The Punishment Should Fit The Crime

Men everywhere are running for cover as women begin to speak out about the sexual assaults they and their fellow females have suffered, until now mainly in silence.

There is a general sense with which I agree that the transgressors should be punished. There is no statute of limitations for being a pig!

But what’s a fair punishment? Surely not the cry as is heard now in some quarters of “off with their heads,” no matter who, no matter what, no matter when!

In today’s chase of yesterday’s pigs, are there no distinctions, no levels of punishment, no sense of individual punishment fitting the individual crime?

In the case of Harvey Weinstein, the answer in easy. He is publicly accused of acts that are already covered by the criminal law and if charges are brought to court, as seems probable, he will be tried by a jury or judge and if convicted sentenced on the basis of both guidelines and individual factors outlined in his probation report. Others who may be charged with criminalized conduct will be treated in the same way.

But what about just the “pigs?”

What about Kevin Spacey, Michael Oreskes, Roy Price, John Best, Mark Halperin, Roy Moore, Al Franken and scores of other men whose accusers have come forward to demand justice? Should they all lose their jobs, their livelihood, their homes and family, forever cast out from societies embrace?

Take the case of former comedian, now Senator Al Franken. All the readers of this blog surely know the acts he committed against Leeann Tweeden, a former model and news anchor in Los Angeles when they were together on a USO tour in 2006, when Franken was still only a comedian.

What Franken did he admits was wrong and he is ashamed of his conduct. Certainly, confession of wrong doing does not excuse it.

Question: Should he leave the Senate, either through voluntary resignation or expulsion? Michelle Goldberg, in her New York Times column today thinks he should.

Ms. Goldberg says until this incident came to light, she was totally on Franken’s side because of his liberal views, particularly his work on behalf of women’s issues. He was the type of person she says she admired and was very glad to see in the Senate. Then she heard the accusation and saw the picture and that all changed.

She says she considered the question of fairness, weighing the old “good” against the new “bad,” confessing that for a time she waivered but finally came to her decision, as written at the end of her column:

“The question isn’t about what’s fair to Franken, but what’s fair to the rest of us. I would mourn Franken’s departure from the Senate, but I think he should go and the governor should appoint a woman to fill his seat. The message to the men in power about sexual degradation has to be clear: we will replace you.”

Whoa. Ms. Goldberg is certainly welcome to her view on what’s fair but to hold that Franken should not be considered in the matter of fairness is wrong. When she says the question is what’s fair to the rest of us, who does she mean by the word “us” – men and women or just women? Is she trying to teach powerful men a lesson or exact a revenge for their misdeeds?

If resignation for Franken’s past misdeeds is a fair price, what about another federal office holder named Bill Clinton?

New York Democratic Senator Kristen Gillebrand says he should have resigned the presidency because of his affair with Monica Lewinski. Well, he was Impeached and Tried in the Senate on charges stemming as a result of that affair and acquitted in the Senate because the public (including the majority of women) didn’t want him out.

And what about Donald J Trump who bragged that he often grabbed women by their (most private part)? Franken planted a sloppy, unwanted kiss and took a picture of his hands on a woman’s clothed breasts. How does that equate with grabbing many women’s most private part?

If Franken is forced to resign shouldn’t Trump go also? Never mind the fact that in the 2016 presidential election Trump received forty two percent of the female vote. What were they thinking? And what do they think about Franken?

The ramifications of all this are many and not easy to square but “all of us” should beware of over zealousness with a “one size fits all” attitude toward punishment for all past sexual misdeeds. I repeat, an individual’s punishment should fit an individual’s crime.

And for goodness sakes, women are not best served by becoming “avenging angels” on behalf of their gender as Ms. Goldberg suggests when she says the message to men in power about sexual degradation is that we women will replace you.

I believe (without having taken a poll) that the vast majority of American men – fathers, husbands, sons, brothers – join women in wanting this permissiveness of sexual assault on them stopped and those who have committed it be made to pay a price.

But if somehow this turns into gender class warfare, I’m afraid many men will know which side of the barricade they will want to be on. And that would serve none of us – men or women – any good.

Quo Vadis Democrats. And the Country?

