Could Sanders win as Trump did? by offering something really different…

February 23, 2020

To quote from a popular song from some decades ago:

Amie, what you wanna do?
I think I could stay with you
for a while… (song written by Craig Fuller, recorded by Pure Prairie League, 1975)

In a recent post I said I was all in for Amy Klobuchar in the Democratic primary. It’s still way early but currently fresh off a major win in the Nevada caucus, Bernie Sanders, that old socialist from Vermont, has surged to a clear lead in the pack.

The big surprise to pundits (and me too) is that polling suggests that Sanders’ appeal goes beyond a dedicated base.

But maybe it should not be a surprise. In 2016, a lot of folks were just plain tired of the same old, same old in presidential politics and voted for Donald Trump — not a majority as we all know, but enough to allow him to slide in via the Electoral College. And they got what they wanted: not the same old, same old.

And before I go further with the thought, let me get back to Amy. I saw her as a softer, moderating force at neither extreme of the left, right continuum, one who could appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. She could bring back a sense of stability and civility.

But you have to be able to win to do that. Still time, but Bernie is on a roll.

And now back to the original thought: Trump is anti-establishment and some form of a populist of the right (even though he does not fit into what I would normally think of conservatism). In my reading of history, populists were formerly seen as a phenomenon of the political left (they wanted to break out of the status quo). But Trump came along and called for a rejection of the status quo in the Republican Party and its conservative base, which maybe seemed like too much of a club in cahoots with the opposing party (they were all in it just to keep their cozy jobs by fooling the public). Trump had not been a politician and through the years he had identified with both liberal and conservative causes or issues. He was and is an opportunist, doing things primarily that appeal to his own vanity or narcissistic tendencies.

The phenomenon noticed in the last presidential election was that even though Sanders and Trump seemed to be, or were, identified as being on the opposite side of the political spectrum, they both engendered appeal among some of the same demographic, often identified as white working class and disaffected voters (ones who felt the Democrats had abandoned them after for so many years of at least claiming to represent them).

But Sanders’ appeal, then, and apparently now, seems to go beyond all that. For one thing, even though he is 78, he appeals to young people, who see the world far differently than their parents or grandparents. For many, the idea of upward mobility is hard to conjure up. Stability in the work place for most is all but a relic of the past. Affordable housing is a thing of the past. And one can have somewhat affordable health care if he or she is fortunate enough to have a job that provides a group plan — but more and more young people find themselves in jobs that do not. Many are in the gig economy, even with higher education. And they are paying off exorbitant student debt. They work as essentially independent contractors — independent of benefits and stability.

And another thing: young people tend to be more concerned about climate change. They want to have a future on this planet. Sanders is among those who are pushing for a stronger emphasis on the environment.

The old fashioned political right has sided with Trump, even though Trump is really apolitical I think. Much of the left is with Sanders.

Personally I would be more comfortable with someone in the middle.

I suspect that in the end, that is next November, voter turnout will be the key. A large turnout would augur well for, say Sanders, if he wins the nomination, of course. A low turnout means four more years of Trump.

Would Sanders turn us into a European social democracy? There could probably be worse fates, but I don’t see that anyway. Unless he had both houses of congress, he would be fairly constrained.

Meanwhile, of course, billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the election with his own money. But when I saw him on the debate stage, I saw a man who looked like he was having a hard time suffering common folks. He might be able to buy silence from harassed women employees, but not the votes needed to become president (if I am wrong about that, well there goes our democracy).

Former vice president Joe Biden did come out second in Nevada, so don’t count him out, except, while Bernie got 10 more delegates to the national convention out of Nevada, winning 46 percent of the caucus votes, everyone else, including Biden, got 0 out of it (yeah, I don’t know how all that works either).


The current delegate count from the three primary elections so far:

Bernie Sanders: 31; Pete Buttigieg: 22; Elizabeth Warren: 8; Amy Klobuchar: 7; Joe Biden: 6.


Elizabeth Warren is in there fighting. Way back, a Republican and a conservative, she has become a firebrand of the left. And she has a plan for everything. And she is quick witted and fast on her feet. And that is all I can say about her at this time.

And of course there is Pete Buttigieg, who I always feel compelled to mention is gay. I mean that has to be figured in when calculating electability. But times have changed and a high voter turnout could help him if he were nominated. He is one of the most articulate and reasonable sounding and moderate candidates out there.

