Media (402)

 

A Not So Happy New Year

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

During the holidays Nancy Pelosi lived rent-free at Mar-a-Lago, in Trump’s head, to be precise.  There wasn’t a day when the president didn’t tweet insults about the Speaker, and during a brief interaction with the press on the way to his New Year’s Eve party, side by side with Melania, who is looking more and more like a Stepford wife, he declared that he knows Pelosi really well and that she is ‘highly overrated.’  Most pundits disagree and believe that the Speaker is playing a masterful mind game with Trump, by all indications driving him bonkers and without yielding one inch.  Trump wants a speedy trial in the Senate, which he believes will totally exonerate him, but putting an extreme form of ‘whataboutism’ into practice he demands a subpoena for Joe Biden and his son Hunter to testify about activities in Ukraine that only in the president’s convoluted mind are related to his impeachment.  Mitch McConnell is willing to put on a bogus trial without any witnesses, once he receives the Articles of Impeachment Pelosi is still sitting on, but not the kind of carnival that Trump wants, for which he’ll never get approval from all Republican senators.

Criticism of the kind of trial McConnell is planning to stage is beginning to come from some of those senators, albeit very hesitantly.  Lisa Murkowski has stated that she is ‘disturbed’ by the Majority Leader’s announcement that he’ll work closely with the White House on the president’s impeachment defense, and Susan Collins, always the Democrats’ last hope in times of despair and usually failing to deliver, has declared that she wants to see the evidence before she decides whether witnesses should be called, a peculiar stance because witness testimony would be part of the evidence.  Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton and two White House aides who were involved in withholding military aid from Ukraine to testify, but that list may get longer since the New York Times revealed this week that in late August Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper met with Trump in the Oval Office to try and convince him that releasing the aid would be in America’s national security interest, to which the president responded that he didn’t consider his Ukrainian counterpart Zelensky to be a genuine reformer.

It will be hard for Trump to keep Mulvaney, Pompeo and Esper from testifying in the Senate if and when they would be subpoenaed, and it will be impossible for him to block their testimony ànd demand that of the Bidens instead.  As for Bolton, he is a private citizen and not only can the president not keep him from testifying, but the lawsuit on which the former National Security Advisor said his willingness to testify depended was dismissed by a federal judge, so there is no excuse for him not to comply with a potential subpoena.

Meanwhile the damage of Trump’s isolationistic incompetence is becoming visible.  His ‘love diplomacy’ with Kim Jong-un, whom he still calls ‘a man of his word,’ has failed spectacularly, and may result in new nuclear testing and an IBM launch.  Iranian proxies have attacked the American embassy in Baghdad, with the US responding by having the head of the Quds Force killed, which will undoubtedly result in worldwide reprisals by Iran.

In Washington a panel of mostly Trump-appointed scientists issued draft letters not surprisingly stating that his administration’s environmental regulations are at odds with established science, and at the Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve party a seriously inebriated Rudy Giuliani seemed to suggest that he could prosecute  his client the president for racketeering.

 
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How Nancy Stole Christmas

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Under stress caused by his impeachment Trump took another big step into his alternate reality of ludicrous imaginations.  After earlier having given us his deep insights into toilets and dishwashers, at a Florida rally this week he revisited one of his favorite topics, windmills.  Although, in his own words, the president never understood wind, he studied windmills better than anybody he knows: ‘They’re noisy.  They kill the birds.  You want to see a bird graveyard? Go under a windmill someday.  You’ll see more birds than you’ve ever seen in your life.’  Also, according to Trump, enormous amounts of fumes are blown from the ‘world we have,’ which is tiny compared to the universe.  That promising thought was never finished, and the president didn’t revisit an earlier statement that windmills cause cancer either, probably protecting us from too much depressing information at once, as a responsible leader should.  After thus having enlightened the general public Trump withdrew to Mar-a-Lago, where he didn’t immediately play golf but first conferred with Rudy Giuliani, who probably showed up with his fly open, drooling and bouncing against the walls.

