The Mike Bloomberg Factor

This past week seems as bad as can be for the Democrats according to many commentators.  I say let things settle down before judging.  How many weeks of Trump have been declared terrible for him, yet look were he is.  Polls show a 49% job approval rating, his best yet.

The Democrats’ big problem is an inability to become unified while there are so many candidates offering shades of difference.  I found the Democratic debate last night tiresome.  I’ve heard all their arguments.  Personality-wise, undergirded by a solid enough resume for this crew, Amy Klobuchar impresses me most.  Her debate performances get improving reviews.  I think Dems might be able to unify behind her.  But since she remains a long shot, I’ll leave it at that for now.

I am glad Michael Bloomberg is in the picture.  If Dems don’t want him then they need to get together before the March 3 Super Primary (16 states).  If they still seem to be squabbling over issues like differences in their health care plans then Bloomberg figures to look all the better.

As old as he is, he is a fresh face in this primary process.  Also, he seems what Trump pretends to be – tough, smart and super successful.  You might think of Bloomberg as that little guy on the playground who has what it takes to slap the big bully around.

A figure who seems capable of handling the no-holds-barred Trump.  A champion to handle their bully.  It goes against a democratic sensibility, but Trump is not a normal candidate and beating him will require an unorthodox strategy.  He is lawless, and must be battled as the outlaw that he is.

I believe Bloomberg when he says he doesn’t want to splinter the Democrat party.   He just wants to beat Trump.  He and his billions will be invested in whatever he believes will work best to displace our budding dictator Don.

If it is not to be him, one of the other candidates will need to make Bloomberg believe it is him or her.

Add Mitt Romney to JFK’s “Profiles in Courage”

In the 1950’s John F. Kennedy wrote a book called Profiles in Courage telling the stories of politicians who had hurt themselves politically to make a statement or take an action that they believed to be right.  It was a small book.

I think when asked about the size, Kennedy quipped there was a shortage of material.  I just watched Mitt Romney exemplify the courage Kennedy described.  And I was, frankly, amazed.

Romney has often voiced elements of what used to be the Republican party, including a sense of integrity, but he has never really confronted the president like he did today.   So, I wasn’t expecting this.  Apparently Trump’s sins have finally become too much for Romney to tolerate.  Like the boy in the tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, he looks at Trump and finally sees “the emperor is not wearing clothes.”

He announced he would vote to convict Trump this afternoon of at least one of the two charges of his impeachment.  When all other Republican Senators have done a great job of playing hide-go-seek, with a few semi-exceptions like Lamar Alexander, Romney has just come forth to assert that, after much consideration, he believes Trump has committed an “appalling abuse of public trust” an abuse so grave that it merits being ousted from the presidency.

Senator Lamar Alexander did assert that Trump did something “inappropriate” but not sufficiently proven to deserve conviction.  He and other Republicans who fell in behind him said that they thought Trump would learn from this and not do it again.

WHO ARE THEY KIDDING, BESIDES THEMSELVES?  Trump the guy who never admits to making a mistake or doing wrong, including this whole Ukraine affair?   Why on earth would he change now, since he just got away with abusing his power without even a censure vote from the lap dog Trumpublicans in the Senate.

Romney will get endless crap from fellow Republicans for announcing the obvious truth.  Of course, Trump will still be acquitted this afternoon.  Romney knows that.  That’s why he merits a chapter in any revisions of the Kennedy book.

The Pseudo Senate Impeachment “Trial” of Trump

Always so many political events coming so fast in Trumptopia and this week the whirlwind is swirling even faster than usual.   The Democrat’s first primary in Iowa today, tomorrow Trump’s state of the union speech and then the rest of the week finishing up the details of Trump’s impeachment acquittal.

What to take away from the impeachment proceedings.   Well, first of all Trump’s acquittal in the Senate was preordained as it requires two-thirds of the Senators to convict him, something that was never going to happen given that 53 of the Senators are Republicans.

Of course “everybody” knew this, but the Dem’s were pretty much forced to impeach Trump because there was so much evidence showing his abuse of power (and obstruction of Congress) that they had to take a shot at it in the hope their charges would sway that slice of American undecided voters along with firing up their base.

Frankly, I don’t know who was swayed where, though I give praise to the House Democratic efforts as being far more persuasive than those of the Republicans.   The Democrats relied on convincing witnesses and records while the Republicans relied on procedural arguments, distortions and distractions.  Because they had little in the way of evidence to back them up.   Really, Trump did something wrong and it was obvious if you paid close attention to the proceedings.

