Partisanship is alive and festering in this pending impeachment

The highly partisan nature of the House of Representatives vote today on the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump reveals a fundamental shortcoming in this process.

It remains a highly partisan, divided endeavor. Republicans voted “no” on the inquiry resolution, while all but two congressional Democrats voted “yes.”

The resolution lays out the rules and procedure that the House will follow from this moment forward as it decides whether to impeach the president on grounds that he violated his oath of office.

If only it wasn’t so damn partisan!

Looking back at the impeachment proceeding that resulted in President Nixon’s resignation from office in 1974, I am reminded that Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in the search for the truth about the Watergate break-in and who was behind the coverup of the crime.

Nixon, the Republican president, quit when GOP senators told him eventually that he was toast, that a Senate trial would convict him. Indeed, during the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973, it fell to a GOP senator, Howard Baker, to ask famously, “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

And then came the question from the committee’s Republican legal counsel, Fred Thompson, who would go on later to be elected to the Senate alongside Sen. Baker of Tennessee: “Are you aware of … any listening devices in the Oval Office?” Thompson asked White House aide Alexander Butterfield, who answered “yes.”

Are there any Republicans now who are willing to exhibit that kind of courage? No. They are digging in to defend a president who has actually acknowledged that he sought political help from a foreign government. They are challenging the “process,” calling it a “Soviet-style” inquisition.

The partisanship being exhibited here reminds me of the shamelessness we saw during President Clinton’s impeachment in 1998. Republicans were hell bent toward impeaching the Democratic president, whose Democratic allies in Congress were equally hell bent in protecting him from the GOP attack dogs.

It’s playing out all over again.

But we have this major wrinkle: We’re now staring straight into a presidential election.

You want partisanship? Let’s hang on with both hands.

Let the fecal matter hit the fan

Well now. That went about the way observers had predicted it would go.

Almost all House Democrats voted today in favor of a congressional resolution to proceed with an impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump; all House Republicans voted against it. One former Republican who’s now an independent cast his vote in favor of the measure.

What happens now?

The House of Representatives will proceed with its inquiry into whether the president committed impeachable offenses by soliciting a foreign government for personal political help and/or whether he has sought to cover up that allegation. Let’s toss in an abuse of power allegation and an obstruction of justice charge as well.

Republicans who voted “no” have said they don’t want the inquiry. Democrats favor it looking more deeply into these disturbing allegations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called today’s vote a sad day for the country. It is all of that … and much more.

It is going to produce public hearings. It will enable the president’s legal team to cross exam witnesses. It will drag into full public view all the things that have been said in private, behind closed doors as House members deposed witnesses.

It’s all been legal. It’s all being done according to the Constitution.

Today’s vote, moreover, should have stemmed phony GOP complaints about there being a star chamber aspect to this inquiry. It won’t stop Republicans from seeking to protect a president of their own party.

They will yap about politics driving the inquiry while invoking their own brand of politics to block it. Do you see the irony in that?

The public portion of this sober process does mean at a minimum that the fecal matter is about to hit the fan. The remaining question for me — and millions of other Americans — is whether any Republicans will be persuaded that Donald J. Trump has broken the law and should be removed from office.

I am not holding my breath.

Go ahead, Mr. POTUS, run the White House all by yourself!

A reader of this blog has offered a fascinating response to a blog post I published that was critical of Donald Trump leaving acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney out of the loop regarding the planning for the raid that killed Islamic State founder Abu Makr al-Baghdadi.

He wrote: And yet the raid was an astounding success. Baghdadi was killed and none of the good guys were injured. So does he really?

Hey, he might have a point? I say “might” because we don’t know without seeing how the president would be able to manage the White House all by himself.

Mulvaney likely is on his final lap as the acting chief of staff. So here’s my thought: Mr. President, go ahead and leave the chief of staff job vacant after you give Mulvaney the boot. You ought to run the place all by yourself, just as you more or less said you might do when you accepted the Republican presidential nomination in the summer of 2016.

Trump declared that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s myriad problems. He has burned through three chiefs of staff in less than a single term as president. Reince Priebus couldn’t cut it; John Kelly tried to manage the place, but gave up; now it’s Mulvaney serving in this “acting” capacity.

Trump doesn’t entrust his chiefs of staff with any real authority. So, he ought to just take the reins himself. He alone should run the complex White House operation. He alone should make the key personnel decisions. He alone should be able to communicate with key legislative leaders in Congress.

The White House has an interminable number of moving parts. Trump has boasted of his remarkable business acumen. He runs this business empire but, of course, doesn’t acknowledge the multiple failures he has suffered over the span of many years.