No doubt, though, Bernie is on a roll. Nothing enables a candidate to win more than winning.

So, Amy was clear down in 5th place. Some political observers say she and some of the others ought to drop out for the good of the party, leaving maybe one strong center candidate to beat the lefty Sanders, who could then go on to beat Trump.

Amy, what you wanna do?


Socialism is the wrong path, but Trump ousting is the right path…

February 13, 2020

Right now I’m all in for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and I am glad to see she picked up the pace and came out among the top three in New Hampshire, at no. 3. And I am not at all unhappy that former vice president and king of gaffes Joe Biden took a drubbing and that Massachusetts Sen. and American native wannabe Elizabeth Warren is faltering — which is not to say that I would not eagerly vote for either one — anyone to beat Trump.

President Donald Trump, with the help of his senate lackeys, is destroying our democracy and even the notion that there is something called “truth”. He seems to think it is in his power to choose whether to follow the law and the constitution. More than his policies, it is his attitude and his boorishness that concerns me. There really is a place and need for manners and decorum in a civilized society. And the truth thing. While making a false or misleading statement here and there or exaggerating is the stuff of politics, Trump has shown a willingness just to lie and stick with that lie as long as it serves him or to even change his story in midstream if that seems to serve him. He has conditioned followers to simply believe that he is somehow their only protection and that truth really has no relevance anyway.

But what really concerns me is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders being considered the front runner in the Democratic Party. I have a hard time getting my head around the concept that an avowed socialist can win the presidency in the United States of America.

(A November matchup between Sanders and Trump might resemble McGovern vs. Nixon in 1972 — people sympathized with McGovern’s anti-Vietnam War message but in the end they just could not vote for him — he of course lost in a landslide, only winning one state, and not even his own).

There is a difference between social programs, which can do good, and socialism. I think Sanders considers himself something like a European socialist and that he would love to see a Scandinavian-style social democracy. But I think our constitutional format and our history does not fit into that.

There are different types of socialism models. There is European social democracy at one end and communism at the other. They are not the same of course. However they do have something in common. The good of the people is supposedly at the center. Well that sounds fair — but the people are represented by the “state”. And there you go, it is you the individual against the state or visa versa.

To the extent that the United States leads the world, it is because of individualism and the freedom that allows individuals to move ahead with new ideas and ways of doing things that make life better for all.

It may well be that in some places, Europe for instance, and in third-world nations, it is necessary for the state to take a more active role in protecting people because there is little room for individuals to advance, especially if they are not from wealth or the landed aristocracy.

To an extent we have that problem in the United States, so, yes, we do have social programs to address that. But our nation developed with the spirit, if not always the reality, that you could move west young man and strike out on your own. Yes, the frontier is settled, but we still have that frame of mind.

What do I know about it? Not more than you the reader, perhaps. But I do have an undergranduate degree in political science. But it so happens I am an over-the-road truck driver. So using that experience here is my take on socialism vs. capitalism:

Socialism –A driver goes to a warehouse where the employees are union members to unload his trailer. It’s 15 minutes before lunch. The forklift driver decides, too close to lunch to start now and just sits idle for that time. And he might have even had a recent 10- or 15-minute rest break, maybe not more than an hour previous.

Capitalism: On the other hand, a driver goes to a non-union warehouse. The forklift driver with only 15 minutes to lunch at least gets 15 minutes of work done, because, well that’s his (or her) job, and besides he might want to impress the boss, and beyond that he knows somewhere in his mind that if it were not for the business of the trucks coming in and out he would not have a job, that’s our non-socialist capitalist system. And maybe, get this, in a non-union warehouse they might even split lunch breaks so not everyone is at lunch at the same time (although I don’t see that much in real life).

But back to Sanders and socialism: free health care for all. Pay everyone’s student debt and free college for all. Except in reality nothing in this world is free. Someone will pay. Usually it is those who are diligent in their work and prudent with their money.

One thing that bothers me about free college for all is that we have already dumbed down our colleges and universities with students taking remedial English and math courses (not sure what happened in grade school and high school). Back in the day those students were not considered college material or they were offered community college to catch up. And, yes, I would support free (to the student) or almost free community college. They are great. They serve as both trade schools and prep for higher education and a combination of the two. Oh, and I realize free is not free, but they are a good investment for taxpayers.