The president’s concern about the impeachment process is understandable because Nancy Pelosi has him by the proverbial balls.  As long as she refuses to send the Articles of Impeachment over to the Senate Trump is in limbo and it’s eating at him.  He and his enforcer Mitch McConnell imagined that they could stage a quick bogus trial without witnesses and with immediate exoneration, but the Speaker wants to have rules established that prevent a whitewashing of the president’s high crimes and misdemeanors.   It drives Trump nuts and it also creates a conflict between him and the Senate Majority Leader, who is in no hurry to have a trial and wouldn’t mind if Pelosi sat on the Articles until kingdom come.  In his anger over this predicament the president is lashing out on all cylinders, claiming that the Democrats are demanding privileges that he was denied during the impeachment inquiry, namely witnesses and legal representation.  Conveniently or because of age-related amnesia Trump forgets that he prohibited key witnesses, who could conceivably have cleared him, from testifying, and that his lawyers refused to participate in the hearings in the House.

A term that’s being thrown around by both parties is ‘due process,’ and it’s obvious that they mean different things.  The Constitution contains two due process clauses, in the 5th and the 14th Amendments.  In general the term refers to fair treatment through the normal judicial system, but like everything else in that system, what is ‘fair’ is open to interpretation, and even more complicated because the impeachment trial will take place in the US Senate, which according to Stuart Chase commonly presents a spectacle of bad language and can become the last refuge of scoundrels.

Looking forward at year’s end one has to worry about the mess Trump will leave behind even if he’s voted out of office next year.  It’s impossible to rank its elements by importance: political pollution of the American legal system for decennia to come, environmental destruction that may not be redeemable, irreparable mental damage to children of asylum seekers, and a modern fascist segment of the population that will remain a cult as long as Trump is fanning the flames of racism and discontent.

Responding to a question about a present Kim Jong-un promised to give him for Christmas, possibly the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the president speculated that Little Rocket Man might send him a beautiful vase.  When asked on Christmas Day about the present he gave Melania Trump said it was ‘a difficult question’ and mentioned a card and lots of love, while he was still ‘working on a gift.’

 

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''A Very Ugly Word''

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

The first line of Trump’s obituary will be: ‘Donald John Trump, the 45th US President, was impeached on December 18, 2019.’  Impeachment is for eternity, and Trump is fuming.  For a while now the president has claimed that impeachment would be good for him politically and pretended that it didn’t bother him personally, but for someone who has tried his whole life to belong to various elites and always has been shunned but finally made it to the White House it is a mark that will be burned on his forehead and that he’ll see in the mirror for the rest of his days.  Before the House voted on two articles of impeachment Trump tweeted that Nancy Pelosi’s teeth are falling out, giving away how scared he is of the Speaker.  After meeting with the president of that country Trump said that ‘Guatemala would know how to handle Democrats.’  Also, before the impeachment Rudy Giuliani helpfully and publicly confirmed that he had convinced Trump to remove Marie Yovanovitch from Ukraine so that he could manufacture dirt on Joe Biden.  Trump commented that Hizzoner is the ‘greatest crime fighter ever’ and does everything for him ‘out of love.’

On the eve of his impeachment the president sent a six-page letter to Nancy Pelosi, copied to all members of Congress, who received it in an envelope together with the White House Christmas card.  The letter is a written version of a typical Trump rant that looks like a lengthy tweet, with the usual bizarre capitalization and punctuation.  In a line for the ages the president blames the Speaker for having ‘cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!’  In other passages Trump complains that ‘more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials’ than to him, and states that Pelosi offends Americans of faith by saying that she prays for him.  At the end of the letter the president declares that he wrote it for the purpose of history and to put his thoughts ‘on a permanent and indelible record,’ to achieve that one hundred years from now people learn from ‘this affair,’ so that it can never happen to another president.  Although Trump couldn’t have written the letter himself, because he is barely literate, he clearly dictated most of it.  Strategist Rick Wilson called the letter ‘pure crazy weapons-grade nuts.’

If the president thought that his Salem Witch sentence was right on target, during the debate in the House some Republicans did him one better.  Trump’s impeachment was compared to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and one Representative claimed that Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats to Trump.   Other terms that floated were ‘McCarthyism,’ ‘Stalinism,’ an ‘attempted coup’ and a ‘lynching.’  Commenting on the events the president said that the Democrats have been trying to impeach him from before he was elected.

Some observers noted that his impeachment marks the first time Trump is being held accountable for anything, and at a rally in Michigan his anger spilled out in an attack on Representative Debby Dingell, whose husband John, a WW II veteran who served 59 years in Congress, died earlier this year.  The president suggested that Dingell might be in hell, which was too depraved even for some of his followers so that he quickly had to change the topic to the water use of dishwashers.

