THE BETO PHENOMENON

Most Americans only know him as the mystery man with the flamboyant, energetic speaking style and the unusual nickname. Who is Beto O’Rourke? How did he get that unusual nickname? What is his background? What does he stand for, politically? Does he really have a chance to win the Dem nomination? The election? Good questions. Read on, and let’s see.

Robert Francis O’Rourke was born on September 26, 1972 in El Paso, TX. His family was steeped in politics. His father was a local politician in the El Paso area. In addition, he was an associate of former Texas Governor Mark White (1983-87); and he was the state chairman of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns. Later, he switched parties and ran for various political offices as a Republican, and lost every race. His mother, who owned a furniture store, is the step-daughter of Fred Korth, who served as Secretary of the Navy under JFK.

The family bestowed the unusual nickname, Beto, on Robert as an infant. It is a short version of “Berto,” a Spanish nickname for Roberto, which is the Spanish translation of Robert. He was called Beto to distinguish him from his grandfather, who was also named Robert.

Beto’s childhood included a couple of unusual events. As a teenager, he became involved in a computer hacking group called “Cult of the Dead Cow.” His “handle” was “Psychedelic Warlord.” More on this later. After two years at the local high school, his family shipped him off to boarding school in Virginia (possibly because of his involvement with the hacking group). He spent the summer following his graduation as an intern on Capitol Hill. He attended college at Columbia and graduated in 1995 with a BA in English.

Also, in 1995 he was arrested for burglary. He and some friends were caught sneaking onto the campus of UTEP for some hijinks. The university declined to press charges and the matter was dropped. In 1998 he was arrested for DWI in connection with a car accident. Those charges were dismissed as well. Youthful indiscretions? Perhaps. But, these matters may be raised by his political opponents if he stays in the race.

After graduation Beto worked at a series of jobs as he was deciding on a career, such as caretaker, proofreader, and writer of short stories and songs. Later on, he co-founded a technology business. In 2012 he entered politics. He ran for Congress and won. After serving three terms, he ran for the Senate against Ted Cruz and lost, albeit narrowly. Based on that narrow loss in a “red” state he has become a “media darling.” How long it will last is anybody’s guess.

As I said, not much is known about Beto, except for his unusual nickname. He is a colorful character, an animated speaker, a prolific fundraiser and has charisma. Politically, he seems to be in the mainstream of the Dem party, which is fine for the nomination, may be too liberal for the general election. For example, he seems to be a proponent of open borders, or, at least, relaxed borders, soft on crime and criminals (against mandatory sentencing) and favors the legalization of marijuana. Moreover, he favors a two-state solution in the Middle East, which may offend some Jews who would normally support Dems.

CONCLUSION

If Beto is to remain a serious candidate he will likely have to overcome some severe hurdles. For example:

1. As of yet, he does not have the name recognition of, say, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, or Kamala Harris.

2. He will have to develop detailed policies and communicate them to voters. So far, most voters do not know where he stands on major issues, such the economy, terrorism, Iran, healthcare, energy, and many others. He needs to articulate his positions on those and other significant issues better than he has to date.

3. He will have to provide a satisfactory explanation of his participation in the teen-age hacking, burglary and DWI. Apparently, Reuters knew about the hacking before the Senate election, but, inexplicably, did not print it until afterwards. Apparently, the report described some rather disturbing fiction he wrote as “Psychedelic Warlord” that detailed the murder of children. Some political opponents and voters might dismiss those incidents as old news since they occurred 20 or more years ago, but others might not be so forgiving, especially in view of the Reuters matter.

4. Perhaps, his biggest hurdle will be that he is a white male in a political party that is committed to “identity politics” and seems to be determined to nominate a minority and/or female candidate, and moreover, he is not even the preferred white male, trailing Biden and Bernie.

I believe the media is enamored with him at the present time, and that will provide him with a bit of a boost. Right now, he is a fresh face, with considerable charisma. Some see him as the Dems’ “Trump” in terms of personality. (I don’t). But, eventually, the novelty will wear off, and he will have to explain his policies and carve out his niche. The field is getting very crowded. In the 2020 election, as the late Yogi Berra said in a different context: “it [will] get late, early.”

In summary, it’s very early, but, in my opinion, his chances of winning the nomination are very slim. Should he pull off an unlikely upset, I believe his chances of winning the election would be slim and none.

