Category Archives: General Interest

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November 28, 2019 · 11:19 am

The president said, “he had heard”…

Back in 2012, I was working at my local Walmart Supercenter, where I had worked for many years.  Here’s a story about that time, or as my husband and kids used to call these – “The Walmart Chronicles.”  In my early years at Walmart, whenever I came home with some bizarre or surreal story from my day at Walmart, my husband would tease, and in a singsong announcer voice, say, “Ta-da, The Walmart Chronicles” and my kids picked up that same teasing phrase.  Often, I don’t think they believed some of these strange stories, but they were all true.   And let me assure you, a lot of strange things really do happen at Walmart, especially bizarre incidents of theft. Here is one such tale.

An elderly male associate’s employment at Walmart ended for a valid reason.  One of my young associates told me she felt sorry for him, even though she was the associate who warned me Asset Protection was watching him and that we were supposed to keep an eye on him and call AP if we saw particular suspicious behavior.  This young associate told me this man believed the Mayan Apocalypse was going to happen and that he was stealing stuff to prepare for that event…  True story.

Shortly after this man left Walmart, I arrived at work one morning and an elderly woman at the door greeted me as I walked in and she grabbed my arm to stop me.  This people greeter was the worst gossip in our store and she stopped associates and customers alike, to gather and share gossip, often taking a hold of their arm to stop them and keep them engaged in conversation.  Even my kids complained to me about her, telling me it felt like being held hostage at the front door when she started prying, trying to elicit bits of dirt to spread. My kids told me they went to the other entrance if they saw her at the door, to avoid dealing with her.

This morning, was a day of “sharing” gossip, as this woman animatedly told me this story about how Walmart killed that elderly former employee.  She told me he had a heart attack and died and it was all Walmart’s fault for firing him.  She did not know why he was fired and I assuredly wasn’t telling her.

Our personnel manager was coming through the door at the same time and this people greeter stopped her too to share this Walmart horror story.  As we walked away, I told the personnel manager, “She’s going to tell every customer who comes through the door today that Walmart killed that man.”  I asked the personnel manager if she’d heard he had died, but she hadn’t heard that “news” either and she told me she would make some phone calls.  Later in the morning she informed me that the elderly man was not dead and had not had a heart attack, so I went to the people greeter and told her the story was not true.  I asked her who told her this story and she told me she heard it from an elderly woman, who had worked at our store for many years, but had since retired.  I also asked her to stop repeating that story.

Shortly after that, I ran into the retired associate, whom our store’s worst gossip had named as her source, shopping in the store.  I had known this retired associate many years and I told her about the story and she told me she hadn’t told the store gossip that story and she told me she hadn’t even been in the store for over a week.  I did tell the store gossip this and I asked her if she could think of who else might have told her, because I wanted to try to stop this untrue story from spreading further, because it damaged our store’s reputation.  She couldn’t remember who else might have told her.

All through that day, customers and associates approached me and asked me about that poor old associate, whom Walmart killed… I kept relaying that he was alive and had not had a heart attack.

Friday morning President Trump did a nearly hour-long call in interview on Fox and Friends.  As with every time Trump talks more than a minute, he veers off onto all sorts of tangents, speculations and garbled reports, but mostly Trump’s world revolves around “people told me about so and so or such and such.”  He lives in a world fueled by innuendo and malicious gossip, mostly fixated on gathering gossip about what other people said about him.

The Dems impeachment sideshow revolved around 99.9% hearsay evidence too.

The media reports loads of hearsay reports too, often rushing to tweet out unverified information or retweeting other reporters’ unverified information.

Our entire political class lives and breathes opposition research (gossip and dirt-digging).

Digging for dirt and spreading dirt about each other is the American political ethos, despite all the lofty virtue-signaling about democracy and the  Constitution.

Digging for dirt and spreading dirt about each other is also our cultural ethos, promoted 24/7 by our massive media organizations.

Most disturbing though is we have the President of the United States, whose grievances against the former ambassador to Ukraine, include – Trump claimed Marie Yovanovitch refused to hang his photo up in the embassy for at least a year. Here’s the report from CBS:

“President Trump attacked former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Friday, saying she was “not an angel” and claiming she refused to hang his framed photograph in the embassy in Kiev for at least a year.

A member of Yovanovitch’s legal team said the embassy hung photos of Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the secretary of state “as soon as they arrived from Washington, D.C.” The embassy in Kiev did not return a request for comment.

The president said he had heard “bad things” about Yovanovitch, who was appointed by President Obama in 2016, and claimed she was disliked by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was elected in May.

“This was not an angel, this woman, OK?” Mr. Trump said. “There were a lot of things that she did that I didn’t like.””

