Friday, November 30, 2018

The Day of Reckoning is Nigh

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Americans who support Donald Trump--whether they consider themselves Republicans, conservatives, or simply people grateful for certain policies he has put forward--are soon to face a reckoning point.  That is, given what is certain to be shown as serial, reflexive dishonesty wrapped around utter disdain for anything but personal gain, the outcome of which has been an invigorated American left and a smoking wreckage of a GOP--how can one continue to support Donald Trump as President.

Notice I did not mention anything here impeachable. I do not think Donald Trump will be removed from office (though the House may impeach him). Not because I do not think he should be removed, but because as of yet, I have seen nothing to convince me that a sufficient number of Republicans in the Senate would vote to do so. That said, armchair Constitutional scholars will point to "...treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors..." without processing the larger point that what is impeachable ultimately boils down to what a majority of the members of the House of Representatives say it is.

Putting impeachment aside for the moment, we will soon be treated to findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has conducted his affairs in the highest of standards in stark contrast to the serial obfuscaters and sycophants who publicly slander him and his team, including the President himself. Mueller will deliver a report that will ultimately reveal several things which are simply beyond dispute:

--Candidate Trump's inner circle was deeply enmeshed in routine interactions with Russian government figures, Russian intelligence officers, and Russian organized crime figures, interactions that were routinely denied by both Trump and his circle.
--Candidate Trump and members of his inner circle were aware of in advance and supported the activities of Julian Assange and Wiki-leaks to reveal embarrassing emails from major Democratic figures in order to impact the Hillary Clinton campaign.
--Mr. Assange's and Wiki-leaks reputation as a front for Russian Intelligence was an open secret at the time. 
--Candidate Trump continued to pursue lucrative real estate deals in Russia that included solicitation of support from Vladimir Putin until the summer of 2016, six months after the Iowa caucuses. During this time, Candidate Trump made a number of "Putin-friendly" statements that were not aligned with prevailing Republican attitudes. 
--Candidate Trump and his inner circle actively sought to suppress potential embarrassment caused by revelations from former sex partners, to include financial payoffs. These revelations were vehemently denied by Candidate Trump, President Trump, and his inner circle. 

The points above represent what I consider to be irrefutable assertions based on what we know in court filings thus far in the Mueller investigation and that of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Behind these indisputable assertions of fact lie some interesting inferences that not only raise the specter of impeachable offenses, but which make the point of reckoning mentioned above that much more real.

--Reports of the surprise of Candidate Trump and his inner circle that he prevailed in the election lead to the conclusion that he believed he would likely lose. What then, are the links (if any) between his business objectives and his campaign statements, especially those that were at best--soft on Putin, and at worst--admiring of him? Was the future President of the United States setting the course of US foreign policy in a pro-Russian direction simply as a hedging strategy for his own business? Just yesterday, he admitted as much. 
--Further to this point, there remain open questions about the suppression (by Paul Manafort) of a plank in the GOP platform in the summer of 2016 that advocated arming Ukranians in their conflict with Russia. Could this have been yet another instance in which Trump sought to curry favor with Russia in furtherance of his business goals?

Please notice--neither of the previous two inferences--serious though they may be--involve "collusion". Dead-ender supporters of Trump (the "I could commit a murder on fifth avenue and they'd still support me" types) have created a construct in which only a video of Trump and Putin strategizing in shirtsleeves would represent collusive behavior--so I'm not addressing these people. I'm writing for the rest of us, who--while we may be unable to believe that there was collusion (coordination, strategizing) between the Trump Campaign and the Russians at this point, are perfectly willing to entertain the possibility, presented with sufficient evidence. To that end:

--Was there any information passed from the Trump campaign--either directly or through intermediaries--as to where (geographically--remember, 80,000 votes in three key states tipped this election) "friendly" online activity ("fake new", targeted emails, etc) should be concentrated?
--Was there any coordination between the Trump campaign as to the timing of release of information damaging to the Clinton campaign, such as the release of DNC emails in close proximity to the "Access Hollywood" tape becoming public 2 days before the  second Presidential Debate?

Again---this post is not for the MAGA- hat wearing, dead-ender who simply wants to drink "liberal tears". This post is for thoughtful, patriotic Americans who have for one reason or another, continued to support President Trump in the face of serial dishonesty, churlish behavior, and disreputable dealing with friends and allies. The GOP just lost 40 seats in the house and squandered the most favorable Senatorial map in a generation, even as it gave back a third of the seats it won in state legislatures in the age of Obama. Things will not get better while this man is supported.

Cut this anchor loose; regroup, move on, and live to fight another day.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thoughts on Thanksgiving 2018

It is quiet, and I am sitting in the kitchen next to a gas fire with two lovable Labradors nestled about me. Soon this place will be a bustle of activity as Catherine and I bring off another Thanksgiving together. For now though, she and the Kittens slumber while I write to you.

