We need better than anyone but Trump…

February 26, 2020

I was only able to catch brief snippets of the CBS Democratic debate live, but then tried to watch a full replay — for now I give up. Way too much cross talk.

Watching the first few minutes I have come to the scary conclusion that Donald Trump will likely win re-election — I mean someone has to stand out as a leader among the Democrats, someone besides Bernie Sanders. Barring some unforeseen events that could derail Trump, Sanders as the nominee will lose I am fairly sure. It is possible, for example, the fallout from the current coronavirus epidemic (or pandemic), could change the landscpae — not meaning that the virus is Trump’s fault, but how he deals with it and what the impact will be on the economy going forward. Too early to tell on that one.

The former Republican and former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg might well be an excellent alternatifve to Trump but I think his style and personality or lack thereof might not energize voters who might otherwise show up at the polls to oust Trump.

And can I stop here and again mention stop and frisk? Bloomberg’s opponents on the debate stage keep hammering away at him for this. Stop and frisk I guess is some kind of label you put on someone to prove they are a racist — end of story. He implemented it, a lot of black people were stopped, and apparently a lot of them were not guilty of anything or there was no probable cause to stop them. But I believe the idea was to go into crime-ridden areas and clean them up, making them safe for the law abiding citizens (mostly black). Bloomberg has apologized and seems obligated to repeat that apology every time someone brings it up. He says once he realized things had gotten out of hand he put a stop to it (others say he did not and of course somehow Joe Biden claims he, Biden, did, and there is a federal judge who says, no, she did). But as I said before, it seems to me that if I had to live in a crime-ridden area I would feel more comfortable with a high police presence and not just drive throughs in squad cars and responses after someone had been robbed or killed. And I heard a report on CNN (a sound byte) of a young man in what might be termed a New York ghetto neighborhood saying he wished the police were back working in his neighborhood.

Now of course simply stopping and frisking people at random or by simple fiat or because of their skin color is a civil rights violation, rightly so, on its face. But then there is probable cause — a tricky thing, can be rather subjective. A good and honest policeman might have an instict but be overrulled by a judge, who was not there. A bad cop can cause havoc. But I think the answer has to be heavy policing, and up close and personal policing, sometimes called community policing I think, especially in high-crime areas. And all I really want to say on all that is that I think maybe the stop and frisk criticism might be a cheap shot against Bloomberg,

They say it is make or break time for former vice president Joe Biden in this coming Super Tuesday voting. It is said he has to win South Carolina where he is depending upon support of the black commiunity.

I suppose if Biden could keep his wits about him and be more careful, that is avoid gaffes and exaggerations that he has already been caught in, he just might able to beat Trump, but it is sad to me if he is the best the Democratic Party could do. Old go along to get along Joe might draw in Republicans who might not dare say so but who are tired of Trump and his fascistic ways or just plain tired of the daily circus.

Still, I like Amy Klobuchar, but she desperately needs to do and say things to get to the head of the pack — she can’t quite do it. A pity she might well be a good centrist president.

And to all the socialists:

If you truly have missed out on getting what you thought you should from our great country, I am fairly sure that once you do, and do so by taking it from others, you will then become far more conservative. You will want to hold on to what you got.

Sanders cites problems, such as health care and income equality and the cost of education, and then proclaims socialism is the answer. I say the answer is social programs in some instances but not socialism.

And this thing about raising the minimum wage. My position on that is that sadly we probably need the minimum wage because there are some scoundrels, well quite a few, who would take advantage of down and out workers and pay next to nothing. So I guess there needs to be a floor. But naming some magic figure as the minimum wage or something called a livable income is problamatic. Not everyone needs as much as others. Some people are able and skillful enough to live economically. Some people actually save back and improve their skills and become successful and move up to the higher income brackets.

That’s why people come to this country. That’s why a lot of our ancestors did. Opportunity.

Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are right to a degree, that is the emphasis from the government seems to be to help the rich, the very people who don’t need the help. But the counter argument to that is that capital or capitalists are the ones who create the jobs and sustain the economy.

There just needs to be a better balance folks. Social programs good, socialism not good.

South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg has done well in the race so far. He seems to be a centrist and he talks well. Not sure exactly what his specifics are or how exactly he would handle things. It will be interesting to see if he progresses in the primary.