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-claims-marie-yovanovitch-refused-to-hang-portrait-in-embassy-in-ukraine/

President Trump behaves just like the worst gossip at my old Walmart store and while she was, unfortunately, talking to every customer walking in the front door, Trump talks to world leaders and the most important people in our government, in business and in the media. 

Reporters analyze and dissect Trump speak and they count up all the lies he tells, but someone should count up how many times he asserts, “people are saying” or “I heard”…

Unfortunately, the absolute worst place for petty, malicious political gossip to marinate and spread is on Twitter and that’s probably why Trump loves Twitter so much.

 

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Latest Impeachment Spin Theater Takes

I think most people who write about American politics, professionally, or as amateur bloggers, like myself, have devoted way more hours to President Donald J. Trump than he deserves, but even more importantly than is healthy for ourselves or the body politic.

When Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, began releasing transcripts of the private hearings, I started reading them.  I did not get through all of them, but I did watch all of this past week’s open hearings.  With this Trump impeachment push, Trump’s call to the Ukraine president, using his own call record, sounded totally inappropriate to me.  I started out leaning toward supporting impeachment.   After this past week’s open hearings, I went from thinking he should be impeached and removed, to less inclined to think that will do a single thing to uphold our democratic institutions or get America one step closer to bolstering our constitutional system

Watching these hearings led me to be more convinced this was another orchestrated Dem smear/spin operation more than a serious process run out of concern about preserving our democracy or upholding The Constitution.  Funny thing, about watching the Dem political/spin machinations play out in public hearings and with the media pushed me further away from supporting impeachment than supporting it.  I was also sick to death of much of the Republican spin antics, especially Jim Jordan’s fast-talking questioning, where I couldn’t even make logical sense out of his questioning, his summations of the answers and most certainly not his hyped up Trump cheerleading in media appearances.   His pro-Trump spin was as exhausting as Swalwell and Schiff’s  anti-Trump spin.

Trump’s spin attacks, trying to disrupt and hijack the hearings, should have been anticipated by Schiff and Dems, but instead of ignoring him, Schiff played right into Trump’s hands by reading Trump’s live-tweets right into the hearing process and allowing Trump to participate, only when it fed the Dem spin narrative.  Schiff should have allowed Trump to have lawyers present and Republicans to call witnesses, but he refused that.  Instead, Schiff decided to play the spin angel by feeding Trump’s live tweets into the hearing.  Watching the amount of tweeting and fixation on fighting the spin war by House Intelligence Committee members, even during these hearings, drove home the point that this was a political spin production more than a serious, grave constitutional undertaking.

As to the witnesses, I wrote a blog post on Kent, Taylor and Yovanovitch, so here are the other ones who stuck out – Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the EU, LTC Alexander Vindman, David Holmes and the latest mainstream media feminist icon, Dr. Fiona Hill, The Non-Partisan.

LTC Vindman did not answer who the intelligence person was he told about the Trump-Zelensky phone call.  Schiff interrupted Republicans questions and asserted the “whistleblower” must be protected, even though Schiff stated on national TV during these hearings that he doesn’t know who the “whistleblower” is.  Vindman also testified under oath that he doesn’t know who the “whistleblower” is, even though the accounts the “whistlebower” wrote about in his-her complaint are these very witnesses’ stories.  These witnesses stories make up the “whistleblower complaint.”   Dems kept pointing out how detailed and accurate the “whistleblower’s” accounts are and how closely these witnesses stories match those accounts.  Dems say that the witnesses corroborate the “whistleblower’s account”…  NO the witnesses, who directly talked to the “whistleblower” aren’t corroborating, they are the SOURCES of the complaint.  Each witness who talked to the “whistleblower” was a SOURCE of the complaint – not corroborating anything.  Without these witnesses’ stories there is nothing to corroborate with the “whistleblower”.  It’s a logical fallacy the Dems have carefully packaged and sold here.  To corroborate something implies there are separate bits of information or evidence that are bolstering a statement.  These witnesses very accounts make up the sum total of the “whistleblower complaint”.  Minus the witnesses’ stories, there is nothing to bolster.

Gordon Sondland is a wealthy businessman, big Trump donor, who secured an ambassadorship for his support.  In his opening statement he turned on Trump and gave Dems what appeared to be a slam dunk win.  However, in the afternoon, when Republicans started questioning him aggressively, he walked back most of that opening statement.  Dems and Republicans latched onto the parts of Gordon Sondland’s testimony that fed their spin, but it seemed to me that Sondland was a incredible dissembler and wanted to escape this hearing with the least amount of damage to himself.  He was not a credible witness and in many ways like Trump – a person who will say anything to benefit himself.

David Holmes was the aide of Bill Taylor, whom Taylor testified told him about a phone call he overheard between Gordon Sondland and President Trump.  Holmes claimed Trump talked loud and Sondland held the phone away from his ear, so Holmes clearly heard Trump talking.  I did not find Holmes story very credible as to being the exact conversation, but then again often recounting only parts of an overheard conversation can lead to large distortions about what the conversation was really all about.

