Category: Political Commentary

The Train Wreck Around the Bend

The Train Wreck Around the Bend

On July 31, 1909, the Milwaukee Road’s westbound Overland Limited went off the tracks and wrecked at Cambridge, Iowa. I’m inclined to see this as an allegory for what lies around the bend for the Democratic Party if things continue to shape up as they are.

It’s not just me saying this. The predictions are coming from both sides of the political aisle, with observers ranging from long-time Dem strategist James Carville to a ménage of commentators on the liberal cable networks, to none other than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh on the right, echoing similar views.

I’m scared to death,” Carville ranted on MSNBC following the Iowa Democratic caucuses, something of a train wreck of their own. In a subsequent interview, Carville went on to say, “I don’t know. We just had an election in 2018. We did great. We talked about everything we needed to talk about, and we won. And now it’s like we’re losing our damn minds. Someone’s got to step their game up here.”

What has Carville and others so petrified is the rise of Socialist Bernie Sanders as a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in November, and the overall lurch of the party – and seemingly all couple dozen of its presidential wannabes – toward the far left.

We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration. They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments — talking about that is not how you win a national election. It’s not how you become a majoritarian party.”

Right. Think about it. Plan to do it. Just don’t talk about it. You’d be excused for thinking that’s how politicians usually run their games. But that’s not the only cow, maybe not even the biggest one, lying across the tracks. It’s the ascendancy of the far left of the party, represented by Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her left-wing corterie, known as The Squad, in Congress. And it’s the failure of the Democratic establishment’s self-styled savior, former Vice President Joe Biden, to light anything other than a small and flickering flame among Dem voters. More than the chickens coming home to roost, it’s the cows that are coming home to ruminate, right across the tracks.

Old Bernie, backed with a good chunk of the younger vote and others with a weak grasp on the meaning of Socialism or Bernie’s questionable past, eked out a 26.2% of delegate equivalents versus Pete Buttigieg’s 26.13% in the Iowa caucuses (if you can believe the results). And in New Hampshire he came out with 25.8% of the vote versus Mayor Pete’s 24.5%. Not exactly a rousing victory, especially since in 2016 he came away with 60.4% versus Hillary Clinton’s 38% (admittedly in a less crowded primary field). Meanwhile Trump, in the little-heralded Republican primary in New Hampshire, came away with more votes, by far, than any candidate of either party in the history of the state, even doubling the number generated by former President Ronald Reagan when New Hampshire was a far more conservative state than it is today.

The real story of both Iowa and New Hampshire has less to do with Bernie’s numbers as with the crashing and burning of two other candidates, previously considered “front runners” in the contest. In Iowa, both Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden sank respectively to third and fourth place, with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar hot on their heels. And then in New Hampshire Klobuchar jumped to third place, with 19.9% of the vote, exceeding the combined totals of Warren (from the neighboring state of Massachusetts, from which many New Hampshire residents have relocated) and Biden. Biden didn’t even wait around for the results before bailing on the Granite State and his supporters there and heading off to the Palmetto State, South Carolina, which he has called his “fire wall.” Underscoring Biden’s fall from grace, Sanders’ New Hampshire showing was enough to push him within just a day to the top of the polls nationwide, displacing Biden, the previous choice of the Dem establishment.

Are you beginning to see why this situation could be shaping up as a train wreck for the Democratic Party?

Shades of 1968

Police in Lincoln Park, Chicago
Sihouetted view of a group of police officers as they advance through clouds of tear gas in Lincoln Park in an effort to remove protestors during the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Illinois, late August 1968. (Photo by Art Shay/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images); used under Fair Use.

To be clear, let me say that, for a number of reasons, I don’t see what happens in June at the Democratic convention in Milwaukee likely to be equivalent to what happened in August 1968 at the Democratic convention in Chicago. Well, probably not quite. The country isn’t as worked into as much of a frenzy over the political divide as it was over the Vietnam War going full bore at that time. And probably more people, especially young people, have other things to concern themselves with today than they did in 1968. But it doesn’t mean that something along those lines might not lie ahead for the party.

Looking at the lay of the land going into the Nevada caususes, the South Carolina primary, and then Super Tuesday on March 3, when 16 states and terrirories hold their primaries, caucuses, and conventions, we have Bernie on the left and set to pick up most of the support on that side of the political spectrum. That’s even more likely given the lack of a viable way forward for Warren. Among the more ” centrist” (though not really) candidates, we have Buttigieg, the mayor of a small city in Indiana and a gay man also seen as beholden to Wall Street; Klobuchar, a lesser known senator from Minnesota with a history of abusing her staff; and Biden, an aging former Vice President who has a hard time putting two sentences together, who thinks it’s okay to refer to voters in terms of a 1952 movie on the Canadian Mounties, and whose credibility and integrity has been cast into serious doubt as a result of the Dems’ ill-fated impeachment fiasco targeting Donald Trump. Oh, and then we have another billionaire besides the President, former New York City Mayor (and ex-Republican) Mike “Stop and Frisk” Bloomberg, who thinks he can buy his way into the nomination by pumping hundreds of millions of his own funds into the race. Speak of a field of poor choices. Now are you starting to see more of the problem?