I think some have thought anyone but Trump and that most anyone could beat him. I don’t think they think that now.

To the extent we have a great economy now (the coronavirus effect notwithstanding), I think Trump gets far too much credit and former president Obama not enough, but fair or not, the particular president in office gets the credit for a good economy and blame for a poor one.

The main danger from Trump is that with his victory in the impeachment episode he is consolidating his power in the way of a true authoritarian by purging out anyone who dares to have a contrary opinion and even going as far to tell two Supreme Court justices that they should recuse themsevles on cases involving him. I mean it is probably the Supreme Court and the rule of law that stands between a dictatorship and a democracy.

Now obviously, cabinet members and immediate staff are subject to a president’s perogatives, but going further down the line is dangerous.

Politicizing the the Environmental Protection Agency is just plain wrong. I understand Trump has managed to get the EPA to disregard reports that would fly in the face of his climate change denial stances or his call for cutting down on pollution controls.

If we ever needed a president who respects science it is now in the face of this threat from the coronavirus (which I realize no one knows how serious it might become or if it will subside in a not too-distant time). Yes. How Trump handles it could determine his presidency. If he does it well (so far he has seemed indecisive), at least we can be relieved of that. He’s supposed to hold a news conference on the corona virus situation, as I finish this post.


Americans waste money, no free lunch; Bloomberg a sophisticated Trump?

February 17, 2020

You don’t have to be a Republican to believe that you should work for what you get and that there is no free lunch or to be more precise, no free medical care or free college.

I don’t know of any doctors or medical personnel who want to work for free. Don’t know of any college professors who want to work for free either.

Of course if there were no or there are no jobs available there has to be some mechanism to tide people over.

We have forgotten or discarded the ways of the old world where adults chose trades or profession early on knowing that in the life ahead they had to have something to sustain them. They also wanted to get into something they could do and probably enjoy or at least tolerate.

One Democratic candidate who has now dropped out wanted to give everyone a thousand dollars a month I think. I have run this by a few people and they did not seem to buy what I was saying or get it. But my take, and maybe it’s just me, is that once everyone has that “free” thousand dollars, a thousand dollars no longer has value.

A friend of mine listening to my proposition today may not have been impressed by my take but she had one just as good or better: people getting that thousand dollars would just blow it. And then where would they be? I add. Back to square one.

In general Americans from the middle class on down are profligate with their money.

And it does not help that I and everyone else gets come-ons from credit card companies in the mail, regardless of our credit worthiness — and they all have super-exorbitant interest rates.

We need to reject the corporate interests not only at the ballot box but at the mail box.

In my observation through the years we take far better care of the poorest of the poor than we do of the lower middle class.

I’ll never forget when my second child was born. I worked at a mill. We paid the doctor with our money. The hippie couple next door who chose, and I mean chose, not to work had a baby for free — well on the taxpayers’ dime. Long time ago. But it has always stuck with me.

And then there is the class of people who work in the underground economy in many of the trades who pay no taxes but expect to be eligible for tax-funded programs. Of course they are no more guilty than the corporations that pay no taxes but get the legal protection and the military protection and the infrastructure support of the taxpayers.

And you know? Tulsi Gabbard is right. These overseas military operations are a wasteful pursuit. They are a product of mission creep. We no longer even know what that mission might be. Gabbard served in the war zone, more than once. Not endorsing her, just saying.


 

Meanwhile, trying to catch up on who Michael Bloomberg really is. Seems so far to be a more sophisticated version of Donald Trump. That is not comforting.

But on this stop and frisk thing he gets so much grief from: I would have to give it a study, but my first reaction is that if I was forced by circumstances to live in a crime-ridden neighborhood I’d be comforted that the police were trying to clear the hoodlums off the street. Yes, if the end result is that by way of racial profiling large numbers of innocent people fell into the net, then the program is not practical and of course probably violates civil rights.

It is too bad that in urban areas there cannot be police stations in each neighborhood and cops walking the beat, as well as cruising around, keeping in close and personal contact with the residents. And it is too bad that in many areas the police do not represent those whom they are supposed to protect when it comes to race. I mean there should be a mix. Simply having squad cars cruise through like armored patrols in a war zone only fosters an attitude of us against them.