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COLLEGE ADMISSIONS SCANDAL

Life is not fair. This is not a revelation. Most of us have heard this mantra our entire lives. First from our parents, when a friend was allowed to do something we weren’t, like stay up late or watch a PG-13 movie. You know the drill. (Child – “No fair. Jim/Jane is allowed to do it.” Parent – “Jim/Jane is not my kid. You are. Life is not fair.”) Then, perhaps, you experienced it when a coach picked someone else for the team instead of you, even though everyone “knew” you were the better player. Or, maybe, you experienced it at work when the promotion you “deserved” went to someone else whom the boss liked better. Now, as a parent, many of you have repeated the mantra to your own kids.

Even the famous and well-worn expression “all men are created equal” is not exactly accurate. The child born into poverty in a third-world country is not really “equal” to one born in the US. Within the US some children are borne into poverty while others, having hit the genetic lottery, are born into wealth and privilege. They don’t start out equal, but, in theory, our system is supposed to provide everyone with at least the opportunity to be successful. Indeed, our history is replete with examples of successful people who began life poor, or even destitute, yet somehow managed to succeed. Equal opportunity is the key, which brings me to the college admissions scandal that is currently inundating our news.

Some would say this is nothing new. It has been going on forever. Perhaps, but I doubt to this extent, and in any event, I see a new twist to this. What really aggravates me is the sheer hypocrisy, the unremitting sense of entitlement. More on this later.

The focal point of this scandal is William Singer, a Newport Beach, CA businessman, who has been charged with several counts of racketeering, money laundering, fraud and obstruction of justice against the US. In his words, he merely provided a “side door” for admission, as opposed to the “front door,” whereby a student gains admission on his own merits, or a “back door,” where the parents donate a building. In order to mitigate his penalties he has been cooperating with federal prosecutors for some six months. He has been providing a virtual treasure trove of information regarding the scandal.

The prosecutors allege this scandal has been going on since 2011, but it may have existed, in some form, for a lot longer. According to the FBI, federal prosecutors, the “NY Times,” and Wikipedia the FBI has alleged the key elements of this scandal are as follows:

1. Bribing SAT and ACT examiners to create inflated scores. It is alleged that Singer was able to arrange for his clients’ children to take their SAT or ACT exams at sites, such as Houston or LA, where he had bribed officials to correct their answers, if necessary, and in some cases, look the other way while “stand-ins” actually took the exams.
2. Bribing college administrators and coaches to “push” unqualified or poorly qualified candidates on the basis of their supposed athletic prowess. In some, cases, these applicants had never even played the sport, in question. Moreover, Singer would create false resumes inflating the applicants’ accomplishments, claiming a disability, or even lying about their ethnicity to boost their credentials. The universities involved read like a “who’s who,” Stanford, Yale, USC and University of Texas, among many others, and the sports are varied, such as soccer, tennis, water polo, and crew. One could almost admire the creativity of some of these parents. For example, one used “photoshop” to create a false record of his son being a football player. In the case that has received the most notoriety so far, actress Lori Loughlin (“Full House”) is alleged to have paid $500,000 to get her daughters into USC as members of the rowing team despite the fact that neither had ever participated in the sport. One of the daughters, Olivia Jade, exhibiting callous indifference to the situation, blithely stated “I don’t really care about school, just the parties and the experience.” Nice, and she took the place of a kid who really needs and wants to go to college.
4. Typically, the payments were funneled through a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in order to conceal the aforementioned bribes. This enabled Singer to avoid income tax on the payments and enabled the parents to deduct the payments as “donations.” Sweet deal.
5. In some cases, the child was complicit; in other cases, he or she was unaware.

CONCLUSION

The repercussions of this scandal will likely be far-reaching. It appears that it will touch wealthy elites in all walks of life – entertainers, businessmen, athletes and, perhaps, even politicians. I can understand that parents of means will desire to give their children every advantage in life, but it should be legitimate and legal. It should not include bribery, fraud, and other illegalities.

I view this as one more example of the hypocrisy and sense of entitlement of the so-called elites. I am “fed up” with it. Most of these people think the laws and rules of society that apply to the vast majority of people do not apply to them. They talk about helping the less fortunate, but see nothing wrong with their child taking a spot in college that should have gone to a child of a middle class or working class family. Let’s not overlook that aspect of this mess.

