Sunday, November 17, 2019

If another president did (even one of) these things

            The GOP explanation, with an attempt at correct punctuation:

            "He didn't do it, but if he did, it was perfect; but why should we believe he did it? This is all second- and third-hand testimony, except for the transcript you might have read, and anyway he was just doing the job we elected him to do, which is to pressure foreign governments to find dirt on the offspring of political rivals.

            "Oh, and what was that whistleblower up to? Who is he or she, and what was his or her game?

            "And what about those diplomats? What are they trying to accomplish other than to prevent him from doing his job, which is to dangle millions in military aid before a foreign government to get the dirt that we Americans demand he obtain about the offspring of political rivals?

            "And anyway, that whistleblower is a traitor, and so are those diplomats. And you know what they do to traitors."

            That explains it.

            And that's enough apparently for Republicans in Washington, except possibly for Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski.

            The latter, the senator from Alaska, says she is keeping an open mind on impeachment, and offers this equation:

            "If this set of facts were to be in front of me and the president was President Hillary Clinton as opposed to President Donald Trump, would I be viewing this a different way? Because if I do, that's wrong."

            We can be assured that Lindsey Graham was not within hearing distance as Murkowski said this, for the once-principled, now dog-collared senator from South Carolina would have burst into flames.

            Graham, full-throated during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, is the Prince of Equivocation now.

            Graham clearly stated that evidence of a quid pro quo would arouse his dismay in the case against Trump. Since then, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has acknowledged it. Hey, it's just standard operating procedure. Just ask him.

            It is clear now that no amount of evidence of said quid pro quo – easily translated as bribery, for those Article I junkies -- will sway Republicans on Capitol Hill.

            Well, let's just ignore that evidence for a moment and hypothesize with Sen. Murkowski. If President Hillary Clinton:

            -- Fired the FBI director because he was investigating her.

            -- Fired the attorney general for recusing himself from that investigation.

            -- Saw a raft of her associates indicted, including her national security advisor.

            -- Watched as her former personal attorney went up the river for the crimes of carrying out her wishes.

            -- Had another close associate convicted on charges surrounding his role in harvesting stolen campaign information. What if President Hillary had her own Roger Stone on speed dial?

            -- Offered pardons to underlings who worried she was asking them to break the law.

            -- Obstructed at every turn Congress's lawful authority to investigate her as president.

            -- Engaged in a campaign aimed at intimidating witnesses by tweet during a lawful inquiry into her actions, and then defended herself by saying it was her right to have an opinion.

            -- Attempted to bribe the leader of a foreign country (she would have many from which to choose) to produce dirt on the compromising business activities of Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka or Ivanka's husband.

            -- Made her personal attorney -- the one not already behind bars, a person completely unaccountable to you and me -- in charge of back-channel foreign policy in regard to that country whose leader was being bribed.

            -- Said that Article II of the Constitution means she could do anything, absolutely anything, she wanted. 

            To those who will explain away this president: Tell me what you'd be demanding if even one of these things were done by President Hillary Clinton.

            Even one.

            Former newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Trump defenders' forked offensive

           With markers of Trumpian corruption amassing like a superbug strain in a petri dish, the Republican motorcade arrives at a fork in history's road.

            Ethical government? It's thataway. Extending Trump's reign? The other way.

            Honesty? Legality? Basic decency? They went thataway.

            Funny. I remember when the Republicans were all about ethics – way back in the mists of 2016.

            (Then: nonstop chirping of innuendo about the Clinton Foundation. Now: a $2 million fine for the closed-by-court-order Trump Foundation and a cricket chorus.)

            Now that ethics officially are out the window. Republicans want us to salute a strongman who does what he wants to get what he wants. Call him the Article II Kid. Or to quote Rudy Giuliani, just "Shut up."

            Regarding the extorting of Ukraine, the case for impeachment has grown from a pea under Trump's mattress to a papaya, or a whole lumpy bag of them.

            "No ambiguity," said witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, about the political dirt Trump desired and the taxpayer funds dangled before Ukraine's eyes.

            It didn't sound ambiguous when Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said that's what happened, except for a everybody-does-it explanation, then a retraction, then a . . .

            (By the way, if no use of our tax dollars to manufacture dirt about the son of a political rival -- Explanation No. 1 -- why an attempt to rope the son of the political rival into impeachment proceedings?)

            Yes, since those early days (OK, three weeks ago) when the president and his defenders were saying, "No quid pro quo," we've seen the defense of Trump – or whatever you call it – whip and spew like a Water Weasel.

            Trump's defenders on Capitol Hill really need to align their scripts. There's Mike Pence saying sure he pressured Ukraine but, um, in the interest of curbing its corruption. That Trump -- always thinking of the Big Picture.

