IMPEACHMENT UPDATE. THE VOTE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

In my view, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is about to lead the House Dems off a political cliff.  For the better part of three years, Pelosi, who is generally recognized as a politically savvy leader, had insisted that impeachment should not go forward until and unless there were “bi-partisan support” for it.  That position made sense politically, morally and constitutionally.  Recently, however, she has changed her position, and commenced to support impeachment.  As most of you know, the decisive vote regarding impeachment is scheduled for tomorrow.

Why did she do it?  Why would such a politically savvy leader make such a blunder?  Blind hatred for President Trump?  Perhaps.  Did the recent telephone call between Messrs. Trump and Zelensky sway her even though the transcript of the call did not, in the eyes of most people, demonstrate any clearly impeachable activity?  Maybe.  Did she finally succumb to the far left coastal twitter wing of the party?  Possibly.  I think it was probably some combination of the three.

In any event, by following this path she will likely be sacrificing the political careers of the 31 moderate House Dems who won districts in 2018 that Mr. Trump had carried in 2016.  How?  By pressuring them to vote in favor of impeachment even though everyone knows there is ZERO chance of securing a conviction in the Senate.  ZERO, ZILTCH, NADA, NONE!   Polls show that most of those aforementioned voters are likely to return to Mr. Trump in 2020.

Folks, the House impeachment process is just for “show.”  It will not accomplish anything except to placate the Trump-haters.

In an interesting sidebar, one House Dem, Jeff Van Drew, is so opposed to impeachment that he has announced his intention to switch parties and vote against it.  Van Drew is one of the abovementioned 31 Dems.  He represents a “swing” district in southern NJ that is moderate to conservative.  His own statewide polling has indicated he is unpopular among his constituency and would face a tough primary fight, so switching parties makes sense politically.  He was one of two Dems who voted against the impeachment inquiry in October.

His action has been widely controversial.   The Dem Governor of NJ, Phil Murphey accused him of choosing “his political career over our Constitution.”  Moreover, several of his staff members have resigned in protest.  On the other hand,  President Trump supported his action, tweeting that it was “very smart.”  Furthermore, GOP National Committee spokeswoman, Mandi Merritt said Van Drew’s action illustrated the “political risk” of voting for impeachment.  She added, “even Dems know this entire impeachment witch hunt is a sham.  It is clear that in today’s rabid Dem Party, moderates need not apply.”

In my opinion, Van Drew is following his conscience, which I wish more Dems would do.  I don’t mean they should switch parties.  That is a drastic and unusual action.  Rather, if they truly oppose impeachment they should have the courage to vote against it.

CONCLUSION

As I have said in previous blogs following this impeachment process is like watching an automobile crash in slow motion.   You can see what will happen, but you are powerless to stop it.  One can only sit back and watch it happen.  Moderate Dems cannot be happy.  with the way this has played out; GOPers are ecstatic.

As this goes  on, it is becoming more likely not only that Mr. Trump will win re-election but that the GOP may very well recapture the House.  For your information, a “USA Today”/Suffolk University poll out just today became the first poll to report Mr. Trump beating every Dem candidate nationally, thus confirming a prediction that I and many others have been stating for months.  Keep it up, Dems.

 

DANNY AIELLO

He was one of the most versatile entertainers of his generation.  He appeared in over 90 movies from 1973 to 2019.  Many of them are classics with famous co-stars, such as “Bang the Drum Slowly” with Robert DeNiro (1973), “Godfather Part II” with Al Pacino and a host of other big-name stars (1974), “The Front” (1976) with Woody Allen, “Fort Apache, The Bronx” with Paul Newman (1981), “Moonstruck” with Cher (1987), and “Do the Right Thing” (1989) with Spike Lee, for which he earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor.   Interestingly, in the “Godfather” he played a hit-man.  While killing a rival gangster, Frank Pentangeli, he ad-libbed the line, which you may remember, “Michael Corleone says hello!”

In addition, he made several appearances on tv, winning a daytime Emmy for a guest appearance on an ABC “Afterschool Special” entitled “A Family of Strangers.”  Furthermore, he appeared in various theatre productions, both on and off Broadway.  Finally, he was an accomplished singer.  He released several big band recordings , such as “I Just Wanted to Hear the Words” (2004) and standards fused with rap, such as “Bridges” (2011).

Daniel Louis Aiello, Jr. came from very humble beginnings.  One might say his success fit that old cliché, “only in America.”  He was born on June 20, 1933 on the West Side of Manhattan, NYC, the fifth of six children.  When he was seven the family moved to the South Bronx,  He had a very tough childhood.  His mother was a seamstress, who eventually lost her eyesight and became legally blind.  His father was a common laborer who deserted the family.  Danny always resented his father.  Yes, humble beginnings, indeed.

At 16 Danny lied about his age and joined and the Army.  Upon his release he returned to NYC where he worked at various odd jobs.  For example, he served as president of NY  Local 1202 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represented Greyhound Bus workers, and he was a bouncer, and later emcee, at the “Improv,” a well-known NYC comedy club.

As mentioned above, in 1973 he broke into the movies.  According to his nephew, Yankees broadcaster and radio sports talk show host, Michael Kay, he did so without the benefit of any acting lessons.  He was just naturally talented.  As I said above, he enjoyed a very long career – nearly 50 years – and versatile – movies, tv, Broadway and music.

Danny leaves behind his wife, Sandy, to whom he was married for 64 years, and four children.  How many entertainers do you know of who were married to the same wife for 64 years?  Not too many.

Danny died suddenly on December 12 of an infection while hospitalized for an undisclosed illness.  Rest in peace, Danny.   You will be sorely missed.

 

LOVE STORY AMID THE HORRORS OF AUSCHWITZ

As you know, every day we are besieged with news stories that exhibit the worst human behavior – wanton violence and murder, accusations of racism and misogynism, animosity inflamed by an irresponsible media, and impeachment, which has divided the country, to name a few examples.  In the midst of all of the foregoing it is nice to report a feel-good story.

The following story is such an example.  It is a summary of a story that was reported in the “NY Times” on December 8, 2019 by Karen Blankfeld.  Many thanks to my friend and loyal reader, Larry, for bringing it to my attention.

This tale is so improbable that it would likely be rejected by Hollywood as too unrealistic to be made into a movie.  In the interest of time and space I will only present a summary of it.  You can read it in full detail on the NYT website, if you are so inclined.

It began in 1943 in Auschwitz, perhaps, the most notorious of all the Nazi-run concentration camps.  Upon arrival, seventeen year old David Wisnia had been assigned to the “corpse unit.”  His gruesome task was to collect the bodies of prisoners who had committed suicide by throwing themselves against one of the electrified fences surrounding the compound and drag them to a designated barracks where they would be hauled off by trucks for disposal.  Notice, I did not say “burial.”  That would imply a respectful ceremony.  Instead, these corpses were simply hauled off and dumped like so much garbage, which was exactly how the Nazis viewed the Jewish prisoners.