Aww, but what the heck. That was then. The here and now puts the president in charge of the executive branch of the federal government.

Let’s see how he manages the White House and let’s see if he, alone, can stem the chaos that has overrun the place.

Who needs a chief of staff, right, Mr. President? Well, you do!

News that White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was kept out of the loop regarding the mission to kill Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi illustrates a fundamental failure of Donald Trump’s masquerading as president of the United States.

It shows how the absence of any public service or political knowledge in Trump’s pre-presidential background has disserved him and, worse, the nation.

Trump doesn’t seem to appreciate the value of a strong White House chief of staff. He calls the shots himself. He relies on no one to provide him with candid advice. He hires chiefs of staff and then ignores them, sends them to the back of the room, dismisses them with impunity.

That is the fate that has befallen Mulvaney, the “acting” chief of staff who didn’t know about the Army Delta Force raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound until after it already had commenced.

It looks for all the world as if Mulvaney will get the boot. It’ll likely be soon. He’ll go back home to South Carolina — where he was when he heard the news about the al-Baghdadi mission.

The question then becomes: Who in the world is willing to put up with the president’s ignorance about government and who is willing to dismissed, disrespected and disparaged the way Trump has done to Mick Mulvaney?

Let’s all keep our eyes peeled to Donald Trump’s Twitter account. An announcement is likely to be forthcoming.

It was right to toss al-Baghdadi’s corpse into the drink

The head of U.S. Central Command, Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, has told us that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “buried at sea” after Army Delta Force commandos completed their mission to take him out.

I guess I should accept the notion that the military personnel charged with disposing of the Islamic State founder’s remains did so with a modicum of respect. I mean, he didn’t show any respect to those victims he killed over his many years leading the hideous terrorist organization. Thus, he didn’t deserve the respect that Central Command reportedly gave his remains.

However, it was a prudent call to dispose of this individual’s corpse in the fashion that our military did. There would be no way in the world that we should bury him in the ground and create a shrine that would attract Islamic perverts to draw strength from being near his remains.

U.S. forces disposed of Osama bin Laden in the same manner after Navy SEALs killed him in May 2011. They hauled his remains out of the compound where the SEALs found him, took him to the USS Carl Vinson and then sent his body into the drink where it was likely consumed by undersea creatures.

I am going to presume that al-Baghdadi’s remains will meet the same fate. That’s fine with me.

Although it does anger me that these terrorist monsters likely got the respectful treatment they never accorded to their own victims. Whatever. They’re both dead. That’s the best part of how these stories have ended.

Patriot getting a dose of typical Trump response

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is no one’s puppet. He is the farthest thing I can imagine from being a political creature.

Vindman is a career military man. He is an immigrant who came here to this country as a toddler. The United States is the only country he has known. It is the country he loves and for which he has shed blood on the battlefield.

Yet he has run straight into a fusillade of fire from allies of Donald Trump. Why? Because he had the courage to tell congressional questioners what he heard in real time on July 25, which was the president of the United States seeking a political favor from a foreign government.

He now is getting the Trump treatment. The president decided to label Lt. Col. Vindman a “never Trumper.” Granted, it’s not nearly as hideous as the comments from some of Trump’s media allies, who have questioned the soldier’s loyalty to his country, suggesting he is more loyal to Ukraine, the Soviet state he and his parents fled.

To their great credit, many high-level Republican politicians have stood up for Alexander Vindman. They have praised his service to his country and said the dubious accusations of disloyalty to the United States have no place in the current discussion. I am heartened to hear such rhetoric from the nation’s GOP political leadership.

Still, that doesn’t lessen the idiocy that continues to flow from right-wing media and, yes, from the president of the United States.

Career military personnel take an oath to defend that nation against its enemies. They do not take political oaths. They are as non-political as anyone in public service. So, for the president to call Lt. Col. Vindman a “never Trumper” is to disparage the oath he took when he donned the nation’s military uniform.

To think that this president, who famously avoided (or evaded?) military service during the Vietnam War, would even assert such a thing about an actual patriot is utterly beyond belief.

Trump tramples over his own moment of triumph

If you want to witness an example of how badly Donald Trump’s administration allegedly “functions,” consider the way the president has mangled what should be a moment of supreme triumph for the commander in chief.

Trump authorized a daring raid that resulted in the death of Islamic State monster in chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Army Delta Force commandos carried out the mission with lethal precision. None of them was injured or worse.

The world is a better and safer place without al-Baghdadi slithering among our midst.

But what has happened?

Trump told us about how al-Baghdadi was crying, whimpering, sobbing and screaming when the soldiers were closing in. He went into extraordinary — and quite possibly fictitious — detail about the terrorist’s final moments on Earth.