But on the other hand, we can hardly afford to pay for everyone’s degree for a four-year college or more, nor should we. Not everyone is up to going the route of higher education or at least what higher education ought to be. And a good thing that is true. How would anything get built or repaired or moved or cleaned? And that is not put down. Skilled work, needed work, can command good pay. And although I a paragraph or so previous put unions in a bad light — they have their purpose for looking out for the interests of workers (although some just look after the interests of crooked union leadership).

One problem may be that the upper echelon of education has become a kind of trade school. It’s mostly about how much money one can make (not that making money is not important) and a lot less about understanding and appreciating the world and its history and various cultures and having an appreciation for all of those who make up our society.

We now have a president in office who on paper I guess is college educated but who seems to be lacking an educated world view beyond his desire to be seen as the most powerful man on the planet. The worst part of it is that he seems to have no notion of the rule of law — something he might have learned in college. It is something that separates true western democracies from other forms of government.

The president of the United States by virtue of his office and the reality of America’s position in the world power structure is the most powerful man in the world and, really, even with our constitution, there is not much to stop him from becoming a dictator but the rule of law. But the rule of law only really has its power as long as all in the government believe in it. We do not have a system with military coups.

People within the government (and elsewhere), the president included, have to agree with each other on one thing, the rule of law. President Richard Nixon refused to hand over his what turned out to be incriminating tapes, at first, but the Supreme Court ordered him to do so. And he did, with still some resistance. But what if he said no? There would have been no mechanism or practical way to make him. In the end it was that unwritten agreement to follow the rule of law.

I’m not at all sure that Trump in the same situation would break down and follow that rule. He would more likely just declare unilaterally that any court order was unfair or illegal and refuse. He of course did refuse to work with congress in the recent impeachment proceedings and ordered his administration officials not to as well.

He was advised not to on his own order the assassination of another nation’s (which we were not at war with) general, but he did so. Even if most agree, despite the questionable legality, it was probably a good thing because of the man’s role in terror and supplying weaponry that ended up killing Americans, still it is a president acting seemingly outside the rule of law.

A better example is that Trump has managed via tweet to overrule the Justice Department and get a lighter proposed sentence than originally suggested by prosecutors for a former associate convicted on federal charges. If all involved believed in the rule of law, that would not happen. But what is the remedy here? It’s that people follow the rule of law. But if they choose not to, all is lost.

Trump has also called for military discipline against an impeachment witness who testified against him. That’s almost like witness tampering after the fact.

Trump probably would not get away with anything if he did not have the protection of his enablers in the Republican senate majority.

Moving on:

Then there is second-place currently in the just beginning Democratic presidential primary race Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. Finally some commentators are acknowledging that rightly or wrongly his problem is that he is gay, gay not as in happy as it meant when I was younger, but gay as in, he is homosexual, and he is married to a man. This will be mentioned a lot by his Republican opposition (and Democratic too?) throughout the campaign, directly or indirectly. I’d likely vote for him against Trump, even so. How many others would? Not enough, I imagine.

And finally, lots of glowing things said about Klobuchar, even a highly laudatory opinion piece on her in the Wall Street Journal. But why does everyone say how great she is and proclaim that surely she will be on the Democratic ticket — as the “vice president”? Why not president? I mean isn’t that the office she is running for?

As the legendary FDR vice president John Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner once said: the vice presidency is “not worth a warm bucket of piss”. Hell, just ask Mike Pence. It has to be tough when your only real job is to look glowingly at the president and act as his unthinking puppet as if you are made out of wood. Yes, he can break a tie in the senate too. And that is not to be scoffed at, I admit.

(I know Pence has a mind of his own, though. I’ve heard him. That is what scares me.)

Well, sometimes by accident or tragedy of course the VP becomes president and in recent years vice presidents have been given more duties and stature — but still. I mean what an insult to say you are qualified to be vice president (not president?).

Another reason I like Klobuchar is age. I’m 70, she is 59. I’m holding my own, but I am not president with the weight and fate of the whole world on my shoulders — we need younger blood folks. But not too young (Buttigieg is only 38).


Others considered, this president did…

January 5, 2020

The U.S. has been at odds with Iran for four decades, ever since the hostage crisis. Since then Iran has been a sponsor of terror and a supplier of deadly munitions, most notably roadside bombs, that killed and wounded thousands of American soldiers in the Middle East fighting what I will just put under the general heading of “the war on terror”.