Through the use of super delegates, the Dem establishment stole the nomination away from Sanders in 2016. Will they do it again this year? If you think the party poobahs in Washington and on Wall Street and out in the bastions of Dem power across the land (such as they are) aren’t thinking about it, I have a railroad to sell you. They have seen the writing on the wall about the virtually inevitable demise of Joe Biden. And so, seeking another alternative, they’ve already bent the rules to let Bloomberg onto the debate stage, even though he doesn’t have one actual donor other than himself, donor numbers being one of the previous standards for deciding who gets on the stage and who doesn’t. But any port in a storm, and somehow these people (who have had nothing good to say about the 2010 Citizens United decision) apparently think pitting one billionaire against another is a good idea and good for America. Or maybe it’s just good for them? Am I being too cynical here?

Let’s say the Dem establishment manages to once more steal the nomination away from Bernie. What then? Undoubtedly a significant number of his supporters will either stay home on Nov, 3, or they’ll vote for Trump, just as they did in 2016. But some of his supporters are talking about a third option.

As stated by Kyle Jurek, Sanders Field Organizer in Iowa, “If Bernie doesn’t get the nomination or it goes to a second round at the DNC Convention. Fucking Milwaukee will burn. The billionaire class. The fucking media, pundits. Walk into that MSNBC studios, drag those motherfuckers out by their hair and light them on fire in the streets.”

This inflammatory rhetoric, videotaped and presented online by Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, must have touched a nerve somewhere out amid Sanders’ supporters. The Washington Post incorrectly reported that Jurek was a mere volunteer, not a paid staffer, and when O’Keede challenged that report as false Twitter blocked his account. Lest you think Jurek is an outlyer, remember that it was largely Sanders supporters who, in true Brown Shirt form, turned out en masse on the streets of Chicago on March 11, 2016, to force Trump to cancel a rally he had planned there that night. Do you remember that scene of political obsctruction by mob? I do.

I also remember, if vaguely, the events of August 1968. If you don’t remember them or were too young to have lived through them, you really should update yourself. If nothing else, you’ll learn there are precedents for today’s political divide, and the divide within the Democratic Party, and you might learn something about the power of the disenfranchised (self-styled or real) to disrupt and make their presence known. [Disclaimer: Following a little 1972 imbroglio with the Rutgers University Campus Police on the Rutgers-Newark campus, I was successfully represented by one Stu Ball, who had been part of the Chicago Seven defense team. Life’s little claims to fame.] One way or another, the chances for a schism within the party is almost fore-ordained. Whether it will lead to the kinds of dramatic events that gripped Chicago in 1968 remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, amid the current churn on the Democratic side, the President is at the highest levels of his popularity since taking office and has every reason to be optimistic about his reelection chances, regardless who the Dems wind up putting up against him.

Who put this cow on the tracks?

While it might take a village to raise a child, it took Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her band of unruly House Dems to help set up the crisis of identity facing the Democratic Party and the chess board likely to lead to the reelection of the President. As I’ve called it in a previous posting, the Dems’ unremitting rage against Trump and their repeated unsuccessful attempts to unseat him and undo the results of the 2016 election is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Cow on the tracks
Cow on the tracks, The Jack Finn Collection; used under Fair Use.

What the ill-fated impeachment did, besides bolstering Trump’s support, was put a spotlight on the possible corruption of Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Hunter’s business affairs in Ukraine and China. In the process, Pelosi managed to take the shine off her party establishment’s front runner and throw the whole process into even more disarray than it already was. All of Pelosi’s antics, like tearing up the President’s State of the Union address – seen by many as tasteless and lacking in decorum – can’t stop the impending train wreck she may have engineered.

After what will seem like an eternity of sound-alike debates, charges and counter-charges, and jockeying (or pony soldiering, if you’re Joe Biden) for position among the candidates, June is likely to roll around in, say, a mere four months, and then we’ll all get to see if the Dem train stays on the rails or runs off into a ravine. If nothing else, it should be entertaining to watch.

Featured image: Cambridge, Iowa, train wreck, unknown, presumed public domain.

 

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

 

The Holidays are past and the presents opened and put away (or returned), the wrapping paper disposed of, and New Year’s resolutions forgotten. But there is one gift that keeps on giving.

If you’re one of the 15 people in the nation watching the impeachment show going on in the Senate, and you still have any brain cells remaining, you probably recognize what gift I’m talking about.

Whichever side of the impeachment issue you come down on, you can see the show taking up time and space in the Senate for two weeks now as a gift. If you think Trump is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin (not content to compare the President to their likes, now Dem apparatchiks are comparing a key member of his defense team to them on national television this week), you’re hearing all your conspiracy theories given voice by the House Impeachment Managers. And to you, that is a gift. On the other hand, if you see through the glaring holes in the Dems’ impeachment case, holes ably presented by the Defense team, you see the President’s rising approval ratings and improving chances in the upcoming election, and can only rejoice in this post-holiday gift being handed him.