Wisnia had always dreamed of singing opera in NY.  He already had two aunts living in the Bronx.  As a boy, he had written a letter to President Roosevelt requesting a visa, but it was rejected.  Eventually, through a stroke of luck, the camp guards ascertained that Wisner was a gifted singer with an opera-quality voice.  Thereafter, he was transferred to the “Sauna.”  His new job was to disinfect the clothing of new arrivals, which were to be reused after the owners were murdered.  Ironically, the disinfecting agent used was the same Zykion B gas used in the gas chamber to murder the prisoners.  In addition, he was tasked with singing to the guards for their entertainment.

Helen Spitzer, 25, was a talented graphic designer.  She had come to Auschwitz in March of 1942 from Slovakia.  She had attended a technical college and had become the first woman in the area to complete an apprenticeship as a graphic artist.  Upon arrival she was assigned grueling demolition work at Birkenau, a sub-camp.  Like most prisoners, she became malnourished and suffered from various diseases, such as typhus, malaria and diarrhea.  Eventually, however, due to her graphic design skills, her ability to speak German and sheer happenstance she obtained an office job and became the camp’s graphic designer.

The benefits of this new job were considerable.  She worked in an office where she performed tasks such as registering new arrivals, maintaining records, and designing the prisoners’ uniforms.  She received extra food rations, was allowed to shower regularly, wore better clothes with no armband, and, most importantly, was allowed to venture outside the women’s section.

Despite all these benefits Spitzer was never a collaborator or even a dreaded kapo.  Rather, according to Konrad Kwiet, a professor at the University of Sydney and noted historian and Holocaust scholar,  through her access to camp records, she was able to manipulate to records to reassign prisoners to more favorable jobs, prevent or delay transports, and most significantly, provide information to resistance groups in the area.

As Blankfeld tells it, Spitzer had spotted Wisner at the “Sauna” and contrived to set up a meeting in a secluded spot.  Following the initial meeting they began to meet on a regular basis.  Their clandestine meetings were always abetted by other prisoners who Spitzer bribed to watch over them and warn them if a guard were approaching.  They became lovers, and even hatched a plan to meet up in Warsaw after the war (if they both survived).

To make a long story short, even though they both survived the war they never managed to meet as planned – for 72 years.  Their survival skills and, yes, luck, continued after they left Auschwitz.

In December 1944 Wisner was transferred to Dachau.  Later, he was part of the notorious Dachau “death march.”  In a vain effort to elude the American and Russian armies, some 7,000 prisoners were force-marched from Dachau to another camp, Tegernsee.  Any prisoners who could not keep up were summarily shot or bayonetted.  At one point, Wisnia obtained a hand shovel, which he used to kill a guard and escape.  The next day, while hiding in a barn he heard some troops approaching.  He ran to them not knowing if they were American (good) or Russian (bad).  Luckily for him, they were American (101st Airborne).

The troops took him with them and basically “adopted” him.  They fed him, clothed him, and taught him how to shoot a rifle.  Due to his knowledge of German he became their interpreter.  In a delicious irony he participated in interrogations of captured Germans, which often got contentious.  “Our boys were not so nice to the SS,” he remembered.

After the war, eventually Wisnia made his way to America.  He married, settled in the Philadelphia area, raised four children who gave him six grandchildren, and carved out a nice career as a cantor.  He never made it to Warsaw.

Years later, a fellow former prisoner told him Spitzer was alive and living in Manhattan.  This friend arranged a meeting.  Wisnia drove two hours from Levittown, PA, where he was living, to Manhattan to meet her.  She never showed up.  Perhaps, her reluctance was because she was married at the time.

Spitzer was one of the last prisoners to leave Auschwitz.  She was transferred first to Ravensbruck and then to Malchow.  Finally, she was forcibly evacuated in a “death march.”  She escaped by ingeniously removing the identifying red stripe from her clothing and blending in with the local population.  For a time, she helped smuggle Jewish refugees to Palestine.  Eventually, she ended up at a displaced persons’ camp in the American zone of Germany called Feldafing.  There she met Erwin Tichauer, the camp’s acting police chief and a UN security officer.  They married in September 1945.

Because of her husband’s status Spitzer was considered “top management.”  She distributed food  and other supplies to other displaced persons.  She even got to accompany Generals Eisenhower and Patton on a tour of the camp.

The Tichauers devoted many years to humanitarian causes throughout the world in such places as Peru, Bolivia, Indonesia and Australia. They never had any children.  Eventually, they emigrated to the US, settling first in Texas and then NYC where Dr. Tichauer taught at NYU.

As the years went by, Wisnia continued to keep tabs on Spitzer through his aforementioned friend.  Finally, in 2016 he decided to reach out again.  One of his sons arranged the meeting.  They met in Spitzer’s Manhattan apartment.  Spitzer’s husband had died.

It was a bitter-sweet reunion.   She was very ill, bed-bound, nearly deaf and blind.  At first, she didn’t recognize him, but when he leaned in really close, she did and they had a lovely reunion.  Spitzer revealed she had used her position to save Wisnia from transport five times.  In addition, she disclosed that she had indeed gone to their meeting place in Warsaw and waited for him, but he never came.  So sad.

That was their only meeting – 72 years too late.  Spitzer died soon after at the ripe old age of 100.

CONCLUSION

Wisner and Spitzer definitely beat the odds.  They each survived two years at Auschwitz, whereas most prisoners only made it for a few months.  Many were sent directly to the gas chambers upon arrival, no questions asked.  Some 1.1 million were murdered there.

Their improbable love story is extremely inspiring.  Somehow, they managed to find and sustain love among the horrors of Auschwitz.  Unfortunately, through twists of fate they were never able to meet and marry after the war until it was too late.

INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT – SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

The Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, has released his long-awaited report  to the public.   As an overview, in my opinion, it contains some conclusions that support both Dems and the GOP, both Trump haters and Trump supporters.  Huh, you say?  How can that be?  Read on, and you will see what I mean.

I have not read the full report, nor do I intend to wade through some 450 pages of gobbledygook and “lawyer-speak.”  After all, I am writing a 1,000 word blog, not a 1,000 page book.  But I have parsed through various news articles and cable news programs and opinions and have ascertained what I believe to be the salient points of the report.  Below please find the highlights (or lowlights).

