Saturday, September 21, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 38

To get the housekeeping of this blog out of the way, nearly two weeks ago in North Carolina, the incorrect (of the two total races) prediction I had occurred when Republican Dan Bishop won a special election seat for a district that had been without a Representative since the end of 2018.

I had said this would be a Tossup race that would narrowly go Democrat, but the Republican won by three points, consistent with recent polling. Donald Trump took all the credit for the win, falsely claiming the Republican was down big until he got involved. While it was true that Trump's campaign rally right before the election might have turned out some voters, it is also true that this district would not have even been competitive if not for Trump's polarization. In advance of the 2020 national elections, we can see that Republicans might still have their 2018 edge in red areas, but in suburban areas, including in this North Carolina district, the party is lagging behind traditional showings at an alarming rate. There are no moral victories in politics thought. Democrats wanted to and likely expected to flip this district, amid all the turmoil it had been through, including the last Republican nominee's campaign being considered complicit in a vote suppression scandal and they did not win it.

There might also be some bad news for Trump die-hards from Israel in where the latest round of elections have long-time Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been running a staunch Trump ally, fell short in getting enough votes in the Knesset to form a government. While Israel is not moving to the left anytime soon on defense issues (thankfully), this could lead to profound change in government. It remains to be seen who will be the next Prime Minister or if there will need to be yet another election. There might also be in the future an occasion to look for examples of similarity as they relate to a tough-talking incumbent under an ethical cloud, and if they were successful or not in bringing about a sufficient amount of fear about the opposition.

The action on the U.S. Presidential front continues. I neglected to mention last week that Mark Sanford became the fourth major GOP Presidential candidate. All four of the candidate are men who have been divorced, although Trump the only one who has been twice. He took issue with Sanford's past admitted and highly public infidelity, as if he has room to talk.

The Democrat field continues to shrink gradually as New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio ended his longshot campaign yesterday. Trump tweeted that New York City was devastated he was returning to be Mayor full-time. There could be some truth there. Today, there is news that the campaign of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is threatening to leave the race unless his supporters can donate a large amount of money quickly. That is a bad sign. Sooner or later, the Garden State Senator will have to jump into a 2020 reelection campaign.

That leaves us with Corn-Pop and Ukraine. These are two very weird things to have to talk about as they relate to the two major party frontrunners but they cannot be ignored. One of course is far more recent and far more serious than the other in terms of actual governance, (and potential blowback for the other party) and I am not trying to blur that distinction. Still, both narratives are pretty remarkable and speaks to the uniqueness of this campaign and its time in history. I cannot think of a political candidate or office holder, in either party, who might have previously been able to get away with either of these things. It's right up there with the revelation that the very liberal and racially woke Prime Minister of Canada had a penchant for wearing blackface, most recently (we think) in 2001 when he was 29 year old teacher. Justin Trudea is begging for forgiveness, and many on the left north of the border and here will extent it to him, when they certainly would not for a conservative politician of his age. What will happen to his party though when his country votes next month? There is also going to be another Great Britain general election. The new Prime Minister is a pro-Brexit friend of Donald Trump who even sort of looks like him. The main opposition leader is to the left of Bernie Sanders and widely viewed as anti-Semitic.

Back once again to America though, the former Vice President told a story a couple of years ago that just went viral this week. One of the craziest aspects is that Biden might have actually been at least somewhat telling the truth. The tale sounds sort of unbelievable though and it is hard to imagine why if true, Biden would want to share it.

Apparently, back in 1962 Wilmington, young Joe was the only white lifeguard at a public pool. There was a "rough" gang leader named Corn Pop "who ran with some bad boys." He had product in his hair or something like that so Biden demanded he not dive into the pool without a bathing cap on (Was diving a big black hoodlum activity back in the early 60's) and Corn Pop got pretty upset. Biden mockingly referred to him as "Esther Williams" and kicked him and his crew out of the pool.

As the story goes, word came down to Biden that Corn Pop and his associates (Snap and Crackle?) wanted to do damage to Biden with rusty straight razors. Biden was told not to call the cops because one day he might be booed for that on a left-wing debate stage... no wait, I made that last part up. Anyways, Biden showed up for this showdown in the parking lot with a "six foot chain."

He says he told Corn Pop that he did not regret kicking him out of the pool and he would do it again, but it was wrong for him to call him Esther (i.e. misgendering) and he was sorry for that. However, if Corn Pop was going to shiv him, Biden planned to wrap the six foot chain around his head. Corn Pop apparently was so touched by being apologized for the Esther Williams slur, he backed down, and apparently the two men would become friends or something after that and invented the "Beat It" dance.