Calm before the storm
 This year's feast brings the first real change in players, as Catherine's uncle and family patriarch Tiny died earlier this year. We'll miss Tiny. Eleven years ago I was invited to Thanksgiving in his house, just a few months after beginning to date his niece. His brother John having died the year before, he took the role of giving me the business seriously, but by the end of the evening, I felt that I had passed.

We have a new person joining us today, and that is my brother Tom. Tom is driving up from Richmond and will be spending the night. He and his wife split earlier in the year, amicably it would seem, and I jumped the gun on inviting him early on in fear of someone else obtaining his wit and presence at their table.

Both girls are home, and they've been busy helping Cat with pies and setup. It is good to have the whole team together, even if just for a few days.

I get a lot of grief for how early I begin to celebrate Christmas. People think I give Thanksgiving short shrift in the process, but nothing can be farther (further?) from the truth. I love this day--and I see it as part of a joyous season. This day serves almost as a ritualistic cleansing, a day for gratitude for all of the blessings we enjoy. I have read that "gratitude is the parent of all other virtues". I surely see it that way. Here are some things for which I am grateful.

--The health and love of my parents
--A supportive and loving partner
--Two accomplished daughters growing to honorable womanhood
--A large and loving family of siblings and their families
--Acceptance into Cat's family
--Meaningful work
--Close friends
--Citizenship in this great country
--Shelter and sustenance beyond what I merit
--The love and companionship of two cats and two dogs
--Four years at the University of Virginia followed by every day since

From Catherine, Hope, Hannah, and Bryan--Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Potpourri

Last week on Saturday Night Live, on of the stars did a terrible bit about a Republican running for Congress who lost an eye in combat (Dan Crenshaw, who won his race), and so wears an eye patch. It was stupid. It wasn't very funny. It was pretty much panned by everyone who watched. Last night, this guy (Pete Davidson) made things right by asking the target of his ill-humor to join him as he publicly apologized. Watch below:

A couple of things. First, Dan Crenshaw handled this thing pitch perfectly from the very start--it was a pitch in the dirt and he didn't swing at it. Secondly, I thought Davidson did the right thing and he did it pretty well. Bottom line--I've said and written a lot of dumb and regrettable things in my life--and it is tough to judge Davidson too harshly given the stupidity I've engaged in.

About the election last week--I guess I got it about right, but the D's did a bit better than I thought they would. That didn't stop the President from claiming a great victory, but he's obviously full of shit. His firing of Jeff Sessions -- that is what it is called when you ask for someone's undated resignation letter and then release it when it suits you-- is all about the stew he's in with Mueller, which is only going to get hotter here in the very near future. Bottom line prediction: they won't get to Trump--but they are going to get to people who mean a great deal to Trump.

Speaking of our President--his performance in France was once again a shitshow. I can't even imagine the uproar from sanctimonious Republicans had Obama skipped a ceremony honoring war-dead because of a little rain. I am sure they'll come up with some lame rationale--but it will be just one more step into the abyss of relativism that the GOP has been undergoing since 2015.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sunday Potpourri

As I look out my window at the newly harvested fields on the west side of our farm on a glorious fall day, I am filled with gratitude. To my teachers and professors for shaping my mind, to the Navy for shaping my character, to Catherine and the girls for shaping my compassion and to my parents for virtually everything else. I bitch a lot about the world we live in these days, but sitting here--in the present--I am embarrassed by my good fortune but thankful for it.

Tuesday will be a big day for the country, and no, not because your 2019 NCAA Men's College Basketball Champion Virginia Cavaliers kick off their season, though that is not unimportant. It will be a big day because we'll have a chance to collectively register our thoughts about where we are and where we are going as a country. My sense though, is that all we have a right to expect as a people is for our respective priors to be confirmed. It appears that the Senate will either stay Republican or get a little more so, and that the House will flip. Both sides will claim great victories, and neither will have a right to do so. We will find ourselves in a worse version of where we are now, and we have no right to expect better. We HAVE the government we deserve. Anyone who thinks we deserve better should show their work.

The trip to Charlottesville this past Friday for the game vs. Pitt was a mixed event. The game itself sucked. For the first twelve minutes of the first quarter I sat in a torrential downpour. Then the weather actually got pretty nice, but the team Virginia had on the field was pretty inept. Additionally, four starters were injured during the game, not a good sign for the future. I was worried about this one all week, I thought we were overrated, that we are a decent team in a terrible conference. I suspected Virginia fans were getting ahead of themselves, and I think I was right. We're not bad, we're just good. Barely.

I saw some of my best friends in the world the other night, guys I've had laughs with since the fall of 1983. At one point during the game, late, when it was clear we were going to lose, I just stood up and looked at them, and thought about how much time we'd spent together and how dear they are to me. This is the kind of thing I need to do more of, I think. Just being in the moment, not worrying about past injuries or future schemes. Totally present. It was sublime.

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