  1. First, a brief background.  As far back as 2016, the  Trump campaign has been maintaining that the FBI was conducting an “improper” and “illegal” investigation of it motivated by political bias.  Mr. Trump has characterized it as a “witch hunt.” In March 2018, at the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and various GOP lawmakers, Horowitz launched his investigation of these allegations.  This Report is the culmination of the investigation.  It is an extensive and comprehensive document, the product of in excess of one million documents and 170 interviews.
  2. As reported in the “Washington Post,” “Politics USA,” “USA Today,” and elsewhere, the Report denoted that the FBI was justified from a legal point of view in initiating an inquiry into alleged Russian interference of the 2016 presidential election.   Horowitz characterized it as having a valid “legal purpose.”  Conversely, the Report cited several “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FISA warrant applications the FBI filed to continue its probe.   Those sentences neatly summarize the situation, and give everyone something to “hang their hat” on.  Indeed, the Post reported that both Dems and Republicans “declared victory.”
  3. The FBI has received widespread criticism for its conduct, not only from the Report, itself, but also from others.  For example, as reported in “USA Today,” the report was particularly critical of the FBI’s handling of the surveillance of  Carter Page and its reliance on information supplied by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.  You may recall that it was Steele who authored the infamous “dossier” that, according to Rep Jim Jordan, was funded by the Clinton campaign and formed the key basis for the FISA warrants.  Rep. Mark Meadows labeled the Report “deeply disturbing.”  He added that “some former FBI and DOJ officials are about to have some serious explaining to do.”  Additionally, AG William Barr opined it was “clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a US presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”  Barr’s opinion is significant since he is overseeing a separate investigation, to be led by US Attorney John Durham, into the whole Russian matter.  This investigation will have a far wider purview than the IG Report.   For example, it will include foreign sources that the IG report was not authorized to tap..
  4. The Post, although declaring that the report “rebutted” assertions that  certain FBI officials were driven by “political bias,” opined that it disclosed “broad and serious performance failures requiring major changes.”
  5.  I am particularly concerned about the issue of the FISA warrants as should all private citizens.  They formed the justification for spying on Trump campaign officials and were the basis for all that followed – the investigation of Russian collusion, the Mueller investigation, impeachment hearings and the articles of impeachment, themselves.   The Report asserted the FBI’s applications, particularly the three renewals, which were signed by Jim Comey, were riddled with errors, omissions, and outright lies.  They contained “at least 17 significant inaccuracies and omissions” that misled the judges who signed off on the warrants.  US Attorney John Durham stated bluntly that “we [the DOJ] do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as predication and how the FBI case was opened.”  “USA Today” reported that the report described the FISA warrant process followed as “so dysfunctional as to call into question the protocol for taking such a crucial investigative step – wiretapping a campaign operative – in a case involving a presidential election.”   Despite the foregoing, “PBS News Hour ” stated the Report “does not claim that intentional misconduct occurred.”  Huh?  In my opinion, the blatant abuse of the FISA warrant process is the most serious problem disclosed as there is supposed to be a high legal standard for approving FISA warrants to wiretap US citizens.  Comey should be ashamed of himself.  Hopefully, he will face legal action.
  6. The Post reported that Horowitz has commenced a broader audit of FISA procedures.  He may find extensive abuses of power.
  7. Even those who hate Trump should be concerned as the next victim could be you.  Former Trump campaign official, Carter Page, was particularly victimized by these irregularities, or, perhaps, illegalities.  I believe he is now vindicated to the extent that he may pursue legal action against those individuals and media outlets responsible for perpetrating and/or publicizing these falsehoods.
  8. Horowitz placed culpability on various FBI officials including “senior officials in the chain of command.”
  9.  The IG recommended that, prospectively, highly sensitive investigations, such as those of major presidential campaigns, should be closely supervised by the Justice Department.  I agree.  In my view, there is a good chance that the FISA process is routinely abused, but that’s a subject for another blog on another day..
  10. FBI Director, Christopher Wray,  told the Post he feels the FBI’s “credibility and brand are central to fulfilling [its] mission.”   Therefore, he accepted the IG’s findings and has already commenced to review and update the FBI’s procedures.  He declared,  “I have already ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the report’s recommendations.”  Uh huh.
  11. Some additional quotes:

a.  Ted Cruz – A “stunning abuse of power [by the FBI].”

b. ” USA Today” – “The FBI wiretap of Trump campaign aide was riddled with errors, but [the] Russia probe was legally justified and free from bias.”

c.  President Trump –  The IG Report was “an attempted overthrow” of the government and “a lot of people were in on it, and they got caught.”

d.  US Attorney John Durham – “We do not agree with some of the Report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

CONCLUSION

In my opinion, the Report is but another step in the sordid post-2016 election affair.  The Post predicted that the report will not be “the last word.”  I concur.  To wit:

  1.  We still have the aforementioned Barr report to come.
  2. The House Dems are proceeding with impeachment.  Indeed, yesterday they announced they are drafting two articles of impeachment – for “abuse of power” and “obstruction.”  Those articles are so vague that they could apply to virtually any action taken by any president, but that is a topic for another blog on another day.  Apparently, they have decided to drop a third article for “bribery.”
  3.  Assuming the House succeeds in impeaching the president, we will likely go through a contentious, but futile, trial in the Senate where he will almost certainly be acquitted.
  4. The whole matter will certainly be a major issue in the 2020 election.
  5. If Mr. Trump were to win re-election this national nightmare will likely extend until 2024.

It appears that we are far from done with this.  And who are the ultimate losers?  Not the Dems.  Not Mr. Trump.  The American people.

 

IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS PART II

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  That appears to be the mantra of the House Dems.  The first impeachment hearings, conducted by the House (un)Intelligence Committee failed miserably.   They controlled the entire proceedings, such as which witnesses were allowed to testify and which questions they were allowed to be asked.  What did we find out?  In summary, a lot of opinion, but no firsthand accounts of impeachable offenses, no collusion, no obstruction, no smoking gun, and ultimately, no interest outside the Beltway and a few fake news cable outlets.

Still, the House Dems, undeterred, are determined to press on.  They continue to tilt at the big orange windmill (apologies to Cervantes and his fictional hero, Don Quixote).  If you thought Round 1 was a colossal waste of time and money, I predict Round 2, to be presided over by the House Judiciary Committee,  will be even worse.  It will be akin to watching a sequel to a bad movie hoping it will be better than the original, but knowing it likely will not.

Wouldn’t it have been more logical and efficient to have one combined impeachment hearing?   Probably, but, as the late comedian, John Belushi, might have said, “noooo!”  Why the public needs to be subjected to two separate impeachment hearings conducted by two separate committees, is anybody’s guess.  But, that is what we will have.  A cynic might conclude that these hearings will drone on indefinitely.

On Day 1 the Committee brought in four witnesses to testify.  Three of them were legal scholars with impressive resumes – Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard, Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina, and Pamela Karlan, a law professor at Stanford University.

Each of them opined that, essentially, President Trump had committed an impeachable offense by “pressuring” Ukraine’s president for “political gain.”   Gerhardt characterized it as “a horrifying abuse of power.”  Feldman stated “if we cannot impeach a president who uses his power for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy.”  Karlan added Mr. Trump “must be held to account.”

