Donald J Trump & Company vs The FBI & The Pursuit of Justice

I’ve found it impossible to set down all the facts as we, the public, know them so I’ll just give you here my view (opinion, if you like) of where things stand in the intense struggle between Donald J Trump and his followers and the FBI and the rest of us.

Let’s begin with Donald J Trump’s view: “I think it’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country…A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves, and much worse than that.”

I agree with Trump on the words but, of course, he and I are on different sides of the questions of what is the “disgrace” and who should be “ashamed of themselves.”

The motive for the attacks on the FBI (and Justice Department) is clearly to stop the Special Counsel’s investigation of possible collusion between members of the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian Government (and any other suspicious matters that may arise from such investigation). And if it can’t be stopped to pre-emptively undercut public support for any findings that cast an unfavorble light on Donald J Trump.

I hope we can agree on the observation of Senator John McCain – “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The  American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s  ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded.”

Here, now, is my “read” on how we got to this moment.

In the summer of 2016, the FBI finished  it’s investigation of  Secretaray of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and concluded that there was not enough evidence to charge her with a crime. At this point, FBI Director James Comey made his first mistake.

It was a close call that no crime should be charged. The conclusion was that considering the evidence uncovered there was no good chance of a successful prosecution. A few FBI agents working on the case disagreed. But the majority agreed.

However, instead of leaving it to the Attorney General to make the announcement, Comey took it upon himself to make a public statement to that effect.

Understanding that in the heat of the presidential campaign it would be a controversial finding, Comey further broke precedent by going beyond announcing the bottom line of “no criminal charge” and  sought to deflect criticism from the Trump camp of the FBI by gratuitously critcizing Clinton’s actions.

In an early draft of the statement he would make, Comey was to say Clinton had been “grossly negligent” but the final wording of the statement he read said she had been “extremely careless.”

In either case, it was not Comey’s business as FBI director to express a public judgement on Clinton’s email actions other than to whether a crime should be charged.

Comey’s attempt to “leven” or “soften” the critcism from the Trump side was doomed to failure and indeed, the attacks on  the FBI fromTrump and his supporters began as Trump led the charge to “lock her up!”

Then, just days before the election Comey made a second and  even bigger mistake.

Stung by these attacks on his agency, Comey  sought to make it clear he and the FBI were “playing it straight” by publicly informing Congress that another batch of Clinton emails had been uncovered.

He did this before knowing what was in those emails or whether they were duplicates of ones that had already been examined.  Moreover, the new batch had been found a month before Comey revealed the discovery on October 28th. Had he informed Congress a month earlier and they had quickly been examined the impact on the election might have been far less severe.

As it happend, only two days before the election Comey announced there was nothing new in this batch of emails. But the damage had been done and we’ll never be able to prove whether this was the straw that cost Clinton the election but it is quite possible it was.

On election night in his victory speech Donald J Trump temporarily forgot his “lock her up” rhetoric and said on television –Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very seriously.”

Once in office, however the fragments of evidence that there might have been collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign grew. It was the unanimous conclusion of the Government’s security agencies that the Russians had made strenuous efforts to turn the election in Trump’s favor. Did the Trump campaign people collude with the Russians on this?

And what was Donald J Trump’s reaction to these suspicions? He might have said “take a look, investigate, there’s nothing to find” but of course, the record is clear that he sought and is still seeking to prevent “taking a look.”

-Trump called such suspicions a “witch hunt.”

– He  said he did not believe the security agencies, did not believe that the Russians had in any way sought to interfere with the election.

-He suggested that the suspicions about all this were planted by some “deep state” conspiracy orchestrated by former president Obama because he had beaten Hillary Clinton.

-He denounced Attorney General Sessions for recusing himself from any investigation (as Justice Department ethics lawyers had recommended), saying that Sessions had been “disloyal” for not staying in charge to “protect the president.”

-Comey told Congress that Trump had sought a pledge from him of loyalty to the president. And that Trump had told him he hoped he could “let the Flynn matter go.”

Flynn was being questioned about meeting with the Russian Ambassador before the Inauguration and saying the incoming administration would not support new sanctions on Russia.

When Comey made these allegations public Trump fired Comey on the grounds that he had been unfair to Hillary Clinton (no, I am not making this up)! Actually, Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News when he fired Comey he was thinking of the Russian thing.

At this point, the demands for an Investigation became overwhelming. The Justice Department Deputy Rod Rosenstein (with Session’s recusal the officer with the duty to appoint a Special Counsel) named Robert Mueller the former FBI Director to begin one.