Republican Lamar Alexander admitted as much late in the Senate “trial”.  He dismissed the arguments of the Trump team saying he was convinced that Trump abused his power regarding pressuring Ukraine to provide dirt on the Biden’s.   He called Trump’s actions “inappropriate,” but he asserted they did not rise to the level of impeachment.  He thought it best to leave that issue to Americans at the ballot box.

A clever position to be sure, but his conclusion that the charges did not reach the level of impeachment is debatable.  However, that debate has been squelched by the Republican majority.  New evidence keeps coming forth, much of it as snippets from a book by former Trump top security adviser John Bolton that contradict many of the claims of the Trump team.  Bolton has offered to testify, but the Republicans have closed down the option for any more records or testimony, so this will have to move to the court of public opinion.

More information is likely to come out (and eventually Bolton’s book), a continuing thread from the impeachment hearings that I will return to in my next post.

Trump’s Impeachment: Yesterday the House. Next Stop, the Senate

T’was the week before Christmas and all through the House the two parties argued as one might with one’s spouse……… Thank God, that’s over with.  The best news is the Senate won’t be taking up the articles until January and arguing some more, so we all get a reprieve for a few days to enjoy the holidays.

Just to be clear.  While there has been much anti-Trump sentiment (count me in), the Democrats were actually forced into impeachment mode by Trump’s regularly flouting the rule of law. The case of Ukraine finally being too much to tolerate, once the whistle blower blew the whistle on that July 25 phone call where Trump pressured the Ukraine president for a personal “favor” in exchange for military assistance (Of course Trump denies this, and I will return to the matter after Christmas).

I think the Dem’s have made a good case.  However, I have to give Trump’s minions credit for doing a great job of muddling the issue, making this all seem a matter of violating due process as opposed to whether selling out the national interest for personal political gain qualifies as a high crime.

And they probably helped Trump’s cause by dragging out the procedures through needless vote counts and repetitive accusations of how rotten the whole process was.  I say it probably helped Trump because I believe the tiresome nature of this endless hearing process will more likely be blamed on the Democrats who, one has to admit, have brought it all about.

The Republicans want us only to look at the flaws in the process and not Trump’s actual wrong doing.  If you’ve been paying attention, you know Republicans have done little to defend Trump’s actions per se, but instead incessantly attacking the impeachment process itself, its unfairness to him.

Since, except for a couple suggestions, the constitution leaves vague what might constitute a high crime, we the citizens can decide for ourselves.  I’d say one high crime for a president is to put his personal interests over that of the nation, as Trump has clearly done in regards to Ukraine.  That fits under the abuse of power article by common sense.  That abuse is a political crime not a legal one.

But the constitution does not insist on a crime in a legal sense be committed.  Even the Republicans who argue the impeachment is unfair and something the Democrats have wanted to do since the beginning of time, do not spend much time defending the president’s actions regarding Ukraine.

A few Republicans have dared to suggest it was bad judgement on Trump’s part, though not worthy of impeachment.  However, Trump has squelched that kind of talk, clinging to the notion that his July 25 phone call was “perfect”.

Actually, despite hours and hours of hearings, there has been very little defense of the president’s actions compared to attacks on the impeachment process and those who provided evidence unsupportive of the president, usually people with impeccable credentials like Maria Yovanovich, the ambassador to Ukraine who Trump removed, because she was corrupt according to Rudi Giuliani, which actually means she tried to thwart Giuliani’s corrupt efforts (another topic I will come back to later).

Finally, another article I would consider – which might just fit under the abuse of power article – is the steady dismantling and ignoring of our rule of law, and the pillars that support it, calling the press the “enemy of the people”, and labeling  our foreign service and intelligence communities, especially the FBI, members of the “deep state,” which apparently grows with each person who irritates him.

Don’t know how FBI director Chris Wray is doing, but Trump must still be stewing about his recent public statement that the FBI has no evidence that Ukraine impacted the 2016 election.   The president certainly must be contemplating a replacement, as that undermines his Ukraine conspiracy theory.

I could go on and on, but I’ll give you a break and stop now.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR….if not before.

As if the Facts Still Matter: Illuminating a Republican Lie

I watched many of the 24 hours of the House Intelligence Committee’s hearings on Trump and his pressuring the Ukraine President Zelensky to provide political dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for releasing about $400 million in military aid that Trump had held up waiting to get what he wanted.

Of course Trump backers would dismiss points that I’m making, but that’s because they are determined to find some way to shift attention from Trump’s illegal actions.  In doing so they keep trying to give legitimacy to a long debunked theory that it was Ukraine not Russia who interfered in our 2016 election.  And that Joe Biden and his son Hunter were involved in some nefarious way.

