Revolted Colonies

U.S. Politics and Culture

Month: July 2017

Maverick: The Legend of John McCain

  John McCain is the most unusual political character of our time, President company excluded. He has been a conscientious conservative, a rank-and-file Republican, an across-the-aisle kind of bipartisan, and a zombie presidential candidate. McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, withstanding five horrendous years in captivity. He is a genuine hero and an American legend.   This week, after receiving the awful news that he has a fatal brain tumor, he boarded a plane and returned to Washington, D.C., to play assassin to the Republicans’ calamitous effort to unravel the Affordable Care Act. McCain again played the hero in preventing his beloved Senate from shooting itself in the head.  

 McCain is one of the few big-name politicians who keeps things interesting by keeping us on our toes. His willingness to buck party leadership earned him the nickname, “Maverick,” a sobriquet he embraced.  His political story will be an interesting one to tell. Unquestionably, he is a hawk and a fiscal conservative. He also believes in  tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others.  Nevertheless, he caucuses with many politicians who do not.  One of his signature moments occurred in the late days of his unsuccessful 2008 Presidential campaign.  When an ignoramus called Obama an Arab during a town hall event, McCain quickly reclaimed the microphone and extolled his opponent’s decency.  Yet this is the same man who put an obviously unqualified Sarah Palin on his ticket – one long, lingering look from the Bering Strait and  a single heartbeat from the Presidency.  McCain is the person responsible for letting loose the hounds of nativist amateurism on Presidential politics.

After losing the 2008 race and despite his civility toward Candidate Obama, McCain became a constant critic of the President.  In 2012, McCain won a tough race for a sixth term in the Senate, He made the repeal and replacement of Obamacare a prominent plank in his platform.

McCain is the son of a soldiering family, one of whose members fought alongside George Washington.   An Annapolis graduate, he served as a navy pilot in Vietnam.  After his plane was shot down, he was a long-term guest at the Hanoi Hilton, As a high value POW, he had a chance to be released, but he wouldn’t trade on the status  of his Admiral father. He refused preferential treatment.  After five years of physical and mental torture, solitary confinement and abuse that eventually broke him, he was released in 1973. This is the man belittled by Candidate Trump, who prefers his heroes not to be captured.  

McCain held his water, though.  He would never have been a Trump supporter in any normal time but the 2016  election was anything but normal. He threw his support beyond the military school brat who kicked dirt on his reputation, while the only thing to capture the Hypocrite-in-Chief was an Access Hollywood microphone.  

Two weeks ago, McCain flew home to Arizona to have eye surgery, during which it was discovered that he has an inoperable brain tumor, the same type of cancer that killed Ted Kennedy.  The Senate faced the threshold vote on its healthcare bill, a bill so bad it was kept out of sight for as long as possible.  With two certain GOP defections (Collins, Murkowski), an absence by McCain would have doomed the opening gambit, called a motion to proceed.  Earlier this week, McCain returned to the Capitol, struggling physically but resolute to attend the roll call.  McCain joined his party’s vote, ensuring that debate on a bill would take place.  However, Majority Leader McConnell struggled to find common ground between his party’s conservative and alt-right factions.  Two proposals failed to garner enough votes.  On Thursday night, he called for a vote on the so-called skinny repeal, a rollback of Obamacare so marginal that it was only a placeholder to get into a conference with the House over its own odious bill.

When called to vote on the skinny repeal – no replacement, McCain voted no.  He remained consistent with his position that the law was insufficient because it failed to repeal and replace.  But the no vote gave the Maverick the added pleasure of driving  a retaliatory ice pick into the neck of the future ex-president. Trump’s plan to repeal healthcare died with McCain’s vote. He trumped the President at his own game of political theater. To say the President was enraged doesn’t begin to tell the story. The White House Chief of Staff was found the following day floating in the Potomac.

 McCain issued a statement explaining his position.

While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens.

McCain hasn’t talked about whether he drew any personal satisfaction from defeating one of the cornerstones of the Trump agenda.  But he exhibited the kind of grit that his hosts at the Hanoi Hilton would recognize.

Let The Pardon Fit The Crime

 

 

The Narcissist-in-Chief is pondering pardons, including his own. I can think of some self-executing acts he might undertake, and I might  suggest one or two if given the chance. But he can’t go pardon himself.  The idea of a selfie-pardon is  beyond imagination. Almost.

First thing to check is the Constitution.  On the matter of the pardon power it says that the president can grant pardons for all offenses against the United States, except in the case of impeachment.  Because our courts have decided that an offense against the United States can’t be leveled against a sitting president, he does not have the power to pardon himself. The only way he can be removed from office is through impeachment. So our founders made it so that the president could not take himself off the hook. His self-pardon trial balloon is more hot air. 