Their testimonies seemed to be damaging to Mr. Trump, but, once again, they were based on opinion, not firsthand accounts.  They were not “witnesses,” per se.  Moreover, various GOP representatives on the Committee pointed out that each of the three had a strong anti-Trump bias, which damaged their credibility.    For example, Gerhardt and Karlan had donated to Obama’s and Warren’s campaigns.  Also, Karlan had previously stated on tv that she despised Trump so much she could not even walk on the same side of the street as the White House.

Moreover, Karlan made a tasteless comment about Mr. Trump’s 13 year-old son, Barron.  She said: “The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility.  While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”  As Ms. Karlan should know, there is an unwritten law in politics that family members, particularly minors, are untouchable.  Ms. Karlan was roundly criticized for her comments, but not nearly as much as a GOPer would have been for criticizing, for example, Obama’s children.

The only witness who made any sense at all was the fourth one, Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University.  While agreeing that a quid pro quo would be an impeachable offense, he opined it has to be proven, and it has not as yet.  He characterized the evidence presented so far as “wafer thin,” … “woefully inadequate,” …  and “dangerous.”   In his opinion, stronger evidence is needed.  Furthermore, he contended that the current case would “collapse” in the Senate.

CONCLUSION

If these are the best witnesses the Committee will be calling these proceedings will be a colossal waste of time, and public support for impeachment will erode further.   Many people are questioning why the anti-Trumpers are pursuing a weak case for impeachment that has no chance in the Senate when there is an election in eleven months.  Those who dislike Mr. Trump can remove him then, legally and as the Constitution provides, by voting him out.  (Of course, they probably realize that they don’t have the votes, and Mr. Trump will likely be re-elected.)

As Josh Holmes, former Chief of Staff for Mitch McConnell, succinctly put it:  “The [House] Dems want to impeach Trump based on [a quid pro quo for] withholding foreign aid that was given in exchange for demanding an investigation that has not yet taken place.”

In summary, the first day of these hearings did not disclose anything new.  As has been the case for the past three years Trump-haters see impeachable offenses, while Trump supporters look at the same facts and see a witch hunt/vendetta/massive waste of time and money.

After all this time I don’t see any possibility of new evidence turning up, but I’m sure the House Dems will still try.  Meanwhile the real problems of the country are not being addressed.

Objective voters are not stupid .  They are not pleased with the “do nothing” Congress (to quote former President Harry Truman), and I expect they will vent their frustrations at the ballot box in November.

A DATE IN INFAMY

Saturday,  December 7, marks the 78th anniversary of one of the most heinous, despicable acts in modern history – Japan’s sneak attack at Pearl Harbor.  In 1994 Congress designated December 7 as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day as a way to remember and pay homage to the thousands of US military and civilian personnel who were killed and wounded in the attack.  The day is not a federal holiday, but flags are flown at half mast and many organizations hold special ceremonies, such the one at the memorial to the USS Arizona.

As President FDR forecast, December 7, 1941 is truly a date that has lived in infamy.  It is one of those dates we can never forget.  It is burned into our very souls.

Mention that date to a person of a certain age and their reaction will be akin to later generations’ reaction to November 22, 1963 or September 11, 2001.  Most any person over the age of five on those dates remembers where he was, what he was doing and how he felt when he heard the news.  Those are dates that had a profound effect on our lives both individually and collectively.

On December 6, 1941 America was still working its way out of the Great Depression, which began in 1929 with the stock market crash.  Unemployment was at 9.9%, not good, but a significant improvement from the peak of 25% in 1932.  Americans were not thinking about war.  After all, we had just fought the “Great War,” (aka, the “war to end wars”).  Sure, there was a war waging in Europe, but we were not involved directly.  We had no boots on the ground, and we had a vast ocean between us and them.  Most Americans were focused on their own lives, not on world events. America was in full isolationist mode.  All that was about to change suddenly, violently, tragically and irrevocably.

We all know what happened on December 7, 1941.  We know that the Japanese executed a devastating surprise attack on our naval base at Pearl Harbor that precipitated our involvement in WWII.  Approximately, 3,500 lives were lost, civilian as well as military, along with most of our Pacific Fleet and airplanes.  America switched immediately from peacetime mode to wartime mode.  Patriotism and nationalism abounded.  The “greatest generation” was on the march.

As we all know, America recovered to win the war after four years of intense and costly fighting.  There is no need for me to rehash those events.  The Pacific War has been the subject of numerous books, movies, and tv productions.  The central theme of this blog will focus on the events that led up to the war with Japan.

Every war has its immediate cause and its underlying causes. The attack on Pearl Harbor was the immediate cause. But, what were the underlying causes? What would make Japan start a war that it had virtually no chance of winning? Glad you asked. Read on.

Many, if not most, historians maintain that the US actually provoked Japan into starting the war, although we did not intend for them to devastate our naval fleet in the fashion they did.  Over the course of the 1930’s we took various actions that, in reality, left Japan no choice, to wit:

1. The US was providing assistance to the Chinese who were at war with Japan.  This included providing airplane pilots, armaments and other supplies and materials. Japan had been at war with China since the 1930’s.  Its extreme brutality was exemplified by the Nanking Massacre, aka the Rape of Nanking, which began in December 1937.  In a six-week period over 300,000 Chinese civilians were murdered, and there was widespread raping and looting.  This shocking brutality was a portent of the Pacific War.

2. Along with the British and the Dutch the US military was actively planning prospective military operations against the Japanese in the Far East to counter its aggression.

3. Japan had few natural resources of its own; it needed to import raw materials, such as coal, iron, oil, rubber and bauxite, from the US and other countries in Southeast Asia to fuel its burgeoning industries.  In the late 1930’s the US began to severely limit its access to these materials by enforcing sanctions, limits and embargoes.  This aided the British and the Dutch, who were concerned about Japan’s aggressive behavior in the Far East, but it provoked the Japanese.

4. Thus, one can view the attack on Pearl Harbor, not as an isolated event, but rather, as the last act in a long line of connected ones.

Many historians believe that FDR provoked Japan intentionally, because he wanted to go to war against the Axis Powers, and the American people were decidedly against doing so. Before you scoff at that notion, consider that we have fought other wars following provocations that may or may not have been fabricated. For example:

1. The Spanish-American War in 1898 began when the battleship, “Maine” was blown up in Havana harbor under mysterious circumstances. 75% of her crew was killed. “Remember the Maine” became the signature battle cry of that war.  There is evidence that suggests that the “Maine” was not blown up by the Spanish, but may have blown up by accident or been sabotaged to provide a pretext for us to enter that war.

2. The legal basis for commencing the Vietnam War was the Gulf of Tonkin incidents of August 2 and 4, 1964. A US destroyer, the USS Maddox, exchanged fire with North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf, which is off the coast of Vietnam. As a result, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized President Johnson to assist any Southeast Asian country that was being jeopardized by “communist aggression.”  Johnson was only too eager to do so.  It was later determined that some key facts, such as who fired first, are in dispute.

