February 2019 Archives

Dear America,

In 2016, Donald Trump lost in New York City, his home town and the place where he did his business and accrued his money, by 79% to 19%, and in New York State as a whole, he lost 58% to 38%.  (The people upstate don't know much about Trump because he concentrates his self-promotion in The City.)  That should tell everyone on both sides of the Trump divide what kind of person Trump is.  So, when Republicans stick up for "the Donald" at the Michael Cohen hearings becomes inescapably contrived.  Everyone knows that Donald Trump is a "racist, a con-man and a cheat" in the words of Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and putative "fixer" in the course of those hearings, and thus Republicans' claims that they are skeptical of Cohen's veracity are palpably contrived.  Those who have defended Trump vocally have hitched their wagons to a dark star, and my guess is that they will get what they deserve in 2020.

As to the notion that Cohen's acts were just that, his acts and not the acts of his employer for over ten years, Donald Trump, the law deals with it through the doctrine of respondeat superior, or in English, "let the master answer."  What that means is that if an employee commits an act that harms another during and in the course of his employment, responsibility to make the victim whole reposes squarely on the shoulders of the employer...the master in the master-servant relationship.  The fact that Cohen was Trump's operative is irrefutable.  It would be different if Trump had employed the lawyer only once or twice but Cohen acted purportedly on Trump's behalf many other times.  The claim that Cohen was acting on his own might have a potential for credence.  But Cohen worked for Trump and his companies continuously for at least a decade, and the notion that Trump never knew over the course of that period what kind of things Cohen was doing is preposterous. There is a basic exception to the doctrine in cases in which the servant's acts were beyond the scope of his authority to act, which is essentially what Donald Trump is implying relative to Cohen's perjury and other acts that benefited only Trump.  But Cohen has testified that in at least the case of his perjury before congress, his prospective testimony was reviewed in advance by lawyers working not just for Trump, but for Jared Kushner as well.   In other words, Cohen's perjury was "suborned" by Donald Trump through others of his agents, like his son-in-law,  just as Cohen's acts in general were suborned by Trump.  The idea that all these people were acting deviously and outside the law on Trump's behalf but without his knowledge invokes a perhaps apocryphal historic event.

Henry II had a good friend, Thomas Becket.  Becket was a clergyman and when Henry II needed money, he wanted to take some of the wealth of the Catholic church, specifically its lands.  He also wanted to diminish the power of The Church so he had Becket designated Archbishop of Canterbury.  But Beckett, although a friend of Henry's, was primarily loyal to the church, and when the king asked Becket to act in Henry's interests instead of those of the church, Becket refused.  A political tussle between the two ensued, but Becket was unyielding, and the king was unrelenting.  Eventually, when Becket's intractability was reported to Henry, he is reputed to have said in the presence of some noblemen, "will no one rid me of this turbulent (in some versions of the story it is 'troublesome') priest?"   That utterance was construed by some of the noblemen that Henry had ordered them to kill Becket, and so they rode to Canterbury and lopped off the top of Becket's head right there in Canterbury Cathedral.  I've actually been there and seen the spot where it happened, so the story is true, at least in its principle details.

Who knows what King Donald has uttered and to whom, but one thing seems certain.  In the course of his business dealings, he has done a lot of uttering about people who crossed him, and a lot of bad things that benefited our illustrious leader have happened to them.  So far, the top of no one's head has been cut off, but who knows where Donald Trump is going to draw the line...if he's going to draw a line.  All I have to say is, I hope Michael Cohen has a steel football helmet.  

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

I've decided to offer my services to the country as president.  I'm not running.  Frankly, I'm retired and I like it.  I'd rather sit out on my deck with a mint julep on summer evenings with my wife and watch the sun go down.  I'd rather come and go as I please without having to worry about someone taking a shot at me.  In fact, I got up five mornings a week and went somewhere to sit at a desk and work for decades before I retired, and I think I have paid my dues.  And why shouldn't I offer my services as president.  Everyone else seems to be doing so, but I have a qualification that none of the rest have: I don't want to do it, but if you want me to I will.  I have no ambition to be president, but the rest of the candidates do, and that's the problem.

Kamela Harris is intelligent.  She is tenacious to the point of being obnoxiously aggressive, which is the former prosecutor in her.  She looks good and smiles easily, but frankly, I never met a prosecutor that I either liked or trusted.  They just want to win, and right versus wrong never enters into their thinking.  Then, there's Bernie.

