Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi didn’t want a formal impeachment inquiry. For now, a majority of the country didn’t want a formal impeachment inquiry. Many Democrats, including myself, didn’t want a formal impeachment inquiry because there is a presidential election coming up in November 2020 (that’s only 13+ months away)—why complicate the issue? Besides, even if the House were to impeach Trump, the Republican majority Senate would never convict him, so it seemed just an exercise in futility. Yet, here we are about to launch into an inquiry, so the question is, how come and what next?

The “how come?” is interesting. Despite what the Constitution and the Supreme Court and the pundits may say, the president of the United States doesn’t really answer to any one, and there is no one to stop him or even rein him if he doesn’t want to be reined in. The only thing he has to worry about is his public turning on him. As long as his numbers stay strong with Republican voters, and they are enthusiastic about him, nothing else matters. He’s gotten rid of everyone in his administration or on his staff who might have said, “No” to him or even thwart his fondest desires. I think we’ve all been surprised at how easily he’s blown through the normal restraints that hold back any president. He’s in his third year and his numbers of approval and disapproval have stayed relatively constant throughout his term. He says and does things that disgust and appall many of us, yet his support numbers among Republicans don’t move an inch.

How did we get to this point? Well, I must confess that Trump is a master showman and perhaps our politics are now just another form of show business and he’s very good at it. Perhaps our politics have become so polarized that no matter what he does, his team—who pretty clearly know who he is and what he is—are going to stick with him. The same way I know that if he raised his staff and the waters of the Red Sea parted I still wouldn’t vote for the SOB.

So, the impeachment inquiry will begin and it will be pretty clear, I believe, that he held the foreign aid to Ukraine over the head of its president and tried to push him into opening a corruption inquiry for Trump’s own domestic political purposes. He and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani have said so in so many words and he now says he’s going to also release the full transcript of his phone conversation with the Ukraine president. It’s a very brazen, in-your-face defense. He says, “I did it and I have a right to do it, so tough.” I know that Washington will care, but how it will play across the country is another question. All I can say is that I hope I have a higher opinion of the country than Trump does, but Trump could be right.

•••

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (BOS) met today, Tuesday, and unanimously agreed to change the Santa Monica Mountain Plan to allow camping in environmentally sensitive habitat areas (ESHAs) in the mountains. It wasn’t any great surprise, since the mountains are in our Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s district, and since Sheila was OK with it, the rest of the supervisors went along. As is usual, they generally just rubber stamp whatever the others want in their own districts unless it’s a very controversial issue affecting more than one district. A delegation came from Malibu to speak against it but it was obvious that it was a done deal—otherwise, it never would have been on the BOS agenda. Sadly, Sheila just blew them all off and didn’t even bother to say why she thought this was a good thing; she instead accused them all of being elitist and not wanting others to use the mountains. If by that she meant we didn’t want fire pits in and among the flora and fauna of the mountains, well then she’s absolutely correct. The irony of the LA County Board of Supervisors approving camping in the mountains at the same time that the 2019-20 fire season begins didn’t seem to strike Sheila or any of the others as strange. So, be happy, because soon you’ll be able to take your s’mores and your wieners into the mountains and commune with nature while roasting them over an open fire.

•••

In another very strange and otherwise unprecedented development, a group of deputies in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who work in the East LA Sheriff’s Station have filed a lawsuit against another group of sheriff’s deputies from the same East LA Station, charging that they have a tattooed clique called the Banditos whom, they charge, have taken over the station like a gang and are harassing, threatening and bullying those who refuse to go along. Among the accusations is that the Banditos declined to provide backup for deputies they don’t like, endangering them. There are also charges of planting evidence on suspects. There seems to be ongoing personnel problems with the sheriff’s department. The new sheriff, Alex Villanueva, appears to have a very full plate, with his differences with the BOS over his controversial rehiring of some deputies who have previously been kicked off the force during the time of the prior sheriff. Locally, in a Malibu-related dispute, Malibu’s former LASD liaison Lt. Jim Royal is also suing the sheriff’s department, charging that he’s has been retaliated against for whistle blowing in connection with the sheriff’s department failure to warn the public about prior shootings and the dangers in camping in Malibu Creek State Park. It’s relatively rare to see county departments airing their dirty linen in court but it’s looking like there is more to come. 

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