3. President Bush, 43, “sold” the Iraq War to the American people by asserting there was “proof” that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction.” Such weapons have never been found.

So, if FDR did, in fact, goad Japan into attacking us so that we could enter the war against the Axis Powers, it would not have been the only time the US Government used that tactic. In the 1950’s the renowned historian Harry Elmer Barnes (who, ironically, later lost much of his credibility by becoming a vociferous denier of the Holocaust) published a series of essays describing the various ways in which the US Government goaded the Japanese into starting a war it could not win and manipulated American public opinion.  After the war, Secretary of War Henry Stimson admitted that “we needed the Japanese to commit the first overt act.”

Most historians agree that even the Japanese leadership in the 1930’s knew it could not win a prolonged war with the US. They realized that the US was vastly superior in terms of men, material and resources, and eventually, it would wear down the Japanese.  That, in fact, is precisely what happened.

In 1941 the die was cast when a more militant, nationalistic government came into power headed by Emperor Hirohito and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo.  They spent several months planning the pre-emptive strike. In his best selling book, “Killing the Rising Sun,” Bill O’Reilly denoted that the Japanese sought to imbed spies into the Hawaiian civilian population to gather intelligence.  O’Reilly quoted one senior officer who found out that his Japanese gardener was actually a colonel in the Japanese army.

Many historians believe that the Japanese hierarchy was emboldened, in part, by the successful surprise attack on the Russians in 1905 led by then-Admiral Tojo during the Russo-Japanese War. It had worked once; why not again? Their intention was to neutralize American naval power in the Pacific so that it would be unable to block Japan’s aggression in Southeast Asia. They determined that Sunday would be the best day of the week to attack. They also weighed the advantages and disadvantages of attacking the fleet in the harbor or at sea before settling on the attack in the harbor. Although the battleships were sitting ducks in the more shallow harbor, Admiral Chester Nimitz denoted later that one crucial advantage to the US was that we were able to raze several of them later and return them to active duty.

Despite its years of provocations, the US was ill-prepared for an attack. In addition, we had failed to confront the Japanese directly earlier when they could have been dealt with more easily. So, instead of fighting a small war in the 1930s we ended up fighting a world war just a few years later.

One could argue that there are strong parallels between then and our more recent history with respect to various terrorist groups operating in the Middle East and elsewhere. Once again, we failed to deal with the problem when it was manageable (the beginnings of ISIS); once again most of the country was and is very reluctant to get involved in “other people’s problems (Syria and Iraq);” and, we are now embroiled in the more costly aftermath (conflicts, refugees, Russian and Iranian involvement).  History, when ignored, does tend to repeat itself.

CONCLUSION

Ultimately, the Japanese underestimated the US. Their leaders knew we were in isolationist mode. They did not think we had the “stomach” to fight a prolonged, brutal war.  Also, they knew we would be fighting the Germans and Italians as well. Furthermore, they figured that with our Pacific Fleet decimated, if not destroyed, we would be unable or unwilling to counter their aggression in the Far East.  The Far East was their end game for reasons discussed above; they were not interested in attacking the US mainland, although much of the US civilian population feared that they would.

Obviously, the Japanese misjudged us.  They were not the first enemy to do so, and, in all likelihood, they will not be the last.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – DECEMBER

More painless history. Many historically-significant events have occurred during the month of December. Below please find what I consider the most significant:
12/1/1955 – Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgonery, AL for refusing to surrender her seat on a bus to a white man. This action precipitated a year-long bus boycott and many other protests against segregation led by the Reverend Martin Luther King, among others, and was what many consider the seminal event for the civil rights movement.
12/2/1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of France by Pope Pius VII.
12/2/1823 – President James Monroe articulated the “Monroe Doctrine,” which, essentially, forbad any further colonization of the Western Hemisphere by any European power, and which became a key element of the US’s foreign policy prospectively.
12/2/1954 – The Senate condemned Senator Joseph McCarthy for misconduct, effectively ending his irresponsible communist witch hunt.
12/3/1967 – Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa.
12/6/1492 – Christopher Columbus “discovered” the “New World,” landing at the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
12/6/1865 – The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, which abolished slavery.
12/6/1973 – Gerald Ford was sworn in as vice president replacing Spiro Agnew who had been forced to resign following his pleading “no contest” to charges of income tax evasion.
12/7/1787 – Delaware became the first state to ratify the US constitution.
12/7/1941 – Japan perpetrated a surprise attack of the US naval base at Pearl Harbor destroying the US Pacific Fleet and precipitating the US’s entry into WWII. FDR called it a “date that will live in infamy,” and it has.
12/10/1896 – Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel died. In his will he stipulated that a committee of the Norwegian Parliament award from his estate annual prizes (valued at approximately $1 million) for Peace, Chemistry, Physics, Medicine, Literature and Economics.
12/11/1901 – Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the first transatlantic radio signal.
12/11/1936 – King Edward VIII abdicated the English throne in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
12/13/1642 – Dutch navigator Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand.
12/14/1799 – George Washington died at Mt. Vernon.
12/14/1911 – Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach the South Pole.
12/15/1791 – Virginia became the 11th state to ratify the Bill of Rights making it an official part of the Constitution. (Ratification of an amendment to the Constitution requires 75% of the states, and Vermont had become the 14th state. The three holdouts were Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Georgia, which did not ratify it until 1939.)
12/15/1961 – Notorious Nazi SS Colonel Adolph Eichmann was sentenced to death in Jerusalem for his role in the Holocaust during WWII.
12/16/1773 – A group of Bostonians, disguised as Indians, boarded British ships anchored in Boston Harbor and dumped 300+ containers of tea overboard as a protest to what they viewed as an unjust tax on the product. This became known as the Boston Tea Party and was a part of the chain of events that culminated in the American Revolutionary War.
12/17/1903 – The Wright Brothers – Wilbur and Orville – made the first successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, NC.
12/19/1946 – War broke in what was then called French-Indochina. Eventually, the French were ousted, and the US got drawn into war in Vietnam, which did not end well for us.
12/20/1860 – South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. Over the next few months ten other states followed, and the Civil War ensued.
12/21/1846 – Dr. Robert Liston was the first surgeon to use anesthesia (in a leg amputation in London).
12/21/1945 – General George Patton, aka “Old Blood and Guts,” died from injuries suffered in a car accident in Germany. Some historians have postulated that the accident was intentional, but this has never been proven.
12/23/1947 – The transistor was invented at Bell Laboratories.
12/25 – Christmas Day when Christians commemorate the birth of Christ.
12/25/1776 – George Washington led a small contingent of Colonial troops across the Delaware River from Valley Forge, PA to Trenton, NJ in the dead of night, where they surprised and defeated a substantially larger contingent of Hessian mercenaries. This daring and famous victory provided a major boost to the flagging revolutionary war effort.
12/26 – Boxing Day is celebrated in the UK, Canada, and various other countries that, formerly, were part of the British Empire. It has nothing to do with pugilism. Most likely, it has evolved from the 18th Century English custom of giving a “Christmas box” containing gifts, such as food or clothes, to servants and tradesmen as a reward for good service throughout the year.
12/26 – 1/1 – Kwanza, an African – American holiday established in 1966, is observed. It celebrates family unity and a bountiful harvest. The word means “first fruit” in Swahili.
12/29/1890 – The US cavalry massacred in excess of 200 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee, SD., which became a symbol of the white man’s brutality to Native Americans.
12/31/1781 – The Bank of New York became the first bank to receive a federal charter. It commenced business on January 7, 1782 in Philadelphia.
12/31/1879 – Inventor Thomas Edison first demonstrated the incandescent lamp (light bulb) at his lab in NJ.
12/31 – New Year’s Eve is celebrated throughout the world.