I would be among the first to criticize and in fact distrust our current president. He has a terrible record for honesty and world knowledge (he confesses he hates to read). But let’s look at two responses:

Beginning in November of 1979, 52 American citizens were held hostage in Iran. They were held for 444 days. President Jimmy Carter spent much of that time in self-exile in the White House rose garden. About half way through their captivity there was a failed rescue attempt by the U.S. military. The hostages were not released until Carter lost re-election and Ronald Reagan took office (some claim Reagan made a secret deal with Iran, arms for hostages — don’t know about that one). So that’s the way one president, Carter, handled things with Iran.

Recently Iran has stepped up its program of inciting and supporting militias and other forces to attack U.S. forces in the Middle East and most recently orchestrated a demonstration and attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

While it is reported several administrations considered taking out Iran’s Gen. Qassim Suleimani, purported to be the master mind of terror and military actions outside Iran’s borders, the other presidents and their administrations apparently did not want to push the envelope, fearing the break out of all-out war with Iran or starting something they could not finish.

President Donald Trump decided to strike a target of opportunity. The General was in a vehicle at or near Baghdad Airport in Iraq. An American drone obliterated it with the general inside. Other personnel (as far as I know, all military or military related, some in other vehicles as I understand) were killed as well.

President Barack Obama ordered a lot of drone strikes against terrorists. In many, non-combatants were killed along with the bad guys. Have not heard of any collateral damage in this one.

So anyway, one president took action in the case of the general, while the others passed.

That is not to say that it was the right action or if it was prudent. Time may tell. He made a decision.

Was it legal? Well, it seems as if others considered it so, but passed on other grounds.

While I think it could be called an act of war by the U.S., so is all the support Iran has given to forces against the U.S.

Congress often objects that its war powers set forth in the constitution are being circumvented when a president takes military action without consulting it. But it is congress who over the years has let its war powers erode and who has given them over to the executive for fear of taking responsibility itself.

Someone or some body has to carry the burden of deciding how and when we go to war or if we go at all. Power abhors a vacuum.

Also, in an ongoing situation it is highly impractical to make tactical decisions by committee.

Still, it is up to congress to stand up and do something concerning its constitutional duties.

The president contends that there was an imminent threat and therefore the killing of the general purportedly planning specific attacks against U.S. soldiers was necessary. Others suggest the general was simply an ongoing threat with his actions.

(Ironically the president heretofore has expressed no confidence in the U.S. intelligence gathering apparatus.)

If the argument is that the president does not have the authority to direct forces in the Middle East, one wonders what they are doing there. Is it not congress who has authorized the funding for those forces?

There certainly is an ongoing dispute involving war powers and has been since Vietnam. But I suspect congress over the years has found it more politically convenient to pass the buck to the executive so that it can have cover if something goes wrong or the fickle fate of public opinion turns against it.

Meanwhile, presidents will do what they think needs to be done at the time.

There is the existential threat of a rogue president going too far, and although on a slightly different subject, that is being dealt with now in the impeachment of the president by congress (now awaiting for senate action). Exactly how this fits in or what its effect is, don’t know.

I just think that the congress, both houses, need to think more on overall war policy, rather than just passing it off to the president or even smugly saying “we stand by the president”.

There was a little ripple when the president pulled some troops out of Syria, unilatterlly changing previous policy there, and there needs to be more of that.

And I do think the president should have consulted with or notified key members of congress (from both parties, both houses) before the drone attack in question. He did not.

Right now there is a lot of hand wringing because Iran is threatening to take revenge. I don’t want to see war, and I hope there can be a peaceful resolution to our differences. But for one thing, Iran needs to quit shooting at us or having others do it. And if we are afraid of Iran, we are in worse shape than I thought.

It does look as if the president, though, has gone out on a limb on this one. But if he can get out without sawing himself off, geez, another four years maybe.

Time for Democrats to show their own hands on foreign policy.

p.s.

It’s always so complex when dealing with the Middle East. Some reports say young people, especially, in Iraq actually are against Iran’s influence in that country. Young people there are said to be on the side of the U.S. But you know, we tried nation building there and all we got was death of our own soldiers. Maybe we need to leave the Middle East to the Middle easterners.


In my previous post on the killing of the Iranian general I wrote that the president needs to address the American people. Since then, he has held a brief news conference and made a statement but it was not much. He has not relayed a coherent vision of overall strategy or even current foreign policy. Many suspect he has none of either.