One of the mistakes ( just one) the Clinton campaign made last year was to concentrate on making the point that “I am not him!” Instead of pounding away on what I will do along with my fellow Democrats for you, the voter.

I mean her slogan “Stronger Together” correctly reflects an important fact but it could not compete with his “Make American Great Again” into which anyone could pour his/her concept (even the vilest of concepts) of what would actuallly make America Great Again.

So now the Democrats are faced with how to position themseleves for the next one or two or several elections. If they continue the idea that all they have to do is say “We are not ‘him’ or ‘them’, ” they will continue to come up short.

No, the Democrats must stand for something that will help “me,” not just promise to get rid of ‘him’ or’them.’

And what is that “something” to stand for the Democratic party seems to be headed toward?

Many write about a  Democratic party civil war between the Bernie Sanders leftists and the esblishment centrists. But a smart man I know named Doug Sosnik, who was an advisor to President Bill Clinton, says in a Washington Post  op-ed column that the war is over, that the party’s future position is already determined.

The  Headline reads: “What Democratic Civil War? The Left Already Won.” And here is the link.

http://wapo.st/2hvK1Jb?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.430110db3196

Sosnik invites us to  look at the numbers in a Pew Values Survey released last month . It found: “that the percentage of Democrats and Democratic leaners who express liberal or mostly liberal political values exploded from 30 percent in 1994 to 73 percent in 2017.

The research found that 84 percent of Democrats think immigration is a good thing for our country — a 52-point increase since 1994. And 64 percent now believe that racial discrimination is the main reason that many black people cannot get ahead — a 36-point increase in the past seven years. A June 2017 Pew poll found that a majority of Democrats support single-payer health insurance, a 19-point increase in just the past three years.”

And the beat goes on. The future democratic vote appears to be strongly in a leftist direction. But so what, you say, that just may prove that the Democrats will be increasingly out of step with the Country.

Not so. The Country is swinging to the left thanks to the life cycle of age.

The millenium generatiron coming to voting power is according to all the reputable surveys, strongly in the Democratic columne. In the recent November 2017 elections it was not just the suburbs and the non-white voters in general who beat the Republicans, it was a surge of young people. And that tide is just begining. They are liberal and they are Democratic.

The old Republican party (the one in which I grew up) might have competed. But this Trumpified catastrophe which masquerades under the old GOP banner – a collection of Americans who stand against Blacks, Mexicans, Gays, financial aide to the poor, contempt for science, and other mid-evil thoughts and actions while holding tight to their assault weapons – these fearful and hostile Americans are fighting a rear guard action for the past while being overwhelmed by the future.

Eventually, the actuarial tables recording deaths vs. births will get us all but, acording to today’s numbers on political thought, it will get those is the Trumpified Republican party before it gets the surge of  young people who are charting the future of the Democratic party.

Quo Vadis the Democrats?

Left.

An thus the Nation?

Left.

It’s in the numbers. As a stock market broker might say when the price keeps falling “don’t fight the tape.” Because that’s one sure way to go broke!

 

Siding With the Enemy

Donald J Trump’s AsianTour featured one disaster  after another. But one, to me, overshawdoes all the others. I’ll get to it in a moment, but first allow me to set the scene that surrounded it.

On his Asian tour, the following events occured.

-The juvinal exchanges between the North Korean leader and  the Amerian president continued.  Kim Jong Un called Trump “an old lunatic” and Trump called Kim Jong Un   “Short and fat.” Laughable if it weren’t for the fact that these two children control nuclear weapons.

-Trump, in Beijing, praised Chinse President Xi Jinping who has just consolidated his power in an effort to match Mao as China’s perpetual dicator.

The Trump of the 2016 campaign who railed against China and promised to make the Chinese stop “playing” the U S unfairly on trade was  nowhere to be seen.

-But in Vietnam at the Conference of Asian nations working to cement a new Pacific Trade deal to replace the Trans Pacific partnership (earlier this year Trump had pulled the U S out of that partnerhsip) , the swaggering, tough talking Trump returned, telling the others: “We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore (on trade)…I am always going to put America first…”

But, with the Asian nations now sealing a trade deal with out the U S, “America first”  is quickly becoming “America Alone,” as Brian Klass at the London School of Economics observed earlier this year.