The mainstream media has gone into raptures about Dr. Fiona Hill, The Non-Partisan, Russia expert, foreign policy guru, latest feminist icon of the Left.  Hill began her testimony with an opening statement berating “GOP conspiracy theories” that are promoting “Russian conspiracy theories” by asserting Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.  This spin that the GOP is promoting Russian conspiracy theories spin line is straight Dem spin that’s being massively spun-up in the mainstream media.  Trump does promote some odd Crowdstrike/server conspiracy theory (which might be a Russian conspiracy theory), for which I’ve seen no open source reporting that bolsters, but there were numerous reports in mainstream media about Ukraine interference in our 2016 election.  The Ukraine meddling was nothing close to the vast scale of the Russian disinformation efforts, but the Ukraine effort did lead to Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, resigning and later to his prosecution for money-related crimes – connected to his dealing in… Ukraine:

Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire

Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton.

Of course, now that Ukraine interference and Russian interference have been conflated to binary choices, the Dem spin tsunami insists only Russian interference occurred and to assert Ukraine also interfered is promoting Russian disinformation.  The truth is many countries interfered in our 2016 election, just like the U.S. interferes in other countries’ elections.

Once Hill dumped that Dem spin bomb in her opening statement, the Fiona Hill, The Non-Partisan aura evaporated for me.  Another amazing Hill revelation was when she related how she read the Steele dossier the day before Buzzfeed published it, when Strobe Talbott showed it to her.  Talbott is a long-time Clinton crony.  He was president of the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank, where Hill was working at the time.  Talbott also is the brother-in-law of Cody Shearer, the author of the second “dossier” about Trump-Russian collusion in 2016.  Hill is very smart and seemed very politically astute, so I kept wondering why on earth she volunteered this information about Strobe Talbott showing her the Steele dossier the day before it was leaked by Buzzfeed.  I wondered if she volunteered that as a CYA move to protect her “credibility as The Non-Partisan”, with nothing to hide.  Talbott’s name was mentioned in a defamation lawsuit against Steele filed by Alfa Bank, where Steele disclosed reporters and people to whom he gave copies of the dossier.  Hill blithely dismissed Steele’s dossier as likely Russian disinformation in her testimony.  Hill struck me as trying to play this elaborate charade in her testimony, throwing out  bits to bolster her “non-partisan” bona fides, while lobbing the Dem spin hits and seeming to struggle to mask her contempt for the Republicans on the committee.  It was an odd performance, but the Dems and mainstream media consider her performance mesmerizing.

Hill was also asked about Kenneth Vogel, who wrote the Politico article on Ukraine interference in 2016, referenced above,  and Hill had nothing but glowing accolades for Kenneth Vogel’s journalistic credentials…

Trump definitely was offering a quid pro quo in the phone call with President Zelensky.  It certainly was totally inappropriate, but I want more information on Biden’s dealings in Ukraine and his son’s dealings with Burisma.  Biden bragged about his effort to pressure Ukraine to fire a prosecutor, who had opened an investigation into Burisma corruption,  Media accounts offer up conflicting accounts and conflicting timelines, so more facts need to be ironed out here.  For me, watching Joe Biden’s recounting of how he pressured Ukraine to fire that prosecutor sounds worse than what Trump did in the “strong-arming a foreign country desperately in need of American aid” department.  Of course, the mainstream media and many of these non-partisan career professionals, who testified this week, assert that prosecutor was a corrupt prosecutor.  The other interesting disparity is with the aid Biden was threatening to withhold, none of these “non-partisan” witnesses are upset about that and they dutifully repeated that Ukrainian prosecutor was corrupt, but Trump’s short hold on aid to Ukraine, well, that  resulted in “Ukrainians dying” while that aid was withheld…  With Biden and the Obama foreign aid, it didn’t even include military aid, so assuredly Ukrainians were dying then too – probably lots of them, but Biden’s threat to withhold aid didn’t even raise a murmur or moment of angst among these “non-partisan” career professionals.   Here’s a link to a video of Biden explaining his Ukraine aid dealings:

https://www.wsj.com/video/opinion-joe-biden-forced-ukraine-to-fire-prosecutor-for-aid-money/C1C51BB8-3988-4070-869F-CAD3CA0E81D8.html

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Filed under Corrupt Media Collusion, Foreign Policy, General Interest, Politics, Trump Impeachment Saga

Week Two of the Impeachment Drama Begins

As week two of the public impeachment hearings begin, here’s my impressions of last week’s hearings and the testimony of the three witnesses, career diplomats, George Kent, Bill Taylor and Marie Yovanovitch.