-Meanwhile, Trump continued to “poo poo” the idea of Russian election involvement but instead continued to praise Vladimir Putin, argue against new sanctions against Russia, pubicly revealed secret information to Russian diplomats and display his anger toward Attorney General Sessions for not protecting him.

-When Congress passed by overwhelming votes new sanctions against Russia, Trump refused to put them into effect.

The Investigation continued – criminal charges have been lodged against four Trump Campaign officials, including his initial National Security Advisor, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn. Flynn has pled guilty to lying to the FBI and may well now be co-operating with Mueller’s investigation.

Another of those indicted is former Campaign Director Paul Manafort, whose ties to Russia are well known. The charges agaisnt Manafort include Conspiracy against the United States, Money Laundering and making false statements to government investigators. While none of these directly drive to the question of Trump Russian collusion, the investigators contine to put pressure on Manafort to follow Flynn and tell them anything he might know on the subject  in return for a lighter sentence recommendation.

Mueller also began examining the Trump Tower 2016 meeting which included Donald Trump Jr, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer working for the Kremlin.

In an email, Donald Trump Jr. said that if the outside people seeking the meeting had dirt on Hillary Clinton he would “love it.”

When the Trump Tower meeting was about to come to light, a press statement was released which said the meeting “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children,”  a statment which subsequetly proved to be mis-leading at best and probably just plain false.

And who prepared that statement? None other than Donald J Trump, flying back from Europe on Air Force One. Could this along with other actions to include asking Comey if he couldn’t “let the Flynn matter go” and then the firing of Comey be grounds for a charge of obstruction of Justice?

As details of Trump’s actons emerged and the Investigation  proceeded, the efforts by Donald J Trump and many Republican supporters to pre-emptively dis-disceredit any adverse findings have intensified.

-Emails between two FBI agents who were in the unit investigating the Clinton emails showed that the male and female agent who were romatially involved strongly opposed Trump becoming president. Did that show that the entire investigation which resulted in not charging Clinton with a crime was fatally tainted?

-Trump charged that the FBI was “in tatters.”

-Mueller, whose “straight arrow” reputation was prasied initially by all sides began to come under direct and sometimes withering criticism.

-Fox Host Sean Hannity said “If we care about the Constitution” the Mueller probe must be disbanded immediately.” Hannity said Mueller was “A disgrace to the Amerian Justice System” and said “his credibility is in the gutter.”

I dwell on Hannity because such personal ad hominan attacks on a public  servant whose integrity had never before been questioned absent any evidence to support them show how desperate the Trump defenders have grown.

As for Trump himsef, mutiple news stories report that last summer he decided to fire Mueller (as Nixon fired the Special Prosecuter examining him in 1973) and was only dissuaded from doing so by his White House Counsel who threated to quit if he did.

Which brings us to the Nunes Memo.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Deven Nunes (R-California), a Trump supporter of fierce loyalty, asked his staff to compose a memo attacking application to the FISA Court for a warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page. Page was a campaign foreign policy advisor to Trump. In  A 2013, letter Page claimed he was then a foreign policy advisor to the Kremlin.

Vox, a news and opinion website, writes the following:

“The memo focuses on surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser with business ties to Russia and open sympathies with the Kremlin’s foreign policy. The key allegation is that the surveillance of Page was improperly authorized — and potentially politically motivated.

In July 2016, while advising the Trump campaign, Page flew to Moscow and met with Russian officials. This raised eyebrows among US intelligence officers, to say the least. So the FBI and DOJ put together an application to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court — a court that approves surveillance warrants pertaining to national security and foreign intelligence — to start watching Page. The court granted the application.

The Nunes memo alleges that this surveillance was not properly vetted by the court; specifically, that it relied on the now-infamous Steele dossier, the document prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele alleging the existence of a conspiracy between Donald Trump and the Russian government. Steele’s research was, partially and indirectly, financed by the Clinton campaign — which the memo alleges is a major problem.”

For the complete story, go to the Vox website and read it for yourself.

Alleging that the memo showed that the FBI investigators were motivated by bias against Trump, the Intelleigence Committee voted on a party line vote to release the memo against the objections of the FBI that it was “gravely concerned” about inaccurances in the memo and the Justice Department’s assertion that release of the memo was an “extraordinary reckless” push that would disclose methods of security investigation. The Committee further refused to release a rejoinder to the memo written by Committee Democrats.

