Mission Accomplished

NOT ENTIRELY WITHOUT PAIN OR STRAIN

Since last summer the question and issue of Trump’s alleged misconduct with Ukraine has been consistently in the news.

For quite a long time, Speaker Pelosi resisted initiating an Impeachment proceeding largely because she clearly understood that it would be controversial and almost impossible to complete because of the 2/3rds vote threshold required in the Senate.

When the whistleblower report became public, she changed course, with some reluctance by some of her own party, because she apparently came to believe that the conduct rose to the level of an impeachable offense and that impeachment was needed to safeguard the 2020 election and ensure that the American people had all the facts related to Trump’s misconduct before the 2020 Presidential election.

What followed was what we have been watching now for almost three months.

Unfortunately, events unfolded like a long, boring movie whose ending you knew before it began.  We started this process certain we wouldn’t “win”. Along the way, the existing evidence, new evidence and a brilliant argument by Adam Schiff briefly offered the prospect that we might, in fact, turn the tide. As a result, we let our hopes get carried away with an old-fashioned sense of Senators’ dedication to democratic principles over their self-interest, one that simply doesn’t reflect the body as it’s currently constructed.

Today, as the process appears to be ending with an acquittal by the Senate, Pelosi’s decision to go ahead appears to have been wise and smart.

Very few of us would disagree that the BEST judges of this controversial matter are the American people whose judgement will be forthcoming in November.

The difference, however, is that now the electorate in November will be very well informed about the subject. Without the impeachment process much of the devastating-to-Trump evidence might have gone unnoticed during the 2020 election.

That is why I believe the mission was accomplished. And, the current relevant polls quite clearly already indicate that the public has been getting the message.

Lamar Alexander, a retiring Republican Senator, appears to have been the straw that broke the back of the demand by Democrats to hear Bolton. He made it clear that, while he deplored Trump’s conduct, he wondered how impeachable conduct could be determined IF there was the possibility of mixed motives. That is an interesting intellectual question. I come down on the side that if there is any clear indication of a corrupt motive, it must be impeachable. But, I understand the question and debate.

So, I think those of us who favor impeaching Trump now must be patient AND also start planning in detail now how to present the material and evidence that is now visible and in the public record –which would not have been available if Pelosi had not unleashed the whole process—for consideration by the voting public in the 2020 election.

The pain and strain have been real because the case against Trump has been so clear and strong.

However, what matters most now is that whole story is clearly available for the 2020 election.

The Bolton disclosures on Ukraine as outlined in his book is already largely out and known by the public and surely will become more so.

For more than 200 years, history has proven the ultimate wisdom of America’s voters.

In 2020, that must be our saving grace.

What Constitutes a Fair Trial?

Reasonable balance – if possible.

A fair trial is one in which both sides have – to the extent possible—equal opportunities to present their cases to both sides in such a way that both sides can see all points of view relevant to the issues in controversy.

The fact that a Senate impeachment trial may not be an exact replica of a traditional, standard legal trial does not and should not modify the fundamental elements of fairness required in all trials under our Constitutional system.

The fact that the Majority Leader simply and arbitrarily prevented a Presidential appointment to the Supreme Court from even being considered does not justify a similar prevention of access to evidence in an impeachment trial.

The whole country is frustrated — and even bored! — by the current impeachment trial. The reason is obvious and simple. The outcome was obvious even before it started. Virtually no one expected the Senate would deliver 67 votes – the 2/3rds threshold required for removal from office.

Yet, the House, in its judgment, proceeded to vote out Articles of Impeachment because they believed it was important to put before the Senate and the country ALL the facts of the President’s misconduct. Whether or not it turned the tide in the Senate, the idea was to help inform the whole country in advance of the 2020 election. Election campaigns, after all, are notoriously not conducted with fairness in mind.  

It may appear on the surface at the moment that the House Democrats overreached in their effort to hold the President accountable for his misconduct [no need to say “alleged” here] as even the President isn’t denying the basic facts of the case – only their meaning.

But, that initial perspective may be about to be revealed to be wrong.

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s upcoming book evidently currently is available in drafts in the hands of both the White House and the publisher. From today’s NY Times reports, Bolton confirms the quid pro quo and the President’s direct involvement in holding Congressionally-authorized military aid for Ukraine hostage to the President’s demands for a public announcement of a Biden investigation.

If that testimony becomes available under oath for the Senate trial [again as the New York Times suggests perhaps at the initiative of Justice Roberts]  it would be HIGHLY relevant to the questions before the Senate and whole country at this very moment.

And, even if the Senate should now still dismiss the Impeachment without hearing this essential new evidence, the country at large will have learned in a vivid and convincing way of the cover up and Presidential misconduct.

If that proves to be the eventual case, the momentary concerns of the eventual predictable outcome of the Senate trial, will prove fleeting.

 It was always a long shot to put one’s faith in the Senate.

 I have more confidence in the American people in November 2020.

Partisanship vs. Dictatorship

THE DIFFERENCE APPEARS TO BE A VERY FINE LINE.

Watching the Senate impeachment trial has been one of the most painful experiences of my entire life.