These are the same people who spout off about “climate change,” yet travel by private jets. They want to open our borders, yet they live in gated communities with walls and 24X7 security. They support the “Green New Deal,” which would outlaw airplanes and cars to “save the planet,” but don’t consider how people who don’t live in NY or LA are supposed to travel from place to place. For example, OAC, who spouts one inane idea after another on social media and tv, wants to outlaw cars, yet she rides in limos everywhere even though subways and buses are readily available. They even want to control what we eat. For example, the mayor of NYC has imposed “meatless Mondays” in public schools, but he doesn’t realize that many kids may need and want the nutrition, which they may not get at home.

Federal prosecutors advised they are processing indictments against over 50 people so far, so this scandal is likely to touch many more people. Furthermore, several coaches have been fired; some universities, e.g. USC, have announced they are reviewing some of the questionable admissions; and several class action lawsuits have been filed against some of the universities. Undoubtedly, there will be more legal action to follow.

For once, I sort of agree with Elizabeth Warren, who professed to have “zero” sympathy for the perpetrators. By the way, does anyone else see the irony of her statement considering what she has done to falsify her background?

ANTI-SEMITISM IN AMERICA

I believe it is always there, just below the surface, like a simmering teapot. It doesn’t take much to set it off. Am I being too sensitive? Am I overreacting to the comments and attitudes of a few outliers? Perhaps, but I have 5,000 years of history to guide my thinking.

History can be a pesky thing. It’s permanent, and its lessons are always available to those who care to learn them. Those who take the time and make the effort to learn from it are all the wiser; those who don’t will likely repeat the same mistakes.

Throughout history, Jews have, on occasion, been welcomed in various countries, in some cases for hundreds of years… until they were not. Rulers found the Jews to be useful for a while as they normally made strong contributions to society. But, then, they could also make handy scapegoats if things went bad, for instance, if there were crop failures or plague or if the rulers wanted to divert the attention of the masses from their miserable daily existence. Some of the more obvious and egregious examples of this occurred in Egypt (in Moses’ time), Spain (the Inquisition), Russia (19th century pogroms) and Poland and Germany (WWII). There are a plethora of other examples, if you care to, as Casey Stengel was fond of saying, “look it up.”

In the US Jews, for the most part, have been able to live their lives in peace and prosperity. What anti-Semitism has existed has been mostly covert (college quotas, hiring practices, closed club memberships, crude jokes and comments) rather than overt (pogroms and other physical violence). Fine and good, but history tells Jews not to be lulled into a false sense of security. It can all change in a “New York minute.” All it needs is a spark.

In evaluating Rep. Omar’s comments my concern is not just what she said last week or last month. I view them as part of her underlying belief system. In addition, I think it is important to view them through the lens of history, as described above.

Her apology not withstanding, I think it’s obvious she said what she meant, and she meant what she said. She has made similar comments before. For example, in 2012 she tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” The gist of her latest comments was to question the loyalty of those Americans who support Israel. In her opinion, they are demonstrating allegiance to a foreign country (Israel) rather than the US. This kind of comment is very dangerous. It actually reminds me of the concern by some when JFK ran for president in 1960 that, as a Catholic, he would be loyal to the pope, rather than the US. That line of reasoning turned out to be unfounded, and, in retrospect, it seems preposterous. Omar’s line of reasoning is equally so. Someone should remind her that one of, if not the, major reason why the US supports Israel is that it is our only reliable ally in the volatile and strategically-crucial Middle East and the only stable democracy.

Furthermore, she put out a tweet implying that lawmakers’ support for Israel was predicated on contributions from lobbyists, such as AIPAC, (“It’s all about the ‘Benjamins.’ “) as if there are not a plethora of pro-Muslim lobbyists as well. Lobbying is pervasive in DC. Every interest group does it. No one is defending the practice, but it is the way business is done. It’s not right to single out AIPAC.

Clearly, she is anti-Semitic. She’s entitled to her opinion. After all, this is America. I say this not because she is a Muslim. In my observation and experience, few Muslims in the US are anti-Semitic. Like the rest of us they just want to go about their business in peace, enjoy life, provide for themselves and their families. They don’t have the time or inclination to get embroiled in politics.

