The use of the word ‘lynch’ and the impeachment of Trump vs Clinton…

October 29, 2019

I just want to point out that black people and other minorities do not own the word “lynch” or the victimhood from it. And that is not to say that they should not be uncomfortable when a white politician claims he is being “lynched” when he is asserting that he is being treated unfairly or falsely accused or railroaded. And of course lynch in that sense is being used as a metaphor.

You can look it up in the dictionary or Wikipedia or wherever and you will find that basically lynch refers to being executed without due process and usually by a mob. Its origin is not clear, except it seems to date back in this country to as early as colonial times when people were sometimes punished or even put to death without trial. At least two different persons with the last name of Lynch have been associated with the practice, called the “lynch law”.

White people can be lynched and have been of course. However, it is true I think that far more black people in this country (the USA) have suffered the fate, particulary during the time of Reconstruction after the Civil War when white southerners were re-asserting their authority and in the early part of the 20th Century. So one can see the sensitivity there.

(Just a personal aside: I recall my folks more than once telling me of the time a mob busted into the local jail in the 1930s and lynched two reportedly-confessed kidnappers in San Jose, Ca. The kidnap victim had died. The suspects were hanged from trees in a local park. They were white men.)

The latest flap — and this is already old news and maybe forgotten, even though only days old — is that President Trump and some of his supporters or lapdogs, such as the very special Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who only sometimes dares to criticize the president, have claimed that the Democrats’ move to impeach the president is a “lynching”. Well that use of the same word that was used to describe the horror inflicted upon black people brought on outrage among both blacks in general and Democrats. But whoops, those whose job it is to remember such things pulled up the fact that Democrats used the term themselves when Democratic president Bill Clinton was impeached. Clinton of course is white (even if he was sometimes referred to as the “first black president”, I guess because of good will between him and the black community; he also played a cool sax and wore sunglasses while doing it, if that had anything to do with it all).

Personally I think using the term “lynch” was a bit of unwise hyperbole. Railroaded might have been better, whether accurate as to the particular case or not. But I get a little uncomfortable when political correctness, or a form of it, disallows the use of a word.

Now the so-called N-word should be not used or avoided, except where necessary such as in Huckleberry Finn where it accurately describes how people spoke at time and where the whole essence of the story, which I think accurately portrays an era of our history, in both a comical and sad way, would be lost if a substitute or euphemism were used. Strangely it seems to be acceptable among some black people when referring to themselves among themselves — I suppose it is a form of sarcasm or sardonic expression that fights back at the oppression of racism.

But back to the double standard about using the term lynching. The same holds true in the ongoing impeachment issue. While Republicans are howling at how political it all is and how it really has nohing to do with high crimes and misdemeanors, the Democrats howled the same during the impeachment of Mr. Clinton.

(And there is the ongoing debate about the secrecy of current hearings on the possible impeachment, but I am not sure but that is the norm for the beginning stages and it looks as though the Republicans will get what they demand, open hearings, soon. They might not like what they get, though, it would seem. All that dirty laundry in public — it did not help Nixon.)

So who deserves or deserved to be impeached more? Clinton or Trump?

Well right now I have to think Trump. His flouting of norms, secret and friendly dealings with our enemies, trying to get foreign governments involved in our elections, and rude and uncivil behavior, including inciting riots and mayhem (or seemingly trying to do so) at political rallies would seem enough reason to remove him from office to me. And there certainly are more if not better reasons.

Clinton. Well I just did a quick review of his wrongdoings and actual impeachment charges and all I could really get out of it is that he lied about consensual sex play (including having oral sex performed on him) with a young female intern to avoid embarrassment and the confrontation with his wife, and providing any ammunition for a separate sexual harassment suit against him (which was dismissed but also settled out of court by Clinton). His dalliances with the intern came to light as the result of a lawsuit brought by a staffer before he was president in which he was charged with sexual harassment. He lied to the court or in depositions about the sexual encounters and suborned perjury from other witnesses too. Certainly that was bad, the lying to the court and the witness tampering. But somehow it seems he could have been fined or dealt with after his term was over. It’s a judgment call, but somehow I think the transgressions of Trump, especially his enlisting foreign governments to dig up dirt on his political opponent Joe Biden, are far worse.