Klobuchar’s moderation might beat Trump…

February 8, 2020

So I was not able to watch the Democratic presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire but from what I read, even though she was not characterized as the winner, Amy Klobuchar stood out. Watching one clip I loved her comment about candidates who claim they are Washington outsiders. She said that is an easy thing to say and makes you look like a “cool newcomer” (she was referring directly to Pete Buttigieg) but experience counts, adding, “we have a newcomer in the White House and look where that got us”.

(Of course for you Trump lovers that does not have much punch, but you would not be reading this anyway.)

And just now I saw a clip of Klobuchar relating how Trump blamed the king of Denmark for something and the prime minister of Canada for cutting him out of a movie: “who does that?” she asked rhetorically, and mockingly, adding that the U.S. needs to maintain its allies.

I already have my California ballot. But I am going to hold off on voting until I hear and read more about the candidates. But Klobuchar is certainly on the top of my list. I try not to be partisan in this blog but of course admitting that I am voting in the Democratic primary kind of gives it away. But like I have written previously, I would vote for a Republican if he or she gave me an excuse. In fact I think I did at least once vote for a Republican congressman years ago. He had long tenure and could and did get things done for the district. And anyway, under our current state law you have to register for a party in order to vote in the primary. And I emphasize, I classify myself as a moderate.

Bernie Sanders is seen as the front runner currently, or maybe Buttigieg. But here’s the problem: I don’t think the majority of the electorate wants a socialist (just like we, thankfully, never went communist), and Sanders classifies himself as one (a socialist). I am also not afraid to be politically incorrect and say I doubt that the electorate is ready for putting a homosexual, Buttigieg, in the White House. Does that make me a “gay basher”? I hope not, but I think I am just looking at reality. But then I could be wrong of course. Would I vote for Buttigieg? Maybe. He is seen as highly intelligent and one heck of a debater. And he is young, and I am old (relatively; I am 70). Most of the other likely contenders are long in the tooth. We need young blood. Oh, and is there something morally wrong about being homosexual? I believe evidence we all can see is that people are born that way so, no, nature or God, if you insist, planned it that way, or at least it was not a choice by the individual.

But we need someone who can beat Trump. I think Klobuchar could do it. She seems young enough, a mere 59, bright, level headed, and moderate, and above all civil.

Former vice president Joe Biden had previously been seen as the front runner. No more. He is too much from the past. His day has come and gone I think. And, fresh off his Ukraine aquittal, Trump will use Biden’s questionable Ukraine connection against him, and likely quite effectively.

As the campaign moves on, though, the candidates will need to emphasize in detail what they can do or will do and not talk directly about Trump, except it some circumstances. I read a story about a political science professor who suggests there is no such thing as a swing voter. People tend to be entrenched politically. However, some voters are encouraged to the polls if they like a candidate’s stance on certain issues, but if not, they just stay home.

I think this presidential election might be the most important in my lifetime. We need to rid the White House of a dangerous demagogue, who uses Hitler tactics, and who has no conscience whatsoever. While I do not know for sure whether he should get the most credit for what is said to be a great economy, I do know he gets the blame for threatening the very existence of our democracy. He is ignorant, crude, and vindictive.

(And what good is a thriving economy is you lose the democracy? Do you want the thought police coming after you? That is what you get at both extremes of right or left.)

A moderate candidate can continue any policies that bolster a thriving economy but at the same time restore democracy.

The week that was:

After the actions of President Trump in these past days since his acquittal, I feel a sense of not fear but deep concern that I felt during the dark days of Watergate. There was talk that with the walls closing in on him President Nixon might resort to drastic action, such as declare martial law on the grounds that things were just too out of hand on the demestic side while the nation was at war in Vietnam.

Nixon never could understand why anyone would want anything less than some honorable way to get out of Vietnam, save just pulling up stakes in that no-win deadly contest; he did not comprehend the anti-war movement. But that movement spread beyond the hippies into the mainstream.

Even before the Watergate scandal (which saw Nixon hire thugs, who thought themsevles clever and patriotic undercover operatives, to break into the Democratic Party campaign headquarters), Nixon ran his campaign not on his name but using the theme “Re-elect the president”. Actually “tricky dick”, as he was known, had made a lot of enemies and was not even all that well liked within his own party. So it was better not to use his own name so much — he just ran as “The President”. It was like: long live the king.