He's almost a comic character from Brooklyn with his accent and his tousled white hair.
And I like his politics--universal health care, free college for all, income equality--but he's got two things working against him: his position on guns and...he's old.  Mind you, if he could get someone's nomination I'd vote for him, but I worry that a lot of other people wouldn't because of the gun thing and...he's old.  Of course I'm old too, but not that old.

There's Kirsten Gillibrand, the attorney daughter of two attorneys.  There's something about her that is reminiscent of Hillary Clinton, and not in a good way.  For example, when she worked for a law firm that represented Phillip-Morris, she worked on the defense of the firm and its executives even though she didn't have to.  She wanted to.  And she opposed the Obama Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in 2008, which plan is credited with ending the economic crisis much sooner than it would have ended without it.  She did that because she was a "Blue Dog Democrat," which group was largely responsible, in league with Republicans, for preventing the "public option" from being included in the Affordable Care Act.  She claims to be more liberal now, but it's always hard for me to trust a habitual apostate.

As to the rest of them, Senator Klobuchar seems nice, and appropriately liberal, but she's more like a kindergarten teacher than a president.  And there is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, but he has very little political experience, though when I heard him interviewed he seemed to have some good, liberal ideas.  He's just too young.  Cory Booker is an unabashed grandstander, as he demonstrated during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.  Elizabeth Warren has always been pretty liberal, and I like that.  But Warren herself seems like a hysterical loudmouth rather than a progressive acolyte.  I don't think she can win, though if I have to vote for her as the Democrat running against Trump, I will...not gleefully, but I will.

And then there are all the others and the ones who will be coming forward in the next few months.  I don't know who the as yet unnamed candidates are, but for that matter, even though there names are of record I don't know who the other already-declared candidates are either.  They're like me: unknowns, and unfortunately, I think they are destined to stay that way.

So, here I am.  To paraphrase "Silent" Cal Coolidge, if nominated I will not run, because I don't really want to be president, but if elected, I will serve.  My main qualification is that offering myself up as president isn't an ambition being fulfilled.  I don't need to embellish my resume.  I am committed to serving, but if Michelle Obama throws her hat in the ring, I will gladly withdraw my name so as not to take votes away from her.

Your friend,

Mike

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Dear America,

I've decided to offer my services to the country as president.  I'm not running.  Frankly, I'm retired and I like it.  I'd rather sit out on my deck with a mint julep on summer evenings with my wife and watch the sun go down.  I'd rather come and go as I please without having to worry about someone taking a shot at me.  In fact, I got up five mornings a week and went somewhere to sit at a desk and work for decades before I retired, and I think I have paid my dues.  And why shouldn't I offer my services as president.  Everyone else seems to be doing so, but I have a qualification that none of the rest have: I don't want to do it, but if you want me to I will.  I have no ambition to be president, but the rest of the candidates do, and that's the problem.

Kamela Harris is intelligent.  She is tenacious to the point of being obnoxiously aggressive, which is the former prosecutor in her.  She looks good and smiles easily, but frankly, I never met a prosecutor that I either liked or trusted.  They just want to win, and right versus wrong never enters into their thinking.  Then, there's Bernie.

He's almost a comic character from Brooklyn with his accent and his tousled white hair.
And I like his politics--universal health care, free college for all, income equality--but he's got two things working against him: his position on guns and...he's old.  Mind you, if he could get someone's nomination I'd vote for him, but I worry that a lot of other people wouldn't because of the gun thing and...he's old.  Of course I'm old too, but not that old.

There's Kirsten Gillibrand, the attorney daughter of two attorneys.  There's something about her that is reminiscent of Hillary Clinton, and not in a good way.  For example, when she worked for a law firm that represented Phillip-Morris, she worked on the defense of the firm and its executives even though she didn't have to.  She wanted to.  And she opposed the Obama Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in 2008, which plan is credited with ending the economic crisis much sooner than it would have ended without it.  She did that because she was a "Blue Dog Democrat," which group was largely responsible, in league with Republicans, for preventing the "public option" from being included in the Affordable Care Act.  She claims to be more liberal now, but it's always hard for me to trust a habitual apostate.

