What Happens If …

There are a number of opinion writers I greatly respect, and Charles M. Blow is in the top ten.  Mr. Blow writes for the New York Times and his work is most always level-headed and thoughtful.  Amid the many calls for impeachment to remove Trump from office, cooler heads must sometimes prevail.  In Blow’s column from December 2nd he explains why removing Trump from office is not a likely scenario, but would be the beginning of a new nightmare.

What Happens If …

The possibilities ahead in the Russia investigation suggest we are not reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather entering one.

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow

I no longer think that anyone in America, including Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, can afford to put off the consideration of the central question of this administration: What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?

There have always been those of us on the left who viewed his presidency as compromised, asterisk-worthy if not wholly illegitimate, because of the Russian interference.

A crime had been committed by Russia and Trump cheered the crime and used the loot thereof to advance his candidacy. That is clear.

The Russians made repeated attempts to contact people in Trump’s orbit and in some cases were able to meet with members of the team, as evidenced by the Trump Tower meeting. That is clear.

Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide. That is clear.

And since assuming office, Trump has openly attempted to obstruct justice and damage or impede the investigation into what the Russians did and whether anyone in his orbit was part of the crime. That too is clear.

But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed andabsolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.

But what happens if the evidence that the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, uncovers reveals a direct link between Trump and the Russians? How do Trump’s boosters respond?

Last week, when Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline and the extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, the political earth shifted.

If Trump was lying to or misleading the American people about his efforts to do business in Russia while running for president and the Russians knew — and presumably had evidence — that he wasn’t being completely honest and forthcoming, then he was compromised.

While it is by no means clear that the Russians ever used any information that they may have had to blackmail or otherwise pressure Trump, Cohen’s plea makes clear that they had the material to do just that.

This brings ever more clarity to Trump’s curious inclination to go soft on Russia condemnation, to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies, and to drag his feet in acknowledging that Russia attacked our election in 2016 and may continue to do so in the future.

How would Americans who support Trump now respond to evidence that Team Trump put their own personal and financial interests over the national interest? Would they break from their blind support and turn away from him and turn on him? How could they justify wearing the blinders for so long and countenancing so much? What language would they use to correct their complicity?

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

But that was a different time, one in which media wasn’t so fractured and partisan, before the advent of social media and our current dissociable mentalities.

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. There is little daylight between the network’s programming and the White House’s priorities. If Trump goes down, so too does Fox, in some measure. So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

Furthermore, Trump does not strike me as a man amenable to contrition or one interested in the health and stability of the nation.

I expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.

The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain.

♫ Leaving On A Jet Plane ♫

Yesterday marked the 21st anniversary of the plane crash that killed singer John Denver.  I was not aware of it yesterday, else I would not be a day late in playing this song, but friend Ellen informed me of the occasion yesterday afternoon.  Ellen also kindly pointed me to a video clip that seems appropriate to mark the occasion of Denver’s death at age 53.  The clip comes from Burt Sugarman’s show, The Midnight Special on August 19, 1972.  This episode was filmed less than three months before the presidential election that would see Richard Milhous Nixon begin a second term that he would not complete.  According to the IMDB …

John Denver guest hosted this Pilot (Episode 1) with guests that included: Mama Cass, The Everly Brothers, The Isley Brothers, Harry Chapin, Linda Ronstadt, Argent and Helen Reddy. The theme of this pilot was to encourage the youth that had reached 18 years to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election. The voting age had just been lowered to 18. The two biggest issues, at that time, were Watergate and the war in Vietnam. Among the musical highlights were Harry Chapin performing his hit “Taxi”, Linda Ronstadt sang her popular ballad “Long Long Time”, Helen Reddy sang “I Am Woman” and the Britsh group Argent performed their 1972 hit “Hold Tour Head High” [sic]. Wolfman Jack appeared on camera as the main host and announcer and previewed upcoming shows, which he would do for the series’ 8 year run.

In this clip, Denver is joined by ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot, formerly of the Mamas and the Papas, and the two do a duet of Leaving on a Jet Plane, a song that had been made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1967.  Interestingly, Cass Elliot would die of heart failure less than two years after singing with John Denver.

Denver wrote the song in 1966.  It turned out to be Peter, Paul and Mary’s biggest (and final) hit, becoming their only No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.  This one surprised me, for I am a fan of PPM, but Leaving on a Jet Plane is not my favourite of their works.