Birthdays – Charles Stuart, American portrait painter (of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, among others), 12/3/1755; Joseph Conrad, Polish novelist, 12/3/1857; Martin Van Buren, 8th President, 12/5/1782; General George Armstrong Custer, 12/5/1839; Walt Disney; 12/5/1901; Ira Gershwin (wrote several hit songs for “Broadway” shows), 12/6/1896; Eli Whitney (cotton gin), 12/8/1765; Clarence Birdseye (invented process for freezing foods), 12/9/1886; Emily Dickenson (poet), 12/10/1830; Melvil Dewey (invented Dewey decimal system used to categorize books in libraries), 12/10/1851; NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia,12/11/1882; John Jay (first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), 12/12/1745; General James Doolittle (led audacious bombing raid on Tokyo during WWII), 12/14/1896; Alexandre Eifel (Eifel Tower), 12/15/1832; Ludwig van Beethoven (composer), 12/16/1770; George Santayana (philosopher) (“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”), 12/16/1863; Wily Brandt (Chancellor of West Germany), 12/18/1913; Harvey Firestone (Firestone Tire and Rubber), 12/20/1868; Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvli, aka Josef Stalin, 12/21/1879; Claudia Alta Taylor, aka “Lady Bird Johnson,” 12/22/1912; Japanese WWII Emperor Hirohito, 12/23/1901; Christopher “Kit” Carson, frontiersman, 12/24/1809; Howard Hughes, 12/24/1905; Isaac Newton (theory of gravity), 12/25/1642; Clara Barton (nurse who founded American Red Cross), 12/25/1821; Humphrey Bogart, 12/25/1899; Mao Tse-Tung, 12/26/1893; Louis Pasteur (pasteurization process), 12/27/1822; (Thomas) Woodrow Wilson, 28th President, 12/28/1856; Andrew Johnson (17th president, first to be impeached), 12/29/1808; Pablo Casals (cellist), 12/28/1876; Rudyard Kipling (poet, wrote Jungle Book), 12/30/1865; Hideki Tojo (Japanese WWII Prime Minister), 12/30/1884; General George C. Marshall (Army Chief of Staff, WWII), 12/31/1880.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE. WHO’S NEXT? MICHELLE? HILLARY?

It looks to me like the Dems are getting desperate. Not the candidates. They are chugging along in their own bubble, blithely unaware of the opinions of the electorate. Instead, they are kowtowing to the liberal media and the twitter crowd.

The Party pros, however, know better. They are coming to the same realization that many of us have perceived all along: that the current field of candidates is weak, flawed and too far to the left to win a general election. As time goes on, they are perceiving that it is becoming increasingly more unlikely that the eventual nominee will be able to “walk back” some of the outrageous and unrealistic policies being advocated. More on that later. He/she will need a GPS to find the “middle” on key issues.

In assessing the 2020 election my advice is don’t put too much credence in the polls. As we all found out in 2016 they are flawed. They underestimate President Trump’s support. I don’t know whether the flaws lie in the manner of questioning, the sampling, that many Trump supporters are reluctant to admit it to the pollster, or some combination of the three. Either way, the flaws are there.

Don’t believe the mainstream media either. Most of them are so biased that they continually accentuate the President’s flaws and downplay, or even ignore, his accomplishments. If you doubt me, just tune in to CNN, MSNBC or the networks any day. I am amazed how the likes of Chet Lemon, Brian Stelter, Chris Matthews or Chris Cuomo, to name a few, can maintain any credibility with the public in view of their obvious bias.

I used to respect reporters/commentators such as David Gregory and Wolf Blitzer, but I feel that they, too, are no longer objective. Frankly, I don’t see how anyone who is serious about learning what’s really happening in the world can rely exclusively on those sources for their news.

Don’t be fooled by the impeachment fiasco. I have published various blogs on this topic, and I see no need to repeat myself. Suffice to say, every day, it becomes more and more obvious that it is a sham; there is no impeachable crime to be found. I view it as an impeachment hearing in search of a crime, any crime, that would support the narrative. As we saw when President Clinton was impeached, all the process does is create more support for the president.

As I said above, the Dem Party pros know that the Dem field is a loser, regardless of who might win the nomination. None of the candidates has resonated with the electorate, and all of them have moved way left of the mainstream. Most of them have continually pandered to liberal leaders, such as Reverend Al and AOC, liberal commentators, and special interests in a manner that is very obvious and almost demeaning.

Also, many Dem voters perceive their more outlandish policies, such as the New Green Deal, open borders, Medicare for all, tax reform and free college tuition for all, as favoring illegal aliens over them. US Civil Rights Commission spokesperson, Peter Kirsanow, opines that this has led to a “populist mistrust” on the part of many Dem voters, particularly minorities.

To illustrate my point, let’s briefly consider the current front runners – Biden, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg.

Biden looks lost on both the debate stage and the campaign trail. He is a human gaffe machine, committing one faux paux after another. For example, in the last debate he bragged that he has the support of the “only female black senator.” The problem is Kamala Harris, who is black, was standing a few feet away from him, and she definitely is not a Biden supporter. His comment evoked laughter not only from the other candidates, but also from the audience and most likely many people watching at home. It is not a good sign when people laugh AT you, as opposed to WITH you.

I believe he will also be dragged down by the shenanigans of his son, Hunter. Furthermore, I believe his current lead (28%, nationally, according to CNN) is based on name recognition, a perception that he can beat Mr. Trump, and his lack of exposure. How can he possibly hold up under the rigors of a long, contentious election campaign?

Warren has alienated much of the Dem voters with her constant lies and her cockamamie policies, such as her “Medicare for all” and tax plans. Following repeated attacks by her rival candidates, she was forced to admit that it would necessitate a tax increase even on the middle class to pay for it. Historically, advocating a tax increase has always led to election disaster.