And guess who will be leading this new Pacific Trade deal? Why Xi Jinping and China, of course.

-Speaking of Dictators, In Manila Trump fawned over one of the newest, cruelest “strong men,” Phillipine President Duterte who has been busily endorsing the execution of suspected drug dealers (and others) without benefit of trial (critics claim some if not many of Duterte’s victims were inocent, but never mind).

Trump said he and Duterte have a “great relationship.” In their private meeting, a Trump spokesman said the subject of “Human Rights” came up briefly. A Duterte spokesman said it was never mentioned.

By the way, also attending that private meeting was Jose E. B. Antonio, a real estate developer who is building a 150-million luxuery tower in Manila along with his partner Donald J Trump. Some people who have just returned from living on Mars complain this is totally inappropriate, not understanding this is business as usual for Trump.

Heck, can’t a fellow make a buck without the little people complaining?

-And now, speaking of dictators who kill people they don’t like, we  come to the overriding disaster (outrage of the trip), a brief exchange at the Conference in Vietnam Trump had with Vladimir Putin, the ex KGB Colonel who is  the president of Russia.

Trump at one point told reporters Putin had again denied to him any Russian “meddling” in our 2016 presidential election and Trump indicted he believed Putin over the U S Intelligence agencies who have unanimously said there was, indeed, Russian “meddling.”

My ability to put this outrage into perspective is no match for that of Charles W. Blow, who is a superb op-ed writer for the New York Times. His column this morning (11/13/17) is headlined “Siding With the Enemy,” which I have borrowed to headline this blog. Of course Putin would lie but can you conceive of any other American president, for that matter any other Amerian, taking his word other than Donald J Trump?

Here is the link to Blow’s column. Please read it.  And weep.:

https://nyti.ms/2hvsO6d

Allow me to say it again (and again), we must never surrender to Donald J Trump, never accept his attack on decency and sensible leadership that he and his merry gang of thugs are waging as the “new normal.”

New or old, the push by authoritarians, particularly those likeTrump who are vulgar ignoramouses, is something we must oppose with legal means of every description. And we cannot leave it to others.

Everyone of us must be in this fight for a return to American values that reflect Ronald Reagan’s famous adaptation from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount  of a “Shining City upon a Hill.”

“America Alone” cannot survive.

 

Judge Roy Moore & The People of Alabama

In an earlier post “Roy Moore vs James Madison,” I examined Moore’s stated belief that his God’s commandments (as he sees them) are to be followed by all of us. He says the United States should be a “Christian” nation and in my earlier blog I compared Moore’s View to that of James Madison, principle author of the First Amendment to the U S Constitution

Madison wrote (and the other “Founders” ratified) a different view. Although they were Christians, their (ours) First Amendment is clear: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” which means Government can not  tell you how to worship or stop you from worshiping (or not at all) as you see fit. Which means Roy Moore cannot enact his personal belief into law which he fervently hopes to do.

Twice Moore as Alabama’s Chief Justice refused to obey the order of the Untied States Supreme Court because he said his God’s commandments disagreed. Twice he was removed as Chief Justice.

And now he is the favorite to win the special election for the U S Senate to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.

But this blog is not really about Roy Moore. Or the new accusation that he engaged in sexual mis-conduct with a fourteen your old many years ago.

I want to talk today about the people of Alabama, only a tiny few of whom I know individually but by their actions and stated views at the ballot box and elsewhere, I believe I know collectively.

According to the latest U S Census Bureau figures, 68% of the population is white, 26% is black, 3% are Hispanics, the rest of other or mixed races.

According to the Pew Foundation, of the White population, 63% say they are protestants, 7%, roman catholic. And of the White population , 68% say they are Republicans or leaning toward Republicans.

These are the people of Alabama who support Roy Moore: White, Protestant, Republicans. Well, you say, “duh!” Yes, I know, you knew that. But in what follows I want to make it absolutely clear which people of Alabama I’m talking about, certainly not all.

I’m talking about people who are basically racists (still fighting for the right to enslave or at least dominate black people), I’m talking about people who do not respect U S law if they disagree with it and believe they can ignore or override it (as Roy Moore believes). I’m talking about people who profess to be Christians but who do not follow Christ’s teachings as set forth in the Bible  (read the Sermon on the Mount for starters).