(But when the news of the stain on intern Monica Lewinsky’s dress surfaced, I thought at the time Clinton should resign, if for no other reason than the damage he was doing to his party and the institution of the presidency — and now we have Trump.)

But as I have stated many times, in the end impeachment can only be successful (that is ultimate conviction and removal from office) with public support. While it is reported polling seems to support impeachment — polling was shown to be suspect in the 2016 election. Perhaps the methods used are outdated, and the public can be fickle.

While impeachment is a constitutional safeguard against abuse of power, it is also inherently political in nature — it just is. If a strong enough case can be presented against Trump then the advantage of course accrues to the Democrats. Even if he is not convicted in the currently Republican-controlled senate he could be politically weakened. But if the case is not strong enough or not presented well enough or even if the electorate just does not want to hear it, it could backfire on the Democrats. Even winning could have dire consequences. I mean Mike Pence as a president? I heard his interview on the PBS Newshour last night. I will say he knows his lines, but I did not find him credible. He often did not directly answer questions. I found his demeanor chilling. Still I imagine as president he would handle things in a more conventional and even civil way. He could be his own man, whatever that might be.

As has been noted by many, if President Obama had exhibited anything like the rude and crass and downright uncivil behavior of Trump, there would be true outrage across the land.

Trump calls people vile names, threatens reporters, and calls anyone who does not follow his ever-changing or incoherent policy notions anti-American.

Trump promised to “make America great again”.

I’d settle for making America civil again.


Prediction: Trump just won re-election (caution; I’m not good at fortune telling)…

October 27, 2019

Keeping in mind that my score on political predictions is something like 0 for whatever I have predicted, I nonetheless stick my neck out and predict Donald Trump will win re-election to the presidency of the United States.

And I am not and never could be a Trump supporter.

But I just watched his Sunday announcement on TV (via internet of course) about the tracking down and execution of an ISIS leader and his cohorts. Regardless of the veracity of all he said, unless something comes along to spoil the news, with this one announcement Trump may have well sealed his victory a year ahead of time. The announcement was unusually well delivered (someone wrote a good speech I think). Yes it did include some Trumpian overreach and a little too much emphasis on fighting violence with violence, but that made it sound all the more authentic from the president we have come to expect anything from.

If Trump can keep himself from needlessly making enemies by calling anyone who disputes or questions anything he might do scum, it seems to me he has achieved somewhat of a political coups. But of course the man is somewhat his own worst enemy.

I have heard little from any of the Democratic party presidential candidates on foreign policy or at least nothing that sounds much different from same old same old. Tulsi Gabbard has said some things a little different, and she is a war veteran. So has Pete Buttigieg, also a war veteran (his remarks I heard just today seem pretty much conventional). I guess Joe Biden has said some things in reaction to Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds in Syria. I’m not blaming the Democrats. They have rightly been concentrating on domestic issues so far. But they will have to face up to foreign affairs. Their party has certainly had its share in creating the messes we are in or not handling them so well at times (there is blame to go around between the two major parties).

Again, if Trump can keep from alienating fence sitters, I doubt the Democrats can beat him, well as long as the domestic economy seems to be holding.

And I emphasize, I am not and never could be a Trump supporter.

At the least, this should be a wake-up call to the Democratic presidential field.

I seem to recall that George W. Bush probably helped himself greatly in his re-election by the capture of Saddam Hussein. And of course Barrack Obama’s administration directed the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, and Obama won a second term.

Ok, I’ve written enough. And although I predict, I’m not betting money.

p.s.

If I were advising Trump, I would also tell him to comply with the impeachment inquiry but otherwise ignore it. Don’t act guilty.

 


PG&E seems to have put profit over safety and service…

October 27, 2019

I live in PG&E country but thankfully I don’t get my electricity from the utility. Mine comes from the one run by the city in which I live, so, so far, I have not suffered any intentional blackouts or power shutoffs as nearly a million folks have by the actions of PG&E.

(I do receive natural gas service from PG&E, and no problems so far.)

To be fair, PG&E is in a tough spot in that apparently due in part to climate change wildland fires are increasing in number and intensity. Last year a fire tornado blew though part of my town and the surroundings. That fire was caused by a spark from a vehicle with a tire blowout — the rim scraping against pavement.

But also last year, sparks from a PG&E line resulted in a fire that burned the town of Paradise, east of Chico, Ca., to the ground and displaced thousands of people and resulted in death and huge destruction. And the utility was reportedly responsible for as many as 20 major fires in the last several years.

