November 2019 Archives

Dear America,

I've been listening to the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, though the station I was listening to on my internet radio had technical problems that prevented me from hearing her opening remarks.  Having heard her testimony after that, I have to say that I am rather unimpressed with the Democrats' inquiry in that it is almost entirely related to the states of mind of others.  In fact, Yovanovitch seems often to barely know how to respond when asked, for example, why Donald Trump did something because she doesn't know what Donald Trump was thinking when he removed her from her post as ambassador to Ukraine, or when he said one thing or another.  In fact, no one knows what he thinks, or even if he thinks, after he says many of the preposterous things publicly avers.  Daniel Goldman, the interlocutor chosen by the Democrats, has asked these questions and some that were actually ridiculous.  For example he asked the ambassador how she felt when she heard that Trump stated that she was about to "go through some things" and she said, threatened.  He then asked her, "Did you feel threatened?" and then followed up by asking her why, to which she could only say that Trump's statement about "some things" didn't sound good.  The question was redundant, and maybe even nonsensical given the questions and answers that had just preceded it.  Add that to Chairman Schiff's narratives masquerading as questions and you wind up with ammunition for the Republicans in their claims about the validity of the entire inquiry.

To be candid, between the questioning of the Republicans based on their dissembling and contorted reasoning designed to defend the indefensible and the incompetence of the Democrats' lawyers, who should know how to conduct the inquiry of a witness but don't seem to have any idea about doing so, the conclusion I reach is that all of them are just trying to stay in touch with whatever audience these hearings are garnering.  I watched as much of the Watergate hearings as I could, and by comparison, they were conducted by a bunch of Clarence Darrows, whereas the current inquiry is being conducted by Elmer Fudd and his identical siblings.  And meanwhile, Trump himself is making absurd points about Yovanovitch's tenure in Somalia as if the chaos there was her fault by twitter.  Frankly, yesterday's utterances by the Republicans, Jim Jordan in particular, are rather revealing of the desperation they are starting to feel.

Jordan made a couple of completely preposterous defenses on NPR when he was interviewed last evening.  He said that since the military aid in question was eventually released and Ukraine's president never did announce an investigation, there couldn't have been anything improper in about withholding the aid as long as Trump did regardless of the reason he did so.  That's absurd, just as is the claim that because Trump failed in his effort to coerce Ukraine's president to announce an investigation, he isn't guilty of coercion.  It's like saying that if the president actually did shoot at someone on fifth avenue but missed, he couldn't be charged with a crime, and that is relevant because Trump himself talked about his impunity if he did shoot someone on fifth avenue.  Failure is not a defense to a charge of attempting a crime, or for that matter a high crime or misdemeanor.

Similarly, the fact that Yovanovitch's recall from Ukraine was the right of the president--another point that Jordan thinks vindicates Trump--doesn't refute the allegation that she was withdrawn for improper reasons; his reasons for doing so, not his right, are the reason for calling her.  The fact that Trump recalled her when she pressed for investigation of corruption however, is evidence of his devious motivations.  They are the issue that her testimony as a witness is intended to prove, and they seem to be doing so.  Similarly, the "whistle blower" isn't needed by either side; the Republicans' insistence on ratting him out is as pretextual as the rest of their defense.

I hope that the Democrats reassess their goal of staying on television for as long as possible and try instead to adduce the proof of impeachable offenses rather than dispersing vituperative opinions.  Less smoke and more fire, I say.  Less is more.  As a retired lawyer I can tell you this.  If the Democrats had inquired of the ambassador properly for ten or fifteen minutes, but done it properly, they would have gotten closer to their goal than they did with their rambling and ill-crafted questioning of a witness who could have been devastating if they could have just let her do so simply and briefly.  I gave this advice more than once when I was practicing law.  Democrats, you need a good lawyer.  

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

Well, the first day of the Trump impeachment hearings has occurred and it seems to me that the Republicans should have harkened to the old importune, be careful what you wish for.  Despite the thrashing about of Congressman Jim Jordan--he has been touted as the Republicans' formidable, dare I say vicious, attack dog--the case against Donald Trump seems to have now been set in stone.  And not only did the witnesses from the state department repeat the damning testimony that they gave under oath in depositions, they splashed their credentials all over the television screen and the airways making them essentially unimpeachable, which I'll bet Donald Trump wishes he were.  And now, to add insult to injury, a new, this time first hand account of Donald Trump expressing his interest in the Bidens rather than corruption is going to be forthcoming.  A staff member of one of the two diplomats (both of them still with the State Department by the way) who testified yesterday had a staff member report to him just this week that he had overheard a cell phone conversation between Trump and our ambassador to the EU from the ambassador's end and heard Trump ask about the investigation.  Afterward, in conversation with the ambassador, the ambassador reported that Trump was not so much interested in Ukraine as he was the Bidens.  Now that staff member is being subpoenaed and will testify first hand as to what he heard Trump say as the ambassador spoke with him.  This could be a big domino in the long chain of them, many teetering, and this one may well be the one that falls and starts the chain reaction, which raises the issue for the Republicans: what do we do now?