Maybe the only people who don’t see the impeachment trial as a gift are the Democratic senators running for President – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar – who have to keep to their seats in the Senate chamber instead of roaming the snowy fields of Iowa in pursuit of votes in the Iowa caucuses, set for Monday night.

I’ve written in this space before about how the Dems have taken swing after swing at the President, and how each one was a miss. The impeachment show is their latest swing, but one preordained from the outset to fail. The chances of getting 67 senators to vote to remove the President is about as likely as the earth reversing its rotation. It seems the hapless Dems can’t win for losing, and yet they refuse to take the out and retire to the bench. The power of hatred (or political avarice, if you want to be kind about it) runs deep.

If you have any doubt that the Dems want to carry this charade on as long as possible, you just have to consider their persistent call for additional witnesses in the Senate trial. Just as they tried to do in the Kavanagh confirmation hearings, they’d like to drag in anyone that might have anything negative to say about Trump – the leading figure being former National Security Adviser John Bolton, previously the butt of their disdain – while trying to block anyone who might shed any light on the political underpinnings of the impeachment or the possible corruption of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Never mind that they had every opportunity to call Bolton or whatever witnesses they wanted in their investigation in the House and effectively blocked every witness the Republicans wanted to call. Or, as the Defense team pointed out, the House Managers played video clips in the Senate trial of no fewer than 17 witnesses giving testimony in the House inquiry and presented more than 28,000 pages of documents, and to argue for more witnesses at this stage of the game was essentially reopening the investigation.

What Happens Now?

Whether the show goes on for another day or two or stretches out into weeks will largely depend on the vote of a few wobbly Republican senators who might vote in favor of motions brought by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Last week Schumer tried to gum up the works by introducing a boatload of amendments to Senate impeachment rules at the outset of the trial, and every one of the motions was rejected along solid party-line votes, 53-47 (with just one Republican senator crossing the line on only one amendment). If that happens again on Friday, it’s likely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will move for a quick vote on acquittal and this whole production could be over in time for the Super Bowl on Sunday.

It’s a fool’s errand to predict what some individual senators will decide, but here is my tentative prediction: Motions to call witnesses will fail, the acquittal vote will be held, either Friday night or on Saturday, and the President will be acquitted, with all but one or two Republicans, and even two or three Democrats crossing the aisle, voting for acquittal. Falling far short of the 67 votes needed to remove the President from office, the impeachment will be over. And then the country can get back to normal business. Right?

Wrong. The nation’s business is the last thing the Dems are interested in pursuing, despite their high rhetoric. As it is, the President scored two huge policy victories while the impeachment show was underway – the new USMCA North American trade pact replacing NAFTA and the first-stage trade deal with China – but if you blinked, you might have missed news of those. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even did her shameless best to steal the stage on the USMCA, trying to claim it as her own after sitting on the bill, which wouldn’t even have existed were it not for Trump’s initiative, for months.

No, regardless acquittal of the President, the Dems won’t let the nation’s business get in the way of their hatred for Trump. They, with their media lackeys, will continue to paint the President as the Devil Incarnate. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try another impeachment attempt when this one fails in their unbounded effort to steal the 2020 elections. It really isn’t any wonder that Congress’s job-approval rating languishes in percentages in the lower 20s and high teens.

But there’s that gift that keeps on giving. Amid all the sturm und drang, Gallup polling shows Americans the most confident about the economy that they’ve been in 20 years, and other key indicators, such as record low unemployment, historically record low black and Hispanic unemployment, growing real income, and dropping opiod deaths, are all positive for the President. As the Democratic Party appears more in disarray by the day, with the party establishment doing what it can to once more keep Bernie Sanders from getting the nomination, as it did in 2016, and fractures between the more radically Leftist wing of the party and the so-called moderate faction widening, Trump has to be encouraged by all this.

The wrapping paper might be put away, but that gift the Dems have given him just keeps on giving.

[Update February 1, 2020: The first part of my prediction came to pass on Friday, January 31, when the Senate voted 51-49 not to call for witnesses. The vote was on a strictly party-line basis, with the exception of senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine who crossed the aisle to vote with the Dems. The second part of my prediction, that the vote to acquit the President would be held Friday night or on Saturday, was close, but no cigar. The House Managers and the White House Defense will make final arguments on Monday, and a number of senators also want to bloviate about reasons for their vote, one way or another, so the final vote on acquittal and the end of the impeachment trial has been set for Wednesday, February 5. Meanwhile, the President will give the State of the Union address Tuesday evening. Should make for interesting viewing to see interaction between the President and those who would remove him from office.]

Photo credit: Nick Fewings / Unsplash, used with permission.