Learning from the master of false communication, the Trumpites see the value of just repeating lies over and over again.  If their words don’t convince, they often confuse, and muddling the truth has its own value when lying is your go to M. O.

One of the witnesses, Fiona Hill, a Russian expert working for former NSC director John Bolton, confronted the Republicans on the committee charging them with mouthing a conspiracy theory drummed up by Russian intelligence.  The Trumpite congressmen didn’t say much to combat the charge.  Just moved things along.

They had muddied the waters of truth, a small victory they score regularly.  (A war can be won through a lot of small victories.  In this case a war on the truth).  They want people to think there is enough validity in their Trumped up Ukraine conspiracy to become muddled on the issue.

Friday it was announced that the Senate Intelligence Committee, (a rare congressional committee that works in a bi-partisan manner),  had filed a report debunking that Ukraine fiction once again.  According to CNN:  “US intelligence officials also told lawmakers that Russia used intelligence operatives to spread now debunked conspiracies, along with established facts, to frame Ukraine for the interference in the 2016 campaign,” the official said.

In a world where facts mattered that should have been enough to dissuade Republicans to drop the cry for more Biden investigations, but far from it.  Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, while fully aware of that Senate Intelligence report, is launching another investigation under the vague rationale that if they are going to keep investigating us, we’ll investigate them, too (another part of Trump’s regular game plan.  Recall how he has also launched an investigation of the Mueller investigation – anything to cast doubt on his critics and further muddle the truth).

Graham once called Joe Biden the finest man he had ever met (or some such) and was a close friend of Senator John McCain, the Republican voice of integrity for so many years. Now he seems the complete political hack, willing to say or do whatever it takes to keep in Trump’s good graces so Graham can be re-elected.

No matter what the costs are to the integrity of the nation.

Sondland Testifies Tomorrow. And it Could get Very Interesting.

In case you aren’t aware of who Gordon Sondland is, let the Washington Post clue you in:

“A key figure in this week’s impeachment hearings will be Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. His testimony on Nov. 20 will be highly scrutinized because his account, in small and large ways, has been contradicted by testimony of many other witnesses.

Already, Sondland has provided a supplemental declaration expanding on his initial deposition, saying his memory had been “refreshed” after reading the opening statements of others.”

As more conflicting testimonies have come to the fore, Sondland has even more to explain or to suddenly “recall” more clearly.  His squirming between his previous statements and what he might now say, sure seems likely to interest.  And may illuminate………….


P. S. – If you want a detailed explanation of Sondland’s inconsistencies, go to the Washington Post.  

P. S. 2 – Just a reminder that there is another Democratic game of candidate survivor Wednesday night.   There are still ten candidates on the stage and another two new ones in the wings, figuratively, so I won’t be watching.  With that many, there is not likely much debating to break out in the midst of the food fight.

I’ll eat up the crumbs on the news to follow.

I wish the Dem leadership would stop calling all these candidates an “embarrassment of riches.”  The fact that there are so many of them suggests none of them is a great candidate, as the recent addition of two more further implies.

Thinking About Impeachment Hearings, but Can’t Forget Today’s School Massacre

Today another school shooting  – killing, murdering.  The lives of two high school kids ended, at last I heard.  I have to admit, these shootings have become so common I don’t react more strongly than I respond to a major car accident on the news, other than having a sick, sad feeling about the society I live in.  School shooting deaths have become woven into the American fabric of life.

I hear reporters say “we still don’t know what the motive was,” as if that was so important for us to know.

How about this generic template?   The murderer came to hate his life and blamed others for that and fantasized getting vengeance.   He’d show them.  However painfully puny and resentful one feels about one’s life, a gun can make you feel all powerful for a few moments at least.

I think that is what the Beatles were getting at when they sang “happiness is a warm gun.”  I say “he” because the killer is almost always a he, and white.  The most surprising thing about this tragedy is the killer is reported as Asian.

America was not always like this.  I believe the first mass killer in the U. S. was a guy who stabbed his wife and mother before climbing a tower at the University of Texas and then shooting many others, killing 14.

That was back in 1966. when such a thing was unbelievable.


P. S.  –   I do want to point out that, speaking tomorrow, is Marie Yovanovich, who served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2016 until May of this year, when she was recalled from her post. She is expected to vividly detail the shadow campaign Giuliani conducted to strong arm Ukraine into acceding to Trump’s demands for politically motivated investigations.

I expect her to be a formidable witness.   Her testimony is scheduled for 10:00, ET.