Moreover, I believe that criticism of Israel is very often “code” for anti-Semitism, not always, but very often. I compare it to some southern politicians of the 1950s championing “states’ rights” as code for segregation.

My primary concern is the wishy-washy language of the resolution condemning hate. It should have been specific to anti-Semitism and named Omar as the culprit, leaving no doubt on where the Dem Party stands on the issue. The original resolution condemning anti-Semitism was watered down to include practically every identity group in existence – Muslims, Asians, Hispanics, LGBT, etal. “It’s not [just] about her [Omar]” said Pelosi. “It’s about all forms of hatred.” No one is averse to condemning all forms of hatred, but the watered down version was so wishy-washy it was almost gratuitous and meaningless. As Rep Douglas Collins intoned, it was something “all of us should have learned in kindergarten.”

A sampling of other comments:

1. Rep. Mo Brooks (perhaps, tongue-in-check)- Why didn’t it include a condemnation of discrimination against “Caucasian Americans and Christians.”
2. Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL) “Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism? Why can’t we call out anti-Semitism and show we’ve learned the lessons of history?”
3. Rep Liz Cheney (-WY) – Dems are “enabling anti-Semitism [by] failing to explicitly condemn” Omar’s comments. She added that refusing to name her “was really an effort to actually protect [Omar}, to cover up her bigotry and anti-Semitism.” She contrasted this with how Rep. Steve King was treated for his “white nationalist” comments.
4. Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, characterized Omar’s comments as a “vile, anti-Semitic slur.”

CONCLUSION

Where is the Dem leadership? Where are the moderates? Are there any left? Has “Chancy” abdicated their leadership roles? For the moment, Pelosi seems to be content to let the fringe elements of the Party run wild. Schumer has said not a peep. At the very least, Omar should be dismissed from the Foreign Affairs Committee, as some Reps have suggested. In the old days, LBJ or Sam Rayburn would have cracked down hard on her and other fringe members. They would have assigned her to a committee counting pencils, or some such. Instead, Pelosi defended Omar, saying “I do not believe that she understood the full weight of the words. I feel confident that her words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude.” Yeah, right.

The serious Dem presidential candidates cannot be happy about this development. They will continually be made to answer questions about anti-Semitism and prejudice in their Party. Moderates, like Joe Biden, have to be concerned that their core beliefs are no longer in synch with the mainstream of the Dem Party.

Traditionally, Jews have been staunch supporters of Dems. In some instances, they have voted for Dems blindly and automatically. Perhaps, it is time to rethink that philosophy and be more selective.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – MARCH

Below please find some of the significant events that have occurred in March.