In the late 1950s, following the Supreme Court decision de-segregating the public schools, driving the highways of Alabama and other deep South States the most common roadside sign was not “Eat at Joe’s” but “Impeach Earl Warren,” the Chief Justice of the U S Supreme Court who had put together the unanimous decision that separate education was not equal and therefore unconstitutional and must be changed. I’m talking about the Alabama white people who fought this decision “tooth and nail.”

When the Civil Rights protests began in the early 1960s, and Birmingham Police commissioner “Bull” Conner turned his dogs, water canon and clubs on civil rights marchers, the white people of Alabama I’m talking about were on his side.

When Governor George Corley Wallace decreed “Segregation Today, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever” in his Inaugural address, then stood in the doorway of the University in a symbolic effort to prevent the registration of black students, the white people of Alabama  I’m talking about cheered.

When a Montgomery church bombing killed four little black girls, when Alabama state troopers beat and clubbed marchers on the Edmund Pettis bridge, when civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo was shot dead returning from the Montgomery airport, the White people of Alabama I’m talking  about didn’t rise in protest but stood aside.

When Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which overturned racial segregation in public accommodations and other important areas of public life, the Alabama white people I’m talking about refused to obey it unless forced to by the forces of national authority.

Also, to show their displeasure at Lyndon Johnson and other national Democrats who had sponsored that act, the White people of Alabama I’m talking about changed their party affiliation to Republican and in the 1964 election joined four other Southern States and Arizona in voting for the Republican presidential nominee Senator Barry Goldwater (who had voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act).

These are the people of Alabama I’m talking about, the people who now will vote for Roy Moore in  the special election for the Senate Seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.

Is  there no hope for these people?

I fear not.

They learned their racism from their parents at an early age (who had learned theirs from their parents) accepted their parents marriage of the Christian religion  to  racism (never mind Christ’s view that “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”) and remain entrenched in their defiance of the Constitution, the law and the plain language of Christ’s teachings in the Christian bible.

But is there hope for Alabama and its people in the future?

Yes, Indeed.

The flow of history and  the movement of the times are against the racists, against the false religionist prophets and for an enlightenment and nobility of the human spirit. And that is happening even in Alabama.

The black men who began it were led by Ministers Fred Shuttlesworth and Martin Luther King, Jr. And the white men who are carrying it forward were led by a courageous Alabama native, Federal District Judge Frank Johnson.

Wikipedia writes:

“In 1956, Judge Johnson ruled in favor of Rosa Parks, striking down the “blacks in the back of the bus” law of the city of Montgomery, Alabama, as unconstitutional….In March 1965, Judge Johnson ruled that activists had the right to undertake the Selma to Montgomery March as a means to petition the government, overturning Governor George Wallace‘s prohibition of the march as contrary to public safety.”

But  the influential white Alabama man who later took up the fight for change, believe it or not , was none other than Governor George Corley Wallace. (1)

Wikipedia writes it this way:

“In the late 1970s, Wallace announced that he was a born-again Christian and apologized to black civil rights leaders for his past actions as a segregationist. He said that while he had once sought power and glory, he realized he needed to seek love and forgiveness.  In 1979, Wallace said of his stand in the schoolhouse door: “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.”  He publicly asked for forgiveness from African Americans.”

In 1982, Wallace ran for re-election for the last time. He narrowly won re-nomination and narrowly won re-election. He prevailed with the help of a large number of African American votes.

And Wikipedia then writes: “During Wallace’s final term as governor (1983–1987) he made a record number of black appointments to state positions,  including, for the first time, two black people as members in the same cabinet.”

Did Wallace have a true conversion or shrewdly read the voting registration numbers and realized he might win only by appealing for African American votes? We would like to think it was the former but we’ll take the result any way we can get it. In any event, Alabama is changing because of the voting demographics.

Alabama is also changing because of education. Not too many years ago, it ranked 49th in the nation when it came to educating its young people. Today, it has risen to 30th. Education is a key to reducing racism. Unfortunately,  the rate of increase in college graduates has not kept pace but both State and private programs are now in place with the prospect for improvement.