Things, accidents, happen. But it has been reported that PG&E neglected maintenance for decades. I mean maybe some maintenance is a judgment call — cost vs benefit or at what intervals and so on. But one would think safety and customer service should come first. It seems, rather, PG&E thought of its stockholders and its own high-paid executives first. And that may be a problem with a public utility being run as a for-profit enterprise, as is PG&E. Capitalism is a great economic system. However, it always gives priority to profit. In most instances that is a benefit in that you tend to make a profit when you supply things people need or demand and in an efficient manner. But when it comes to public safety, sometimes the need for safety takes a back seat — can you say Boeing 737 Max? Stockholders want short-term gain and often do not look into the future.

While PG&E neglected some maintenance, it gave its executives lavish bonuses. But amid all this it declared bankruptcy — and for the second time in a decade. Is this any way to run a railroad? I mean a utility.

Oh, and PG&E also was responsible for a devastating fire in the San Francisco Bay area several years ago from the rupture of an old and worn out natural gas line.

In order to head off electrical line-sparked wildfires this year, so it says, PG&E is purposely shutting off power to thousands (almost a million) of customers when wind and other weather conditions threaten. Well perhaps that is a good idea. But one has to wonder if it is not some sort of revenge and even blackmail against the public as the result of lawsuits it has lost over the fires and its being forced into bankruptcy. When the public experiences the power the power company still has to make its life miserable, it (and the courts) might go easier on the utility.

There is a move to gather a bunch of municipalities to do a hostile takeover of PG&E and run it as a not-for-profit (but for service) public utility. Whether that is feasible is up for debate.

Personally I am not automatically against PG&E, but the reports I see seem to indicate some who are running it had their priorities wrong. But then if you are an executive and you have to decide how much maintenance is needed and at what intervals, you also have to keep in mind that your stockholders expect dividends and if you cannot make that happen, there goes your job and your big salary.

PG&E’s current CEO is reported to have a salary of $2.5 million. But meanwhile with all the lawsuits and liabilities from the wildfires, the utilities stock is in free fall. Seems like the shareholders are not getting their money’s worth. Neither is the public.

Again, to be fair, climate change may have fooled the experts.

But the evidence from PG&E itself seems to indicate that PG&E did willfully neglect maintenance.

It did not help that recently some PG&E big shots threw themselves a party in one of the very areas subject to a blackout. The guy who had that idea was fired, as he should have been.

Anyway, I’m glad my city provides my electricity. Good service too.

p.s.

There is a call for putting most electrical transmission lines underground. How practical that would be and how costly I have no idea. I have a major transmission line right in back of my living quarters. While I have heard that it could cause health hazards (apart from fires), what is one to do? Power lines, cell signals, radiation of some kind is all around. We can’t close off every threat of modern life but we should put public safety over profits I would think.


Abolish or adjust electoral college, vote for a moderate…

October 22, 2019

What we have been facing in the United States for going on four years is a dictatorship of the minority in the name of Donald Trump.

He apparently quite legally won the presidency while decisively losing the popular vote by, I guess they call it, running the board in the electoral college, a quirk in our constitution.

(Hillary Clinton received about 3 million more votes than Trump, but Donald Trump bested her with 304 electoral votes to Clinton’s 227.)

Trump and his campaign officials have to get some credit for that. Even if the Russians had a hand in it by injecting propaganda via false accounts on the internet, he still won legally. One can hardly claim an election is not legal because some skulduggery took place in the promotion of a candidate. Now if actual votes were tampered with that of course is a totally different matter.

And here’s something, all that urging folks to get out and vote has its consequences. They may be misinformed or ignorant, naturally so or simply by choice. Their votes count the same, or maybe not. When the votes are clustered geographically they can create a win in the winner-take-all state-by-state vote for electors in the electoral college.

I think the electoral college needs to be rethought. It might take a constitutional amendment or simply states on their own to adjust how votes are counted. They could decide that electors apportion the votes based on the popular vote.

I won’t waste time here listing the ills of Trump. If you can’t see that he is clueless, if maybe full of dumb luck at times, then anything I write will not likely convince you otherwise.

But I for one think the alternative to Trump ought to be a return to bipartisanship and a return to normalcy.