Trump wants a speedy trial in the Senate, where he almost certainly will be acquitted, but Nancy Pelosi may deny him that sliver of comfort.  She wants to know what the rules of the trial will be before she designates her trial managers and sends the articles of impeachment over to the other chamber.  Leader McConnell will have to go through her before he can start any bogus proceedings.

 

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Plumber-in-Chief

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

 During an average seven-day time span Trump produces a fair amount of nonsense, but this time he was exceptionally productive.  His most bizarre statement was, literally: ‘Right now, in a number of states the laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month.  It is wrong, it has to change.’  On another occasion he complained about LED lights that ‘make you look orange,’ which he doesn’t like because he’s ‘vain.’  Apparently the president doesn’t know that he looks orange in any light, and even at night in the dark.  In what appeared to be a meeting with plumbers Trump philosophized about ‘many states where they have so much water that’s coming down,’ adding ‘it’s called rain.’  In spite of all that water many sinks and showers are apparently barely functional, and the president said ‘we’re looking very strongly at that.’  Possibly an even bigger problem are toilets, some of which according to Donald the Plumber have to be flushed up to fifteen times!  Speaking to a Jewish audience Trump repeated an anti-semitic trope by saying ‘you’ll have to vote for me, because the Democrats are after your money.’

Following all that gloom and doom about bathroom fixtures the president also had some good news.  He had called with the King and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia after one of their officers killed three people at a naval base where he was in training, and they promised to pay cash to the relatives of the victims.  Cash, in Trump’s eyes, is the ultimate remedy for everything.  Maybe the disproportionate number of insanities the president supplied this week had something to do with the articles of impeachment the House Judiciary Committee has drawn up.  To keep it simple Trump will ‘only’ be charged with Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress.  A House vote on his impeachment is expected early next week and a trial in the Senate in January.  In probably the most provocative move he (or Putin) could think of, on the day the articles of impeachment were drafted the president met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in the Oval Office.  Afterwards Trump told the White House press corps that he had issued a warning about possible Russian meddling in future US elections, something Lavrov immediately denied.

In anticipation of testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Inspector General of the Justice Department, Horowitz, the president attacked FBI Director Wray, who had stood up for his agency, calling him ‘the current director’ and the involved FBI agents ‘scum.’  In spite of Attorney General Barr’s stated opinion that the FBI investigation into Russian impingement on the Trump campaign had been insufficiently predicated, Horowitz maintained that the FBI had every reason to start the investigation, although serious mistakes were made with FISA applications.

The length of Trump’s trial in the Senate is yet to be determined.  Mitch McConnell wants it over as fast as possible, but the White House wants a big show, including an interrogation of Hunter Biden.  Democrats also prefer to keep it short, because they want to get back to the people’s regular business, but if they have to they’ll subpoena Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton, making the president’s obstruction of Congress even more visible than it is now, something McConnell wants to prevent.

Lost in the avalanche of reporting about House committees and Senate hearings was the news that Trump paid a $2 million fine for stealing from his own foundation, while Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric must be about to enroll in mandatory training how to run a charity.   In all, Washington’s ‘Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics’ counted 2,300 conflicts of interest for the Trump family, which is definitely a national record.


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Een heel verstandig besluit

Dus Jeroen Pauw houdt op met zijn praatshow. Dat is een heel verstandig besluit.
     
Ik zei het de laatste tijd nogal eens: ‘’Eerlijk gezegd ben ik een beetje uitgePauwd’’.
Altijd met diezelfde mensen praten, altijd dat gemaakte ‘’We gaan beginnen’’, altijd dat nerveuze getrommel met die vingers, Nooit de tijd om echt een boek te lezen als er een schrijver komt. Altijd maar weer met andere mensen van de televisie over de televisie praten.
      ‘Jongen hou er toch eens mee op; ga wat anders doen. Want dat kan je’’.

In zijn interview-programma ''5 jaar later'' werd hem een jaar of twee geleden eens gevraagd wat hijzelf over vijf jaar zou doen. Hij antwoordde toen iets in de trant van: ‘’Dat weet ik eigenlijk niet. Maar misschien zit ik dan wel in New York. Correspondent of zo’’.

Toen dacht ik al: ‘’Jongen ga dat doen. Daar word je veel gelukkiger van dan dat gebabbel in de marge van het ‘’Vandaag dit: Morgen dat’’.

 

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