hear the 'harrumphs' coming from several legislators of the people's business, including Martha Robertson. Deborah Dawson appeared peeved, to say the least, when she stated: "...the implicit threat, for lack of a better word, that there will be problems with the site plan review in connection with our purchase of the property...I sincerely hope that there isn't someone in the Planning Department with an ax to grind."

Whoa! Wait a cotton-picking minute! Did I hear the word 'threat'? Did I hear the word 'problems'? Did I hear the phrase 'ax to grind'? Who, or what, does this legislator think she is?

Anna Kelles, another of the 'people's legislators, said "The tone is what caught us off guard. I hope we can keep this professional".

These seem quite clearly to be veiled threats coming from people who feel that due process is 'in the way' of their grandiose and outlandish plans, and apparently these legislators are supported by others who went ahead and voted to purchase the property anyway. Apparently the city is being viewed as unreasonable and obstructionist in questioning a three or four story office building in an historic district (bad taste in the mouths of the legislature remembering the Old Library white elephant debacle). This ridiculous use of prime real estate in a city crying for real affordable/low income housing that will be almost on top of Cascadilla Creek and abutting groups of 19th century homes in what is, critically, a real neighborhood. That is, until the impudent legislators decided to bring its overflow of 750 employees into the mix with a behemoth, unknown (unstated) purpose, unknown size, undetermined cost and more parking for county employees.

I return you to the Agnew quote: 'An effete corps of impudent snobs'. Full speed ahead, we're bigger than the city, bigger than its neighborhoods and bigger than its citizens. Implicitly threatening and questioning a city employee doing his job, and implicitly ignoring the reality of what he was hired to do. Simple question, please: Who exactly do Dawson and Kelles (who ran on neighborhood integrity issues, by the way) think they are? And why, exactly, did they run for office if not to honestly and accurately represent the real needs of their constituents, not their narrow minded dictatorial interests and pursuits?

Well, the other quote is from the man who thought Spiro Agnew was a good choice to be his Vice President. Many many words were spoken by Richard Nixon, and one of my favorite quotes is from near the end of his botched (but sometimes successful, if we are historically honest) presidency. He stated: "The people have got to know if their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook."

History has yet to decide certain questions about Nixon (those questions might have been answered if he had allowed an impeachment process to continue) and Howard Baker's famous question of 'What did the President know, and when did he know it?', but it seems to be coming true again that 'The people have got tot know if their president is a crook'.

The Mueller Report did the right thing, I think: it left the Big Question up to Congress, for the Congress is the only recourse constitutionally to look and decide (with a myriad of court cases in the mix, no doubt). I think the reason Nancy Pelosi is hesitant ('Fools rush in, where wise men never go...') is because she's not sure, yet, if there is a solid enough majority of the House to vote for impeachment. The strong evidence is still eluding most everyone (except those predisposed to call up the firing squad), while the majority of the 20 Democratic contenders are all on board for a trial, even though it may harm Democratic gains in Congress from 2018 heading into 2020.

But, there certainly are issues and questions that seem to tell us to move ahead, stop all the engines of government and once again go through the agony of an impeachment basically brought about by hatred and vendetta (yes, the same as Clinton's trial in 1998).

I think it's time to stop the dilly-dallying because nothing of any substance is being done in Congress anyway. The gridlock is granite-like, no issues are being really dealt with across the Great Divide, and we have 435 people (and another 100 in the Senate) doing nothing but posturing and wringing their grubby hands until at least 2020.

So, let's decide if our president is a crook. Bring out all the evidence (both in and outside of the Mueller Report) all the testimony, all of it. Impeach him, and let the Senate decide, again, whether it was all worth it. Is he a crook? I don't know, and, quite honestly, neither do you, if we go solely on evidence, not opinion. There's only one fair and honest way to find out: a trial in the Senate following open and public testimony before the House Judiciary committee (Nadler's insanity being discounted). Maybe there's no way to really find out, but let's see how the cards deal out. Hopefully it won't affect our full steam ahead growing economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs right now. America is thriving economically, all across the economic spectrum, for now, and what an impeachment trial might do to us economically is certainly a worrisome unknown.

Using one more quote that is also contemporaneous with the previous two, also made at the beginning of what might be described as a fifty year cycle beginning in 1972 (the Watergate break-in, McGovern's debacle, the alleged end of the Vietnam war, 'Peace is at hand'), let us go to John Dean, counsel to Nixon's White House, in congressional testimony: "There is a cancer on the Presidency".

Well, where and what the current cancer is depends upon your political viewpoint. The cancer may be the man himself, it may be his business transactions, it may be his behavior. It could just as easily be the 'resisters' or the 'NeverTrumpers'. It could be either, or both, political parties. But, cancer it certainly seems to be, and as it metastasizes we become sicker as a nation and everything is threatened. The only 'cure' appears to be radical: impeachment. Will the patient (read: America) 'survive'? Chou En Lai, with another quote from 1972, said it well: "Too soon to tell". Indeed. But I think it is our only option.


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