Ding-Dong! The Wizard Is Dead

Ding-Dong! The Wizard Is Dead

 

In the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the East is killed when Dorothy’s house, spirited off to Oz from Kansas by a cyclone, lands on her. In 2020 real life, the Wicked Wizard of the East, Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasam Soleimani, was killed when he came into the crosshairs of an American drone flying over Baghdad’s international airport in Iraq. Ding-dong! The wizard is dead.

As the Munchkin Coroner states in the 1939 film, “As Coroner, I must aver I thoroughly examined her, and she’s not only merely dead, she’s really, most sincerely dead.”

Ditto for Soleimani.

Just as the Munchkins rejoiced at seeing the wicked witch’s stockinged feet protruding from under Dorothy’s transplanted house, there is grounds to celebrate the demise of Soleimani, the head of Iran’s deadly Quds Force. Unfortunately, the figurative kingdom is rife with naysayers and handwringers, and political divisiveness seems ever-ready in contemporary America to overcome any shared sense of victory.

While it is Pollyannish to expect that there won’t be some consequences in the targeting of Soleimani, regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran’s arcane political structure, it is just as Pollyannish to think that there wouldn’t be consequences were he still alive and having breakfast this morning on Al Rasheed Street in downtown Baghdad.

The havoc and death wreaked by Soleimani stretches back four decades to when, in 1979, he joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the Iranian revolution and, beginning in the Iraq-Iran War of the early 1980s, he rapidly advanced within the hierarchy. In 1998 he took over command of the Quds Force, designated a terrorist organization by the State Department. Sometimes called “the world’s number one bad guy,” consider these feats of Soleimani and the Quds Force he headed:

Taking out Soleimani wasn’t just a random act. It followed an attack by Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on New Year’s Eve, in which the attackers had penetrated the entrance to the compound and burned a reception area. While no one was kllled in the attack, the U.S. responded by sending in 100 Marines to secure the compound, given the failure of the Iraqi government to meet its internationally mandated requirement to protect diplomatic facilities.

There was more involved than the embassy attack, though. Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley made it clear that reliable intelligence indicated that a wave of Iranian-inspired terrorist attacks against U.S. assets in the region was being planned and was imminent. And, of course, Soleiman was brazen enough to show up at Baghdad’s international airport, exposing himself to the drone attack that killed him and also Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces militia.

“I can’t talk too much about the nature of the threats. But the American people should know that the President’s decision to remove Soleimani from the battlefield saved American lives,” Pompeo told CNN. “The risk of doing nothing was enormous. Intelligence community made that assessment and President Trump acted decisively last night.”

Pompeo said hundreds of American lives had been at risk. He later told Fox’s Sean Hannity that the attack also had saved European lives, though he hadn’t gotten the kind of support he expected from European allies.

The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well,” he said.

Milley said the U.S. had intelligence that was “clear, unambiguous” that Soleiman was planning a campaign of violence against the U.S., leading to the decision to attack him. Targets included American military outposts in Syria and diplomatic and financial targets in Lebanon.

‘By the way, it still might happen,” Milley said.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qasem Soleiman
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, left, deputy head of the Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, and Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, right, both killed in the U.S. strike.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei immediately appointed Maj. Gen. Ismail Qaani to replace Soleiman as head of the Quds Force and, predictably, pledged revenge. Qaani said the Quds agenda would remain unchanged.

As predictable as Khamenei’s reaction was, so was the response in Congress, which broke down along party lines. The anti-Trump Dems, for whom the President can do nothing right, were quick to criticize the action, going so far in some cases to say the strike on Soleimani was illegal, though reportedly legal departments at both State and Defense, as well as at Justice, approved the strike.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi complained that Congress hadn’t been consulted on the planned attack on Soleimani – no surprise there, given the tendency of Congress to leak like a rusty old sieve – and she had the temerity to call the killing of the man who had murdered hundreds of thousands of people, including hundreds of Americans, “provocative and disproportionate.”

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called the killing of Soleimani an “assassination” and introduced legislation to block funding of any military action in the region. Most of the other candidates in the race piled on with criticism of the attack.

There was some push back, though, even within the parties. Another Dem candidate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was quick to strike back at Sanders, calling his “assassination” claim “outrageous.”

“If he was talking about killing the general . . . this is a guy who had an awful amount of American blood on his hands. I think that’s an outrageous thing to say,” Bloomberg said. “Nobody that I know of would think that we did something wrong in getting the general.”

While prominent Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Marco Rubio, expressed strong words of support for the attack, another Republican, Sen. Rand Paul, expressing his libertarian view on foreign affairs, said the Trump administration should not embark on a war in the Middle East without Congressional approval.

As the naysaying and handwringing goes on, and will in the days and weeks and more to come, if there is one prediction that will always be correct it is forecasting violence in the Middle East. If that’s anyone’s prediction, they’d be right, with our without Soleimani. In anticipation of Iran’s reaction, the U.S. is sending an additional 3,500 troops to the region. Soleimani may be really, most sincerely dead, but the seething animosities of the region most certainly aren’t, and there are no ruby slippers, like the ones that passed to Dorothy from the deceased Wicked Witch of the East, to magically bring them to a close. So stand by. Film at 11.