At any rate … in honour of John Denver, a day late, I give you …

Leaving on a Jet Plane
John Denver & Cass Elliot

All my bags are packed
I’m ready to go
I’m standin’ here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin’
It’s early morn
The taxi’s waitin’
He’s blowin’ his horn
Already I’m so lonesome
I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

There’s so many times I’ve let you down
So many times I’ve played around
I tell you now, they don’t mean a thing
Ev’ry place I go, I’ll think of you
Ev’ry song I sing, I’ll sing for you
When I come back, I’ll bring your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time
Let me kiss you
Then close your eyes
I’ll be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I won’t have to leave alone
About the times, I won’t have to say

Oh, kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

But, I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Songwriters: John Denver
Leaving on a Jet Plane lyrics © Reservoir One Music, Reservoir Media Management Inc, BMG Rights Management

Oooohhhh … Scandals!!!

clintonIn December 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice.  The case?  He lied under oath about an affair … a single affair … with then-staffer Monica Lewinsky.

ReaganIn 1987, President Ronald Reagan admitted to selling weapons in exchange for hostages, a scandal that would become known as the Iran-Contra Affair, and for which 14 of Reagan’s cohorts were charged, some serving prison sentences.

NixonIn 1974, President Richard M. Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment for spying and sabotage, and later cover-up during the 1972 presidential campaign.   The scandal would forever be remembered as the Watergate scandal.

In 1922, President Warren Harding’s interior secretary, Albert Fall, was convicted of accepting bribes and loans in exchange for granting oil drilling rights in what would become known as the Teapot Dome scandal.

whiskey ringIn 1875, under President Ulysses S. Grant, it was determined that the IRS and Treasury Department had been “looking the other way” while distillers of whiskey kept tax revenues for their own benefit.  Grant’s aide and personal secretary, Orville Babcock, was also involved, though Grant gained him an acquittal by pleading on his behalf.  This became known as the Whiskey Ring scandal.

In 1868, President Andrew Johnson became the first U.S. president to be impeached.  His crime?  He went against legislation passed by Congress (the Tenure of Office Act) and attempted to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a Lincoln appointment.  The Senate fell one vote short of removing him from office.

Those are the biggest scandals prior to 2017 involving sitting U.S. presidents.  And then came Trump.  Take another look at the other scandals … they don’t really seem quite so bad now, do they?  So, now that we have a point of comparison, let us take a look at just a few of the scandals of the Trump presidency after a short/long 15 months …

  • Alternative facts – beginning on day one, with the administration’s attempt to portray Trump’s inaugural crowd as some 5 times larger than it actually was, and continuing on a near-daily basis ever since.

  • In February 2018, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, spent $31,561 for dining room furniture for his new offices.


  • In January 2017, Presidential Bimbo Advisor Kellyanne Conway referred to a “Bowling Green Massacre” as a justification for Trump’s travel ban against Muslims.  There was never any such event.


  • On 10 May 2017, during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Trump discussed classified intelligence information.


  • On 09 May 2017, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey after Comey refused to a) pledge an oath of loyalty, and b) agree to drop the investigation into Russia’s influence on the 2016 elections.


  • The FBI and other congressional committees have been investigating links between Trump, his family, and members of his campaign staff and the Russian government. There is already strong evidence of ties between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russian officials.


  • On August 25, 2017, Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, a known racist who had defied a court order to cease and desist racial profiling.


  • In March 2018, Trump’s Staff Secretary, Rob Porter, was credibly (with evidence) accused by his two former wives of domestic abuse. Porter resigned, but Trump ranted that he should have stayed.


  • In September 2017 it was discovered that Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, had spent more than $1 million of department funds for his own travel on private charter jets and military aircraft.


  • Donald Trump has been accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment, including non-consensual kissing or groping, by at least 19 women. He has bragged about following young contestants into the dressing room and groping them during the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contests.  And he is heard on tape claiming that a celebrity like himself “can do anything” to women, including “just start kissing them … I don’t even wait” and “grab ’em by the pussy”.  And Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about having consensual sex with Monica Lewinsky???


  • Lastly, Donald Trump has been credibly accused of having an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels shortly after Melania, his third wife, gave birth to their son. Trump, through his attorney, Michael Cohen, paid Ms. Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about their affair during the 2016 election.

Did the rules change in the twenty years between 1998 and 2018?  Does it, despite #MeToo, no longer matter if men use their power to abuse women?  Does it no longer matter how our elected representatives spend OUR money?  Have integrity, truth and honesty become archaic words that no longer have value in our lives?

Today we have the most corrupt individual in the history of this nation sitting in the Oval Office. Today we have people in towns and cities all across the nation saying that they are “good Christians”, that they hate abortion because it is ‘morally wrong’ … and yet … and yet, they find nothing … NOTHING … wrong with the man pretending to be president groping women, having multiple elicit affairs, lying, cheating and stealing.  Just this week, Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual abuse and faces a possible 30-year prison term, yet Donald Trump, who has done no less than Cosby, is applauded.