But education includes not only formal studies but personal exposure to the world around us, to other peoples, other religions, other cultures, other ideas and that is occurring. I don’t have exact figures but it is clear than young Alabamians are traveling the Nation and the World in increasing numbers. As elsewhere in the South, the next generation is seeing more of the outside. And thinking about what they see.

So, what will happen on election day this December 12th in Alabama? The forces of change vs the forces of white racism? We would like to think that the Democrat Doug Jones will prevail over Roy Moore but its a long-odds bet.

The white people of Alabama I’ve been talking about will change but it may take more time, more hurt and the inexorable working of the life expectancy  actuarial tables.

And above all, the emergence of young educated men and women.

(1) In 1968, my camera man Charlie Jones and I covered a rally for presidential candidate George Wallace in rural  Utah Country, Alabama. After Wallace spoke, people lined up to shake his hand. Jones filmed a few doing that, then turned off his camera. Suddenly, he said to me “look who’s coming in the line to shake Wallace’s hand?”

It was Robert Shelton, the Imperial Wizard of one of the leading groups of the Ku Klux Klan. Jones turned on his camera and when Shelton stuck out his hand, Wallace took it then froze – he was trying to soften his segregation image nationally and here ABC News was filming him shaking hands with the Klan’s Grand Wizard!

Wallace turned from the line and spoke to his Alabama State troopers. One of them quickly came over and demanded we give up the film.  For about a nano-second I told him we wouldn’t turn it over, arguing the 1st amendment’s freedom of the press before the trooper stripped the camera from Jones’ shoulder, opened the magazine cover and shredded the film.

Wallace’s fans weren’t sure what was happening but they were clearly sure which side of any disagreement with ABC News they were on. Jones and I picked up our gear and left the scene hurriedly.

In 1996, backstage at a rally in Alabama for Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole which I was covering, I encountered Wallace. He brought up the subject and said he was sorry he had ordered my film destroyed. He asked me to forgive him.

He sounded sincere. I told him I appreciated his apology and bore him no lasting grudge.

It was somewhat emotional for me thinking of the man  once so cock sure of his segregationist views, willing to hurt black people, so powerful back then who had ordered the seizing of our film, now looking at him in the wheelchair a would-be assassin’s bullet  had doomed him to sit in since 1972.

A frail, sick man who begged forgiveness from the likes of me.

Two years later, he died.

 

 

 

Guns Don’t Kill People, A Post Revisited

Another day, another massacre (at Sugarland, Texas) and anther round of debate over gun control.

As I reported after the last massacre (who remembers where –  oh yes, Las Vegas), Wayne la Pierre of the NRA tells us that “guns don’t kill people, people using guns kill people.”

Got it.

It was Paul Tibbets who blew away 78 thousand people one morning over Hiroshima, not that weapon named “Little Boy” he dropped on them. 

“Little Boy” and later his brother “Fat Man” dropped over Nagasaki were themselves harmless until used by people.

I’m with you, Wayne.

We must fight this tyrannical “non-prolifieration” effort by so many nations led by the United States to deprive people of their “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” weapons since the weapons themselves don’t kill people.

Paul Tibbets Right to Bear Arms shall not be abridged!!!

Save the Republican Party; An Open Letter to Jennifer Rubin

Recently, some people have begun to give up on the Republican Party saying that it no longer exists thanks to Donald J Trump and his various legions of followers.

I believe that is wrong. The framework that can allow the rejuvenation of the GOP still exists and any thought that starting a new party from scratch to oppose the Democrats is an uphill challenge with the odds heavily against success. Yes, the Whigs gave up and the Republican party was born in the middle of the 19th Century but there is no valid comparison to those times and these.

And why am I writing to Jennifer Rubin about this?

Rubin was hired by the Washington Post to write an op-ed column from the Conservative (read Republican) viewpoint. This was an effort to provide some balance to the host of other, liberal/progressive columnists in the Post.

Then, along came Donald J Trump and Ms. Rubin, foreseeing the danger he posed to the Country and to her party, lit into him immediately with fervor and wicked determination that rivaled anything the other liberal columnists were dishing out.