In addition, she is weak in the Wall Street, AA and Hispanic communities. Moreover, a recent NYT/Siena Poll disclosed a glaring lack of “likeabilty” as well as concerns, by 3:1, among Dem voters that she is too far to the left. Indeed, the same poll revealed that a significant number of Biden supporters would shift their support to Mr. Trump if she were to become the nominee.

Sanders is an admitted socialist. He has a small but vociferous, frustrated and angry hardcore of supporters. They feel they were “cheated” out of the nomination in 2016, and many of them are not in a mood to support another candidate. He may be able to wield some influence in a deadlocked convention, but an avowed socialist, which he is, has no chance to become president.

Buttigieg is a mystery to me. I would bet that most voters know next to nothing about him, except that his name is difficult to spell or even pronounce. For instance, in a recent Quinnipiac Poll 47% of SC voters reported they did not know enough about him to even express an opinion. He seems like a nice, articulate person but very light on experience.

Moreover, by all accounts he has been a mediocre mayor of a small city in Indiana. How could that limited resume possibly translate into running the US? Also, he is not particularly popular in the minority community in South Bend, which, as we know, is a crucial constituency for any Dem candidate. Therefore, it is hard for me to take him seriously despite his strong poll numbers in Iowa (24%) and NH (25%). According to Lisa Hagen, political reporter for US News and World Report, once the scene shifts to SC, Nevada and elsewhere, where there is a more diverse electorate, his support will likely melt away. For example, a recent Quinnipiac Poll disclosed he has less than 1% support among AA voters in SC. All this does not auger well for him.

CONCLUSION

The best indicator that the Party pros think the current field is too weak to defeat Mr. Trump is all the recent talk about new candidates. In point of fact, a recent NYT/Siena Poll disclosed that, as yet, none of the current group has been able to win back the crucial white working class voters that swung over to Mr. Trump in 2016.

Additionally, the same poll showed that Mr. Trump’s Electoral College majority from 2016 has remained largely intact, especially in the six battleground states – Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina – that will likely decide the election. It seems like many Dems would welcome a fresh face or two, but I view it as a sign of desperation. Perhaps, that is why Obama has not endorsed Biden.

Also, the 2018 results seem like an anomaly, not a portent. The same poll showed that 2/3 of the Trump voters who voted for Dem congresspersons in 2018 intend to return to Mr. Trump in 2020.

With respect to the potential saviors, Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor of NY, has already declared his candidacy. As a multi-billionaire, he has money to burn. Unfortunately, he has two obvious flaws, which will, in my opinion, doom his candidacy:

1. He is a very dull speaker, not the least bit inspiring like, for example, Messrs. Bill Clinton, Obama and Trump. I saw excerpts of his recent speech. I would characterize it as a cure for insomnia.

2. As mayor, his signature policy was “stop and frisk.” It worked very well as evidenced by the precipitous drop in the city’s murder rate, but it infuriated blacks and other minorities who viewed it as racial profiling.

I believe Hillary wants to try again, but she is still unpopular, and she has more “baggage” than a fully-loaded 747.

Michelle Obama would be a reasonable possibility. At the moment, she is very popular in some circles, although I’m not sure that would hold up once she begins to campaign and articulate her policies.

At the present time, both ladies are being coy about running, but I think there is a good chance one of them will declare. We’ll see.

The 2020 campaign is shaping up as one of the most interesting in history. Stay tuned.

POP CULTURE QUIZ

My darling and devoted wife claims I have a very limited knowledge of pop culture. Perhaps, but let’s test your knowledge. You know the drill: no peeking at the internet. Don’t ask “Alexa” or “Siri.” Good luck.

1. Each of the following movies won the Oscar for “Best Picture, EXCEPT:
(a) Crash; (b) Argo; (c) Goodfellas; (d) Moonlight

2. Who played the character, “Monica” on the hit comedy TV show, “Friends?” (a) Jennifer Aniston; (b) Sara Summers; (c) Lisa Kudrow; (d) Courtney Cox

3. What entertainer was born in Steubenville, Ohio?
(a) Dean Martin; (b) Bing Crosby; (c) Jack Benny; (d) Liberace

4. Which of the below actors played “Danno” on the original “Hawaii 50” tv series? (a) Al Harrington; (b) Buddy Ebsen; (c) Larry Manetti; (d) James MacArthur

5. Steven Spielberg directed each of the below movies, EXCEPT:
(a) “Duel;” (b) “Jurassic Park;” (c) “Raiders of the Lost Arc;” (d) “Midway”

6. The 2019 Emmy Award winner for Best Comedy was (a) Modern Family; (b) Fleabag; (c) The Handmaid’s Tale; (d) The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

7. Which of the below actors won the 2019 “Oscar” for “Best Actor?”
(a) Rami Malek; (b) Daniel Kaluuya; (c) Denzel Washington; (d) Will Smith

8. In the famous Abbott and Costello comedy routine “Who’s on First,” the name
of the second baseman is: (a) “What;” (b) “When;” (c) “Tomorrow;” (d) “I don’t know.”

9. Which child actor debuted in the tv show “Little House on the Prairie?”
(a) Ed Furlong; (b) Richard Thomas; (c) Jerry Mathers; (d) Jason Bateman

10. Each of the following is a show created by Dick Wolf, EXCEPT:
(a) South Beach; (b) Law and Order; (c) Boston Legal; (d) Chicago Justice

11. Which movie featured music by Simon and Garfunkle, including megahit “Sounds of Silence?” (a) The Apartment; (b) The Graduate; (c) Eyes without a Trace; (d) A Patch of Blue

12. Which of the below actresses won the 2019 Oscar for “Best Actress?”
(a) Frances McDormand; (b) Meryl Streep; (c) Julianne Moore; (d) Olivia Colman

13. The rock ‘n roll song, “Rock Around the Clock” was featured in which of these movies? (a) Blackboard Jungle; (b) The Rockers; (c) The Survivors; (d) Teen Angel

14. Each of the following was a member of the “Rat Pack,” EXCEPT:
a. Peter Lawford; (b) Dean Martin; (c) Vic Damone; (d) Frank Sinatra

15. Who was the first host of “Jeopardy (1964-1975)?”
(a) Pat Sajak; (b) Alex Trebek; (c) Art Fleming; (d) Chuck Barris

16. Which famous actor appeared on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air?”
(a) Will Smith; (b) Denzel Washington; (c) Brian Forster; (d) Fred Savage

17. The hit song, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” was featured in which movie? (a) Bonnie and Clyde; (b) Cool Hand Luke; (c) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; (d) Eyes without a Trace