The rumors of Nixon’s paranoia got so bad that the story was that the military had to be advised not to act on any orders from the president to fire off nuclear missiles.

Well I have not heard yet of concern that Trump would fire nuclear missiles but he did take it upon himself recently to up and order a foreign military general to be assassinated. While that general reportedly did direct terrorists and supplied our enemies, which resulted in the deaths of American soldiers, that is quite a step to take unilaterally for a president, seeing as how the assassination was done in not the same nation from which the general came but another one that did not give its permission and was not even informed of before the action. We did take out a Japanese general in World War II but that was a declared war.

But back in the time of Nixon, I actually wondered that Nixon might try to cancel our democracy. His own daughter at the time was quoted as saying that people ought to quit criticizing her daddy and let “him rule”. I think she meant “govern”, but there was a kind of sense that you either supported president or you were a traitor.

And that is what Trump, free now of the constraints of impeachment, if there ever were any, is trying to do now, that is set the scene where citizens, and particulary elected officials, are thought of as supporting him and thus patriotic or not supporting him and thus treacherous traitors bent on evil.

And he is surprisingly effective at this. He seems to have almost the entire delegation of Republicans in both houses of congress kowtowing to him in fear. Oh, yes, in public they make excuses but in private, according to one Democratic senator, they confide that they do so in “fear”. One bad word from Trump and you’re toast, you’ll be shunned and perhaps run out of town on a rail, or at the very least primaried out, that is your own party will run someone against you.

Former and perhaps future presidential aspirant and now Utah Senator Mitt Romney stood up to Trump and actually voted for his removal from office in the wish-we-could forget impeachment fiasco. Trump has laid into him and others with vile invective.

Romney is either brave or perhaps just as likely an opportunist who sees some way he might make points in a future presidential race, maybe in a revival of the old-time mainstream Republican Party (it may be too late; the rabble has taken over).

Tricky Dick met his match with the smoking gun that was the revelation of his secret White House voice tapes that showed him actually committing a crime or crimes.

While there were breathless reports of smoking guns during the past year or more in the investigations of Trump, they all seemed to have been firing blanks.

Nixon always tried to stay above the fray, wise enough to let others do his dirty work.

Trump does have others doing dirty work but he likes getting right into the fight himself, as well, and he fights dirty and mean. He’s crude — so was Nixon in private, but Trump is publicly crude.

So, what do you do if you don’t like the way he acts?

And if you are one of those who say, oh my I don’t like some of the ways he acts out by I like what he is doing for the economy and other policies (would that be canceling environmental standards? and denying climate change and a global climate crisis?), spare me. We could certaily have a good economy and lots of good things without a crude tyrant who threatens our democracy and the free flow of ideas.

p.s.

On Trump ridding the administration of those who testified against him. That does not bother me. Of course anyone would do that. How can you have someone working for you who has done what he or she can to topple you?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tearing up Trump’s speech may have been symbolic, i.e., he tore up the constitution she tears up his speech, but it seems a bit Trumpian to me. Stooping to his sophmoric level is beneath her. Trump revels in getting one’s goat.


Richard Nixon was just born too soon…

February 1, 2020

Richard Nixon was born too soon it seems. Today instead of resigning in disgrace, he would have finished his second term. It is a different world. The norms of behavior have changed. A crass bully who thumbs his nose at the conventions of civilized society and declares, as much by actions as words, that he is supreme and answerable to no one, runs rough shod over any who dare oppose him. The way he struts around reminds me of the old newsreels I’ve seen of the buffoon Mussolini in Italy during Word War II (but it’s not funny).

Nixon was strong willed and defiant but he was also a patriot and a war veteran, not a draft dodger like our president today (I write the latter because I think the accepted story is that Trump’s father arranged for a family friend who was a doctor to give the young Trump a phony diagnosis of bone spurs ; or maybe Trump, who engaged since in athletic activity, had a miracle recovery later).

Nixon was not always charming in private, his once secret oval office tapes revealed, but I think he was mostly a civilized gentleman in public.

But Nixon’s supporters found themselves forced to turn against him when his wrongdoings were displayed for all via those tapes. And in turn, Nixon felt forced to resign rather than face certain removal via impeachment.

That was back in what seems like ancient times now, 1974.