Then we hear just today that White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, the guy who should have been there at the very beginning of the raid planning, didn’t know about it until the operation was running at full speed. How in the world does the chief of staff — albeit the “acting” chief — not know in real time about the planning for such a critical military operation?

I recall that vivid picture of Andrew Card, who was President Bush 43’s chief of staff, whispering into the president’s ear on 9/11 that “the nation is under attack.” Or President Obama’s chief of staff, William Daley, standing by while the national security team was watching in real time as SEALs killed Osama bin Laden.

Mick Mulvaney needed to be there. At the beginning. He needed to know the details from the inception of the daring mission. He learned about it when the rest of the world saw Trump’s Twitter message about “something really big” occurring.

The White House chief of staff by definition is the individual who is among those who “need to know” the details of everything that is going on in the White House.

Donald Trump has turned his moment of supreme triumph into yet another example of chaos and confusion.

Now it’s Mick Mulvaney who’s on the Trump Bubble

This is hardly a flash, but it looks for all the world as if “acting” White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is heading for the exit.

It turns out that Donald Trump chose to keep his chief of staff in the dark prior to the launching of the most important military mission of his presidency: the killing of Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Mulvaney reportedly as at home in South Carolina when Trump tweeted the message: “Something very big has just happened.” Mulvaney then was brought up to speed as the mission was commencing.

What is so odd and frightening about this revelation is that White House chiefs of staff normally are part of the national security team that meets to discuss such operations prior to their being launched. Not so with Mulvaney.

Andy Card, chief of staff for President Bush 43, said he is “baffled” by Mulvaney being left out of the planning of such an event.

Mulvaney’s “acting” status has been in place since he took the job after John Kelly departed at the start of this year. Then he held that disastrous White House press briefing a couple of weeks ago in which he admitted that Trump asked for a political favor from the head of a foreign government, telling the media and others to “get over it.” 

So, the guy who once ran the Office of Management Budget only to step into the snake pit known as the White House is likely on his way out. Just think that this is payback for the guy who famously said when he took the White House job that he intended merely to “let Trump be Trump.”

Chaos, anyone?

‘Thank you for saving the world’

I vowed a while back to start thanking World War II veterans when I encountered them. I would do so more frequently, except that I don’t find too many of The Greatest Generation wearing gimme caps with “World War II Veteran” inscribed on the front of them.

I did so yesterday, though, while shopping for groceries here in Princeton.

I saw a gentleman pushing a shopping cart. I walked over to him, extended my hand and said, “I want to thank you, sir, for saving the world.” The nice man smiled, took my hand, returned a firm handshake and said, “Well, we did what we could.”

That’s typical of those folks, all 16 million of them who suited up for World War II after the attack on our armed forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I told the gentleman that he “damn sure did” do a lot to save the world.

I mentioned my effort to thank World War II vets in an earlier blog post, but a reader of this blog reminded me that Korean War veterans are getting long in the tooth, too. The Korean War erupted only five years after the end of World War II, so the reader is correct to remind me that I most certainly should extend the hand of gratitude to those veterans, too.

I am proud to be the son of a World War II veteran. Dad is no longer among us, but I offer these words of thanks and gratitude in his memory.

It will be a sad day, indeed, for the nation when the final World War II veteran passes from the scene. Oh, what these men and women did during that time of grave worldwide peril is the stuff of legend.

Confession of a weather wimp

I am about to admit something I have resisted admitting.

I am a weather wimp. There. I said it out loud.

The realization came to me this morning while standing next to the fuel pump where I was putting diesel into my big ol’ pickup. The weather is chilly. It is damp. It is dank and dark. Even in Princeton, Texas, where we thought we would enjoy a more temperate climate longer into the autumn.

Oh, no! My teeth were clattering. I kept my hands buried deeply into my pockets. I couldn’t wait for the fuel pump to shut off so I could get the heck outta there, back into the truck and then back to the house.

Maybe it’s a function of age. Maybe I am just getting impatient as I wind my way toward the finish line.

We went through a long, hot summer. I longed for cooler days and nights. I lusted for a bit of rain.

Then, boom! It arrived. With something of a vengeance!

I am not going to complain too loudly about the weather. I know there ain’t a thing I can do about it. The weather is so far out of humankind’s control it’s not even worth the gripes we lay on it. And by all means, I know that many places on Earth have much more severe weather than we get in the Metroplex.

I merely am acknowledging what I’ve known to be true.

I am a weather wimp who is going to start wishing any day now for warmer temperatures … and it’s not even winter yet!

Please forgive me.