            Then there's the "hoax" defense of Devin Nunes. What's the hoax, Congressman? That we've read the transcript of the phone call in question and tend to believe our lyin' eyes?

            There's this-administration's-too-inept defense courtesy of Lindsey Graham, specifically, "They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo."

            (Sort of like that image of a 12-year-old pushing buttons in the air-traffic controller tower: dangerous, but somehow precious.)

            There's the "it's not impeachable" defense. "It" may not be if bribery is legal where you live.

            There's the "look, a baby deer" defense – anything to distract.

            Consider the Fox-ified effort to tarnish anyone who steps forward to testify about what this president is doing with our tax dollars.

            We see the wholly evil (meaning you, Donald Jr.) bid to identify the whistleblower whose report started this.

            How absurd. And did I say evil? Considering what we know now, the tide of credible corroboration, that person's identity is as relevant as a certificate from Trump University, not to mention wholly dangerous when you start guessing who it is and release that guessed-at name.

            Face it, folks. He did what we know he did. It wasn't principled, Mr. Vice President. It was criminal. It wasn't "perfect," Mr. President. It was removable.

            "Read the transcript" is the new cry from Trump and his supporters. Um, we did that. Or did you think we were too busy or indifferent to read and would accept your excuses?

            So it goes. And so his supporters will parrot his phony claims of innocence and being pursued by enemies of democracy.

            One of the forked defenses is, "The radical liberals have been trying to get him out since his first day in office."

            I'll not challenge that assertion.

            With his likely illegal business practices, his campaign's benefiting from a hostile foreign power, his obstruction of the probe of that, his hush money and "catch and kill" exploits, his refusal to cut business ties that compromise the presidency -- that's easily, justifiably two years and 11 months of stuff to investigate.

            The investigating should have begun many months earlier.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Un-American to boo him? Well, lock us up

            Forever it will be my image of Election Night 2016.

            Homeward bound just as the polls were closing, I was passing through the placid and aptly named city of Loveland, Colo.

            Deep in contemplation about the fate of our nation, I was stunned as I arrived at a street corner jammed with red-clad people yelling something.

            Then I got near enough to see their signs and hear the chant: "Lock her up."

            By now I realize I shouldn't have been surprised. That moment, however, I was stunned.

            I'd heard that chant on TV -- in rallies fit for torch-bearers with shoulder patches. This time it sent my mind reeling -- to see this rhetoric had filtered down to where I presumed all to be civil and civilized.

            I'm sure that not a single one of the people I saw there that night believe at this point that Donald Trump has done anything wrong as president. Nothing. Not one thing.

            He always tells the truth. About hush money. About contacts with Russians. About compromising business entanglements. About attempting to extort political favors from a besieged nation with our tax dollars.

            Similarly:

            These people were unanimous, I know, in calling it un-American the other night to damper Trump's World Series with boos and a "Lock him up" chant.

            Clearly this is a legal dispute.  Doesn't Trump own the copyright to that line?

            I agree with Trump supporters. Booing debases the presidency. Additionally, after nearly three embarrassing years, Trump owns exclusive rights to debasement of his office.

            Those who stood at the corner that night undoubtedly exhausted a month's worth of rage last year when NFL players took a knee to express their concerns about this nation.

            Those players love this country every bit as much as any sunshine patriot – surely as much as one who would prostrate himself before Vladimir Putin and claim that his name in golden chrome atop a tower in Moscow was the last thing on his mind.

            The ludicrous moral equivalency of the "Lock her up crowd" – and the hypocrisy -- is staggering. The bid this week to trash administration insiders who testified to what they saw regarding Trump's pressuring Ukraine is shameful.

            This is particularly true since all they are attesting to is what is clearly evident in the phone call that set off the current round of investigations.  Yes, what we have seen with our own eyes.

            But these efforts at character assassination are par for the course. They hark back to the "swiftboating" of John Kerry, who shed blood in Vietnam and whose service there somehow was called into question to benefit the campaign of one who pulled strings to never serve.

            We now witness the Fox News chorus try to slime a decorated veteran, Alexander Vindman, for telling what he saw and what he knows to be true regarding Ukraine. Compare his character to the billionaire's son who took his bone spurs to the bank. No comparison

            Something similar was afoot in the (too successful) effort to paint Hillary Clinton as "crooked," when the Republicans were nominating a con man who showed how bankruptcy can be the road to fortune and fame.

            Lest we recall that one of the people shouting "Lock her up" before a red-clad crowd was one of the first Trump figures to be indicted, Michael Flynn, who engaged in illegal diplomacy with Russia before he was even employed by us.

            One person in the background was Trump fixer Michael Cohen, now behind bars for, um, being Trump's fixer.

            Yes -- sent to prison for doing things at the behest of a man who roundly deserves all the derision bystanders to his activities can muster.

            Lock whom up?

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.