There is so much to unwrap here, but thankfully not a chain. Yes, Biden would have been right to enforce the rules, and yes, fighting back against vicious hoodlums might be a necessity, but why in the world is he admitting all this decades later? He is proudly recalling that as the sole white authority figure he brazenly told a young black man in the early '60s to mind his authority or that he would put a chain around him. Holy Symbolism Batman! There seems to have been an actual Corn Pop and some from Delaware say Biden has told this story for years, but Corn Pop is dead now and cannot give his version. In prison, is Bill Cosby called "Pudding Pop?"

What if any other white politician from that era had told that story? One thing remains easier to understand now and that is how Joe Biden in 2012 shamefully told a black audience that Mitt Romney would "put y'all back in chains." He must have been thinking either about his own past or a story he invented or embellished.

The next story is likely far more significant to this campaign and I want to stress that I do not know all the details as to what might have actually happened, but I sure want to know, and I think we as the American people have the right to know. The Administration should not cover this up, but many believe they are doing just that.

If the most sinister version of this narrative is true, Donald Trump committed a crime in the White House not long ago and it is also something that is a clear-cut and easy to understand impeachable offense. It also might be the case that Joe Biden, a private citizen today, might also have some things to answer. Clearly though, Trump is afraid politically of Biden, who has led him thus far in every public and apparently private poll of a potential 2020 matchup.

To be as brief as I can, Ukraine is supposed to be America's ally, especially as it relates to their being threatened by Putin's Russia. There is a lot of money the U.S. is supposed to provide Ukraine in aid but the Trump Administration has been holding it back for some reason. Reportedly, a "whistle blower" claims that he or she heard Trump make a promise to the President of the Ukraine on a recent telephone call and that it was so troubling that he had to report it to authorities. The issue of who in America is listening in to the President's phone calls and why seems to be a whole other story but let's remember that Trump was literally just investigated for years upon allegations he had colluded with a foreign government to help him get elected.

The claim is that Trump said he would give Ukraine their money if they did him the solid of investigating Joe Biden. There has long been talk that Hunter Biden, the surviving son of the former Vice President, who has dealt with a myriad of personal issues, was involved in some shady business dealings in Ukraine and trading on his family name and the job his father held at the time. There is a clip on YouTube where a blustery Biden is claiming that as Vice President, he threatened to hold U.S. money back from Ukraine unless they fired a prosecutor. Now, the defenders of Trump are claiming the prosecutor that Biden succeeded in getting fired was looking into Hunter. There may legitimately be some serious questions left unanswered there, but it also appears Biden was simply taking the official position of the Obama Administration and many other western countries because there were apparently problems with the prosecutor.

Rudy Giuliani, the one time "America's Mayor" who is now Trump's attorney has been involved in this in a while and had plans at one point to go to Ukraine to investigate himself. After this story broke, he had an absolutely insane interview on CNN where he quickly contradicted himself in saying that yes indeed, he did ask Ukraine to get involved in looking into Biden and that he had "proof" that he would not share publicly that Biden had done something corrupt. He also said Trump would have been perfectly in his right to ask Ukraine to look into Biden. The occupant of the Oval Office first Tweeted that he would never do something improper in a discussion with a foreign leader he knew others would be listening to. By the next day though he said it did not matter if he discussed the Bidens with Ukraine and that it was something that needed to be exposed.

So, if nothing else, it sounds like this actually happened. I am not an attorney but I cannot understand why that would not be illegal. He was asking a foreign government to take action designed specifically to benefit himself politically in exchange for official U.S. government action. If there was a quid pro quo, that's impeachable as hell. Let us at least find out what exactly was said or promised. Certainly though, if Obama or any other President had done something like this, the opposition party would have literally had their heads explode.

Did Trump unwittingly give the Democrats the potential opening of a lifetime? (Did Trump secretly do it on purpose? Would Democrats even want to take their chances against Mike Pence at this point?) and what will House Democrats do about it? Most Republicans will be expected to defend Trump, at least as long as Democrats act afraid of their constitutional duties. Besides the fact that all of this looks extremely unethical for Trump (and potentially Biden too), the problem of Presidential abuse of power cannot be ignored.

I do not exactly know who heard what Trump said on the phone to Ukraine or how or why they heard it, but if they did hear what some are surmising they heard, it cannot stand without consequences.


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