As of now, Biden has the best chance, many Republicans secretly prefer him…

January 1, 2020

Election year is finally here. I’ll go out on a limb and predict right now that Joe Biden will be elected president next November. I did not mean he is my favorite candidate, although certainly I prefer him over you know who — I’m trying to not use you know who’s name so much this year (good luck to myself on that).

I think that the more reserved and elite Wall Street Journal type crowd of the Republican Party would rather see the president face Biden because they feel they could live with Biden more than the other Democratic Party candidates — in fact they may not so secretly prefer Biden than the current president.

Bernie Sanders has a loyal following and major fund raising ability but somehow I don’t see the whole nation going socialist  — even though I read that among the young socialism does not carry the stigma it once did.

Geez! Biden, age 77; Sanders, 78; Trump, 73, you can’t say this is “no country for old men”.

At 70 myself, I’d prefer someone a tad younger but not too young. How about Amy Klobuchar? She’s 59. No so old but not so young. That moderate midwestern gal should be able to attract Republicans and others who would prefer to turn back to normalcy, to a calmer more deliberate and for God’s sake civil form in our government.

Mayor Pete: you are certainly smart and quite articulate (wouldn’t it be nice to have someone sitting in the oval office who actually had a vocabulary?) but you are too young, way too young, turning 38 this month (the constitutionally qualifying age is 35, though). Get some more experience and at the higher levels than mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Elizabeth Warren: you are full of energy, feisty, and you have a plan for everything, but maybe we don’t want every detail of our lives planned out that much. Weren’t the communists big on plans, five year plans? How’d that work out? (I did not really call Warren a communist, and calling someone a communist is passé anyway — you call them a socialist or a Democrat).

And what about a candidate of color? They have all but disappeared. But just as one should not dismiss a candidate because of his or her color one should not prefer one because of his or her color — at least that is the way I see it.

However, breaking barriers is good for our democracy and we did have a black president. It would be nice to have a woman president I think, or a black woman, but Sen. Kamala Harris of California tried that one but dropped out after people felt she was hedging her bets a little too much on policy stances. She might still be in the running for a VP spot I read. She is a former prosecutor and a hell of an interrogator. I’d like to see her stay in the U.S. Senate. We need here there. (I’d advise her to skip the VP spot as it is usually a ticket to political oblivion, Biden notwithstanding.)

And those billionaires running, self-funding. Thanks but no thanks. As evil as money can be in politics, though, donations from a wide spectrum of people is indeed a form of free speech and a measure of popular support. From Corporations with their narrow-minded interests, not so much — despite what the current ruling of the Supreme Court says, I think corporations are only people in the sense of business law, but I don’t want to get into all that — requires way too much legal research — but something I might do later.

And talking of those billionaires trying to buy their way in, I’m not sure that works. A billionaire named Michael Huffington running for a U.S. Senate spot in California tried that many years ago and it did not work. After all the money he spent, still most people never heard of him, even though he had served a term as a congressman (and I just read that; I didn’t even realize he had ever been in government). I just looked up the results of the 1994 election — well it actually was close, but I think he got partisan votes from people who may not have known much about him but that he was a Republican. I still doubt one can buy a presidential election with his or her own money (but who knows?).

And did you notice? Even the supposedly uber wealthy president did not buy his way in. You have to give him credit for being politically savvy enough to get fools to donate money (well, ok, maybe if you got what you wanted you are not a fool). And why not? That was his mode of doing business — using other people’s money (then bailing and leaving them hold the bag).


I wrote “supposedly wealthy” about the president because it is conjectured he is not nearly as wealthy as he brags and in fact could be over his head in debt and that is why he is so protective of his tax returns — that and irregularities.


All this of course was just an off-the-cuff first-day-of-the-new year prediction, and I have a rather poor record of correct predictions (if I in fact ever have made any).

Events during the coming year, as of yet of course unknown, can or will drastically change the landscape.

 

 

 


The silliness in witholding whistleblower’s name when it is already in the public domain…

December 29, 2019

So how long are we supposed to play out this farce of hiding the Trump whistleblower’s name?

I never thought that I would use the term “mainstream media” (well maybe I have previously, but sparingly) because it is code in hard-right speak for left-wing propaganda which it claims is the product of major news organizations, but nonetheless it seems that the mainstream media is acting absurdly by refusing to mention or write his name when it is publicly known.