Trump allowed the release and said the memo completely vindicates him. Moreover, when he was asked whether he intends to fire Rod Rosentein, one of the officials who signed the application to the FISA Court for a surveillance of Carter Page and the Justice Department official now overseeing the Investigation, Trump replied “You figure that out.”

Here are my concluding thoughts (opinions) on this mess.

Trump & Company clearly must have something of great importance to hide, facts they do not want to become public. We can all speculate on what those facts may be but these attempts to thwart and discredit the invetigation are not the actions of innocent people.

The Investigators then and now may, indeed, include people who don’t like Donald J Trump. Is that surprising? We all have opinions, is it reasonable to believe that investigators don’t? And are there surely not people in theFBI who do like Donald J Trump – ones, for instance, who wanted to charge Hillarhy Clinton but were in the minority?

The important thing is that the investigatiors (like reporters) work hard to keep their opinions out of their investigation – to let the facts unconvered speak for themselves.

The Speaker of the House Paul Ryan now says he will insist on release of the Democratic members response to the Nunes memo. Each of us can compare the two views directly.

More importantly, if the Investigation’s conclusions allege that Trump or any of his family or associates have engaged in “wrong doing” those conclusions will have to be supported by the evidence on which they are based, evidence which will be made public.

All of us, Sean Hannity included, can then consider the evidence on its merits and not on who compiled it.

Yes, I clearly believe that when the smoke clears there will be fire to examine. But that is an opinion based on the twists and turns to date but one which will finally rest on the conclusions and facts of the investigation.

In the meantime, we must all see to it that the effort to stop the investigation  fails. We must insist that Mueller and his team be allowed to continue their work without pressure against them.

And if Donald J Trump should now move to fire Rosentein,  FBI director Christopher Wray who has told the FBI to “keep calm and tackle hard” and anyone else who is part of our System of Justice, then we must oppose that in the most virgous ways at our disposal.

John McCain is right: “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s.”

 

 

 

 

http://wapo.st/2DVO8Mh

http://wapo.st/2nD6iaJ

 

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

 

Watching Donald J Trump deliver his first State of the Union address, his voice sing-song as he read from the Prompter, his jaw jutted skyward in awkward imitation of Benito Mussolini, my poor addled brain suddenly began to play some music from the musical Evita as Che set the stage for the show:

Oh, what a circus
Oh, what a show…
We’ve all gone crazy.”

Trump’s show before the Joint Session of Congress was spectacular, exciting, great theater.

But terrifying– beginning with his call to jingoism:

The State of our Union is strong because our people are strong,”

This is our new American moment – this is your time.”

We proudly stand for the national anthem”

My pledge is to sign a bill (on immigration) that puts America First.”

The speechwriters had written in the line “Tonight I call on all of us to set aside our differences” and Trump dutifully read it but then, as Republicans erupted in round after round of vigorous applause and Democrats sat stonily and glumly sat on their hands, Trump played hard to his “base” and thumbed his nose at the rest of the World.

He assured the “base” that he would not let traditional American values of justice deter him from fighting terrorists.

Terrorists are not merely criminals, they are unlawful enemy combatants and when captured overseas they should be treated as the terrorists they are.”

I just signed an order directing Secretary (of Defense) Mattis…to keep open the detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay.”

And his “base” must have been thrilled by his response to the near unanimous World disagreement with his decision to move the U S Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

After noting that a huge number of nations had voted in the U N to condemn his move, Trump said he is asking Congress to see to it that from now on our foreign aid dollars only go to those who “support American interests.”

Here was Donald J Trump complaining about “chain migration,” the American system of allowing new citizens to bring in family members when his own family came to America in the same way.

Here was Donald J Trump praising American war veterans as such heroes (they are) “we love our veterans “ but when given his chance to fight for his Country in Vietnam, found enough deferments so that he didn’t have to do so.

He praised himself for “eliminating the most regulations in the first year than any administration in our Country…” not mentioning that among those regulations were many protecting the environment, the parks and monuments set aside for all Americans use and those protecting the food we eat and the water we drink.

And he praised himself for “ending the war on clean coal” apparently still not understanding that the term “clean coal” does not refer to actually “cleaning” the coal with soap or other detergent. And apparently not understanding that coal and its miners are doomed by the rapid transfer away from fossil fuels to new forms of energy.

But never mind the substance for whatever it was. This speech was designed as a show and the theatrical staging was impressive.

Beginning with Ronald Reagan, presidents have paid a nod to “heroes” invited to sit in their presidential boxes.

Reagan invited Lenny Skutnik who had jumped into the Potomac to save individuals from the crashed Air Florida flight just to honor him.