Disclosure: The author was an intelligence analyst with the State Department covering the Middle East.

Photo credits: Main image: Donovan Reeves / Unsplash, used with permission; al-Muhandis and Soleimani images, AFP via Getty, used under Fair Use.

Waltzing Merrily Over a Cliff

Waltzing Merrily Over a Cliff

“I  don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV. If you’re headed for a cliff, you have to change direction.”

Barack Obama

That might be a warning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be advised to heed as the Democrats in Congress push relentlessly ahead in their quest to undo the election of President Donald Trump. On the flimsiest of charges, they appear intent to proceed with impeaching the President, a move born of their hatred for Trump and doomed to fail. As they waltz merrily over the cliff, they are bolstering Trump’s approval ratings and almost certainly aiding his reelection chances.

Depending on what media you pay attention to, you might either, a) think the case against Trump is ironclad and he is nothing short of a tyrant and reprobate, or b) that he’s been railroaded by political animus and blind prejudice. There is plenty of agida stirred up on both sides, largely fostered by selective picking and choosing of what to focus on by various media sources, not to mention plenty of outright lying (I say that having heard it with my own ears) and obfuscation by more than a few supposed journalists.

For instance, as just one example, if your source for news (I use the term advisedly) is CNN, you never would have heard the opening statement of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican, at the committee’s Dec. 11 session with Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, nor would you have heard Horowitz’s mention of the 17 clear errors and omissions committed by the FBI in seeking the FISA court order that began the whole Russia affair that was scurrilously pinned on Trump. All you would have heard were statements by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein eliciting responses from Horowitz that seemed to indicate all was done properly, which – if you somehow heard the rest of what Horowitz had to say — it decidedly wasn’t. You also would have gotten the full opening statement of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat and one of the leaders of the anti-Trump mob, in the impeachment hearings his committee was conducting.

I’ll be doing a separate analysis of Horowitz’s findings and report in a future posting. For now, let’s just quote what Horowitz had to say about the claim by former FBI Director James Comey – who now has passed from unbridled arrogance to perhaps certifiable narcissism – that the IG’s report vindicates him in his role in initiating the investigations of Trump.

The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” Horowitz said.

Another Big Swing, A Bigger Miss

At the risk of sounding redundant, the current episode is just the latest in the Dems’ ineffectual attempts to take out Trump. I laid out the basic game plan in my three-part series, “Another Swing, Another Miss.” In Part I I detailed how the Dems’ repeated efforts to unseat Trump amounted to one strike after another. In Part II I detailed how there is indeed a Ukraine scandal, being used as the pretext for the impeachment effort, but the scandal lies not with Trump but with former VP Joe Biden and his son Hunter. And in Part III I described the much bigger, but little reported on, scandal involving the Bidens and China. Now we’re going to see how three strikes aren’t enough for the Dems’ to give it up and how they are following their anti-Trump obsession right over the political cliff.

The process took a step closer to the cliff’s edge earlier on the day I am drafting this as the committee headed by Nadler, the Wiffer-in-Chief, voted entirely along party lines to move two articles of impeachment to the full House for a final vote, ostensibly in the coming week. This followed a contentious 14-hour committee debate that ended suddenly at Nadler’s order at 11 p.m. last night, prompting Republican members to call the process a “kangaroo court” and Nadler’s order “Stalinesque.”

After ridiculous Democrat charges of “bribery” and even “treason” as hearings were under way in the House Intelligence Committee, headed by the shifty Rep. Adam Shiff, the final two articles are nothing less than anti-climatic. The best they could come up with is “abuse of power” – based on the allegations that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to seek an investigation of his presumed political rival, Joe Biden – and “obstruction of Congress” – based on the President’s refusal to cooperate with the House investigations, which he has termed a “witch hunt.” While the Constitution says a President can be removed for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” there is no federal or state statute against either charge.

Given further that the White House released the full transcript of the July 25 telephone conversation between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in which there was no indication of the quid pro quo Dems’ have insisted was present, and the right of a President to demand an investigation of suspected corruption in conduct of foreign affairs, the first article appears DOA. As for the second article, disputes between an Administration and Congress over executive privilege are legion throughout the life of the republic. This Administration’s refusal to turn over documents or permit members of the Administration to testify would not be the first stand-off between the two co-equal branches of government. Ultimately, the courts could rule on the matter, though the Supreme Court, the third co-equal branch, has been reluctant to wade into such matters.

Let’s not forget that former Attorney General Eric Holder was found in contempt of Congress, too, and the total penalty for him, under the Obama Administration, was a big zero.

Speaker Pelosi, not known for coherent statements, was even more incoherent than usual in trying to defend the articles the committee came up with.