I heard the name mentioned several weeks ago, a month or more, and I am sure it has been out there a lot longer. I heard it first from Ronn Owens on KGO Radio, San Francisco. He used to have a talk show but now just does a spot I think he calls the Ronn Owens Report. Owens is no far-right guy. I think he claims to be middle of the road but he leans to the left on most things.

But this is not about Ronn Owens. It is about a CIA analyst named Eric Ciaramella. There I wrote it, the alleged name of the alleged whistleblower. And if this is not true — and I cannot attest that it is for sure — then sorry for the error. I was in the news business at one time. If one had to wait until he or she was solid on everything not much would get reported — one does need to be careful and use good judgment, of course. The name and description is indeed on the internet on several places, which of course does not in and of itself support the veracity of it all.

I don’t know what the exact law is on whistleblowers but apparently the idea is to make it possible for some low-level person who witnesses wrongdoing to report it without fear of reprisals. I am also hazy on how far the ban on reporting the name goes in the law. Owens indicated the press (or “media” as some call it — I just think that tag is a pejorative when uttered by right wingers) is not prohibited from reporting the name. I mean that makes sense to me. If we have freedom of the press, as spelled out in the First Amendment, then it would be hard to prohibit an act of press freedom. Such prohibitions have been enacted at times — most famously by alien and sedition acts in war time.

And as Owens himself said, there is a problem here. From what we or he or whoever knows about this whistleblower, he is not non partisan. And who is?

Even though I do not support Trump, the president’s side has a point that Trump should be able to face his accuser.

Being able to face one’s accuser is the backbone of our justice system. I mean how would you like to face false accusations out or nowhere and never be able to come face to face with who is accusing you?


Below all of this I relate such an experience I had.


The fact that the accuser is with the CIA (that is if we assume that is a fact) lends credence to the Trump accusation that there is an entrenched bureaucracy out to get him, he and his followers call the “deep state”.

Now it could be that all or most of the accusations against Trump are true even so. But so far most of what we have are second hand recollections. In some ways Trump has confessed to exactly what he is accused of, that is requesting aid in digging up dirt on a political opponent in exchange for congressionally-approved military aid to the nation of Ukraine. But Trump and his supporters either spin all that another way or just don’t care.

As I understand it, various partisan sites on the internet, Trump supportive of course, have reported the whistleblower’s name. Trump and his supporters, including I guess most Republican senators, who would take part in an impeachment trial, are calling for the whistleblower to testify.

Trump’s legal team is using the tactic of going after the prosecutors. They want one of Trump’s political opponents Joe Biden to testify — he being the subject of the requested probe by Trump. While that to me seems out of order, I am not at all sure whether it is wrong to request or demand that the whistleblower testify in public. After all, he started the whole thing — or at least that is the narative. The whistleblower complaint was used as the pretext for much or all of the investigation against Trump.

I’m a little shaky on the concept of whistleblowers but I see the logic of allowing low-level staffers within government who witness corruption to be able to report it without reprisal. But it seems here we are dealing with a member of a secretive organization, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which leads to suspicion that the president is being attacked by an opposing force in government, much like what happens in non-democratic nations, such as a military coup or one by the secret police.

We have of course already learned that the FBI skirted or broke the rules in obtaining search warrants in the related Russia investigation in which some claim shows that Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russians in the 2016 election. Protections against illegal searches and seizures are a cornerstone in our Bill of Rights. While if you have nothing to hide one might say you have nothing to lose, the problem is that if government authorities can willy nilly search and seize your property and documents, you really are not a free person — someone or some body with an agenda can use searches and seizures as harassment and can twist things with them.

I have to realize that one reason for not using the whistleblower’s name is that then he becomes the story. That of course is what Trump the accused wants — change the subject, shift the focus.

Perhaps the whistleblower should testify in public. If he has the courage of his convictions, he can let the senate and the American public hear what he has to say and judge accordingly.

And if there is a value to the whistleblower law then he should not face any retaliation. Of course the White House does not have to let him work there, which he reportedly did at one time.

I think there are far worse things Trump has done and could face impeachment for. For one thing, treason comes to mind. His overly-friendly dealings with Russia and North Korea come to mind.

And maybe the biggie of them all is the indication that Trump cronies somehow capitalized or tried to capitalize on their government connections in shady business deals in Ukraine and elsewhere, ironically what they accuse the Bidens (former VP and son Hunter) of doing.