But now in 2020, the Republican-controlled senate, acting as an impeachment court, after charges were brought by the Democratic Party-controlled congress, has voted to not call any witnesses and is set to wrap the proceedings up as soon as it can, presumably with a vote for acquittal (although as of this writing the end is still uncertain).
And I have to say that since the consensus among, the Republican majority primarily, in the senate is that what President Trump is charged with, while it may have been wrong on some level, does not rise to the level that it requires removal from office, and that is to say almost everyone agrees he is guilty on some level of misbehavior, it makes sense not to drag the issue any further by calling witnesses. There really is little point in going on with the process. As one observer said: everyone knows he did it but most don’t think it is worth removing a sitting president from office in an election year.

(Now Trump did famously boast that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, but that is not what he was impeached for.)

Donald Trump seems to be skating past impeachment because the specific charges against him are harder to make a case with. Nixon orchestrated a burglary of the Democratic Party headquarters and then a coverup that included bribe money to the burglars. He also used the power of the government to conduct tax audits on his opponents and did other things of that nature. The only life he knew was politics. And in politics winning is everything. Trump may have done or is doing worse things but he was charged with trying to get a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political opponent. Well that is dirty politics, but everyone knows that politics is dirty. And no American citizens suffered directly from it — not even Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (the intended victim) really. On the other hand, Nixon had drug on a no-win war in Vietnam, with thousands of American troops dead after promising to end the war with a secret plan in the campaign for his first term.

Trump is also charged with obstructing the congressional impeachment investigation but that is tied up in knots in an Alice through the looking glass argument where on the one hand the Trump side says it does not have to give over information and that the impeachment is illegal but on the other hand argues that if congress wanted the information it should go through the impeachment process (and through a lengthy court process).

It was Nixon who gets credit for appealing to lower class (I hate using that term) working people, primarily white people, that is bringing them into the Republican fold, stealing them away from the Democrats who had become the party of civil rights for minorities (confusing since both parties swapped some constituencies through time). Nixon appealed to whites nervous about losing their place in society. Trump followed that lead.

But one gets the feeling that Nixon’s wrong doings were more part of an overzealousness in his cause to support his vision of Republican conservatism (not to be confused with the brand in vogue today), while Trump’s seem more from ego, more from narcissism. Nixon was a student of world affairs — he lived and breathed it and wrote about it. Trump is a student of nothing, and neither reads nor writes anything, well except he is attune to TV ratings (and it does come in handy for him), and knows very little of the wider world around him.

But there is more: 2020 is not like 1973 or 1974. Society is somewhat divorced from mainstream conventions and has broken down into a kind of class warfare, not so much among income levels as among those who support standards of decency and concern about representative government and a commitment to society in general and those who care more about self.

And there is an all-out rejection of the intelligentsia from both those of lower education and even those with higher education — on paper anyway — who have valued the dollar and material things above all, rejecting thoughts of anything else, whether it be climate change or the general well-being of society or civil rights or peace among the races, or culture and literature. The world has become a kind of big box store, if you will.

And the mainstream press (read media if you prefer) that used to be the gatekeeper of information, editing for accuracy, has lost its foothold, and spends much of its time playing catchup or following the misdirection, or at least trying to correct an unending torrent of words and pictures (often doctored) on the world-wide web where anyone (and yes, even me) can spread anything true or false and have it available to millions, billions, in an instant. People are drowned with information true or false or in between (the most dangerous kind), and irrelevant.

But all this benefits those who would use public confusion and distrust and jealousy and bigotry to confuse things and get parties fighting among one another and in the meantime garner enough support to gain power for themselves (divide and conquer).

We have such a person, a demagogue, at the helm of our republic, have had for going on four years, and well may have for another four.

But the economy is so good, some will say (by overall statistics at least). And Trump is making America great again. What that means is a little hazy. It’s kind of a jingoism. Sounds good and can mean about whatever you want it to mean.

Right now I think the Trump presidency is something akin to the pandemic out of China:

In both cases, we may just have to let the virus take its course.

p.s.

What if a Democratic candidate wins the presidency next November, but only by way of the Electoral College, with a minority of the popular vote?

The Republicans could always move to impeach.


Impeachment proceedings doing the job of the free press…

January 30, 2020

Even though it appears that the chances of removing President Trump via impeachment are nil, and surely the Democratic Party prosecutors must have known this from the beginning, the process probably does serve a useful purpose. We all know a little more about how our foreign policy is made and conducted. It’s not pretty.