However, in her Column of November 6, 2017, after “dressing down” the timid, fearful Republican office holders who are not standing up to and speaking out against the Trump menace, she appeared to be exasperated to the point of giving up on the Grand Old Party.

She wrote: “Between Trump’s mendacity and GOP lawmakers’ passivity, the GOP of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and both Bushes is no longer recognizable. It likely isn’t even rescuable. And if not, well, good riddance (Bold added).” 

So, I decided to write to Jennifer, as follows.

“Dear Ms. Rubin,

You have been stalwart in fighting to save the Country from Donald J Trump but please don’t give up the fight to save the Grand Old Party. It is rescuable and your voice in this effort is important. Why save it (?), well, as Harry Truman was fond of saying, “let’s look at the record.”

In today’s column, you name a few of its’ prominent presidents, including Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H W Bush who have served the Country well.

But they are not alone.

The GOP is also the party of Senators such as Arthur Vandenburg, Robert Taft, Leverett Saltonstall, John Sherman Cooper, Clifford Case, Margaret Chase Smith, Everett Dirkson, Tom Kuchel, Bob Dole, Connie Mack, Nancy Kassebaum, Bill Cohen, John Chaffee, John Warner, Howard Baker, Richard Lugar, Pete Domenici and Jacob Javitts.

It is the party of House members such as Joseph Martin, Charles Halleck, Bob Michel, Gerald Ford (later President), Hamilton Fish, Tom Railsback, Gilbert Gude, Charles “Mac”Mathias (later Senator), Rogers C B Morton, Robert McClory, John Rhodes and Jack Kemp.

It is the party of Governors such as Earl Warren (later Supreme Court Chief Justice), Walter Hickle, Nelson Rockefeller, Jim Thompson, Frank Lausche, Christian Herter (later Secretary of State), William Scranton, Tommy Thompson, Frank Keating, Tom Kean, Christine Todd Whitman and Bob Martinez.

It is the party of such distinguished Republicans as Wendell Wilkie, William Rogers, Elliot Richardson, William Ruckelshaus, James A Baker III, John J Sirica, Sandra Day O’Conner, Brent Scowcroft, Fiorello La Guardia, William J Brennan, George Shultz, Malcolm Baldridge, William Webster, John Paul Stevens, Colin Powell and William Coleman.

Above all, this is the party of Abraham Lincoln.

And if you say that party no longer exists, it now belongs to the Koch Brothers, the neo-nazis, the racial and gender bigots, and the other hard core Trump voters (never to Donald J Trump), why that’s to give up a fight that millions of non-Trump, non neo –nazi, non bigots and non Koch Brothers Republicans desperately need smart people like you to make.    Save the Country first but save the Republican Party also.    We’re counting on you, Jennifer!”

Having written that to Jennifer, I say it is up to every thinking Republican to work tirelessly on behalf of restoring the GOP to carrying on its proud heritage before the “dry rot” of modern times led to the emergence in the name of the party of Lincoln(?) of Donald J Trump.

Run for office at every level if you are able. Support other candidates for office who represent the traditional GOP, talk it up in your community, write letters to the editor, post on Social Media, and VOTE, vote for any reasonable candidate of any party other than candidates who come to you in the image of Donald J Trump or his fellow traveling thugs, such as Steven Bannon, the “DarthVadar”of forces dedicated to the destruction of our Country’s traditional values and way of life.

Let us return to the time of civil debate and disagreement between the two parties. Let the pendulum swing back and forth between public favor of one over the other. But let us proceed as one peoples in one country, united in brotherhood in that “pursuit of happiness” to which our Founders dedicated us.

 

 

 

 

Donald J Trump Meets “Maximum Bob” And The Noose Tightens

When the news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had won criminal indictments against Paul Manafort, Donald J Trump’s former campaign Chairman, on charges including  money laundering, Trump immediately tweeted that the charges  came from Manafort’s  actions of years ago with which Trump had no connection.

True.

But now Mueller has the leverage to put the pressure on Manafort to enter into a plea bargain. Manafort saves himself from a potential heavy prison sentence by blowing the whistle on Trump.  This technique of forcing the truth can be highly effective

When Federal Judge John J Sirica, whose tough sentences had earned him the nickname of “Maximum  John,” threatened to throw the book at the five Watergate burglars if they didn’t come clean as to who put them up to the burglary, one of them did. James McCord, cracked and admitted that “higher ups” in the Nixon re-election campaign were behind it, and the noose around Richard Nixon’s neck began to tighten.