As to the rest of them, Senator Klobuchar seems nice, and appropriately liberal, but she's more like a kindergarten teacher than a president.  And there is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, but he has very little political experience, though when I heard him interviewed he seemed to have some good, liberal ideas.  He's just too young.  Cory Booker is an unabashed grandstander, as he demonstrated during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.  Elizabeth Warren has always been pretty liberal, and I like that.  But Warren herself seems like a hysterical loudmouth rather than a progressive acolyte.  I don't think she can win, though if I have to vote for her as the Democrat running against Trump, I will...not gleefully, but I will.

And then there are all the others and the ones who will be coming forward in the next few months.  I don't know who the as yet unnamed candidates are, but for that matter, even though there names are of record I don't know who the other already-declared candidates are either.  They're like me: unknowns, and unfortunately, I think they are destined to stay that way.

So, here I am.  To paraphrase "Silent" Cal Coolidge, if nominated I will not run, because I don't really want to be president, but if elected, I will serve.  My main qualification is that offering myself up as president isn't an ambition being fulfilled.  I don't need to embellish my resume.  I am committed to serving, but if Michelle Obama throws her hat in the ring, I will gladly withdraw my name so as not to take votes away from her.

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

I read Michael Wolf's (no relation) and found it believable, but it wasn't well supported by first hand accounts.  Then I read James Comey's book, but it was so self-serving that I didn't even read the final chapter about his last contacts with our buffoon-in-chief.  But my wife just ordered the Andrew McCabe book, and she did so just after we watched McCabe on television being interviewed by Scott Pelley.  The difference between Comey's and McCabe's interviews is that Comey's primary concern always seemed to be the spotlight and how he looked in it.  While he never blanched at questions that implied self-interest as a motivation, he was poised in his responses, he suggested, at least implicitly, that it didn't make any difference as he was telling the truth.  The residual impression for me was always that he was a bit too smarmy and unctuous to be persuasive about Donald Trump, even if he was telling the truth, and I believe he was.  McCabe, on the other hand, doesn't have that aura of egocentricity about him.  He doesn't seem like a camera hog or a hysterical personality who loves attention.  McCabe seems like the kind of guy who would have been happy going through life in anonymity while doing his work and trying to get to a point at which he was comfortable personally, both financially, and spiritually in the secular sense.  To be concise, he seems like an honorable guy who wants to mind his own business, but now can't because of what Donald Trump and his allies have taken from him.

McCabe was the acting director of the FBI after James Comey was fired.  He, like Comey, was summoned to testify to congress about the investigation of the Russian election interference of 2016, and of course the name Trump came up, and in a somewhat dubious regard.  The fact is that the firing of James Comey looked like interfering with the Russia investigation to me, but when McCabe had conversations with Trump, they exacerbated any suspicions that McCabe may also have had in the same vein, and the connection between Trump and the Russians became the subject of an FBI investigation because they were so suspect.  You have to remember that Trump wrote Comey a letter thanking him profusely for allegedly assuring Trump that he wasn't the subject of investigation, concomitantly telling Comey that he was fired for his handling of the Clinton email inquiry.  Then, in both an interview on the evening news and in the widely reported presence of Russian diplomats at about the same time, Trump admitted that he was going to fire Comey no matter what he received in a supporting memo he had ordered from Rod Rosenstein, the assistant director of the FBI, to give him reasons, specifically the email investigation and associated publicity.  The real reason for the firing, Trump said on those two occasions, was the Russia investigation.  If that isn't obstruction of justice, I don't know what is, but it also is a demonstration of Trump's inadequacy for the presidency.

The first inadequacy is his lack of intellectual acuity.  He openly admitted that what he had sought to create as a cover for his dubious desire to get rid of Comey was a ruse...a pretext and nothing more...intended to obscure his already admitted aversion to the FBI and its investigation of Russia.  Put concisely, he's dumb.  Then, there's his only passing acquaintance with honesty and integrity.  That needs no elaboration; he has said one thing and done another so often that even his adversaries barely mention it anymore.  And finally, there is his apparent desire to lead autocratically, which has now been reaffirmed in not just his "emergency" executive order relative to what he peremptorily characterizes as a border crisis but his admission after signing the order that he didn't have to do so because he could have accomplished building his wall in other ways over time.  Emergencies that require extra-constitutional executive orders are not addressable over time in other ways.  They are emergencies!

