Hits and Misses

Hits and Misses

Friday, April 7, 2017

Michael T. Flynn's Request for Immunity

On April 3rd, Charles Blow commented in  The New York Times that Michael Flynn had offered to give testimony to the Congressional committees investigating the Trump's campaign's relationships to Russia:  "Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, has offered to be interviewed by House and Senate investigators who are examining the Trump campaign's ties to Russia in exchange for immunity from prosecution, according to his lawyer and a congressional official."

Asking for immunity is permissible, of course, but it almost always raises the question of why that person is doing so.  "Immunity, for what?" becomes the question on everyone's mind.  What makes this question the more compelling is Flynn's own comment about granting immunity last fall.  As The Washington Post reported, Michael Flynn appeared on "Meet the Press" as a key campaign aide to Donald Trump.  Speaking about the reports circulating that aides to Hilary Clinton had been granted immunity so that they could be forthcoming to the FBI about Hilary's private email server, Flynn declared, "When you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime."

We could call this remark of Flynn's a boomerang statement, on the grounds that after the statement hits the airwaves it returns to smack the speaker in the mouth.

One last remark about appearances:  When Trump recently called a press conference to announce two executive orders dealing with trade, reporters questioned him not about trade but about Michael Flynn and the Russian question.  According to Paul Krugman and CNN, Trump not only didn't sign the executive orders but walked out of the room, leaving Vice President Pence to gather up the documents and follow him.  It's difficult not to wonder, Why wasn't Trump willing to answer the reporters' questions?

Friday, March 31, 2017

An Army Flying Instructor Hoist with His Own Petard

In his memoir, Burning the Days (1997), James Salter gives a wonderful example of an action backfiring on its initiator.  A flying instructor in the Army Air Force (as it was called in WW II) had a favorite trick he'd play on students who were slow to learn how to land:

"After exhausting the usual means, above the traffic pattern somewhere he would shake the control stick from side to side, banging the student's knees--the front and rear sticks were connected--to get his attention.  He would then remove the pin holding the rear stick in place and, with the student twisting his neck to see what was happening, wave it in the air and toss it over the side, pointing at the student with the gesture You, you've got it, and pointing down.  It had always worked.  One day for still another lagging student he rattled the stick fiercely, flourished it, and tossed it away.  The student nodded numbly, bent down, unfastened his own stick, and ignoring the instructor's cries, threw it away also.  He watched as the frightened instructor bailed out and then, fame assured, reached down for the spare stick he had secretly brought along, flew back to the field, and landed."

Burning the Days has the best account I've read of what it was like fighting the Russian MIG's in the Korean "conflict."  Salter eventually left the Army to become a writer of novels and screenplays, but the second half of his memoir doesn't match the interest of his West Point and flying days.  The first half, though, is well worth reading.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Trump on health care

Speaking to the assembled governors a few days ago, Trump exclaimed, "I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject.  Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated."

Well, no, not quite:  anyone who worked on the Affordable Care Act would have known.  Anyone who actually read about the act would have known--but Trump doesn't read anything, apparently, except his teleprompter and glowing press clippings about how wonderful he is.

What I find most remarkable is that he actually said this.  Trump has little or no idea about how complex his job is.  It's much to the point that he assumes that everyone shares his own level of ignorance:  "Nobody knew."  Our only hope is that Trump will continue to learn how much he doesn't know.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trump vs. Truth: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

On February 10th, I posted about Gregg Phillips, a self-proclaimed expert on so-called voter fraud in last November's presidential election.  It turns out he was registered to vote in three different states!

The credibility of Gregg Phillips is also one of the topics highlighted by John Oliver in his most recent show, "Trump vs. Truth:  Last Week Tonight."  If you haven't seen the show, it's well worth watching:


Seen or Heard on the Street about Trump, #5

Friday, February 10, 2017

You Have to Laugh: Voter Fraud

We all know that the Democrats fraudulently rigged the vote for the presidency, right?  That's why Hillary beat Trump in the popular vote:  voter fraud!

I just caught up on one instance of fraudulent registration, and golly gosh, guess whom it concerns?  None other than Gregg Phillips, one of Trump's go-to experts on this topic!  Here's what Salon reported on Jan. 31, 2017--you just have to laugh:

"A man who President Donald Trump has promoted as an authority on voter fraud was registered to vote in multiple states during the 2016 presidential election, the Associated Press has learned.

"Gregg Phillips, whose unsubstantiated claim that the election was marred by 3 million illegal votes was tweeted by the president, was listed on the rolls in Alabama, Texas and Mississippi, according to voting records and election officials in those states. He voted only in Alabama in November, records show.

"In a post earlier this month, Phillips described 'an amazing effort' by volunteers tied to True the Vote, an organization whose board he sits on, who he said found 'thousands of duplicate records and registrations of dead people.'

"Trump has made an issue of people who are registered to vote in more than one state, using it as one of the bedrocks of his overall contention that voter fraud is rampant in the U.S. and that voting by 3 to 5 million immigrants illegally in the country cost him the popular vote in November.

"The AP found that Phillips was registered in Alabama and Texas under the name Gregg Allen Phillips, with the identical Social Security number. Mississippi records list him under the name Gregg A. Phillips, and that record includes the final four digits of Phillips’ Social Security number, his correct date of birth and a prior address matching one once attached to Gregg Allen Phillips. He has lived in all three states.

"At the time of November’s presidential election, Phillips’ status was 'inactive' in Mississippi and suspended in Texas. Officials in both states told the AP that Phillips could have voted, however, by producing identification and updating his address at the polls.

"Citing concerns about voters registered in several states, the president last week called for a major investigation into his claim of voter fraud, despite his campaign lawyer’s conclusion that the 2016 election was 'not tainted.'

"'When you look at the people that are registered, dead, illegal and two states, and some cases maybe three states, we have a lot to look into,' Trump said in an ABC interview [DJT's incoherence; my emphasis]."

Oh, and Mr. President?  While you're investigating this topic, would you mind glancing at how many black and Hispanic votes were suppressed by legislative rulings in the states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas after the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder (2013) that those states no longer needed to comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965?  Just a thought!