18. Whose birth name was Bernie Schwartz? (a) Tony Curtis; (b) Kirk Douglas; (c) Robert Mitchum; (d) Peter O’Toole

19. Which rapper was born Curtis James Jackson, III
(a) Lil Wayne; (b) Eminem; (c) LL Cool J; (d) “Fitty” Cent

20. Name the original host of the tv game show, “The Match Game.”
(a) Don Pardo; (b) Art Fleming; (c) Pat Sajak; (d) Gene Rayburn

21. Benjamin Kubelsky was the birth name of what famous entertainer? (a) George Burns; (b) Don Rickles; (c) Bob Hope; (d) Jack Benny

22. Which movie won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2019? (a) A Star Is Born; (b) Bohemian Rhapsody; (c) Green Book; (d) Call Me By Your Name

23. Each of the following movies featured Jack Nicholson, EXCEPT: (a) Midnight Cowboy; (b) Chinatown; (c) The Shining; (d) Easy Rider

24. The movie that won the first “Oscar” for Best Picture was (a) “Jazz Singer;” (b) “Wings;” (c) “All Quiet on the Western Front;” (d) “Grand Hotel”

25. Who played “Trixie” on “The Honeymooners?” (a) Jayne Meadows; (b) Audrey Meadows; (c) Sara Summers; (d) Joyce Randolph

ANSWERS
1. (c); 2. (d); 3. (a); 4. (d); 5.(d); 6.(b); 7. (a) (for “Bohemian Rhapsody”); 8. (a); 9. (b); 10. (c); 11. (b); 12.(d); 13. (a); 14. (c); 15.(c); 16. (a); 17. (c); 18. (a); 19. (d); 20. (d); 21. (d); 22. (c); 23. (a); 24. (b); 25. (d).

Let me know how you did. Also, I am happy to accept suggested questions for my next quiz

IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS

We have now slogged through one week of impeachment hearings. In my view, the production was a good cure for insomnia. If you managed to watch all of it, you get a gold star.

The Dems have called several witnesses and “surprise, surprise,” as the late entertainer, Jim Nabors, might have said, no “smoking gun,” no firsthand account of any impeachable offense. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised at this. After all, the Dems have led us down this road several times before in the last three years.

During that time, they have promised us “proof” of Mr. Trump’s impeachable activities on several occasions, and none of those has turned out to be true. I won’t bore you with repeating those accusations here. I have covered them, in detail, in previous blogs. Suffice to say, the anti-Trumpers’ credibility is extremely low.

Below please find my opinion of the first week:

1. The “great divide” between the pro-Trump and anti-Trump camps has widened. Both sides are “dug in.” Each is firmly convinced that it is right and the other side is wrong. Every word, every witness, every development is being twisted into two divergent interpretations. There are very few undecideds left, and most of them are not particularly interested in the impeachment process.

For example, Mr. Trump has fired Ukraine ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch. Some of the Dems on the committee focused on how “mean” that was, and they spent much of their time asking how she felt. Was she upset? How did it affect her family? It appeared they were hoping she would break down and cry to create a sound bite for the news. That entire line of questioning was a real time-waster.

The pro-Trumpers pointed out correctly that all executive branch employees serve at the pleasure of the president. He can fire/reassign anyone at any time for any reason. It doesn’t matter if they went to Harvard or Yale, or are decorated combat veterans, or have vast experience, or are nice, decent, loyal employees. Moreover, it is not unusual for a new boss to want his own people working for him, people whom he trusts, people who will support him and execute his policies. Many of us working in the private sector have experienced this when the boss who hired them is replaced. Since when is criticizing or firing someone an impeachable offense? Yovanovitch is supposed to be a tough, seasoned diplomat. Suck it up, and move on.

2. None of the witnesses was able to offer any firsthand account of Mr. Trump having committed an impeachable offense. For example, one of the Dems asked Yovanovitch if she had any knowledge that Mr. Trump accepted any bribes or committed any criminal acts? She responded, “no.” To me, that, right there, said it all.

3. Adam Schiff continues to orchestrate the hearings in a strongly partisan manner. For example, he has continually refused to disclose the identity of the whistleblower; now, he is denying he knows the identity at all. (One would think that as head of the (un)Intelligence Committee he would have vetted the man’s story himself rather than delegating it to staffers.) Furthermore, he has refused to allow the GOP representatives to call their own witnesses; and he has restricted their lines of questioning. For example, yesterday he refused to allow Rep. Elise Stefanik to question a witness. Whether or not this was within the Senate’s rules is besides the point. Ironically, even though Stefanik is a Republican, she has not been a strong, consistent Trump supporter. She has, however, been a critic of the impeachment process, and that has not sat well with Schiff. After the hearings concluded for the day, she told reporters that “nothing in that room today, and nothing in that room earlier this week, [has] rise[n] to the level of impeachable offenses.”

I believe Schiff’s actions constitute a tactical error on his part. He should be bending over backwards to be more accommodating so as to defuse any accusations of partisanship. You may remember that for many months Nancy Pelosi had insisted that the process should be nonpartisan.

4. Mr. Trump has continued to be unable to restrain himself. His tweet about Yovanovitch was unnecessary. Yes, he is entitled to exercise free speech, like anyone else, but it gave the Dems something to salvage the day. But, even if one thinks his behavior is boorish or obnoxious that is not reasonable grounds for impeachment.

5. It is curious how the anti-Trumpers cannot agree on the grounds of impeachment. They are continually trying to change the narrative. First, it was a “quid pro quo.” Then, when that didn’t resonate with the public, they switched to “intimidation.” Now, in the third iteration, the word of the day is “bribery.” Just turn on CNN, MSNBC, or any of the network channels. All the commentators are suddenly using the same word, “bribery.” Amazing how they stay in lockstep as if they all got the same directive. Hmm. According to Fox News they got that word based on a recommendation from a focus group. Obviously, they are trying to find a word that resonates with the public. What will it be tomorrow? Your guess is as good as mine.

CONCLUSION

The longer this continues, the more I see it as a serious tactical error on the part of the Dems. “Buyer’s remorse,” anyone?

1. The American public is not buying what they’re selling. Many, if not most, people, are not even paying attention. They don’t see any impeachable offenses. They see it as what it is, a charade. They are busy with their own lives, their own day-to-day issues and problems.

2. The longer this goes on the more vulnerable to defeat the newly-elected 30 or so Dem Reps from districts that Mr. Trump carried in 2016 become. It will be interesting to see how many of them actually vote to impeach.

3. If the House votes to impeach and the Senate takes it up anti-Trumpers may see it as a victory. However, there is a problematic side. (1) It could be a long trial extending well into the primary season. (2) GOPers will be able to call their own witnesses and cross-examine whomever they want. (3) The Dem senators who are running for president will be required to attend the trial, rather than campaign in the field. (4) The economy remains strong, unemployment remains at historic lows, the stock market is setting new highs daily, and ISIS leader, Baghdadi, is dead.

Yes, it looks like the Dems may be hoisted on their own petard.