As far as his family, he does have the power to pardon them.  Maybe he thinks if he does that there would be no hearings or prosecutions. He’d be wrong. Once a pardon is given, the pardonee has no fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination. Because the pardonee can’t be prosecuted, there is no immunity. The pardonee would be required to testify or would be held in contempt of Congress. Can a person get pardoned twice? Do you see where this is going?  So if the Ginger Mussolini thinks he can pardon his way out of the Russia investigation, he has been drinking the water from the Chernobyl water table.

Speaking of hearings, did you notice that Donald Junior and Jared Kushner have been pulled off the Senate entertainment calendar?  Chairman Chuck Grassley decided not to have the public meet and greet with the Trump juveniles. Grassley’s Senate Judiciary committee plans to go slow until the president can escape through the gift shop.

 But wait! There’s more!  The Future Ex-President is sowing seeds to discredit Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor appointed by the Department of Justice. He is trying to build a case to fire Mueller.  If he is able to push Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of office, then he can appoint a loyal soldier  in Sessions’ place. Sessions may not be able to fire Mueller but his replacement could.  The thing is , anyone nominated to take Jeff Sessions’ place will have to promise not to dismiss the special prosecutor without good cause.

 All of this should give us a profound sense of respect for the Constitution and the job that the founders did. It’s not easy to subvert the United States government, even when all the branches are being run by the same party.  This isn’t President Putin’s Russia or even Mayor Daley’s Chicago.  For the moment, United States is still a nation of laws, not of dictators.  

 

 

Mr. Trump, Gimme Some Truth

Falsis

First year law students are taught some principles that are good for law as well as life, and for the rare intersection of those two phenomena.  One of those is “Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.”   It means that if you lie about one thing, you might very well be lying about everything. This Latin riff is laid on a jury to permit them to discredit everything a witness says if the witness has been caught in even one lie.  

To you Trump supporters hanging by a thread, clinging to false hope like some Japanese soldiers after the Empire surrendered, I say it’s time – beyond time – to let go.  In other words: Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. The future ex-president rode to popularity on his despicable race-baiting lie about President Obama’s country of birth. Then he said for a year that there was nothing to the Russia collusion story, that it was fake news. Now we know that too was a lie, and what’s more, he is directly involved in approving a false statement issued on behalf of Donald Jr.  You have the court’s permission to discredit everything else he said and says:  Job saver/creator – no. Wall builder – no. Provider of great health care – no. Trillion dollars on infrastructure – no. Tax reformer – no.  

If you feel bad about getting conned, don’t. You weren’t the first, and you won’t be the last.  As that noted statesman, P.T. Barnum, supposedly said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Just out of curiosity, are you planning a family? 

 

Trading With The Frenemy

Rosenberg

Time was, colluding with Russia could get you killed; back when Russia was the USSR, our WWII ally, and the collusion was turning over an amateurish drawing of an atom bomb trigger. A drawing so bad that it was useless to the Soviets. So bad that it made my elementary school art look like masterworks  But it was enough to get Julius Rosenberg electrocuted. 

How things have changed. Three members of Future Ex-President Donald Trump’s campaign had an exchange by email and meetings with Russian diplomats and proxies. The stated purpose was to offer Russian assistance to beat Hillary Clinton.  Bring it on, the Trumpistas said, meeting up at Trump Tower right under Trump’s nose with an emissary from Putin, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.  

We don’t yet know the precise outcome of the meeting. We do know that the “dangle” offered by Russia was Russian help to attack Hillary Clinton with dirt dug up by Russia’s intelligence. We all know what happened eventually.  Russia carried out its cyber attack on Clinton and the Democrats to benefit Trump.  The only thing we don’t know is the price paid to the Russians for the boost.  My guess is that it’s a bit more valuable than a lousy drawing. It’s also my guess that none of the Trump operatives will ever see the inside of a jail cell. 

Let me say it before you do – How stupid can I be to compare a little political gamesmanship with giving away atomic secrets?  So let’s break it down. The Soviets were our ally when Rosenberg was an atomic spymaster.   By 1950 it was our existential Cold War enemy. McCarthyism was at its peak. Bad timing for the Rosenbergs. There’s no excuse for his espionage but nobody but the Rosenbergs were executed for acts taken in peacetime. 

Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort’s actions crossed the same line. Even if they, like Julius Rosenberg, thought the Russians were friends, not enemies, at the least they were so reckless and craven to consider undermining our Presidential election, by dealing with a foreign power. Maybe Junior is too stupid to know better. Kushner and Manafort knew better.  Kushner’s repeated falsifications on his security clearance declarations show his guilty knowledge. 

If you think that comparing Rosenberg and the Trump syndicate is a false equivalence, you’re misjudging how destructive it is to let Russia hijack the integrity of our elections and how dangerous it is for Trump’s son and son-in-law to open themselves to potential blackmail. It’s as destructive as the A-bomb to the survival of the American republic. 

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