3/1/1932 – In one of the most notorious kidnappings ever, the 20 month-old son of renowned aviator, Charles Lindbergh, was taken from his home. Tragically, the child was later found dead only a few miles away.
3/1/1961 – President JFK established the Peace Corps, which sent volunteers to developing countries to provide healthcare, education, and other basic human needs.
3/1/1974 – Several senior officials of the Nixon administration were indicted for obstruction related to the infamous Watergate break-in.
3/4/1681 – England’s King Charles, II deeded a huge tract of land in the New World to William Penn in settlement of a debt. Appropriately, the area became known as Pennsylvania.
3/4/1789 – The first meeting of the US Congress occurred in NYC.
3/4/1830 – Former President John Quincy Adams returned to Congress as a member of the House of Representatives, the first, and only, ex-President to do so. [Who was the only ex-President to serve in the US Senate? See answer below?]
3/5/1770 – British soldiers opened fire on a group of demonstrating colonials, killing five, including Crispus Attucks, an African-American, who later became celebrated as being the first person to die in the Revolutionary War.
3/5/1946 – The term, “Iron Curtain,” was first used (in a speech by Winston Churchill) to describe the separation between the free countries of Europe and those that were under the domination of the Soviet Union.
3/6/1836 – The Alamo was overrun by Mexican troops, who slaughtered every last defender, including James Bowie and Davy Crockett. “Remember the Alamo” became the inspirational rallying cry for Texans’ fight for independence from Mexico.
3/10/1862 – The US began distributing paper money in denominations of $5, $10 and $20.
3/10/1880 – The Salvation Army was founded in the US.
3/11/1918 – The “Spanish Flu” first appeared in the US. By the end of 1920 it had been responsible for some 22 million deaths worldwide.
3/12/1609 – The British colonized Bermuda (by accident, as a ship headed for Virginia had been blown off-course).
3/12/1888 – The infamous “Great Blizzard of 1888” wreaked havoc on the northeastern US. In NYC it dropped 40 inches of snow over 36 hours and was responsible for some 400 deaths.
3/12/1938 – In the first of many blatant acts of aggression, Germany invaded, and later annexed, Austria.
3/15/44 B.C. – Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Senate by a group that included his friend, Brutus (“Et tu, Brute?”).
3/16/1968 – American soldiers killed 504 Vietnamese men, women and children in what became known as the “My Lai Massacre.”
3/17 – Celebrated in many countries as St. Patrick’s Day to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland, who is credited with converting the Irish to Catholicism in the 5th century.
3/22/1972 – Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender.
3/23/1775 – In a speech before the Virginia House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry intoned his famous words, “give me liberty, or give me death.”
3/24/1934 – President FDR granted independence to the Philippine Islands, which the US had controlled since the Spanish-American War.
3/24/1989 – The oil tanker, Exxon Valdez, ran aground off the coast of Alaska, spewing forth some 11 million gallons of oil over some 45 miles of natural habitat, creating the one of the largest and most devastating ecological disasters in US history.
3/25/1807 – The British Parliament abolished slavery throughout the Commonwealth.
3/25/1911 – A raging fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in NYC killed 123 in just minutes. The tragedy shined a spotlight on the working conditions of immigrant women who were laboring in the garment industry for long hours and low pay.
3/26/1979 – Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accord peace treaty, brokered by President Jimmy Carter.
3/28/1979 – An accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant created a controversy over the use of nuclear power that still has not been fully resolved.
3/30/1981- President Ronald Reagan is gravely wounded by a would-be assassin. He recovered shortly to resume his duties and later quipped that he “forgot to duck.”
3/31/1968 – President LBJ, who, for many, had come to symbolize the futility and frustration of the Vietnam War, announced he would not run for re-election.

Birthdays – 3/1/1904 – Glenn Miller, bandleader (“Moonlight Serenade”), in Carilinda, IA; 3/2/1793 – Sam Houston, led the fight for Texas independence, Rockbridge County, VA; 3/3/1831 – George Pullman, invented “Pullman Car,” which improved sleeping accommodations on trains, in Brocton, NY; 3/3/1847 – Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, among others, in Edinburgh, Scotland; 3/4/1747 – Casimir Pulaski, Revolutionary War hero, in Poland; 3/4/1888 – Knute Rockne, football coach, in Voss, Norway; 3/6/1475 – Michelangelo, Renaissance painter, in Caprese, Italy; 3/9/1451 – Amerigo Vespucci, explorer and cartographer for whom America is named; 3/9/1934 – Yuri Gargarin, first cosmonaut in space, in Gzhatsk, Russia; 3/14/1879 – Albert Einstein, physicist who developed the theory of relativity; 3/14/1833 – Lucy Hobbs, first female dentist, in NY; 3/15/1767 – Andrew Jackson, 7th President, war hero in War of 1812, in Waxhaw, SC; 3/16/1751 – James Madison, a Founding Father and 4th US President; 3/18/1837 – Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President (only president to serve two terms non-consecutively), in Caldwell, NJ; 3/19/1813 – David Livingstone, explorer and missionary who famously went missing in Africa. When he was finally found by newsman Henry Stanley, the latter supposedly uttered the famous line, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume,” although that might have been an example of Hollywood hyperbole, in Scotland; 3/19/1848 – Wyatt Earp, Wild West lawman and gunfighter, in Monmouth, IL; 3/19/1860 – William Jennings Bryan, known for “Cross of Gold ” speech and for the dubious honor of being only person to lose three presidential races, in Salem, IL; 3/21/1685 – Johann Sebastian Bach, composer, in Germany; 3/24/1874 – Erik Weisz, aka, Harry Houdini, escape artist, in Hungary; 3/26/1911 – Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams, III, playwright (“A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”), in Columbus, MS; 3/29/1760 – John Tyler, became 10th President upon the death of William Henry Harrison, Charles City County, VA; 3/30/1853 – Vincent Van Gogh, Postimpressionist painter, in Groot Zundert, Holland; 3/31/1731 – Franz Joseph Hayden, composer, considered to be father of the symphony and string quartet, in Austria; 3/31/1878 – Jack Johnson, first AA boxing champion, in Galveston, TX.