(That would be a good thing for a free press to sort out.)

And even Trump’s demeanor, his crude behavior, would be a reason to kick him out. He sullies the name of the United States. Yes other countries or people or leaders act like him and worse but we are the United States and should be better than that.

But in the end, if Trump is to be defeated it will likely come at the ballot box.

I just hope that impeachment does not become a common political tool in the future, such as the Democrats win the presidency and right away the Republicans counter with an impeachment probe.

No president so far has been removed from office via impeachment. Nixon came close but he ducked out on his own before he could be kicked out. Well, so in a way, impeachment did oust him, that is the threat of certain impeachment and conviction.

But how that came about is instructive. After the revelations of the Watergate hearings the public, across parties, had finally had enough of Tricky Dick. So the lesson is, it seems, the American people have to support impeachment.

And let’s be honest: Richard Milhouse Nixon for all his flaws was a patriot, a World War II veteran of the Pacific theater of war (not a draft dodger), a keen observer and tactician of international politics, and a man who devoted nearly his whole working life to public service — he had deep-rooted insecurities (don’t most of us?) and he got carried away with the power of the presidency. He paid the price.

I thought Nixon was bad at the time, but compared to Trump he seems like an angel in retrospect.

Trump has devoted his whole life to self-glorification and I guess gratification in a world of sleaze — sleazy business deals and sleazy sex.

I should not go on but I just want to say that even with all of this, Trump has managed to shake things up and make us aware.

So now that we are awake to what can happen when we are complacent, let’s do something about it.

p.s.

A link to the Ronn Owens Report:

http://www.kgoradio.com/2019/11/05/ronn-owens-report-the-whistleblower-has-been-identified/

p.s. p.s.

In my first job as a news reporter I had a boss who decided he did not like me for some reason (the feeling was mutual). So one day out of the clear blue he called me in, behind closed doors, for a private chat. He claimed that certain people claimed that my reporting on county Board of Supervisors meetings was not accurate. I was somewhat taken aback. I asked for examples. None forthcoming. I think I may have allowed that no matter how one reports things, someone is bound to claim bias but that I always did my best to be fair and objective. What I failed to ask was: who are these people who are accusing me? I would have liked to have heard first hand from them what the specifics of their accusations were, if indeed these people existed.


On Trump’s letter: not unhinged, just outlandishly aggressive and twisted as usual…

December 18, 2019

On this infamous letter President Trump has sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: it’s pretty aggressive but I don’t see evidence in it that the president is unhinged (I mean maybe in reality that is just his natural condition). Yes, he makes some questionable arguments but really no more than any lawyer (he is not a lawyer I know) might make.

With all the things Trump has done I guess the impeachment argument really breaks down to two things: firstly, did he commit a high crime or misdemeanor by suggesting that the leader of Ukraine should investigate a Trump political opponent as a favor in return for the U.S. providing military assistance to that nation in its war with invading Russian forces? and secondly, did he obstruct justice (or congress) by preventing administration officials from testifying before the congressional impeachment committees and refusing to hand over various documents in relation to the investigation?

No one would rather see Trump gone from office more than I but I am a little leery of seeing it happen through impeachment with the electorate split down the middle on the issue and an election a year away.

If polling showed an overwhelming majority of the electorate favored removal, well then why not? But this is not the case. I don’t buy the case that the Democrats are only doing this out of solemn, patriotic duty. The very nature of impeachment is political, especially the impeachment of a president. A president does not have to actually commit a codified crime or specific crime to be removed from office via impeachment. Impeachment as set forth in the Constitution is a political and quasi judicial process combined, as I understand it (and I am neither a lawyer nor a constitutional scholar, just an informed citizen).

The way some of the mainstream press (or media if you will) has described Trump’s defensive letter you would think he called Ms. Pelosi a dirty name (if he did, I missed it. Okay, I think on other occasions he may have). No, he used his usual overblown rhetoric. I think someone, though, must have written it for him or helped him — judging from his normal speech I have heard on videos, I don’t think he would be capable of forming such arguments as he made.

But let’s go to the two basic charges against him: there seems to be no question that Trump and his administration did try to pressure Ukraine into publicly investigating former vice president and now political rival for Trump’s job, Joe Biden. They tried to do so by holding up congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine. In the end the aid was provided without the demand or request being met. Some suggest, sure, Trump et al. backed off after their little scheme was made public.