The House has presented a powerful and to me more than enough case for its indictment.

The Senate majority has so far rejected out of hand any additional witnesses or documents (even for subsequently revealed evidence) claiming that it is not their job AND that by asking for ‘more’ evidence the House is admitting that the evidence they already have introduced is insufficient. There never can be too much evidence, until it is conceded.

If the Senate wants to endorse a President demanding foreign help in seeking his reelection, it is free to do so. But, it will have to live with that fact for history and the American people, if that is what they are doing. That just might lead to a major change in the makeup of Congress comparable to the late 1930s [when the Democrats achieved super majorities in both Houses of Congress], which is hard to imagine could be their intent.

If the Senate wants to fight the House evidence, it needs first to offer contradictory evidence from its own witnesses. Otherwise it is simply attempting to cover up for the President.

Everything is so bizarre that it almost seems the Capital has been turned upside down!

The basic precedent involved is that no POTUS can or should ever have unaccountable power to override the power of Congress to investigate the actions of a President in the national interest.

Après le déluge

IF THERE IS ANYTHING AT ALL

As the Trump Impeachment trial begins, other BIG questions also arise which are deeply troublesome.

Apart from the current Middle East fiascos, our national deficits have soared to all-time highs, our international trade strategy is reminiscent of the 1930s cannibalizations, and our income tax reductions in 2017 opened the doors to even more income inequality and unseen heights in financial markets for the favored rich.

The expression ‘dollars and non-sense’ has been around forever, but Trump has given it new meaning and more danger because he is so impervious to knowledge and experience. And, his supreme confidence in his personal judgments is like the   wisdom about how manure stinks, if it is simply left piled up. The trick is to spread wisdom around and like manure it will help things grow.

It almost seems that Trump has taken the debunked playbook from the 1920-30s, either to lay a foundation for his wish for perpetual power, or as a result of his massive incompetence. Whatever the motive, the result is likely to be stagflation – the economic malady that terrorizes the modern global economy because measures to counter it are so few and limited.

Trump may end his presidency without a major economic disaster, if it ends sometime this year.  But, the reckoning awaits, IF we do not get on top of it right away.

Let’s be clear – WE, means you, me and the rest of the world. In the United States, it starts with choosing a President who will best be able to cope with the deluge.  Smart action by that person and their counterparts around the globe could create a pathway back to prosperity. But that’s likely to be a long, painful process, regardless of who is in power.

Therefore, my thoughts become more personal. On the one hand, one wants to preserve personal wealth, and if the economy begins to contract, it’s certain the market will as well.

 But moving out of investments into cash at a risky inflationary moment creates the counter risk of money itself becoming less valuable. That leaves commodities – including gold.

The deluge prospects are real. The antidotes may be illusory. Doing nothing is stupid. Doing too much may be more stupid.

Everyone must find their own answers, but politics and economics have become so intertwined that dealing with them separately is unlikely to work.

STOP-LOOK-LISTEN

And think!

Have you ever noticed a linkage between the two words –hubris and humility?

Hubris is excessive pride by a human being.

Humility is excessive modesty by a human being.

Both words are derived from ancient Greek wisdom but with no evident linguistic connection.

Yet, both words are linked by very similar genuine human weaknesses and strengths.

If we all could find a bit more humility and hubris, we might all enjoy a nicer HUMANITY!

What is Going On Out There?

Things are getting stranger by the day.

The stock market is a proxy for a lot of things – mostly all jumbled together into a big ball of confusion which rolls along, often picking up speed when it perhaps ought to be slowing down.

It is long and well known that business and financial decisions heavily rely on predictability and dependability. Lack of that causes –and should cause—caution and therefore often leads to risk avoidance, which mostly leads to less and slower growth and lower returns.

Uncertainty about what lies ahead now seems to be growing by the day. How much longer can the USA and world tolerate a President who seems out of control and lacks any visible, coherent strategies or goals—other than perpetuating his power?

Yet, the stock market with a seemingly endless supply of optimism, would appear to be telling us something quite different.

History tells us that the stock market is a pretty good indicator of what lies ahead a lot of the time. But, when it gets it wrong, watch out, because a lot of innocent people get quite badly hurt and often never recover.

For example, in the early part of the 20th Century there was a great stock market upturn followed by a crash (THE crash) in 1929. By 1933, a recovery was apparently well underway when the market finally took a big dive, bringing the post-crash lows of the depression.

Today’s market movements suggest good economics and finance lie ahead. But the raw substance of the world – from the Mideast, to domestic income inequality, to instability among the worlds’ major powers—foreshadow a troubled world which is struggling to get things right and straight.

It is scary to find myself sticking my neck out in the world that I supposedly know something about. The last thing a self-perceived ‘wise’ person wants is to look dumb and/or stupid.

But, what we are watching is one of those –hopefully—rare moments when what we see right in front of our noses may be seriously misleading us.

Thus, the watch word is BEWARE!

Do not bet politically or financially on any one scenario too radically.

And, expect surprises and weird timing all the time.

In time, all will be well again.

Time is everything, but at 89 ahhh!!!!!