I myself am not a lawyer,” babbled Pelosi. “Sometimes I act like one. Not as often as I act as a doctor. I practice medicine on the side without benefit of diploma, too.” Huh? But wait, she wasn’t done. “This is a decision that was recommended by our working together with our committee chairs, our attorneys and the rest.” Not done yet. “And they (the articles) are … uh … a continuation of a pattern of misbehavior on the part of the President. People are realizing, when they see what that was, they think, the public thinks, that they should be determining who the President of the United States is, not some foreign power.” Well, yeah, and that “public” is who elected Trump as President, isn’t it? The same “public” whose vote you’re trying to undo because you don’t like how it turned out? And finally, “It’s no use having the discussion here. This is a discussion we will take to the floor of the Senate.”

Going Over the Cliff

And that’s where the whole process goes over the cliff. Given that it takes 67 senators to vote in favor of removing the President from office, that there are 53 Republican, 45 Democratic, and 2 independent members of the Senate, and a vote will be almost entirely along party lines, there is no chance the President will be removed from office.

There has been some backing and forthing between Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over whether it will be a long trial with lots of the witnesses, like Hunter Biden and Adam Schiff, that Trump has said he’d like to call, or a quick process, that McConnell seemed to favor. In reality, it is Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who would actually preside over the trial and will have a lot to say about its conduct. Regardless, the end result is fait accompli. As McConnell has said, “The case is so darn weak, coming over from the House, we all know how it’s going to end. There is no chance the President is gonna be removed from office.”

Meanwhile, polls have been showing that a majority, albeit a slight majority, of Americans now are opposed to impeachment, and even more opposed to removing him from office, and Trump’s favorability ratings have been rising through all this. At least one major poll, Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll, as of Dec. 13 puts Trump’s approval at 49% (it recently was up to 51%), three points above where President Obama was at the same point in his first term.

None of this can inspire confidence among Dems given that the outlook for 2020 becomes ever more problematic for them. Some major polls are now showing Trump beating all or most of the Democrat presidential front runners in key battle ground states. Throw in the massive Conservative victory in the UK on Dec. 12, and there is plenty of grounds for Pelosi and the left-leaning Dems, to whom she seems to have capitulated, to take heed of Obama’s warning on what to do when they’re headed for a cliff.

Photo Credits: Nancy Pelosi: Unknown; Donald Trump: Reuters. Both used under Fair Use.

Another Swing, Another Miss Part III

Another Swing, Another Miss Part III

This is third part of a posting, Another Swing, Another Miss, that I initially put up on Oct. 2. Part II appeared on Oct. 4 and, ostensibly, this will be the final installment in the series. If the points made in these postings aren’t clear to you by the time you’ve gotten through this third part, we’re both wasting our time.

In the first part I predicted that the Democrats’ latest attempt to pin something, anything, on President Trump would fail, as did all their previous times at bat against him. In that part I promised to explain what “there” there is in the Ukraine imbroglio, the latest incarnation of the Dems’ attempt to undo the results of the 2016 election – a “there” not with Trump, but with former VP and current presidential contender Joe Biden. I kept that promise in the second part and then went on to say there is a much bigger “there” in which Biden and his son Hunter are involved.. Now, in this part, I will explain that biggest “there” of all, which involves China.

If you haven’t read the first two parts in the series yet you should now, and then go on to read this part. All this will make much more sense to you if you understand what leads up to it.

A Profitable Family Outing on Air Force Two

On Dec. 4, 2013, then-Vice President Joe Biden, son Hunter Biden, and Finnegan Biden, Hunter’s daughter and Joe’s granddaughter, stepped off of Air Force Two into the chill winter air of Beijing. They were greeted by children bearing flowers before being whisked off to meetings with top Chinese leaders. With the trappings of a family outing – all, of course, on the U.S. taxpayer’s nickel – the Bidens had arrived on what turned out to be not just a high-profile state visit, but a most lucrative few days for Hunter.

Hunter, Joe, and Finnegan Biden tour Hutong Alley during December 2013 visit to Beijing. What back alley deals did Hunter make during the visit? Photo by Andy Wong – pool/Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.

Ten days after the visit, during which Hunter Biden’s meetings with high-ranking Chinese officials went largely unreported, Rosemont Seneca Partners, the hedge fund in which the younger Biden is a principal, concluded a deal, initially valued at $1 billion but later expanded to exceed $2 billion, in which Bohai Capital, a subsidiary of the Chinese government-owned Bank of China, agreed to invest in Rosemont Seneca. Together, they formed a new entity called Bohai Harvest RST.

Remember in Part II of this series I asked you to remember the name “Bohai”? Well, there you have it: Bohai – the name of the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea – represents the Chinese government’s investment in the private fund headed by the son of the then-VP of the United States. The other principal in the fund was Christopher Heinz, the stepson of then Secretary of State John Kerry. Together Bohai Capital and Rosemont Seneca formed Bohai Harvest RST (BHR). The RS stands for Rosemont Seneca and the T stands for the Thornton Group, headed by James Bulger, the nephew of notorious Massachusetts gangster Whitey Bulger. James Bulger’s father, younger brother of Whitey, Billy Bulger, longtime leader of the Massachusetts state senate and ally of John Kerry, serves on the board of the Thornton Group.

