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Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian.  Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later.  Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.

These Were No Trumped-Up Charges

It's over, and I am glad.  Being a historian is comforting:  most historians can predict what most of us will write in the future, and now we can ease up on fretting about the present.  Let me say here and now, though, that I am very confident that Donald Trump -- the only president to have been impeached twice by hundreds of members of the US House -- will rank at the bottom of every list of esteemed presidents. 


I watched the Senate trial in real time on PBS, which took breaks only when Congress did.  Unfortunately, we were allowed to see only the well of the Senate, not "jurors" such as Missouri's Senator Josh Hawley -- it wasn't until later that we learned he paid no attention and even sat with his feet on his desk.  Can you imagine any judge allowing that in a true trial?  He's appropriately named "Josh," as everything is a joke to him, including democracy. 


In contrast, I was proud of each and every one of the House managers, all of whom, of course, are elected members of that body.  I was so impressed with Lead Manager and constitutional law professor Jeremy Raskin that if I lived in the DC area, I'd find where he might be teaching and try to sit in on his classes.  The man is brilliant, and I don't say that of many people.  All nine managers clearly worked cooperatively as a team.  It was obvious that they and their staffs spent many long evenings in preparation, addressing everything that should have been addressed before taking the the podium to drive home their thoughtful, detailed, video-proven points.


Three of the nine managers were women: Madeline Dean of Pennsylvania, where the presidential vote was close; Stacy Plaskett, an African-American prosecutor from the Virgin Islands, a part of the US that we often forget; and Denver's Diana DeGette, a woman I've been following for a long time.  She was an aide to the great Representative Patricia Schroder and won that seat when Schroder retired. 

To put this aside in context, Pat was a young mother and lawyer, as well as a relative newcomer to Denver, when she ran for its congressional seat on an antiwar platform – and won, even to her own surprise.  You can read the full story of how she became the first woman on the House Armed Services Committee in my Women in American Politics, but the committee chairman was so angry about her and the first African-American man that he forced them to sit together on an overstuffed chair.  For decades after that, Pat was the leading face of feminism in Congress, and she still occasionally reaches out from her home in Celebration to help her fellow Florida Democrats.




The six male impeachment managers were an ethnic mix that demonstrates the America we are today -- despite the reluctance of many Republicans to acknowledge that.  Lead manager Raskin of Maryland has a Jewish background; in alpha order, the others are:  Joquin Castro of Texas, a Hispanic who proudly uses his mother's name; David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who had a Jewish mother and Italian father; Ted Lieu of California, who told us on TV that his parents were immigrants from Taiwan; and Joe Neguse, an African-American with recent roots in Africa, as his parents came from Eritrea.  He nonetheless managed to win a non-Denver congressional seat in Colorado. 


Finally, there's Eric Swallwell of California, who merits a paragraph of his own.  Fair-skinned and blond, he is forty years old and has a wife and child.  He was born in the heartland of Iowa – and yet seems to be the biggest rightwing target on the internet.  The very first item I saw referred to him as "a Chinese spy," and the second was a video titled "Eric Swallwell Says God is a Woman."  Remember that name; you'll probably want to write a check to him soon.


All of these people, of course, were appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and that brings me to another point.  You doubtless noticed that many of the mostly white, mostly unshaven men at the Capitol called out specifically for her capture and execution.  I heard one yell that he wanted "to put a bullet in her brain."  I was and am aghast! She is 80 years old; she has five adult children and numerous grandchildren.  These thugs are so thoroughly evil that they intend to kill grandmothers. 


And the language they used!  My mother probably wouldn't have understood the meaning of their words, but she would have shielded our ears just for "hell" and "damn."  When – and especially, why -- did it become acceptable to use the f-word and the mf-word, and a couple of b-words in public?  Every conservative who yammers about "civil discourse" should take on this issue.  Stop the locker-room talk when you hear it, and back up teachers and others whose jobs force them to deal with this level of disrespect.


But back to Nancy.  Long before she was well known, that name was used against men.  In the dinosaur brain of misogynists, calling someone "Nancy" meant that he was effeminate and therefore weak.  I'm asking you, has the real Nancy proved that a woman can be both quietly feminine and steel strong?  She courageously goes to work every day and does the job she was elected to do, despite knowing that countless crazies cheerfully would kill her.  So she motivates me every morning:  I think about how she is older than I am, and if she can carry on despite the slings and arrows of the outrageously stupid, so can I.




Turns out that traffic deaths have gone up – by a lot – during the pandemic. The increase is 24%, which is pretty significant.  Experts posit that it is because bad drivers have the roads to themselves.  Lanes are open, and so they speed, swerve, and kill themselves.  In our usual jammed traffic, we protect the dumb and reckless from themselves.


On the subject of selling that downtown school-board building with its scary Soviet-era architecture. I say let's at least consider it.  Not so much because it looks like a prison, but because I think that administrators should be closer to the educational communities they serve.  From being an HCC trustee, I know that its Davis Island headquarters provided both a physical and an ideological barrier to communication with its campuses.  At USF, contrastingly, the admin building not only is right in the middle of the big campus, but also is relatively small.  Deans and other administrators have their offices in the same buildings where classes are taught.  That seems to work better.


Speaking of buildings, the chief thing that seems to have stirred up Russian dissidents is Putin's palace on the Black Sea.  They apparently didn't notice that he and his no-longer-communist buds have taken billions to hide in Swiss banks, but this ostentatious seaside resort is another matter.  Anyway, the young objectors keep coming -- in Russia, in Ukraine, in Myanmar, and more.  And now that we have someone who is not insane at the head of American government, maybe we will once more provide a beacon for idealists.


Also on the good-news front:  I frequently communicate with my California nephew, who has been a successful entrepreneur since the time he sold his breakfast leftovers to his younger cousin – at enough profit to buy candy.  He's retired now and has taken up beekeeping.  He says they have invented a gadget that allows the honey to be slowly siphoned from the hive, so that the queen doesn't notice, the hive stays in place, and the beekeeper doesn't get stung.


Similarly, I read about an Iowa farmer who developed an electronic warning system so that sows no longer roll over and accidentally kill their piglets.  This happens more than one would think, and whether or not you eat pork, it's a good idea.  I have lots of similar ideas in my head, but I've never had the enterprise to develop them.  That takes a sales personality, of which I'm not.  But if you are, let me know.  I'll take just a small percentage of the profits.



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