Answer to quiz – Andrew Johnson (TN)

BIDEN’S DILEMMA

I could almost feel sorry for Joe Biden. Almost. I don’t agree with him on most issues, politically, and I don’t think he would be a particularly good president, but I don’t think he is a bad guy. I think he would like to be president. Most politicians in his position would aspire to that job. Unfortunately for him, I believe he has already missed his best chance.

In 2016 Vice President Biden would have been a strong candidate, stronger than Hillary, who had trouble beating back the challenge of a previously obscure socialist, like Uncle Bernie. On top of his long tenure in the Senate, he had the visibility and name recognition that goes with having been VP for eight years. As it turned out, both parties ran unpopular candidates. I believe President Obama would have backed him over Hillary. But, Joe hung back. Perhaps, the wounds of his son’s death were too raw. Perhaps, he bought in to the whole fallacy that “it was Hillary’s turn.” In any event, I think he could have won, and now, it appears that events and time have passed him by. In politics, as in life, timing is crucial.

In 2020 the Democratic Party has moved very far to the left. Already, there are a plethora of far left candidates, such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamila Harris and Corey Booker, who are espousing extreme progressive/socialist ideas who have strong backing within the Party. In addition, there is AOC, who, though only a freshman and too young to run, seems to be the current media darling, and is spouting one crazy idea after another on tv and social media. (Her latest is to threaten Congressmen who vote to support moderate policies with being put on a political “hit” list. She may be of questionable intelligence, but I have to admit, she does have “chutzpah.”) It seems that the party is seeking a diversity candidate, which is code for a woman and/or minority. Biden, as an older, relatively moderate, white guy, seems to be an outcast in his own party.

Furthermore, Biden is not helping his case. His indecisiveness is encouraging others to jump into the fray. At this rate, by the time the primaries begin in early 2020 there could easily be 15 or 20 candidates. What a mess that would be. Entertaining, but a mess.

It looks like Biden’s strategy is to wait, let the various pretenders fight it out and eliminate each other, and then jump in to challenge who’s left. He might be better served by declaring his candidacy and locking up financial funding and political support, rather than hanging back as he has been. Tough call, but I think his current stance makes him appear indecisive, which is not a good quality for a leader.

CONCLUSION

In my view, Biden did not help himself with the Pence situation. What is wrong with calling another politician from the opposition party a “nice guy?” It doesn’t mean Biden was endorsing his political views. Some twitter morons criticized him, and instead of standing his ground, he tried to apologize. For what? Being respectful toward another politician? Not something a strong, decisive leader does.

I think Biden would be the Dems’ best candidate in a general election. If you’re a Dem you should be rooting for him. He would have an excellent chance of beating President Trump, probably the only Dem who could. But, I don’t know if he can win his own party’s nomination. As they say, we’ll see.

NO KO IS A NO GO

On the surface, the second summit between Messrs. Trump and Kim was unsuccessful. Mr. Trump embarked on a 17 hour plane ride to Vietnam (Kim travelled 60 hours by train.). Nothing substantive was agreed to, and Mr. Trump terminated the discussions abruptly. Abject failure? Perhaps. In my opinion, it depends on one’s point of view.

The negative view, which was widely reported on various media outlets was that, by meeting with Kim as “equals” Mr. Trump elevated Kim’s status as a world leader. Moreover, Mr. Trump failed to get Kim to agree to any concessions, such as disarming his nuclear arsenal, agreeing to inspections, or even agreeing to an official end to the Korean Conflict. It seems that Kim was insisting on complete relief from sanctions as a condition for committing to incremental denuclearization. Mr. Trump viewed that as a complete non-starter, hence the walk-out.

On the other hand, the more optimistic view is that (1) the two leaders are continuing to talk and seek diplomatic solutions, (2) the sanctions are remaining in place, (3) according to Margaret Brennan, who covered the summit for CBS News, the two leaders committed to continue to hold discussions among staff diplomats, and (4) best of all, we are talking, not fighting. I subscribe to the optimistic view. I believe diplomatic interaction with one’s enemies is preferable to ignoring them, which inevitably leads to war.