You say Manafort wouldn’t do that?

Knowing him as I do, I say “In a New York Minute!”

So, what does Paul Manafort know about Trump’s actions with the Russians? For starters, he attended the famous meeting in New York called by Donald J Trump, Jr.,  to meet people with Russian connections who said they could turn over damaging material about Hillary Clinton.

Manafort’s own connections in lobbying for the Russians over the years earned him millions of dollars and good access to the strategy and aims of Vladimir Putin on various subjects. There could be lots there.

But Mueller wants to know about matters beyond the Russians. He has the authority to look into Trump’s finances, income taxes, and any suspected illegal activities  no matter of what nature Trump may have engaged in?

What else does Manafort know?

Trump must tremble at the thought.

And what about George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide whose indictment was also revealed on Monday, October 30th? He has already pled guilty to a charge of lying under oath and is co-operating with Mueller.

Papadopoulos has acknowledged that he met with a man with Russian connections who said Moscow had thousands of Hillary Clinton emails (this two months before those emails were released).  How far does that thread go?

Oh, the smoke billows and the search for the fire takes on new intensity.

In reaction, and in desperation, Trump steps up his demand that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats must be investigated. His surrogates on Capital Hill, masquerading  as Republican elected members of Congress, are attempting to “gin up” such investigations. It’s about trying to throw up their own “smoke screen” of distraction. And about continuing to energize and enrage the “Base.”

Donald J Trump and his Republican enablers are feeling the heat, sensing that the rope around Trump’s neck is tightening.

Trump insists he had no collusion with the Russians. Maybe not, we’ll see. But what about all the other stuff? Trump’s life is now a book that can be opened by a man who may well earn the name of “Maximum Bob.”

But the “Base” his loyal “Base,”wouldn’t stand for anyone to touch him, anything to careen him from the presidency, right?

Wrong.

The “Base” is eroding, disappearing, slowly but surely.

In an NBC/WSJ poll released on Monday, 10/30, Trump’s approval rating has dropped to 38%, the lowest in his young presidency, lower than any other president at this point. And the really bad news for Trump is where the drop is now occurring.

The report says “the drop for Trump has come from independents (who shifted from 41 percent approval in September to 34 percent now), whites (who went from 51 percent to 47 percent) and whites without a college degree (from 58 percent to 51 percent)…Bolding added).”

And how far will Trump’s ratings eventually drop and how far must they drop before enough of his “Base” deserts him to make his further occupancy of the Oval Office impossible?

One can only guess but there is a historical number to consider. On the day Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency – his crime of obstruction of justice (a felony) proved from the tapes of his own conversation in plotting that crime- Nixon’s approval rating according to Gallup was at 24%.

Twenty four percent of the American public still approved of his performance as President.

That wasn’t near enough to save him but, to borrow a word from the 2016 campaign, that was “deplorable.”

Go get ’em, “Maximum Bob!”

 

 

 

Mario Cuomo for President

In the fifty two years I spent in Washington as a political reporter, I encountered several people in both major parties I thought might make a good president but who never ran for the office.

Two in particular.

One was Colin Powell. To the end of my life I shall continue to believe he would have brought to the presidency mature and informed  judgement, personal characteristics of morality, ethics and temperament and the leadership skills that would have served our Country well.

The other was Mario Cuomo, not as well known as Powell, perhaps not as admired as Powell, but a man of like personal characteristics  whose views  of what leadership in our country ought to be about lifted him above the field.

Here is the link to a profile we did of Cuomo in 1990, when many Democrats were pushing him to run for the presidential nomination of his party.

Watch it and see if you could have voted for Mario Cuomo for President.

https://vimeo.com/116914127

“”It might have been” for Cuomo in 1992, and Powell in 1996, and  why didn’t they make the try?

I think both had for their generation  achieved more than any African- American or son of Italian Immigrants before them and were happy with what they had achieved and not comfortable with aiming higher.

But by the time Barack Obama came along he had no qualms about shooting for the moon.