The hearings remind me of the Benghazi hearings and many of the other high-profile hearings during the Obama administration, where the majority side in power tries to present the hearing as a dignified process, while the minority side devotes its energy to delegitimizing the hearing as … yep, a “witch hunt.”  Although Republicans latched onto casting this as a “coup” too, but nevertheless, every effort goes into discrediting the proceeding as, to use Senator Lindsey Graham’s spin word of choice – a “sham.”    The hyper-partisan antics came as no surprise, the personal animus between Schiff and Nunes though seems off-the-charts, making it obvious these two leaders in this committee are more dedicated to trying to destroy each other than they are to doing the nation’s business.

George Kent’s testimony came across as a seasoned career diplomat, offering excellent foreign policy analysis.  He acted reticent to give more than the most cursory explanation when asked about Hunter Biden’s cushy Burisma deal and Vice President Biden demanding Ukraine fire a prosecutor, who had opened corruption investigations into several Ukrainian companies, including Burisma  (but I’m still not clear on the Biden family- Ukraine dealings timeline of events).  Kent reported the perceived Biden conflict of interest, end of explanation.  Kent didn’t add any first-hand evidence or knowledge going toward proving the charge of bribery against President Trump.

Bill Taylor came across, just as I expected from reading his testimony from the private hearing.  He came across as a serious, straight-shooter on following proper procedures and sticking to the rule book.  He offered only second-hand accounts of the president’s phone call and the meetings and events swirling about Trump’s call with the new president of Ukraine, President Zelensky.  What struck me as odd and inexplicable is Taylor testified that he met with aides to President Zelensky twice to urge them to stop Zelensky from making a public announcement, as requested/demanded (depending on your partisan viewpoint) by President Trump.  Trump wanted Zelensky to announce Ukraine was opening investigations into, I think, the Bidens was the main issue for Trump.

Taylor described hearing through the rumor mill that Zelensky was planning to make the announcement to the media, per Trump’s request/demand, on a trip to the UN.  Taylor’s actions seem odd to me.  Why did he feel like he had to stop Zelensky from making that announcement and how did a straight-shooter, by-the-book diplomat square directly undermining the POTUS?   Did Taylor, also through the rumor mill, know about an effort to report Trump’s quid pro quo phone call to Congress was afoot?  Did Taylor discuss meeting with Zelensky with other people within the embassy in Ukraine, the State Department or other US government channels?  Obviously, there were a lot of discussions within the US embassy in Ukraine and State/Intel channels going on about Trump’s phone call and the military aid.

Taylor offered another witness, his aide who had told him about a conversation he overheard of Ambassador Sondland talking to President Trump, so Taylor feeling compelled to stop Zelensky from announcing investigations without talking to other people seems improbable to me.  It just sounds like there was a group effort going on to stop Trump’s request from being carried out.

The other odd part about this to me, is neither Kent nor Taylor felt morally compelled to contact Congress themselves and report it, instead the “collective concerns” of some of the professional foreign policy people were encapsulated in an orchestrated “whistleblower complaint” that sounds like it was written by a team of sharp Dem lawyers and then pushed to the IG.  I wondered if Kent and Taylor were aware there was a complaint and plan being worked out to voice concerns.

Ambassador Yovanovitch was a poised, impressive witness on the professionalism of the Foreign Service, but she did not add a thing to proving Trump committed bribery.  And yet, what happened to her with the Giuliani whispering campaign among Ukraine officials to undermine her ability to do her job and then the media smear campaign against her in the US media, to my mind is way worse (even if not “criminal”) than Trump asking Zelensky to open investigations into 2016 corruption, Burisma, Bidens, Crowdstrike and some server.

Listening to Yovanovitch testify how she was being told to watch her back and hearing murmurings about Giuliani’s meetings in Ukraine and watching the media smear campaign on social media and Fox News unfold, she didn’t really know for sure what was going on, but she knew it was something unsettling.  Perhaps, I feel so outraged about Yovanovitch, because I’ve been in a very similar situation.  When Yovanovitch stated she could never have imagined what happened to her, I knew exactly how she felt.  She felt alarmed, scared and powerless.  Feeling yourself the target of an attack coming from the White House is terrifying, especially when you know you’re being attacked, yet have no means to prove any of it or defend yourself.

Despite the witnesses having no first-hand evidence and my suspicions that how the whistleblower complaint came about was orchestrated with former Obama intel peeps and some Congressional Dems, Trump’s own phone call record shows a quid pro quo and by Trump asking for an investigation into the Bidens added with president of Zelensky assuring Trump he’s on board with trying to meet Trump’s conditions for the quid pro quo, the quid pro quo seems irrefutable:

President Zelenskyy: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more so. I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly.. That I can assure you.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/25/politics/donald-trump-ukraine-transcript-call/index.html

What Zelensky says in the beginning of this call speaks volumes more than anything Trump says.  Zelensky acknowledges his assistants met with Giuliani and understands the deal.  That Zelensky believes Giuliani is the go-to guy for this U.S. foreign aid deal speaks to how Trump corrupted the entire process.  It’s one thing for a president to send a personal envoy, it’s another thing for the president to send his personal attorney.  Giuliani represents his actions as he was working in the capacity as Trump’s personal attorney  and that speaks to the corrupt melding of Trump’s personal and official actions in a way that undermined the U.S. embassy in Ukraine and also Trump’s own official foreign policy, as understood by the Trump State Department.