The prime strategy of the Republican Party, the one that they seem to inculcate all of their new coming office holders with, is dissemblance.  They never reveal their inner thoughts and fears; they just whistle in the dark and try to divert attention from the things that they don't want the voters to think about.  It is universal in the party.  Think Lyndsey Graham fulminating at the Kavanaugh hearings about the presumption of evidence; he's a lawyer and he knows that the presumption is for people accused of crimes when they are prosecuted, not nominees for high office in which trustworthiness and sincerity are a sine qua non.  Think Mitch McConnell claiming that he is not going to give President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court so much as a hearing because he thinks the people should be heard in the election that was then a year away first; the subscript was, we might win the presidency and if so, we can approve our own person.  Think Trump...well, he gives us an example every day.  Think of all the Republicans complaining about a process just like the ones they implemented during the dozen or so Benghazi hearings in which they tried unsuccessfully to pin something...anything...on Hillary Clinton.  And now we have Jim Jordan spewing righteous indignation without righteousness.   He couldn't do anything with the testimony of the two diplomats, Kent and Taylor; their credentials that include military service, West Point, and decades of service in the State Department.  So he relied upon characterizing that testimony as hearsay and berating the Democrats, in effect by ridiculing them as the party's "star witnesses."  All the while, Trump keeps the full transcript of his July 25, 2019 phone call in favor of a "memorandum of telephone conversation."  Who knows how much that account has been groomed to protect our dissembler in chief.  

But the real problem for the Republicans will be next week or soon thereafter when some witnesses who did hear the phone call in the White House, Lt. Col Alexander Vindman for example.  Jordan won't be able to call his testimony hearsay, and he won't be able to impeach Vindman for lack of commitment to democratic principles; he's a high level officer in our army entrusted with listening to our president's phone calls for security reasons.  That's when it will get interesting.

Once a first hand account of the conversation is on the record, dissembling will no longer do.  That means that the protect-Trump enterprise on which the party has embarked will become a threat to each participant in that enterprise.  To put a fine point on it, when the Republicans are faced with a choice between protecting Trump from the American people knowing "if their president is a crook" to borrow a phrase from Richard Nixon and preserving their own political skins, I predict that you are going to see a lot of glum expressions and rueful accedence to the facts...not just in The House, but in The Senate as well, and we haven't even started talking about Doug McGann, Cory Lewandowsky and Trump's charity, which he used like a personal piggy bank.

So the outcome of yesterday's hearings is that what seemed impossible six months ago is well within the realm of possibility today.  And what was once unthinkable--that The Senate would both try and convict Trump--is now a definite maybe.  All I can say is that my fingers are crossed.  Donald Trump is the worst thing that has happened to this country since Bush and Cheney manufactured the basis for the war in Iraq.

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

I am constantly perplexed by the ability of the Republican Party to get away with hypocrisy.  They've been puling about the Democrats' investigations of President Trump as if he hasn't invited them, starting in 2016 when he was just a candidate for the presidency.  Remember him inviting the Russians to release the Clinton emails if they could get hold of them?  That was the prelude to his self-dealing in the oval office.  It started with his son meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower during the election campaign to evaluate her purported "dirt" on Clinton and it was downhill from there.  The disclosure of the Russian intervention in the campaign in the forms of disinformation on the internet and snooping in the election hardware and data followed, and Trump's disavowal of his own intelligence chiefs regarding that interference, which was surely sufficient to invite scrutiny of Trump's motivations and integrity.

Then there was the letter firing FBI Director Jim Comey, purportedly based on a memorandum from Assistant Attorney General Rosenstein that was not influenced by Trump, in which Trump went out of his way to thank Comey for telling him three times--not once, not twice, but three times--that he himself wasn't under investigation regarding Russian interference...and oh by the way, you're fired.  Then there was Trump's lacerating and constant berating of his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who was and continues to be a shill for Trump, for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, which eventually led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Next came the attempts--sub rosa mind you--to have Mueller fired, all of which were ignored or rebuffed by the people Trump was trying to get to do his dirty work for him, among them his White House Counsel, Don McGann.  And now there is the Ukraine phone call and sicking his personal attorney, Rudy Giulianni--a man whose ethics and morality are a close match with Trump's--on the Ukrainians and our ambassador there in an attempt to enhance Trump's reelection prospects by inspiring a bogus investigation of Trump's likely opponent in 2020.  There's a lot to investigate regardless of Trump's and his party's persistent claims that it is all a deep state witch hunt, but with crocodile tears streaming down their collective cheeks they insist that what the Democrats are doing is contrived, political and outright wrong.  They seem to have forgotten the "pillory Hillary" campaign they ran for four years starting in 2012.  The Republican controlled House ran five of them more or less contemporaneously, none of them finding anything inculpating Clinton, which morphed into investigations of her emails, personal ones of which she wrote on the same private server that she used for her duties as Secretary of State.  Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz ran the main Benghazi "investigation" and subsequently, Trey Gowdy, who now is regarded even by his own party as a pompous joke, ran the email investigation.  Mike Pompeo was on the committee too.  Again, nothing was found, which was no surprise since James Comey confirmed for the committee that no crime was committed by her, no matter what Donald Trump says.  Between Comey's eleventh hour "vindication" of Clinton after his public proclamation that he was investigating her use of a private server in the first place, and the constant publicity the investigations in congress got...again, all finding nothing significant...the Republicans virtually invented the political smear campaign, and now they are complaining about investigations not of suspicions but of overt acts by their man in the White House as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.

But in spite of all this, we never hear the media point to the campaign against Hillary Clinton that they waged non-stop for four years using the power of the majority in The House and then The Senate.   And of course there is the refusal to give Obama nominee Merrick Garland a hearing when he was put forward as a candidate for Justice on the Supreme Court in consequence of Mitch McConnell's abuse of Senate rules.   There is the refusal by McConnell to allow a vote on gun control bills sent to The Senate by The House, and on and on, but somehow they get away with it and claim virtue in the political colloquy while the media stand by and fail to confront them.  It must be nice to have such impunity.  The Democrats could sure benefit from it.   

  

Your friend,

Mike

Categories

Pages

Powered by Movable Type 4.38

About this Archive

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

October 2019 is the previous archive.

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

Political Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

Categories

About this Archive

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

October 2019 is the previous archive.

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