But Trump invited “heroes” as props to cloak his policies with compelling human emotion rather than factual argument.

For instance, when arguing for the restricting of traditional American policies of immigration, Trump told how two different families lost daughters who were murdered one night by immigrant M-13 gang members – The fathers and mothers were sitting in the presidential box.

Stand up,” said Trump, clearly wanting a better television picture of weeping parents.

In another example, the parents of the American student held for months in North Korea, then released but who died a few days after returning to America, were spotlighted in the box by Trump as he promised to be tough on North Korea.

I urge anyone who missed seeing this remarkable assertion of America Uber Alles coupled with a rejection of traditional American values wrapped in a blanket of self-promotion and self praise to watch and listen to it for yourself.

If you do, perhaps you, also, will hear the music from Evita as Che sings

goodbye to the dead Eva Peron:

Instead of government, we had a stage

Instead of ideas, a prima donna’s rage

Instead of help, we were given a crowd,

She didn’t say much, but she said it loud.”

 

The Postman – Benjamin C Bradlee

I lived in the Washington, D. C. area for fifty two years and in that time met and admired a good many people. Because of my work as a political reporter most of them were in the Government/Political game. A few did something else noteworthy.

One of these was Benjamin C Bradlee, who was the Executive Editor of the Washington Post for twenty six years. Who, along with his publisher and friend Katharine Graham was memorialized in the recent film “The Post.”

And may I say to that fine actor Tom Hanks, in the immortal words of the late Senator Lloyd Benson on another occasion, “I knew Ben Bradlee, Ben Bradlee was a friend of mine, and Tom, you are no Ben Bradlee.”

Hanks came close as did the late Jason Robards who played Bradlee in the film “All the President’s men.”

But the spark, the twinkle of the eye, a man who could terrify people with the gritty take-no-prisoners determination of a longshoreman and then charm them with the savoir faire of a Harvard educated Bostonian of the Main Line, that man is not easily captured by even the finest or actors.

So, let me show you Bradlee playing himself.

Upon his retirement from the Post in 1991, I did a lengthy “take out”  on Bradlee for our then ABC News television program Prime Time Live.

Here’s the link; here’s the real “guy:”

https://vimeo.com/217006104

Ben did not live the full one hundred years he wanted. He died in 2014, at age 93.

And what would he have thought of politics, the press and the Country of today?

I think he would have been appalled.

But he would have fallen to with a will to set it right. If he thought that George H. W. Bush lied about race not being involved in his nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U S Supreme Court, what do think he would have said about Donald J Trump?

Appalled, yes, but determined to jump in and help set things right again.

To the end, there was never any “quit in old Ben.”

Please Fire Robert Mueller

Donald J Trump, please, I beg of you, fire Robert Mueller.

The New York Times, citing four sources who requested anonymity, reports that you decided to fire him last June. And were only dissuaded from ordering the trigger pulled at that time by White House counsel Donald McGahn who threatened to resign if you did.

Well, think of what is at stake now that the news is out.

First, you made your reputation by always following your instincts, by marching to your own “drummer.” That’s one reason why so many folks voted for you. You take decisive action without wasting time to think it through. Only those “elite” Noam Chomsky “egg head” types dither over the options. And only “losers” shrink from the opportunity to strike.

If Hillary Clinton and quite a few others objected to your racist and bigoted themes (they send their rapists, Muslims should be barred entry, there are good people on both sides when protestors complain about a march by Nazis, objecting to the entry of people from “sXXXhole” countires, etc.), why it just shows these “cry babies” don’t want America to be First.

It shows these people who object to your vision are, themselves, not good Americans. You are so right, the libel laws need to be tightened and the Idea of Freedom of Speech and the Press needs to be overhauled. Until they are, you must push back, never back down, stick out your chin and plow through the chafe that your enemies reign down on you.

Second, you are always a Winner! Didn’t you beat Clinton in the Electoral College and would have won the popular vote as well if almost three million in- eligible voters had not been able to do so?

Winners don’t allow inferior people like Mueller and his partisan FBI Investigators to question their actions. Haven’t you already declared this investigation a “witch hunt” and all the stories which indicate to the contrary  “fake news” spread by a deep Obama underground seeking to destroy your presidency?

You are known to be an honest man who always tells the truth so not to worry that lies spread by others will be believed.

And to those faint hearted “shrinking violets” who bleat that firing Mueller would bring the same disastrous result to you that firing Archibald Cox did to Nixon, well  Nixon was always a loser, you are a winner. And besides, you don’t have any tapes of your private conversations. At least when you hinted that you did to try to shut up James Comey you finally said you didn’t.

