June 2018 Archives

Dear America,

Do you remember Donald Trump on the campaign trail in 2016 deriding prior American leaders as "stupid people" of whom leaders like Kim Jong-un and his father, Kim Jong-il took advantage?  Do you remember him bragging about the great deals he was going to make for the United States if he was elected?  My recollection is that he even singled out President Obama for the deal he made with North Korea on which North Korea reneged after getting hundreds of thousands of tons of free food aid from the United States.  And now, he is bragging that he has done what other presidents--stupid presidents--failed to do, and what is that?  He got Kim Jong-un's signature on a worthless piece of paper promising to do what he has promised before only to fail to do so.  It seems to me that if all of Trump's predecessors who dealt with North Korea were stupid presidents, Donald Trump is just the latest one, not the savvy deal maker he claims to be and the "pretty smart guy" that he has said he must be.

When he had a big celebration over the passage by The House of a health care "repeal and replace" bill, some of the smarter people, even in his own party, said that it was like spiking the ball at the fifty yard line.  And sure enough, that bill--which Trump had touted at the celebration but now was calling "mean"--failed to be passed by The Senate.  Now, he is tweeting that the North Korea nuclear threat is over, and it sure looks to most people, at least honest ones, like he's standing on the fifty again.  The fact is that Trump didn't notice that Kim, sitting right next to him, looked like the cat that swallowed the canary...again.

Still, I hope I'm wrong.  I hope that North Korea destroys not just all that we can see of its nuclear missile program, but all of it that we can't see as well.  I hope that in some way, he can be prevailed upon to unite the north and the south as the Germans did with their east and west counterparts.  But I have to be candid...well, I don't have to be but I will.  Watching Trump eat his words in the political sense will be a pleasure.  As a country, we will have lost nothing except what little Trump promised in exchange for what little Kim promised.  And like any other contract, once one side breaches, the other side has a right to do the same.  I've watched Trump get away with his relentless self-promotion for forty years, ever since he was given $40 million of daddy's money and started claiming to be a boy genius because he managed to make more with it, albeit only after who knows how many bankruptcies.  He has managed to live off his one or two successes and sweep his failures under the rug for all those decades, but this one, if indeed it turns out to be a failure, is way too big for that kind of obscuration.  Because hopes for world peace are so profound, this failure, and the braggadocio that accompanied it, might well be unforgivable, even for the Teflon Donald.

In one sense, I'm rooting for failure.  Trump has gotten away with so much just since he has been president--so much deceit, hyperbole, self-aggrandizement, self-enrichment and degradation of the American political process just to name a few of his vicious tactics and gains--that the bursting of an empty bubble wouldn't be too big a price to pay to see him gone once and for all.  If this deal fails, everyone who wants to believe in his jingoism and nationalist fervor will be forced to look at the other things he says he's done but hasn't, like the constant claim that he is deregulating an over-regulated nation, which never gets specific.  No one talks about the implications of vitiating the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by putting one of his putative free-market minions at the helm of the agency.  No one talks about Scott Pruitt's attempts to repeal environmental protections that the Obama administration created relating to waterways, automobile emissions and power plants, much less why such deregulation is destructive as opposed to constructive.  (Pruitt's venality and corruption are bad enough, but his cronyism verges on medieval Simony, yet, like his boss, he keeps getting away with it.)  And deregulating the big investment banks, given what they did before the Dodd-Frank Act was passed, seems imprudent at best, and then only if you are inclined to be forgiving of not just venal, but mortal political sins.

So, in one sense this North Korea deal is a no-lose proposition.  Either we get one step closer to world peace, or one step closer to a Trump-free government...a win-win if you ask me.  My thanks to Kim Jong-un and his dupe, our Michelin Man president. 

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

Over the years, my opinion of both Bill Clinton and his presidency have changed.  I didn't vote for him during the democratic primaries, but when he ran against H.W. and Dole, I had no trouble voting for him.  But he was a sort of half-assed liberal: a populist of sorts, but only in half measures.  When he presided over "welfare reform" with Newt Gingrich, I was disappointed, but I thought of it as a concession made in the name of partisan comity and progress generally.  He did a good job with Bosnia and most other foreign policy initiatives and challenges, but the affair with Monica Lewinsky showed his true character to me.  His equivocations and denials were hard to justify, although he would never have been impeached if he had had Donald Trump's lawyers. 

I say that because until yesterday, when I saw Clinton weaseling out of questions about apologizing for the affair and to whom he did or didn't say he was sorry...when I heard him retreating into semiotic caviling rather than admitting that he was a marital infidel and that he had taken advantage of a young and impressionable intern, I looked up his impeachment and realized something of which I wasn't aware for thirty years.  His articles of impeachment were for perjury and obstruction of justice, but I never knew the details of the latter charge.  It stemmed not from anything but his pressuring Lewinsky into signing an affidavit that said that she had never had an affair with him, which both of them obviously knew was a lie.  The details as to how that evolved into impeachment isn't really material, but the fact is that subornation of perjury is not just a crime; it is-- no matter what you think the meaning of "is" is, as Clinton is famous for opining during sworn testimony--obstruction of justice when, as Clinton was, you are under investigation for perjuring yourself during a deposition in a civil case.  That's where the lawyers come in.  I said it then and I say it now, Clinton was ill-advised by his big name lawyers in Washington, D.C. led by Robert S. Bennett, a graduate of Georgetown and Harvard who somehow came to prominence in the legal profession after a stint as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.  He let Clinton give a deposition in the Jones case, presumably knowing what a snake Clinton was and that Jones's allegations probably had at least a kernel of truth in them.  Thus, he let Clinton put himself in jeopardy rather than just advising him to refuse to submit, which would have led to a default in the case.  Then, Jones would have to have proved her damages based on nothing but her own evidence, which in the end failed anyway.  As it eventuated, however, Clinton did submit to questioning under oath, did lie, and then did suborn, that is order or arrange, the perjured affidavit of Monica Lewinsky to the effect that she hadn't had sex with that man, Bill Clinton.  Thus, Lewinsky became a witness against Clinton in the Starr investigation of Clinton's perjured deposition under threat of prosecution for her own perjury.  If on the day of the deposition Bill had just stayed in the White House doing his job, none of it would have happened...except of course the affair itself, which was a problem of a different sort.

So now, we are faced with Rudy Giuliani and a few other Washington hot shot attorneys who are trying to prevail upon Donald Trump to keep his mouth shut and his fingers off his twittering device, and to their credit, they seem to be doing a better job than Robert Bennett did...so far.  The question is, what will Trump's adversaries be able to do with what they have in the way of evidence of obstruction of justice, and if they can get to the issue of impeachment in the House of Representatives, can they credibly bring the charge since they voted against conviction of Bill Clinton for something legally far worse, at least in character.  All Trump did was dictate a letter with misstatements of fact relative to his idiot son's meeting with a Russian lawyer connected to the Russian FSB and presumably Vladimir Putin; no oath...no perjury...just two generations of stupidity and self-aggrandizement in the same room at the same time on a presidential jet confabulating over a lie.  What else would anyone expect from a Trump father and son team.

So now, the Democrats will have a hard time impeaching Trump, presuming that they win in November, even though the fabrication of a deceit relayed to the investigators of a potential indiscretion, if not a crime, does constitute obstruction of justice, and it is admitted now after being denied for over a year by the liar in chief.  But it isn't perjury, and that means that it isn't as bad as the way in which Bill Clinton obstructed justice, for which he was impeached...but also was acquitted.  Oh what a tangled web we weave when we take Bill Clinton's side.  

Your friend,

Mike

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2018 listed from newest to oldest.

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