But the candidate and president who used that return to normalcy slogan was Republican Warren G. Harding. It was in his administration that the Teapot Dome scandal occured. It involved improper or illegal leasing of government military oil reserves. Fortunately for Harding, one could say, he died in office before that scandal and several others came to light.

Normalcy or normality in Washington probably always includes a little scandal. Even the pios Jimmy Carter suffered from it. Remember his banker friend Bert Lance.

What we don’t need are extremes. I’d prefer a moderate. Think Amy Klobuchar. Think Pete Buttigieg (well moderate in politics).

If Donald Trump wins reection after all the misbehavior and antics and the selling our allies down the river in favor of our enemies or rivals, the Democratic Party will have some soul searching to do.

This time around it might concentrate on appealling to the masses rather than the concentrated wealth. The high rollers will be quite capable of taking care of themselves, and I do not begrudge them for it.

On that last point, I tend to believe a weath tax is not a sound concept. Punishing anyone for being wise with their money is unfair and would tend to discourage the accumulation of capital that is needed for investment to keep the economy going. Even if an heir sits on his money and is idle, it likely is earning interest from an institution or institutions that in turn use that capital to loan out in investment.

Ok, economics and finance is not my suit, but I think I have that correct.

p.s.

I realize that not everyone’s idea of a return to the normal is the same. Trump supporters seemed to be calling for a return to normal by proclaiming the slogan “make America great again”. The idea I suppose was to preserve what had been the status quo in society but was being chipped away at by changes coming under the heading of civil rights and gender rights and equality. Or it could be it was just an empty saying or at least not clearly defined. I think it probably was jingoism. The Democrats can only wish they had come up with a jingle as effective.

If Trump or his advisors think Trump’s name has been tarnished they could take a clue from the Richard Nixon playbook. His name had been sullied so he won reelection in a landslide by avoiding his own name and simply calling for voters to “reelect the president”.


Maybe Trump should have been president during Vietnam…

October 20, 2019

President trump should be impeached but not necessaily removed from office, the people can take care of that in the election of 2020. Or not.

It is concerning that someone such as he who exibits some traits of a mad man or at least a spoiled child and a bully has the power of launching a nuclear attack unilatterally. But perhaps he is not so inclined to war, and that may be his one good trait.

It seemed odd that he just suddenly threw the Kurds, who have done the heavy lifting for the U.S., fighting the ISIS terrorist forces, to the wolves, or I should say their enemies the Turks, and is withdrawing from Syria…but adding troops to Saudi Arabia. But his view that we should extricate ourselves from the mid east wars seems, in general, good.

But I have to ask why is he just now doing this?

And I have to ask why is he betraying our Kurdish allies and our own soldiers and ceding all to the dictator in Turkey, the dictator in Syria, and the dictator in Russia? Oh, and the ayatollah in Iran.

The big one is Russia. It was our arch enemy the Soviet Union but now as Russia it seems just as big of an enemy, except Trump has a man crush on Putin of Russia.

I still wonder if Trump is the Manchurian candidate. Seriously.

But save for the danger that Trump will go completely off the rails and order a nuclear strike (and against who?), the most practical and legitimate way to remove Trump is by election.

The U.S. is in a difficult position in that we are a super power but not like the powers of old which sought to own and rule the world. But I guess power can atrophy if not used from time to time.

The devil is figuring out when and how.

Too bad, though, Trump was not president, say in 1968 or before. President Johnson knew Vietnam was hopeless but ironically pushed us deeper and deeper into the deadly morass. Nixon came along with the “secret plan” to end the war. There was no plan or it did not work, except to get him elected. Thousands more American lives were sacrificed in order that Nixon might save face. Eventually almost 60,000 American soldiers died in a war in which no one quite knew the point of.

After a decade of fighting pointless battles we just up and quit and pulled up stakes and left with desperate South Vietnamese hanging onto helipcopter skids lest the communist forces grab them. It was not the old-time kind of war that could be clearly won or lost, well except we lost by default. We quit.

Trump, who just does things on a whim and without conscience might have just abruptly ended U.S. involvement and saved lives.

I think that the notion that “we have to fight them over there before they come over here” is something between absurd and impractical.

We have to choose our battles and have a clear purpose. Fighting in Vietnam or fighting in Syria is not fighting for your country, directly anyway. It’s more like fighting for Dow Chemical and the whole military industrial complex that profits from endless war.