In short, you can do anything you want. Grab your enemies by their most tender parts as you do women. Only the weak will object and strong men pay no attention to the weak (or the sick or the poor or the racial leeches or the Gypsies).

So, rid yourself of this “meddlesome” Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Fire Rod Rosenstein and anyone else who stands in your way of making American Great Again.

The World will rejoice and your place in history will be higher than Lincoln’s.

I beg you to do it.

If you do, that should finally do it!

 

 

 

Longstreet, Bismark & Brooks

Over the weekend as I watched events unfold in the United States Senate, I thought of the 1863 battle of Gettysburg.

And of the exchange between the British military observer Lt. Col. Arthur Freemantle and Confederate Lt. General James Longstreet when on the third day led by Pickett’s divison the Confederate Army charged the Union line.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for anything,” rhapsodized Freemantle.

“The devil you wouldn’t,” Longstreet retorted. “ I would like to have missed it very much; we’ve attacked and been repulsed.”

That must be the way Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer is feeling just now about the decision to force a shut down of the Federal Government in an effort to help the cause of the “Dreamers,” the children who were brought to this Country during the illegal entry of their parents.

Longstreet foresaw that the Confederate attack would fail but his superior General Lee ordered it and Longstreet faithfully attempted to carry it out.

Senator Schumer surely must have known that shutting down the Government would fail to achieve the objective, moreover would damage the cause of the Dreamers and of the Democratic Party’s overall effort to oppose President Trump and his Republican enablers.

After all, until now it has been the Republicans in modern times who have forced Government shutdowns and in each one the public has sided with the other side regardless of the Republican’s motive.

But Schumer was pushed by the passionate Left to make the stand regardless of (or perhaps without thinking of) the cost.

The public clearly supports keeping the “Dreamers” here and not forcing them out. But the thought that the same public (or certainly enough of it) would countenance a shutdown with all of its attendant hardships on behalf of illegal immigrants no matter how innocent these “Dreamers” are was madness.

Both the passionate Left and the passionate Right in today’s politics appear to have forgotten the lesson taught by Otto von Bismark, the wily German Chancellor of the late nineteenth century who famously observed that “politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.”

If the goal in any cause is “success,” then all the tactics, all the hard work and effort must be concentrated on avenues that offer successful steps toward that goal.

To insist that “throwing the long ball” is the way to victory over grinding out the yardage one play after another is to throw the game.

Yes, for the “Dreamers” most of them facing a March 5th deadline for deportations to begin, it is late in the game. But there are Court cases underway that could delay the deadline and intensification of public opinion that is already in their favor could force the other side to move the deadline.

So, you ask, the shutdown failed but “so what,” it was worth trying. And the effort pleased and reassured the Democrat’s leftist base.

The “so what” is simply this. Cruel as it sounds to say it, some goals are more important than others. And just now, the “Dreamers” are not the most important goal.

To me, the single most important goal in this Country today is to purge the Country of Donald J Trump and his merry band of selfish thugs including his sycophantic Republican enablers by legal and Constitution means. And the most important of all the next steps appears to be this November’s Congressional elections.

Wrest control from the Republicans of one or both Houses of Congress in those elections and you check Trumpism’s unfettered ability to continue hacking away at our internal and external well being.

Reducing the harm being done to important causes across the board that affect us all as soon as possible is vital. That must be the most important goal and anything that checks the momentum toward that goal should be avoided.

Which brings me to the last name in this Blog’s title of “Longstreet Bismark & Brooks.”

David Brooks in his New York Times op-ed column today has done a masterful job of explaining how the shutdown effort has harmed the momentum toward success for the most important goal.

Here is the link:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/22/opinion/democrats-daca-shutdown.html

On the other hand, another NYT op-ed columnist Michelle Goldberg argued under the heading “Schumer Sells Out the Resistance” that it was “infuriating to see the Senate Democratic leadership sell the Dreamers out.”

Ms. Goldberg quotes a statement from Representative Luis Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois: “This show me that when it comes to immigrants, Latinos and their families, Democrats are still not willing to go to the mat.”

Which caused me to think of another historical moment.

The Greek King Pyrrhus defeated the Romans in two consecutive battles but the result was a cumulative loss of 7,500 of his best warriors whom he could not replace and the plummeting of his army’s morale.

Pyrrhus supposedly muttered “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined”

And so shall the Democrats and their most important objective if they keep going “to the mat” in the fashion they tried this last weekend.

A “Pyrrhic” victory helps no one.