One of the main things Trump supporters revere about Trump is their belief that Trump is “a fighter” and ergo Trump, unlike other Republican leaders will “drain the swamp” in Washington.  They see Trump as a superhero who will finally slay corrupt Dems and push back against the unchecked advances of the liberal culture war.  By giving Trump superhero status, in the process, they’ve bestowed on Trump a cape of infallibility and given him a sword of unaccountability.  Trump’s spinners among the media punditry touted “Trump doesn’t play by rules!”   In reality our elected leaders should not only play by the rules, they should be exemplars, uphold the highest standards and serve as role models.  Somehow, Trump has totally corrupted his followers moral compass, as they twist themselves in knots to excuse more and more egregious and inexcusable behavior.

Also in this call and not part of the impeachment debate is an exchange that speaks to Trump’s total moral unfitness to be President of the United States more than any sort of impeachment crime and until Americans regain some sense of a common moral code again, Americans will end up with more and more immoral and thoroughly corrupt elected officials, on both sides of the political aisle.  Here’s the exchange:

President Zelenskyy: I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all, I understand and I’m knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved, by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case. On top of that, I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.
The President: Well, she’s going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I’m sure you will figure it out. I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything. Your economy is going to get better and better I predict. You have a lot of assets. It’s a great country. I have many Ukrainian friends, their incredible people.
The new president of Ukraine is trying to assure Trump that he will work hard to meet the demands Giuliani laid out.  It’s also obvious this foreign president felt free to trash the former US ambassador, whom Giuliani orchestrated a whispering campaign against among Ukrainian officials.  It’s breathtakingly appalling that any American president would send his personal attorney to orchestrate a whispering campaign among foreign officials  against the US ambassador in that very country.   But that’s what happened.  Trump’s response:  “Well, she’s going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it.” speaks to an American leader playing his own team against each other in a foreign country.  I stick to my original assessment that Trump is a serious threat to national security.
Trump managed to throw Yovanovitch’s Congressional hearing into disarray last week by tweeting the following during her testimony:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.

102K people are talking about this

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry/trump-tweeted-marie-yovanovitch-testified-was-it-witness-tampering-n1084176

Beyond the insanity of blaming a US ambassador for the demise of Somalia, he’s bragging about the Ukrainian president speaking badly of her (which was due to Trump’s own attorney’s whispering campaign against her).  Now, I do believe Trump’s “mean tweets” are witness intimidation efforts, despite the effort to dismiss Trump’s tweet antics as just “Trump being Trump” or harmless “mean tweets”.  I also realize my view is not a prevailing view.  Trump’s personal Twitter account highlights Trump’s shrewd way of always operating by his own rules, which are whatever he feels like doing.  He uses his personal Twitter account for personal tweets and for official presidential business and by doing so he maintains zero accountability for any official business carried out on that account.  If his official business carried out via tweets comes under fire, Trump and his minions dismiss it as Trump letting off steam, Trump expressing his opinion, Trump being Trump, but no one around Trump ever defends those outrageous tweets as “That is an official statement by the President of the United States.  If Trump issued most of these outrageous tweets on official letterhead, I doubt the reaction would be the same.

 

The larger part of assessing this impeachment effort rests on the scorched earth spin war, of course, because Washington politicians, on both sides, live and breathe polling.  The latest polls being hyped today, after the weekend’s non-stop spin hysterics seems to indicate Dems and the mainstream media are gaining a bit in their push for impeachment, but the momentum could still change with the growing slate of witnesses testifying this week.

The way spin cycles rise and fall so quickly, the problem for Dems is the American attention span won’t stay focused on a drawn out impeachment sideshow filled with endless hours of testimony.  Republicans’ dilemma will be finding ways to spin away the building array of witnesses backing the same chain of events and if Sondland and Volker revise their testimony this week.  The real lethal blow to Trump would be if Bolton and Mulvaney testified, but that seems highly unlikely.

The most likely outcome seems to be Trump will be impeached in the House and acquitted in the Senate.

 

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Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Politics, Trump Impeachment Saga

Political hacks all around


The rabidly partisan, completely corrupt political moment America is at didn’t begin with Donald J. Trump, even though he looms large in the American psyche since he rode down that golden escalator to enter the 2016 race.  The public impeachment hearings will begin later this morning,so I’ve jotted down a few thoughts.