Okay, I and any other honest person, even a Republican, could see how all that goes. But when one is defending himself, one can always, or usually, make a counter argument by suggesting a different interpretation of the facts. Not sure I understand Trump’s argument but it is something like, no it was not a demand just a request for a friendly favor. And Trump insists that Biden needed investigating over the fact that while he was vice president his wayward son with no experience landed a job for a Ukrainian energy firm under investigation for corruption (the firm and/or its owner). The job paid big bucks, reportedly in the millions of dollars. Were they really buying influence with the U.S.? And Trump points out that Biden even bragged that he threatened to withhold aid if Ukraine did not fire an investigator, and that the investigator was fired. Trump and his supporters claim the investigator was on the trail of the firm who employed Biden or its owner — I think Biden claims the investigator was in fact not doing the investigation of corruption he should be doing. It may well be that Trump and company have twisted that argument but it is pretty effective. Even if there was no direct wrong doing on Biden’s part it does not look good. In fact it is rather damning.

Now as far as the obstruction of congress (like obstruction of justice kind of) in respect to the impeachment investigation, I think Trump is asserting that since there are no grounds for impeachment (his assertion) he is not obligated to cooperate. I’m not sure, though, that he gets to decide that. If the DA charges you with a crime, you do not get to simply decide the charges are false and refuse to cooperate. At least you are obligated to show up in court. You do have a right to defend yourself of course. Or, I guess you could go to court and get some kind of writ if you thought the whole process was illegal.

It seems to be a foregone conclusion that while the Democratic Party-controlled House will impeach (and it may have by the time anyone reads this), the Republican-controlled Senate will not vote to remove Trump from office. In fact leading senators have made it clear they see their job as defending the president.

So, if there is value in this whole impeachment process I suppose it is simply to bring out facts (and people will interpret facts differently).

Even though at times it has seemed that the president and his lawyers and other defenders have admitted (inadvertently?) to his crimes — it’s all in interpretation, and interpretation colored by partisanship.

Even Republican office holders who are uneasy about Trump or who in fact in their hearts might oppose him are reluctant or scared to admit it in public. They have to live with themselves I guess. They want to keep their jobs too and fear the Trumpistas.

In all of this there never really has been that smoking gun that would turn the tide against Trump. What would it be? We are living in a new era. We might not know a smoking gun if it rode past us on a bicycle. I mean maybe he really could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and not even be charged.


Biden needs to come clean on appearance of corruption, otherwise it’s Trump vs Trump light…

December 7, 2019

JFK, the first Catholic president of the U.S., as a candidate made a special address to voters to assure them if elected president he would not be taking orders from the Pope in Rome. Barack Obama had to disavow comments by a black preacher whose church he attended. The minister had disparaged the USA with an obscenity.

Before Obama, Bill Clinton appeared with his wife to at least tacitly admit to the bimbo eruptions but to assure everyone he was trying to do better (well we see how that turned out, but he did win two terms of the presidency and survived his impeachment to boot).

I think Joe Biden needs to have a heart-to-heart talk with the American people about the controversy over his son Hunter Biden working for that Ukranian energy company Burisma and getting all the big bucks when he (Hunter) knew nothing of the business and the fact the elder Biden even bragged that as vice president he pressured the Ukranian government to fire a prosecutor in connection with the investigation of that company or its chief. It’s kind of a complicated story and it may well be that there was nothing untoward save for the appearance. But I think the onus is on Biden the candidate for president to explain in detail. You can’t on the one hand be ready to impeach the president of the United States over a closely related matter but not come clean yourself. I mean Trump claims he himself did nothing wrong as if that alone absolves him. But Biden is essentially doing the same thing.

If Biden can just come clean with all that, go through the details, then he could let it go — that is no need for further explanation. But he faced a heckler at a campaign rally the other day and blew his cool when the man charged him with being corrupt over the whole thing. Some say he just stood his ground (thus even proving he could go up against Trump in a debate). No, he called the man a “damn liar”. Maybe the man was but unfortunately Biden ended up acting like Trump. We don’t need that.

How Biden gets to be the lead candidate among the Democrats is almost as much a mystery to me as how Trump took over the Republican Party. But Biden still seems to be on the trajectory to win the Democratic nomination. I’d hate to see the final contest being Trump vs Trump light.