Bloomberg vs. Bernie et al: A Dem Debate Worth Watching?

I have seen much of most of the Democratic primary “debates,” which have largely been a yawn, a game of survivor cutting down the dozens in the field to a more manageable number.   As I said in my last post, zillionaire Michael Bloomberg’s investment of about half a billion dollars into an ad campaign has rocketed the late entrant into contention with Bernie for the lead, though there are still signs of life in others who I’m sure you’re familiar with.

Wednesday’s verbal battle should be more interesting than the previous ones, as it has different dimensions and higher stakes.  I’d say all of the participants have some kind of chance to get the nomination for this one reason.  If Bloomberg believes another candidate has a better chance to beat Trump, he could supply all the money needed to whomever he chooses.

While the main event seems likely to be Bernie vs. Bloomberg, the other candidates will get in their own punches to stand out, in that they also will criticize Bloomberg’s leap frogging the election process.  However, they do not want to make him an enemy as perhaps his wealth could smile on their chances down the line.

His throwing lots of dough Bernie’s way is hard to imagine, since Bernie’s main theme regarding Bloomberg is you shouldn’t be able to buy an election.  That would certainly be an odd combination, but I imagine Bernie would be able to rationalize it.  How else would they get the ton of money Trump has already raised?

And beating Trump should be the absolute priority.

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.

A Quick Look at Iran Before Trump’s Senate Trial Begins

We seemed close to a major military confrontation with Iran less that two weeks ago.  With the Senate impeachment trial about to start, that Iran news seems like a distant memory.  Whatever is the latest Trump act or outrageous comment takes up most of the media mind space, leaving everything else almost forgotten.

Let’s not forget how close we came to war.   When Trump ordered the killing of Iran’s chief General Suleimani  – to show his supporters and Iran his toughness –  he left our fate in the hands of Iran or just plain luck to decide.   Suleimani’s death – which incited millions of mourners in Iran – was definitely going to prompt a reaction from Iran’s government.  That such an act was likely to produce grave unintended consequences is what restrained previous presidents from killing the general.

The question was how provocative would Iran’s response be.  It had to be like the three bears – not too hot, not to cold, but just right.  Just right being for Iran to protect its honor without provoking Trump to escalate, something neither side seemed to want.  A tricky matter, though.

Iran fired missiles at Iraq near a U. S. army base which in retrospect seemed intended to make a show of strength rather than kill anyone, as Iran sent warnings ahead of time to Iraq.  No one died, so Trump lucked out, but certainly some could have died.  American troops were close enough to suffer concussions, as later reports revealed in 12 cases.

If even one American had died from Iran’s missile attack, what would Trump have done?  What would Trump’s tough guy self-image have demanded he do?  And what kind of escalation might have evolved?

When an American military contractor was killed several weeks ago, Trump ordered an attack on Iranian militia which killed about 25 Iranians.  What show of force would Trump feel compelled to reciprocate for more American deaths from the missile attack?  How many Americans would have had to die to produce a major escalation?  What if 20 had been killed?  That would seem to get us within a hair’s breath of war.  There is no telling.

In short, Trump was lucky and we were lucky, but it does not deny the fact his decision to take out Suleimani was reckless.   His ordering a bad man to be executed while lucking out that Iran managed just the right response so as not to prompt escalation (at least not immediately) undoubtedly pleased his followers.

But how long will we be lucky enough to survive Trump’s impetuous, ad hoc, foreign policy?  While Trump will be charged in the Senate trial with other crimes against the nation, his herky-jerky foreign policy may produce the biggest threat to us all.

Something not to be forgotten.

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.

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.