(While not honorable, Trump made a wise decision by evading the Vietnam draft.)

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Note: I’m down to using my phone for posting this, my laptop being at least tempoarily out of commision. And I am not a two-thumb texter. The advantage is that it makes me be a little less wordy and hopefully more concise.


New foreign policy: U.S. only supports those who helped it in World War 2 …

October 10, 2019

On it’s face President Trump’s “bizarre” assertion, as it is being called, that the Kurds did not help us in World War II means that we can abandon them as an ally now even though they helped us fight ISIS is unfathomable. It’s like some weird non sequitur.

First of all, if that is the measure of who we keep faith with then I guess we better drop relations with Japan and Germany. They were definitely not on our side in World War II. Spain under the dictator Franco was officially neutral but partial to our enemy Germany, so drop that nation as an ally too. And so on. I mean World War II ended more than 70 years ago — a lot has changed since then.

Trump adds that “they (the Kurds) are fighting for their land”. Since when is that a bad thing? What has that got to do with the fact that the Kurds have backed up the U.S. in fighting ISIS is Syria? At a whim, Trump has decided to abandon the Kurds and leave them to their enemy the Turks.

Now the assertion by Trump that we (the U.S.) have been in the Middle East too long and we need to finally say enough is enough may indeed have some merit. So what has he been waiting for these past almost three years? One wonders if he did not make his rash move, that has even provoked objection from his reliable Republican sycophants, as a distraction from the impeachment mess he has gotten himself into.

While I am relatively sure Trump has no sense of history whatsoever, I have to admit I need to read up on the history of the Kurds (who do not have an actual nation state of their own) — but even if I become an expert (which I will not) it still has little to nothing to do with what our policy ought to be toward the Kurds who have shed blood for us in fighting Muslim extremists who have directly and indirectly threatened the United States.

The Turkish government has a beef with the Kurds because of their quest for an autonomous state that would encroach upon Turkey. And now that Trump has pulled U.S. troops out of Syria Turkish forces are attacking the Kurds. Trump has said that they should not do that but of course he had to know that they would, and I would imagine he can’t do a thing about it.

Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds puts the whole world on notice that the word of the U.S. means nothing. That’s going to be a problem when we need backup. And we will.

I’ll be interested to see how this plays out and, yes, do some research on the Kurds.

On the other hand, scaling back our far-flung wars that seem to go on and on — George W. Bush I think said something to the effect that the war on terror, as he called it, would be endless — sounds better than endless war.

But there has to be order and sound policy and we should not ruin our honor and good name in the world, that is what’s left after almost three years of Trump.

It may be that as a certified rich boy draft dodger for Viet Nam (fake medical diagnosis) he is ashamed to face parents of those killed in our foreign wars now. He said in a speech he saw the pain in their eyes.

So calling off our wars might be the one good thing he could do.

Meanwhile, though, he is leaving our foreign policy in a shambles. And with all that is going on in the current impeachment process, that he has for the most part created himself by his flagrant disregard for norms of behavior and laws, we are in a constitutional crisis.`Well as far as foreign policy goes, there seems to be none, except what the grand master tweets each day or night or spouts off the cuff. The impeachment thing is basically political because impeachment is a political tool essentially that the framers inserted into the constitution to balance power between the legislative and executive, as well as judicial branch of government. It is also a protection against a president who simply runs amok.

But it will only be successful if the majority of the American people seem to support it, as it should be. Polls now seem to indicate they do. And of course impeachment is a confusing word because it conjures up removal, but that can only happen if the congress votes to impeach and then the president (or whoever is being impeached) is found guilty in a trial by the senate, which up until now has seemed unlikely what with Republican control and Republicans here to now being afraid to speak out against the president (they are not brave people most of them it seems).

I continue to like the sound of pulling back our forces. On the other hand what is the purpose of our forces if they cannot be used? We are supposed to be a world power. We will cease to be if we are seen as unwilling to use force to back up our policies.

It is always a dilemma. It calls for brave and wise leadership. We have not had that in some time, even though Trump proclaims himself to be that.

p.s.

Hillary Clinton and/or her supporters and even her opponents seem to be dropping hints or suggesting outright that she might run again. I’m not sure that is such a good idea.