So, what you have is the Chinese government making a major investment in a fund headed by the sons of some of America’s most connected officials. While Chris Heinz later denied any involvement with the Chinese deal or with Bohai Harvest RST, Hunter Biden’s role in the fund and the deal has been well documented, largely through the work of investigative author Peter Schweizer. The body of Schweizer’s work has been widely quoted and recognized for its in-depth quality and accuracy, most prominently including his previous book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How Foreign Governments and Businesses Made Bill and Hillary Rich. Now some sources, like Politifact, reported that Bohai’s investment in the fund was much less than originally envisaged, topping at “just” $425 million. But that number comes directly from Hunter Biden’s attorney, George Mesires. It is challenged by another investigative reporter, John Solomon, who says that the BHR web site showed Bohai’s investment in the BHR venture at more than $2 billion, before the fund suddenly took down the site as the Biden controversy emerged recently. So much for the “fact checking” done in this case. But we risk getting lost in the weeds. The point is, a deal worth a significant sum of money coming from the government of one of America’s prime competitors went to the son of the Vice President of the U.S. on the heels of a high-level state visit.

The Chinese venture also comes into play in the Ukraine story since, as we noted in Part II of this series, Burisma Holdings paid a reported $3.4 million to a company named Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC. When you have money behind you, you can cast a very wide net, unhindered by oceans or national boundaries.

One might consider that, just as Hunter Biden had no experience with Ukraine or the energy sector when he made his lucrative deal with Burisma, he had no experience with China (other than a couple of visits preceding the Dec. 2013 trip to meet with top Chinese financial executives) or investment banking when he struck the even more lucrative deal with the Bank of China in formation of BHR. Keep in mind as well the point I made in Part II, that it’s not just impropriety that is the issue, but even the appearance of impropriety that public officials should avoid, an imperative seemingly lost on Joe Biden.

Now here is a little quiz for you: If you think this China deal was completely coincidental and not indicative of Hunter Biden’s leverage of his father’s position and influence, as some members of Congress and of the mass media would have you believe, I’d ask that you rate yourself on a scale of 0-10, where “0” equates to “I am hopelessly naive,” “5” equates to “I am profoundly dense and incapable of connecting the dots,” and “10” equates to “I am a staunch Democratic stalwart and believe only Trump and Republicans can do anything wrong.”

Not Just Some Gaffe: “You Know, They’re Not Bad Folks, Folks”

As questionable as the ethics of Joe Biden might be in allowing his son to leverage his position as VP in the deals Hunter Biden engineered in China and Ukraine, it’s important to consider how his son’s financial pursuits appear to have influenced the senior Biden’s view of global realities, particularly in regard to China. This is particularly critical given Biden’s bid to fill the highest office in the land.

In May of this year, Biden made a statement at a campaign stop in Iowa that boggles the mind of anyone even remotely familiar with the strategic threat China poses to the U.S. and, in fact, the world.

China is going to eat our lunch?” rhetorically asked the former VP and man that would be president. “Come on, man. They can’t even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the east, I mean in the west. They can’t figure out how they are going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system. I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what, they’re not competition for us.”

It’s a bit ironic that Biden refers to corruption in China, but even that mention is embedded in the bigger muddle represented by those six sentences. And lest you write this off as just another of Biden’s gaffes, consider that, a couple weeks later at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Biden doubled down on his earlier remarks.

What are we doing? We’re walking around with our heads down, ‘Woe is me,’ ” Biden told the crowd gathered to hear him. “No other nation can catch us, including China. I got criticized for saying that. I’ve spent as much time with Xi Jinping as any world leader has.”

Joe Biden, right, shares the stage with John Kerry, in front of the flag of Singapore. Photo by AP. Used under Fair Use.

There might be some element of truth in that last claim, but the time Biden spent with China’s president certainly didn’t seem to provide him with any clarification of Xi’s intents or those of the country he heads. Criticism of Biden’s comments came from across the political spectrum, ranging from former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to Bernie Sanders, one of Biden’s competitors for the top office.

I’ll stick with the language in our national security strategy and our national defense strategy, which identifies China as a strategic competitor,” said Randall Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia. And FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said that China “ . . . in many ways represents the broadest, most complicated, most long-term counterintelligence threat we face.”

Even Trump, who regularly is accused by his detractors of not being fully conversant with global geopolitics, chimed in with the obvious: “For somebody to be so naive, and say China’s not a problem — if Biden actually said that, that’s a very dumb statement.” Indeed.