As I have said before, I started hearing the name Trump when I returned to my mother's home on holidays in my early thirties, now about forty years ago.  All of a sudden, this guy started turning up being interviewed by the late gossip columnist, Rona Barrett, pontificating on one subject or another and getting out of limos with leggy models wearing an expression reflecting the same emotional state that a fly fisherman is in when he catches a 14 inch trout.  Since then it has come out that the money he started out with was siphoned off the operation of his failing father's business in an amount approximating half a billion dollars, rendering Trump's claim that he is a brilliant, self-made billionaire real estate tycoon preposterous.  Add his philandering and casual infidelity to principles that he professes to hold, his grandiosity, nepotism and obvious staging of adulation every time he appears in public at the White House, his hypocrisy about simple things like his criticism of President emeritus Obama for going to Hawaii for a vacation once or twice a year when Trump flies to one golf course or another to entertain his huge entourage of toadies every weekend, and there is plenty to support McCabe's decision to open an investigation into Trump's activities no matter what Trump tweets.  I can't wait to read the book, though I'm not expecting any surprises.    



Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

I have to admit from the start that I don't care about "the wall."  What I mean to say is that, while I would love to see Donald Trump fail to keep his inane promise, the wall itself doesn't really matter to me.  I don't see it as a moral issue the way that Nancy Pelosi claims to, and in the face of a nearly trillion dollar deficit this fiscal year, what's five billion.  As Everett Dirkson said, a billion here and a billion there and soon you're talking about real money.  But the three billion dollar difference between what the current budget proposal is offering Trump and the amount he wants is trivial except for it's political implications.  But its mere triviality just reifies my distrust of Republicans, primarily Trump and Mitch McConnell.

The first thing to recognize is that the budget McConnell just shepherded through The Senate is not different in principle from the continuing resolution sent by The Senate to The House in December.  That CR died in The House because Republican Speaker Paul Ryan couldn't be sure his Republican president would sign it, so he covered Trump's ass and refused to put it to a vote.  Next, within the first day or two of this congress--the 116th--the newly Democratic house passed virtually that same CR, but this time, despite the fact that The Senate had just passed it by voice acclamation a couple of weeks earlier, McConnell refused to put it to a vote, again to cover his Republican president's ass.  Trump said he wouldn't sign it without his five and a half billion for the wall, so McConnell saved him from having to veto it and take the hit for the shutdown that was going on.  Everyone saw what was going on and Trump did take the hit politically--unless you believe the Rasmussen poll, which varies enormously from all of the others--but McConnell went right on without missing a beat, and now has passed virtually the same budget as was reflected by the December and January CR's, and he did it shamelessly, urging Trump to sign it.  He could have done that a month ago and saved 800,000 people the financial agony that the continuing shutdown represented for them.  And all the while, the putative rationale used by the Republicans was that the wall is necessary, which brings me to the reasons professed for its necessity.

Trump says that it will keep drugs out of the country, but in reality, something like 90% of what gets in does so through legitimate ports of entry into the United States.  And for good measure, he claimed that the abuse of women by "coyotes" who smuggle them across the border is the worst abuse of immigrants in history.  Apparently he forgot about the millions of Africans packed into the holds of sailing ships like cattle for transport across the Atlantic to be used as slaves, about a third of them not surviving the trip because conditions were so abominable inside those ship's holds.  And while I haven't heard anyone repeat Trump's claims about abuse, they are all onboard with this nonsense about a wall preventing the importation of drugs.  Compound the lack of factual integrity in Republican claims vis-à-vis the wall with the fact that the biggest drug scourge at present is fentanyl, yet Trump is negotiating on trade with the government of China where the vast preponderance of the drug is manufactured and exported and you are looking at hypocrisy with a capital H.

But in the final analysis, none of this is sub rosa politics.  Everyone knows what is going on, no matter what they call it.  Donald Trump built his "base" on xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny, braggadocio, petty epithets, sophomoric bullying and vile rhetoric aimed at ad hominem argument that avoids the real issue and makes his opponents the issue while diverting attention from the facts.  And Republicans seem to be ok with all that.

That's why I wouldn't leave my wallet on the table when I left a room with a Republican in it.  The difference between the parties is profound, not that the Democrats are any prize.  The difference is that Democrats sometimes forsake their principles in the name of politics.  Republicans have no principles.

Your friend,

Mike

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2019 is the previous archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.