Bob Dole for President

While gamboling through the internet today looking for something new to say about Donald J Trump (something printable), I stumbled on a live feed of a Capitol Hill ceremony at which former Senator Robert J Dole was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’s  highest civilian award.

Dole served in Congress from 1961 to 1996, when he resigned to run for President.

At age 94, shrunken and unable to walk, Dole sat in a wheelchair as the Republican and Democratic leadership of both Houses of Congress spoke affectionately about his life of service to the nation.

His friends talked about his integrity and honesty, said his word was always good, said he took the “long view” working across the aisle on behalf of Veterans, Americans with Disabilities and other Americans who were less well off.

They said Dole was always a man of high principles and values, whose World War II service during which he was severely wounded put him on the road to national leadership.

I got to know him as a reporter first when he served in the House, then when he served in the Senate winding up as the Majority Leader of the Senate. And after he left public life, I got to know him on  a more personal basis.

As I listened to the speakers praise him for his admirable qualities, I couldn’t help but compare Dole to another man who sat on the podium waiting to give the last speech of the day, the man with the “golden” hair, a man who possesses none, not one of the admirable qualities attributed to Dole.

In 1995, as he was gearing up to run for President, we of the ABC Magazine program Prime Time Live aired a lengthy report about Dole, centering on his World War II service and his life living with the handicap he suffered when wounded in that war.

We took him back to the very spot in Northern Italy where he was hit by a German rifle grenade and we showed how he was able with the help of the people of his hometown to regain enough strength to enter public life.

Here is the link to that report:  https://vimeo.com/216174602

Dole failed to win the Presidency in 1996, but if he had the Country would have been in good hands; if you watch our report you will see some of the reasons why I can say that.

Oh, yes, as to the last speaker today. He read from a script written for him, only occasionally glancing up from the page. The words were okay but the delivery by necessity,  impersonal.

He didn’t know Bob Dole. Too bad.

If he had he might be a better person.

 

 

 

 

 

When The “You Know What” Hit The Fan

It’s not that I’m a prude, a “goody two shoes.”

It’s not that I didn’t know that presidents  may curse and use vulgarity when talking to their close associates in private. Just listen to Richard Nixon in the Oval office railing against “those Jews.”

It’s the combination of the vulgarity and the aggressive racism that this pathetic human being used before members of Congress assembled in the White House on a mission of bringing clarity and humanity to our broken Immigration policy that I find so repugnant  that I can’t bring myself to repeat it.

I shrink from even accepting it let alone repeating it.

So I’ll take the coward’s way out and let the Washington Post’s report  tell the story:

“The president’s comments occurred as he grew frustrated with lawmakers in the Thursday meeting in the Oval Office when they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan deal over young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” who were brought to the United States illegally as children, according to several people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” (bolding added) Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers.”

Well, as the G I (s) of World War Two used to say when things suddenly turned tough…The (you know what) has hit the fan.

How many people for whatever their reason who were still clinging to Donald J Trump said to themselves upon hearing the news, “That does it, I can’t take him any more, I’m off the Trump Train?”

Ten? Ten Thousand? One Million?  I don’t know but I do know that there is a new revulsion abroad in the land (and World), a new and sharp slap of reality hitting us all in the face.

He is a vulgar, disgusting racist who is President of the United States? The ability to pretend otherwise is no longer a tenable option.

And I do believe that the “peeling away” process from his so-called “Base” has been accelerated.

Once again, Trump proves to be his own worst enemy (and please don’t reply with the old joke “not as long as I’m alive” – this is my blog and I get to be first in line with that one). And this time with this angry, revealing  curse thrown at much of the non-white world, he has hastened the day of a return to national sanity.

Yes, the “you know what” has hit the fan. And the wind that blows must surely help blow Donald J Trump away.

Trump’s Poison Pill of Love for DACA

Donald J Trump told a bipartisan group of Congressional lawmakers that he wants to make a deal on saving the DACA children (brought to this Country by their parents illegally but through no fault of their own) from being deported.

He said he wants Congress to pass a “Bill of Love” for those children and will sign anything, even if he disagrees with some of the provisions, that a bi-partisan effort produces.

Wow, hosanna, bless us all. We have seen the miracle of salvation!

Well, uh, there is just one little catch.

In order to sign such a “Bill of Love,” he will insist that  the first tranche of money (18 Billion Dollars) be appropriated for building the “Southern Border Wall” he promised during his presidential campaign.

Witness the “Poison Pill” in “Trump’s Bill of Love”.