The issue of Chinese investment in Hunter Biden’s equity group becomes a problem for the U.S. when one looks at some of the investments made by Bohai Harvest RST. These include investment in a technology the Chinese government can use to surveil and repress its Muslim minority, as well as in an automotive firm, mining companies, and various technology ventures. Just one of those investments was the $600 million acquisition of Henniges Automotive, an American automotive supplier developing dual-use technologies with military applications, which was headquartered in Michigan. BHR took a 49 percent stake in the venture, with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), a Chinese state-run military contractor, acquiring the majority and controlling interest in the company.

But c’mon, folks! Why should Americans be concerned about transfer of these kinds of technologies to the Chinese? You know, they’re not bad folks! And why would a $2 billion-plus deal to his son’s benefit color the senior Biden’s view of the Chinese? I mean, Hunter’s other antics and failings (I’m being exceptionally kind not to call them misdeeds – this piece is well worth reading if you want to learn more about those) haven’t affected Joe’s support of his younger son. Why should anything else do that? And after all, the administration Joe Biden was part of didn’t see any problem in delivering $400 million in cold hard cash to the murderous regime in Tehran. So what’s to see here, folks?

Go along to get along might be Biden’s motto. Money makes the world go ’round, doesn’t it?

Pelosi’s Invention

So now, getting back to where all this started, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff want to Impeach Donald Trump for wanting to look into Joe Biden’s role in his son’s profitable business dealings in Ukraine and China. In any sane world this would appear to be beyond the bounds of reason, much less decency. But this isn’t a sane world. Rather, it’s the whack-o and thoroughly corrupt world of U.S. partisan politics.

Actually, while Schiff, who has his own questionable Ukraine connections, has been annointed head of the “impeach Trump” bunch in the House (keep in mind that impeachment usually falls to the House Judiciary Committee, headed by the incompetent Jerry Nadler, not the Intelligence Committee), Speaker Pelosi has held back from actually calling for impeachment. Her solution is to create what she calls an “impeachment inquiry.” Keep in mind that there is no Constitutional provision for anything called an “impeachment inquiry.” Nor is there any law that provides for such a thing. The whole concept is Pelosi’s invention. Ostensibly this is her way of bowing to pressure from within her caucus and to keep up harassment of the President, of continuing to throw whatever accusations, no matter how specious or lacking in basis, at him, all of which will be dutifully reported by the sycophantic mass media, while avoiding putting the whole matter to a vote.

It’s obvious to Pelosi that, lacking anything of real substance, even if the House votes to impeach Trump, there is absolutely zero chance that the Republican-controlled Senate would convict him and remove him from office, especially given polls that show little public support for impeachment. Such an outcome would represent a political embarrassment to Pelosi and a potential disaster to the Democrats, and one that would come in an election year that could not just doom the Dems’ hope to re-take the White House but even their chances of retaining control of the House. It also helps detract from the utter lack of anything of substance coming out of the Democratic-controlled House, leading to public approval ratings of Congress at and below an abysmal 19 percent level. Thus, we have this so-called “impeachment inquiry.”

Joe and Hunter Biden at Georgetown-Duke basketball game with the senior Biden’s boss, Barack Obama. Photo by Nick Wass/AP. Used under Fair Use.

In the midst of the ongoing firefight I think it would be naive not to expect the power-hungry Hillary Clinton from trying to exploit the whole morass and climb back on to the wagon she hopes will lead to her nomination as the Democratic candidate in 2020 and, ultimately, the presidency, which she sees as her birthright. Never mind how this might play out with voters. This is a matter of Hillary’s imperial, even divine, vision she has for her place in history. She already has been making her presence known after relative silence over the past three years. Again, the reality that whether it benefits Hillary or not, the current brouhaha will blow back on Joe Biden is not lost on Pelosi. As I earlier postulated, I think Pelosi and other influential Dems have realized that Biden can’t beat Trump and so are trying to knock him out of the race. It will be interesting to see what is thrown at him by his fellow contenders at the next Democractic Presidential Debate on October 15.

Meanwhile, wrongdoing by Hillary, other Dems, including those highly placed in the Obama administration, as well as by those within the FBI and the intelligence community, are under investigation by Attorney General Bob Barr and federal prosecutor John Durham. It’s entirely possible that Pelosi and Schiff are pushing things forward so they can beat Barr to the punch. And Barr and Durham’s punch looks like it could be devastating to the Dems.

Of course lots of things might change in the coming weeks and months. Little is a given in politics, all the less so in the overwrought atmosphere presently prevailing. But all things being equal, this is how things look at this juncture, and thus my prediction that, for all the hoopla, the current wailing and gnashing of teeth will equate to one more swing and one more miss for the Dems as they flail about in their attempt to bring down the duly elected President of the United States.

Set your alarm for Nov. 3, 2020, and stay tuned to this space meanwhile, if you can bear to watch as more of this pathetic drama plays out.

Featured image: Joe, Finnegan, and Hunter Biden deplane from Air Force Two in Beijing. Photo by Telegraph.co.uk. Used under Fair Use.