A better case might have been made that Trump circumvented the public process and instead used people outside the government, such as his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to conduct foreign policy in the shadows. Not sure that is constitutional. But then again no one seems sure on what is constitutional — that’s why we have a Supreme Court (and if you read history you find that originally it was not recognized that even that high court had the power to interpret the constitution, see Marbury v. Madison, but I stray off my point).

Actually, a free press has the job of doing what Rep. Adam Schiff and his colleagues are doing, that is shine light on things the public should know of but are being kept in the dark about.

The right wing, Republicans in general, hate or at least highly distrust the press — that is except when they are hot on the trail of Democrats. Then they hail the virtues of a free press protected by the First Amendment.

A popular tactic, and this is done by members of both major political parties, but it seems like the Republicans do it more often, is to ridicule and intimidate the press. But don’t feel too sorry for the reporters and correspondents who are the victims of all that — they knew or should have known that one has to have a thick hide in the business.

Oh, yeah, I know: conservatives feel that most journalists tend to be liberal. I have written before that this may well be true. I mean by definition liberal has to do with having an open mind and conservative has to do with closing your mind around the status quo (and if things are good why change them? I see that, but it’s a point of view thing).

I do have a problem with the impeachment proceedings as they are being conducted as of now. I was driving yesterday and had a chance to take in, via radio, what was eventually revealed to me to be a phony question and answer session. So Senators are not allowed to talk in this particular proceeding. They write down their questions on note cards and a page carries them up to the Chief Justice, and he reads them. Some of the questions asked for a response from just one side or the other and some from both sides. But as I listened I could not help but notice it all seemed rather scripted. Well, duh, it was, both the radio correspondents and my daily newspaper (online of course) revealed to me. It seems that both sides carefully crafted in advance leading questions or prompts designed to push forward a position or theory of law, most of which had already been asserted. There was little to no fact finding. The Chief Justice, it was reported, reviewed all the questions in advance and even rejected one (or more) that would have called for revealing the name of the whistle blower the Democrats used to back their case.

Since the Republicans are doing their best to prevent any more facts or evidence to be presented, we can put much of the blame on them.

It has been charged, however, by the Republicans, that the Democrats failed to do the proper legal work in preparing their case and that if they wanted to challenge the Trump administration’s efforts to withhold information that they should have gone to court. The Democrats counter that likely by the time anything was resolved in the courts the next election would be over, so the president could go on doing what they are charging are illegal things and tip the scales in his favor in the next election.

Earlier this week or late last week it was thought by some that the John Bolton manuscript might be the smoking gun (like the Nixon tapes were) that would hang Trump, figuratively speaking of course. Nope. Just like the Mueller Report it was not (at least it does not seem so at this time).

History suggests that it is impossible to remove a president by impeachment unless both sides in the end agree that it should be done and because public opinion is on the side of removal. And really that seems the way it should be.

Even Republicans had finally had enough of Nixon (he resigned before he could be impeached and convicted when some Republicans went to the White House and gave him the bad news). Somehow I don’t think Mitch McConnel is going to make such a trip to the White House. He likes his job apparently.

And let us remind ourselves what Trump is being accused of (not every bad thing he has done). He tried to pressure the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on a political opponent, thus using a foreign government to influence a U.S. election. I think everyone knows that is true, even all the Republicans who are staunchly defending Trump. But legal scholar and one member of Trump’s defense team Alan Dershowitz gave them an out in his theory that even if the president may have had the intent of doing what he is accused of doing he also thought it was for the good of the American people, ipso facto, it was ok.

I for one think the whole Joe and son Hunter Biden thing stinks to high heaven, and I am not talking about Trump’s use of the affair to misdirect attention from his own bad dealings. I don’t know all the facts around the Biden scandal but just the appearance of corruption on the part of the Bidens leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not going into any detail about all that now — already have previously and anyone who follows any of this already knows.

But anyway I don’t think anyone actually thinks what Trump did was right or ethical. But even I question whether such action in and of itself rises to the level of an impeachable offense by a sitting president.

And I must note that he is also charged with obstructing congress — but I already referred to the defense argument that essentially goes that such should be litigated separately.