Yes, the Democrats and some of their intel friends orchestrated this case against Trump and yes, President Obama did plenty of way more corrupt things than this bribe in this phone call with the president of Ukraine.  In fact, we are awaiting the release of the IG report Michael Horowitz has completed and the DOJ still has John Durham investigating 2016 corruption within the Obama administration.

Still from the information I’ve read, I do believe Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine was a quid pro quo and yes, as Andrew McCarthy has made the point repeatedly, often in foreign policy deals involve a quid pro quo.  Where I part company with McCarthy’s view is I do believe Trump’s quid pro quo went way beyond trying to make a deal for the benefit of America.  When Trump mentioned the Bidens he wanted dirt on the Bidens to help him politically, just like he and the Clinton campaign were searching for Russian dirt on each other in 2016.  The other part of the call that bothered me was the president of Ukraine mentioned Giuliani believing he was the point man for the investigation Trump was demanding.  This speaks to how Trump had Giuliani running around Ukraine as his personal attorney, yet Giuliani was perceived by the Ukrainians as an American government official.

American presidents can’t cut personal deals with foreign leaders while using the Office of the President.  There is no way Trump, who lies more than he tells the truth and whose first idea for action as president invariably veers into the extremely corrupt range, was concerned about fighting corruption in Ukraine.  Trump is the man whose “great” strategy for dealing with ISIS was to send the U.S. military to murder ISIS family members, believing that would scare ISIS fighters into surrender.  Trump sending his personal attorney to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens is over the line, in my book.

Since impeachment is a political process, not a criminal trial, I’d like to see what unfolds in these hearings, what crazy spin antics both Dems and Republicans engage in before deciding 100%, but from what I’ve read so far, yes, I would probably vote to impeach and I never expected to write those words. I will also support criminal prosecutions if Horowitz and Durham find criminal wrongdoing among Obama administration officials.

I’ve been disgusted and extremely disappointed in so many Republicans jumping on board with stupid spin antics, that sink to the level of the typical Dem spin sleaze.  It started with Congressman Gaetz and the angry Republican mob storming the hearing room in the basement and it’s progressed to a pathetic display of spewing, vicious smear campaigns against the witnesses and nauseating groveling to Trump.

Lindsey Graham declared the hearing is all a sham and announced he wasn’t reading any of the transcripts the House Intelligence Committee released.  This came after two weeks ago Republicans were ranting about Schiff was hiding the transcripts and demands that Dems release the transcripts.  Last night Graham went one step further and announced he isn’t going to watch any of the sham hearings.  Graham heads the Senate Judiciary Committee and will play a key role, if there is a Senate impeachment trial, but he’s announcing upfront he’s not going to take it seriously.  Assuredly, many Dems in 1998 felt the Clinton impeachment was a sham too and they behaved in this same sort of spin theatrics that Republicans are staging… except in 1998, Graham was demanding that impeachment was a serious process.

Several of the FOX Trump spin team were pushing this mantra urging people not to watch the hearings.  In what kind of world do you engage in a massive spin effort,  telling Americans, “Don’t even listen to anything the other side says!’  The correct American form of civil political debate is to put your best case forward, not to spread smears and tell other citizens not to listen to the other side of an argument.  Sickening!!!

Despite good intentions, I haven’t read through all of the House Intelligence Committee transcripts of the impeachment inquiry hearings.  Tomorrow Ambassador William Taylor will testify in an open hearing, so I’ll be able to form a better opinion of his veracity.

What I’ve read so far of his testimony, he comes across as a straight-shooter type person – very much a by-the-rules guy.  It’s understandable that Trump’s making things up as he goes style and total disregard for rules, ethical conduct or even following the law, would be alien to someone like Taylor.

In his opening statement (page 28, lines 7-8) Taylor states:

“The irregular policy channel was running contrary to goals of longstanding U.S. policy.”

On page 30, lines 2-3) he states:

“I began to sense that the two decisionmaking channels, regular and irregular, were separate and at odds.”

This problem of Trump working against his own administration official policy has been a consistent feature of how Trump governs, creating endless turmoil, undercutting his own team at every turn, then blaming them for the chaos his erratic behavior causes.  No matter what chaos he causes, in the end, his administration officials, try to save him from disaster, often ending up being fired or publicly humiliated as their thanks.

This impeachment will likely end up with Trump being impeached in the House, acquitted in the Senate and more erratic and emboldened at the end of this process.  The real problem I see from this Ukraine mess is one that at some point Trump may create a national security crisis that should have been avoided.

Taylor hits on this problem.  Trump plays his own team members against each other and is more concerned about cutting secret deals with despots than he is about building a strong functioning White House team.  In Trump’s world, the only player on the team that matters is Trump.  He’s a one-man show and everyone else on his team is just an expendable stage prop.