Forgive me, my, hard heartedness, but under no circumstances must Trump be given his “border wall!”

Why not? Politics is the Art of the Possible and making a deal with everyone getting something they want is the essence of good Deal Making.

Because, in this case to give Trump the Wall would allow him to tell his loyal Base that on the single most important issue of his presidential campaign, the promise to build a wall to keep those non-white “rapists” out, he had won.

He knows he must have the Wall or be exposed  to his adoring base as a “con man” who sold them an impossible “bill of goods.”

If we are to end the Trump presidency soon by Constitutional means (and the very life of the Country could depend on it), we must have the support of not just the “never trump” majority  but the support of a significant portion of his base.

Give him the wall and you give him enough of the Country that Impeachment or the 25th Amendment would be all but impossible.

I, also, want to keep the “dreamers” here. Good people that they are, they deserve compassion and the right to stay among us.

However, cruel as it sounds, the most important thing to this Country now is to get rid of Donald J Trump along with his merry band of  selfish thugs and enablers before we, dreamers and the rest of us, go down in a whirlpool of vile, ignorant destruction.

 

 

 

 

 

A “Stable Genius” Tweets Again

Enraged by the Michael Wolff book which paints him as an Egotistical Vulgarian Ignormus, a person totally unfit to hold the office of Dog Catcher or Recorder of Wills let alone the Presidency of the United States, Donald J Trump lashed out in morning “twitter spread” and defended himself.

A sampling:

“I went from VERY successful businessman to top TV star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”

““Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.”

Reading these “tweets” in defense of his “genius” and “mental stability” I thought of former Senator William Scott, Republican of Virginia.

A new, small Washington magazine which had few readers (it was actually a shopping center hand out) ran an article in 1974, which nominated Scott as the “dumbest member of the United States Senate.”

Scott immediately called a news conference to deny that he was the “dumbest member of the United States Senate.”

“I deny that,” he said hotly.

The next morning the Washington Post with a circulation of hundreds of thousands printed a front page story with a picture of Scott and the news that he was denying he was the “dumbest member of the United States Senate.”

How “like, really smart” of him to call that news conference.

He served only a single term in the “United States Senate.”

Have you noticed how the really smart people, who are also self assured and comfortable with who they are let you find out how smart they are by observing their accomplishments, demeanor and values and not by telling you how really great and wonderful they are?

I was watching the television series “The Crown” the other night. The episode featured the time shortly after King George VI died and his young duaugher Elisabeth became Queen. The young Queen’s mother, also named Elizabeth, sought a refuge in Scotland to ease the sorrow of the death of her husband.

The film showed her being introduced to a Scotsman who owned a castle on the seacoast and when they met the Scotsman said “You look familiar; I’ve got it, you’re a famous actress” and satisfied that he had her pegged for many days they dined and walked and had a great time. Until her daughter, needing her mother’s advice, sent for her.

A Court messenger found the two new , good friends walking along the Scotsman’s beach and ran up to them and said “your majesty, your daughter the Queen asks that you return to London immediately.”

The Scotsman, suddenly aware of who his new friend really was, simply looks dumbfounded and embarrassed but with a most fond smile spreading across his face.

I imagine the scene is at least partially the creation of the episode’s writers but it was lovely in making the point that if you are “somebody” you don’t have to announce it. Let others find it out and they will admire you all the more.

Oh, well, in the case of Donald J Trump he has so much, so very, very much to learn that this small matter is trivial. We will survive his ignorance on this score.

Let us hope he learns that a president can not just get up one morning and angry that little “rocket man” has called him a “dotard,”  order thermonuclear weapons to destroy a country of twenty six million people.

We might not survive that.

Burn the Books, Donald, Just Burn The Books

The Michael Wolff book which is “stirring” the Washington pot to “ramming speed” has gone on sale. And numerous sources describe Donald J Trump as furious. But, as usual, we don’t need anonymous sources to confirm Trump’s feelings on anything. He, himself, always takes to the “twitter” board to tell us from the “Horse’s Mouth” how he feels.

He tweeted in part: “I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him…”

What to do abut it? So far, Trump’s initial actions only got the publication date moved up.

To today.

Trump instructed his lawyers to demand that the publisher “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book…”– he never has understood what James Madison meant in writing about Freedom of the Press.

Then, he promised to sue for defamation and libel the author, publisher and probably the copy editor, cab drivers who carried Wolff on his weekly visit to Washington to gather material and everyone else who could in any way be attached to Wolff’s devious enterprise. Any good lawyer will tell you that you sue everyone possible in hopes that someone’s connection will stick in court and to ensure that anyone who has some money is placed in the potential “killing zone.”