The sanctions against No Ko are extensive and, by most accounts, very effective. There are widespread food shortages and the country is severely strapped for currency. Kim may not care if his people starve and lack for other basic necessities, but the sanctions include not only weapons-related materials but also luxuries. This is intended to impact the elites, whose support Kim relies on. That is the “stick.” The “carrot” is that Mr. Trump has made it clear to Kim that if we can agree on a satisfactory deal NK’s economy can prosper along the lines of South Korea’s.

CONCLUSION

I was taken aback by much of the media’s and Dems’ attitude toward this summit. First, they criticized Mr. Trump for agreeing to meet with Kim. They expressed concern he was elevating Kim’s status in the world and would agree to a bad deal just to make a deal. Then, when he walked away from a bad deal, they criticized that as well. Par for the course. It was almost as if they would rather see Mr. Trump fail at securing a peace agreement than get a “win.”

To state the obvious, no deal is better than a bad deal. (I wish the Obama-Kerry-Clinton team would have realized that with respect to the Iran nuclear deal.) In my opinion, walking away was just part of the negotiating process. It demonstrated strength of conviction. The other side will not negotiate seriously unless they know you are willing to walk away. Mr. Trump has already gotten further along toward peace in Korea than any previous president.

At some point, there will be other meetings. I expect we will continue the process until we get NK’s agreement to denuclearize. In the meantime, talking is better than fighting, and there are no “test” rockets flying over Hawaii or California.

MICHAEL COHEN STRIKES OUT

Senator – Mr. Cohen, did you go to Prague to meet with Russians on behalf of Donald Trump or his campaign?
Cohen – No, in fact, I’ve never been to Prague. (Uh oh, strike one.)
Senator – Mr. Cohen, did Mr. Trump instruct you to lie to Congress?
Cohen – No. (Whoops, strike two.)
Senator – Mr. Cohen, did you witness any collusion between Mr. Trump or his campaign and the Russians during the 2016 presidential election?
Cohen – No. (Steeriiiick three! You’re out!)

The above is a paraphrasing of the significant moments of the interminable Michael Cohen testimony before the Senate {Un}Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. Cohen, the Dems’ star witness, formerly the President’s personal attorney, who should know where the bodies are buried, who hates Mr. Trump and has no reason to lie for him and every reason to turn against him, fizzled on national tv. Cohen was to be the Dems’ star witness. So, foiled again.

Those of you who think character should “trump” policy, could take solace in that Cohen did confirm that Mr. Trump has had numerous affairs in the past and authorized a payment to Stormy Daniels to avoid the embarrassment of his liaison with her being made public. But, Cohen was unable to refute Mr. Trump’s previous assertions that he did so out of personal funds, which is not a criminal act as opposed to out of campaign funds, which would be, albeit a minor one. Thus, Cohen confirmed what we already knew. Mr. Trump is not a “nice guy.”

But, so what? Mr. Trump’s personal behavior has been well documented. His supporters voted for him anyway. I maintain it is of no consequence, except to Mrs. Trump. Do I have to remind you, again, that previous presidents, such as FDR, JFK, LBJ and Clinton, among many others, were not exactly paragons of virtue. Plus, their peccadilloes continued while they were president, whereas, to my knowledge Mr. Trump’s have not.

Furthermore, it has been well-documented that such behavior is commonplace among those in positions of power, and I include politicians, entertainers, businessmen, and clergy of both genders. Always has been, and always will be. So, in my opinion, attacking Mr. Trump’s personal character is a dead end for Dems. They would be much better off attacking on the issues, if they can find some.

Instead, Dem leaders, such as Corey Booker, Elijah Cummings, “Chancy,” Kamila Harris, and OAC, among others, have promised to continue their relentless search for impeachable offenses. Perhaps, the Southern District of NY, which, currently, is conducting its own “colonoscopy” of Mr. Trump’s business dealings, will come to their rescue. Perhaps, not.

CONCLUSION

After two years of investigations the “witch hunters” have not turned up anything, demonstrating collusion between Mr. Trump or his campaign and the Russians. And we know, they have tried really, really hard to find something, anything. I believe much of the public is tired of the “dog and pony” show, and now views it as so much “white noise.” We deserve better from our elected officials. How about governing the country?

I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Rather than continuing to tilt, in vain, at the “windmill” of the 2016 election, Dems would be better served to accept they lost, figure out why, and take steps to ensure they don’t repeat the same mistakes in 2020. Otherwise, they will lose again.