In this Ukraine situation, Trump assuredly had the right to send his personal attorney to investigate and report back to him.  The problem was his attorney was undercutting Trump’s official foreign policy team in Ukraine and engaged in foreign policy matters, which the U.S. embassy had no knowledge of.  Even that might get a pass, although it’s best that in foreign countries America’s foreign policy team speaks with one voice, but the totally unforgivable part was Giuliani smearing the ambassador to Ukraine on TV and Twitter, undermining her credibility and damaging her reputation.  She had no means to defend herself.  If Trump wanted to fire her, he should have done that through State Department channels, so the State Department could assure the functioning and safety of the embassy were not negatively impacted.  That Giuliani media smear campaign is despicable.

Trump engaged in this same sort of erratic decisionmaking many times in the past two and half years, where the Pentagon or other agencies found out about a complete policy change via a Trump tweet or comment on TV.  He doesn’t even have the courtesy or common sense to talk to his top officials privately.  He makes an erratic decision,  then just tweets it out, often at odd hours of the late night or early morning.  When Trump decided to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria, after a phone call with Erdogan, he did not discuss this with top Pentagon officials before announcing the decision publicly.

Taylor saw the problem with Trump’s “irregular channel operating at odds with the regular channel, ” because that behavior is thoroughly corrupt and will lead to mission failure, but it can also cost lives when that sort of playing your own team members against each other occurs in a military operation.  It could also have jeopardize the safety and security of the ambassador and the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, which is a very dangerous, corrupt country.

Americans, especially many who should know better in the government, pundits, former government officials, all see that Trump doesn’t bother to study any of the issues he’s making consequential decisions about, they know his erratic decisionmaking leads to constant chaos, they also know it’s reckless and usually gets in the way of the policies Trump’s administration state are the policy objectives, but they refuse to ever speak up and most keep making excuses for Trump, usually blaming the Democrats who hate Trump for all the problems or reminding that Trump is a businessman, not a politician.  Well, he’s been on the job for almost 3 years and one wonders at what point Trump can be judged, based on his performance as President of the United States.

When Democrats turned a blind-eye to the Clinton corruption and the Obama corruption, Republicans railed about how amoral they were for never condemning corrupt behavior.  Now that the shoes’ on the other foot, Republicans who make endless excuses for Trump, demonstrate that they are just as amoral as those Democrats whom they berated for years.

All I know now is that watching this pathetic display, on both sides, I have no use for any of these spineless swamp dwellers in Washington.  What a bunch of sickening political hacks all around.

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Yovanovitch’s hostile work nightmare

Back in the Fall of 2016, when the FBI released the notes on the interviews in the Clinton email investigation, I read through all of the notes released and wrote some blog posts about them.  With the just released transcripts of the “impeachment inquiry” closed hearings, reading these transcripts seemed a good way for me to form my own opinion about the testimony and the hearing process, which has been much complained about by Republicans and Trump pundits.

I read through the former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch transcript  (317 pages).  Based on the transcript, the Democrats seemed to have a lot more time than the Republicans, Schiff seemed very heavy-handed in this hearing, but I didn’t get the impression the process was anything remotely “Soviet-style”.  Yovanovitch made an opening statement, then the hearing progressed in blocks of time given to Dems and Republicans to ask questions.  As one who has read a lot of Congressional hearing transcripts over the years and watched way more Congressional hearings than I care to admit (okay,  years ago I was addicted to C-Span and even watched British and other foreign government goings on, along with the US Congress), so I’ve seen some really rancorous governmental proceedings over the years and while this one was heavy-handed, it wasn’t the worst U.S Congressional hearing I’ve seen.  Schiff would have gained more credibility if he had not tried so hard to stage and control the hearing with the intent to control the spin narrative.

When I start reading a transcript I try to get a feel for facts that are undisputed, timelines of events and the veracity of the testimony.  The media, pundits and politicians like to affix the term “credible” to witnesses that feed their partisan agenda and spin narrative, regardless if the testimony leaves huge gaping holes, is contradictory, lacks any corroboration and conflicts with other testimony or is even contradictory throughout the testimony, so I hesitate to use the term “credible” lightly.  Yovanovitch’s testimony sounded credible to me and her answers, particularly the ones where she expanded on how she viewed US foreign policy objectives, how she evaluated events in a foreign country and laying out the conflicting issues that a US embassy deals with in complicated countries, like Ukraine, struck me as insightful, honest and coming from a seasoned foreign service professional.

She expressed complete support for the Trump official foreign policy, including the military aid, to Ukraine (pages 144-150 of the transcript).  I’ve read the Yovanovitch transcript at NPR – HERE.