With enough investigation, especially on that shadow foreign policy conducted by Giuliani et al, there probably is an impeachable offense — would be difficult to impossible to get that done probably.

And just what is an impeachable offense? That is the rub.  Not even the legal scholars seem to have a hold on that one — and some have changed their minds over the years, seemingly to fit the circumstances or who they want to support. By the way I think Mr. Dershowitz admitted just that yesterday. He once thought no crime was required but now sees the light I guess. Or he sees fame, of which he may have thought had eroded with his age, and of course a pay check.

The constitution reads that impeachable offenses are: “treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors”. It does not provide a definition of those terms, high crimes and misdemeanors being the most problematic I think. A parking violation is a misdemeanor in our modern language, but we know they did not mean that. And just what is a high crime? We know what treason means in general, but no specific statute is cited (and I guess there was none at the time). Bribery, same thing — there is an argument that Trump essentially tried to bribe the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on political challenger Joe Biden, but that is kind of sketchy I think.

And there really is not much legal history in the impeachment of a president. Only three (including Trump) have actually been impeached and no one has been removed from office (well not yet, thus far). Nixon did not get to the final impeachment stage but resigned under the pressure from it, as already noted.

I do think it has been established that high crimes and misdemeanors is just a general guide and does not point to specific statutes, none or or nearly none of which would have even been in effect at the time of the adoption of the constitution, even though some are arguing now that a specific crime has to be committed. Seems like impeachment was a check on power and purposely was made vague. A president could get out of hand, even though it well might be hard to imposible to point to a direct violation of law.

If I do another post on all of this I might refer to the Federalist Papers, often cited as outlining the intent of the constitution. I cannot now because I have not read many of them, and have read nothing on what they say as to impeachment (shame on me). I bought a book with all the federalists papers years ago but read little — hard to follow the arcane language and references. But seems apropos here.

 

 

 


Impeachment may be a bet on delayed reaction…

January 17, 2020

Hard to gauge whether impeachment was a wise move by the Democrats — I know, they say they had no choice, but that’s nonsense. And that is not to say that the actions congress is accusing President Trump of are not serious.

But will this blow up in the Democrats’ faces? The Russia investigation, with the promise of bombshells on a near weekly basis that were more like little whimpers or nothing at all sure seemed to backfire, and the final report seemed so anti-climatic. Like most everyone else I did not actually read the whole Russia report but you would think if there was any there there it would have had more of visible impact.

But then again, these things can be slow. Over time they can have an effect. Eventually the constant revelations of Trump’s actions may sink into the psychic of the American electorate more than they have so far.

(I am not referring to various opinion polls, which to me seem hard to follow and to be suspect as to methodology; I think if there was enough rage among the public we would know it.)

The out-of-place giggles from Nancy Pelosi on signing the resolution to send the impeachment papers to the senate belied the supposed solemnity of the occasion. Okay, maybe nervous laughter.

And maybe as the senate’s impeachment trial,that began today (Jan 16, 2020), progresses, the GOP majority in the upper house will deal in some self-reflection on their cover for Trump. One must think that the majority does not approve of Trump’s ways but he is their foothold in running the government and implementing primarily domestic policies they favor. So, they make excuses for him. They are his apologists.

All this puts the nation in a precarious position, what with the commander in chief of the armed forces on trial for his very job as president, while international hot sports flare up. While I think most observers feel that the likelihood of conviction is remote (whether they want to admit it or not) the situation would seem to weaken Trump, and thus the nation, on the world stage.

Or Trump might be all the more trigger happy, ready to make risky moves on the world stage to make people afraid of kicking him out of office, lest we lose our leadership in the midst of a crisis.

There are some grave issues of presidential power here that need to be resolved. In the end even though on the one hand this impeachment thing has all the markings of backfire or fiasco, it may serve a valuable purpose.

But at this juncture it seems the best anyone can hope for (well except for Trump supporters) is a censure vote, rather than removal from office.

Censure might have been the better choice over impeachment.

Regardless of what Trump has done it seems to be hard to comprehend that a president can be removed from office outside election unless there is overwhelming public support for that removal. There is not at this time as far as I can see.

And two wrongs do not make a right, but I would not be surprised that if we had the means to dig deep into U.S. presidential history we would find far worse skullduggery than Trump could even dream of.