In this case, suing won’t work as I’ll explain in a moment but I do have a suggestion for how Trump might make one last, desperate attempt to be “rid of this meddlesome” book.

Burn it, burn all the books!  More on that later.

Actually, the book does not tell us much about Trump we didn’t already know. It had already been widely reported that his Secretary of State had privately called him a “F…ing Moron,” his National Security Advisor and called him a “Dope” and an “Idiot” so when the book quotes Steve Bannon as saying he ”acts like a nine year old” no one is shocked.

However, there are some new delicious “morsels.”

For example, the book quotes Sam Nunberg, a campaign aide who was given the job of explaining the Constitution of the United States to Trump (clearly an impossible, thankless job) as saying “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”  But we already knew from many sources that Trump has the attention span of a gnat

In sum, the book reinforces the commonly held view that Donald Trump is wildly and dangerously unfit for office.

So Trump wants to sue? If he sued everyone in this Country who holds that view, upwards of two thirds of our population would be hauled into court.

Let’s examine his chances of winning such a suit.

In addition to not knowing James Madison, Trump has clearly never heard of L. B. Sullivan, who, in 1960, was the Public Safety Commissioner of Montgomery, Alabama.

That year the New York Times published a full page advertisement from a group soliciting funds to defend Martin Luther King, Jr., which described rough actions committed by the Montgomery police department against civil rights protestors.

Sullivan sued the Times for libel on grounds that though he was not directly named everyone knew he supervised the department. He won in the Alabama court (naturally) but Earl Warren’s court said “you lose (it was 9 to 0)” and in that case, established a high bar for winning a defamation or libel suit against a “public figure,” which Sullivan was.

Trump, being the most public of all public figures, must prove that the book’s author demonstrated a “reckless disregard” for the truth and, moreover, published his work with “malice,” that is published it with the actual intent to injure him.

Can you imagine Wolff’s defense lawyers subpoenaing the Secretary of State, the National Security Adviser and others and under oath asking if they can deny calling him a “F…ing Moron,” “Dope and Idiot,” and acting “like a nine year old?”

Of course, such a suit might be thrown out by a judge for lack of merit before ever getting to the point of testimony but Trump has a history of being the “Gatling gun” of defamation suits regardless of the merits or the evidence.

Consider Trump’s 2006, suit against Timothy L. O’Brien, then a business reporter for the New York Times who had written a book about Trump.

The book was actually pretty kind to Trump. Trump was not labeled a Moron or Dope or accused of wanting to grab women by their private parts or anything that most people would believe was defamatory but O’Brien, using various sources, had concluded that whereas Trump was claiming in those days to be worth several Billion dollars his net worth was actually more on the order of 150 to 250 Million.

Outraged, Trump said that defamed him and he sued for libel!

Bad mistake.

Trump was subjected to a deposition under oath in which he hilariously said he basically computed his net worth day by day on how he felt about the world on any given day. And, he had to turn over documents including his tax returns.

The Courts kept throwing out the suit on the grounds there was no “clear and convincing evidence” of liable under the Sullivan Rule. After spending about a million dollars on the suit, Trump finally gave up.

Fortunately for Trump, the Courts sealed all the documents so O’Brien, who saw Trump’s tax returns through 2005, can’t tell us what was in them. But last year O’Brien gave a number of interviews in which he said there are basically three things from anyone’s tax returns someone would be interested in.

First, how much Income was claimed. Second, what Deductions were taken. And Third, how much and to whom did the individual owe money (as required of Corporate tax returns).

O’Brien said that third point was important if the individual held or sought an office of public trust which required the individual to make decisions objectively, not based on personal considerations.

Ho, ho. Got it Tim. That was a hint well putin, er, I mean put.

Finally, if Trump feels so strongly about Wolff’s book, he should, as I say, burn it. Buy every copy printed and burn them all.

There is a precedent.

On May 10, 1933, books by Brecht, Einstein, Freud, Mann, Remarque and many others were burned all over Germany in huge bonfires. Whether there were “very fine people on both sides” of those fires is debatable but they were certainly effective in getting rid of books the Nazi’s didn’t like.

But then, come to think of it, you probably couldn’t make that tactic work here today.

In 1933, no new books could be printed in Germany to replace the ones burned. But today, Wolff’s publisher Holt & Company would probably just keep on printing books until Trump had no money left with which to buy them.

Still, Trump never likes to give up, always wants to be a winner.

Perhaps he could get a loan from his friend.