Marie Yovanovitch served in the US Foreign Service at the US State Department for 33 years, under 5 different US  presidents and has served as an ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Ukraine.   The Trump State Department asked Yovanovitch to extend her stay in Ukraine for another year and she was told by her superiors that they were happy with the job she was doing.  Then Rudy Giuliani, Don Jr., Hannity and other Trump pundits escalated a media smear campaign against Yovanovitch on social media and on FOX News to destroy her reputation.  Trump then fired her.

Trump appears to have been running two competing Ukraine policies, the official one, run through his State Department and which Yovanovitch worked to advance and a personal Ukraine policy, run through a back channel by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani and son, Don Jr.  In the phone call with the president of Ukraine, Trump appears to me to have been advancing his own personal political objectives, not the official foreign policy objectives of his own State Department.

I’ll just cite some pages and lines in the transcript and comments, because I can’t just copy and paste them from that transcript and it will take me forever to figure out the screenshot stuff.

Pages 126-132, Yovanovitch explains how she was notified about being fired by President Trump and how her superiors told her she had to leave immediately out of security concerns that Trump might tweet something that could jeopardize her safety.

Pages 173-174, Schiff questions Yovanovitch about her knowledge of President Trump trashing her in his phone call with the President of Ukraine, saying she was a bad ambassador.  This behavior of Trump’s is the most disloyal behavior of any American president, that I can recall and it’s not the first time Trump has engaged in trashing American officials while talking to foreign leaders.  In our hyper-partisan political environment, it’s easy to just dismiss this as “Trump being Trump”, but around the world, every leader reads this as Trump has no loyalty to his own team.  He is all about his own ego – that’s it.  At some point, I fear, this “Trump being Trump” will lead to some serious national security crisis.

Pages 192-193, Trump while trashing Yovanovitch in his call with Zelensky  went one step further than just trashing.  On page 193, lines 9-15 is where Trump commits the ultimate betrayal of an American citizen as President of the United States, he issues a veiled threat against an American citizen talking to a foreign leader.

9     Q  At the bottom of that same page, President Trump
10    says, "Well, she's going to go through some things."
11    Q  What did you understand that to mean?
12    A  I didn't know what it meant. I was very concerned.
13    I still am.
14    Q  Did you feel threatened?
15    A Yes.

Pages 267-268, Yovanovitch asked the Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, for advice on how to handle this media smear campaign against her and his advice was to tell her she should “go big or go home” and he suggested she tweet out support for Trump and say all the smears were lies.  He was advising a senior US diplomat to engage in overt political activity…  That was his best advice…

This career Foreign Service officer, was asked to extend her tour as ambassador in a difficult country, with a lot of internal strife, by top officials in the US State Department – Trump’s State Department – and then she was left with no legal means to protect herself from a media smear campaign being led by the president’s personal attorney and his son.  This is the most egregious abuse of power I’ve seen and no employee in America should be trapped in a hostile workplace environment where there’s absolutely no legal avenue to protect or defend against a media smear campaign coming from the chief executive’s office.  All the partisan politics aside, what happened to Marie Yovanovitch is totally outrageous.

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Some impeachment links

This post is just some links dealing with the impeachment inquiry and a book recommendation.

Here are two episodes of The John Batchelor show, with Andrew C. McCarthy as the guest:

 

Dems on the House Intelligence Committee began releasing transcripts of hearings yesterday, so here are links to the first two:

Transcript of former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovich: https://apps.npr.org/documents/document.html?id=6538626-Marie-Yovanovitch-Testimony

Transcript of Ex-State Department Aide, Michael McKinley: https://www.npr.org/2019/11/04/776075712/read-ex-state-department-adviser-michael-mckinleys-testimony-to-congress

A few months ago, I mentioned getting a new library card at my local public library and beginning to use two free digital book services, Hoopla and RB Digital, which offer many selections of audiobooks and e-books.   These digital book services are available at many public libraries across America.

At Hoopla, I found Andrew C. McCarthy’s latest book, Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency, in audiobook and am currently listening to it.  This book offers details of the backstory to how Ukraine is entwined in the 2016 Russian Collusion Dem smear campaign, working to paint Trump as a Russian agent, and also details on the Obama administration policy in Ukraine, the corrupt money connections and the Clinton connections to Ukraine, long before 2016.  It’s become part of the mainstream media mythmaking in the Trump era to present everything that happened during the Obama years was above reproach and pretend the Obama executive branch operated totally committed to doing all things professionally, transparently and without a hint of scandal.  McCarthy smacks down that concerted spin effort to rewrite the Obama years into the most halcyon presidency in American history with facts about the messy foreign policy, big money dealings and, let me whisper the word… corruption that occurred on Obama’s watch.

Ball of Collusion:The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency is also available at bookstores.  Here’s the amazon link.  I will likely buy this books too, so that I can refer to it for information, especially about the foreign players bios and dealings with Washington politicians,  as this impeachment mess rolls ahead.

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