I trust that the present desperate swing led by Donald J Trump and his band of merry thugs to exclude people by characteristics other than “…by the content of their character (MLK)” will pass  so that someday a person of Italian heritage will sit in the Oval office.

She might make a great president.

 

 

 

 

 

The Damn is Breaking – Run for the Hills

Movements start slow.

Water behind a dam finds a tiny crevice in the concrete. The trickle begins.

A little Dutch boy sticks his finger in the leak to hold back the sea but soon another and another leak appears. And finally nothing can contain the Ziedeer Zee and the dam gives way.

So it is in the final days of Trumpism.

The dam holding back the  outrage  and good sense of  the Republican party is crumbling and the flood that will sweep away Donald J Trump and his merry band of thugs will soon be upon us.

Senators Corker, Flake, McCain, Collns, Murkowsk ( Republican all)  have stood up to Trump and do you doubt that soon others, emboldened by the action of their colleagues and the rising opposition in the Country, will soon add to the flood?

Victor Hugo coined the thought that “nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

The time has come for Donald J Trump to go.

May the Lord have mercy on his soul.

 

Wille & Joe are Laughing

When White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admonished us that “If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate” I immediately thought of Willie and Joe.

Willie and Joe were two fictional American soldiers in the European Theater of World War II, the creation of my friend and fellow New Mexican, the late Bill Mauldin.

Bill was in the army and a cartoonist who worked for the old Stars and Stripes newspaper which was distributed to the troops. He drew Willie and Joe as two scruffy looking “grunts” who were always pointing out the differences between the way the “grunts” and the officers were treated.

Here’s an example.

 

Donald J Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly, a retired four star general, has been under heavy fire for the contemptuous way he “dissed” the congresswoman who described his boss as having been “disrespectful” in a telephone call to the bereaved widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, killed in Niger.

So, when Ms. Sanders sought to turn aside the criticism by sniffing that it  would be highly inappropriate to argue with a Four Star General I wondered what Willie and Joe might say.

Perhaps this:

“Hey Willie, did you hear about the woman who said it would be ina, uh, ina, oh, heck, wrong to talk back to a four star general?”

“Joe, if we can’t do that who does get to do that, just the Germans?”

The G. I. s (common enlisted soldiers in the American forces of World War II) and their folks at home loved it but not all the officers did, particularly a general named George Patton.

Patton called Mauldin in and chewed him out good for disrespect to his superiors! But that’s one fight Patton lost.  Willie and Joe kept right on grousing about the officers and there was nothing more old “blood and guts” chose to do to try to stop them.

In late 1991, my producer and I on the ABC magazine program Prime Time Live took Mauldin to Saudi Arabia for the U S  buildup to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

Bill drew Willie and Joe in the desert.

When our troops there discovered who this guy with a sketch pad was they mobbed him for autographs. Our young men and women may not have known a lot about Bill Mauldin but they knew that to their dads who had fought in World War II he was a hero!

The point of this story ought not to be lost on Sarah Huckabee Sanders. To tell Americans it would be “inappropriate” to call out someone because he is a Four Star General is not to understand what this country has always been about, is not to understand why although they debated the proposition our forefathers decided not to have a King here, only another common man who would be called “president” and who served only at the pleasure of the other common people who elected him. And, of course Generals serve at the pleasure of their civilian bosses.

General Kelly has served honorably and well but was way off base in his attack on Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. First, he had his facts wrong and Second, his defense of the indefensible actions of his boss reflect the kind of servile obeisance which is “inappropriate”and certainly unbecoming of a Four Star General.

Willie, Joe, what do you have to say about General Kelly?

“Ah, Joe, he’s not really a bad guy just kinda lost it for a moment…could’a happened to anyone.”

“Right, Willie, but maybe he needs a rest from the office. Come on down in the mud with us for a few days. Do him a lot of good.”

”Har de har har”

That’s right, the last time I saw Willie and Joe talking about all this they were laughing.

PS – On November 23, 1963, with the nation in shock and grief at the assassination of John F Kennedy, Bill Mauldin drew Abraham Lincoln sitting in his Marble Chair in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington holding his head in his hands. In my estimation, that “cartoon” has never been topped.