The state of the economy at or near election, domestic and world events, and continued irrational and extremely crude and even threatening behavior by Trump combined with what the impeachment trial may bring out or re-emphasize from the Russia investigation and congressional hearings will be the deciding factor.

In the end, the impeachment process may have been worth it to the Democrats and the nation as a whole. But if Trump wins re-election, the power and respect for the impeachment process may suffer irreparable damage (not that it has a good track record on presidents).

There is also the danger that impeachment might just become another political tool in partisan politics — more so than it has been on the presidential level.

There has never been a successful presidential impeachment (that is removal from office). I think history indicates the first one against Andrew Johnson after Lincoln’s assassination was purely political (and it failed). Richard Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment, but in that case one might say it worked. But he in the end faced bipartisan opposition, something the current Democrats can only hope for.

Bill Clinton’s impeachment, that did not result in conviction, had some amount of legitimacy as to the actual charges against him but was really totally political in nature and failed to get widespread public support.

My guess as of now, as if anyone cares: Trump will beat the rap in the short term but faces some possibility of it coming back to haunt him in November.


Sadly, CNN has become the liberal version of Fox…

January 16, 2020

I’m probably the last to realize this but it appears that CNN has become the liberal version of Fox News.

We all know that Fox is heavily slanted toward the far reactionary right or maybe conservatives or let’s just say on President Trump’s side at least (almost all of the time).

One caveat: it may be that what straight news reporting Fox does may be more of less objective (I am not a regular viewer but I see it enough to know of what I write). Most of what we see and hear from that network is opinion commentary presented as if it were the last word in news. The way much of the broadcast news works these days is that opinion and what purports to be straight news reporting are so intertwined that it is near impossible to discern one from the other.

Sadly, now, this can be said for CNN, in particular, and to a large extent the New York Times when it comes to the print side of the so-called news media (or the “press”, my preferred term).

But let me get to the point now: CNN hit a new low in this past Tuesday’s Democratic debate (really they are forums I think because they don’t follow strict debate rules, but in the popular parlance, or by the presenters of them, they are referred to as debates):

CNN correspondent Abby Phillip asked candidate Bernie Sanders about reports that in 2018 he told current candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren flat out that a woman could not be elected president in the United States. In his answer Sanders flat out denied he ever said that. He made a point blank denial in his response at least twice. After his final denial, Phillip immediately turned to Warren and asked: “Senator Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election.”

So on nationwide television this correspondent took it upon herself to portray that Sanders was lying. I mean he just denied it. Of course none of us, including the correspondent, unless we were there, know whether he said it or not or in what context and what tone. I mean they are politicians. Politicians discuss strategies and speculate on one another’s chances. And maybe Sanders never did say anything like that and maybe he did. The point is the way the correspondent handled the thing shows bias and was totally unfair to Sanders.

And this is what gives the press, journalism, or “the media” as so many, especially anti-press freedom people, like to call it, a bad name.

I know nothing about Ms. Phillip. Maybe her producers or whatever they call her higherups, put her up to it, to frame the question that way. But it was reprehensible and dangerous to press freedom, which is so important. Those who want news people to only say and print good things about the candidates or policies they support will use this kind of thing as ammunition against a free press.

And that is about all I have to say on that at this time.

Well, one more thing:
No matter what Sanders might have said on the topic of whether a woman could be elected it seems rather immaterial here. And he did claim he would support a woman candidate or any of the male candidates who might get the nomination. And, importantly, he noted that Hillary Clinton received three million more votes than Trump — but of course, as we know, through a quirk that is called the Electoral College, Trump won. And I admit he apparently was elected fair and square. Even if the Russians interfered with propaganda, they did not force me or anyone to vote for a particular candidate. I have not read to date that they or anyone actually interfered with the actual voting itself.

Oh, and still another thing:

I think there are too many candidates, although the field is narrowing down. But I would like to see one-on-one debates between the various candidates with full debate rules. Topics could be picked from suggestions from the public. It seems to me the so-called journalists have too much a part, too much sway, in the whole thing. They are supposed to be asking questions in these debates but not framing those questions in such a way that they are biased toward one candidate. The topics up for questions should be a mix of what the journalists as educated observers think is important, yes, but also concerns solicited among the public at large (and I guess to some extent that is done).