We have had a week in the U.S. when an impeached President delivers a State of the Union address on how America has become great again, and the very next day he is acquitted by the Senate of the same charges. His trial, of course, followed impeachment by the House earlier, as required by the constitution. It is noteworthy that both the Senate and House votes were party-line with the odd exception, meaning that the president’s own party thinks he did not commit any acts amounting to impeachable offenses while the opposition Democrats believe the opposite.
This is what happens when a president is impeached for asking someone to look into the Bidens and Ukraine. How did Hunter Biden become a member of the board of Ukrainian natural gas producer Burisma? He was paid up to $50,000 per month, never attended a board meeting, and is supposed to have advised on best corporate governance. Ironically, Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky has been charged with money laundering, tax violations and acquiring licenses corruptly during Hunter Biden’s tenure. His father was Vice President of the U.S. and to Burisma he carried a powerful name. The situation is not eased by the fact that Vice-President Joe Biden was given a major role in shaping policy towards Ukraine by President Obama.
Lacking clarity on these issues, the Bidens have little to say, and father Joe believes the issue is behind them. Perhaps it is and perhaps Iowans didn’t care. On the other hand, Joe Biden got walloped in Iowa trailing Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders by a wide margin. One cannot write anyone off at this early stage, however, as there are many more primaries to go.
Then there is former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who Trump has promptly labeled, “Mini Mike” for being height-challenged — it didn’t stop Napoleon! With a $60 billion fortune, he can afford to play his own game and also bend the rules like deadlines in Iowa. Will money talk? And will it be a billionaire contest come November?
There is also Pete Buttigieg carrying a name of Maltese origin that means an owner of chickens. Far from it, he is clearly incredibly smart having earned top degrees at Harvard and Oxford. He became a business consultant at McKinsey, the world renowned consulting firm, giving it up eventually for a political career. Consultants profess to making business more profitable and efficient, which can often be read as axing jobs. Let’s hope the habit has died out.
Poor Elizabeth Warren. Her campaign has been in a tail-spin, illustrating the dangers of threatening vested interests: through bankruptcy protection she has taken aim at banks issuing credit cards with predatory interest rates, at healthcare insurers charging excessive premiums with loopholes in coverage, and at Wall Street and student loan sharks. Her targets are unlikely to sit idly by when there is good old Pete.
Bernie Sanders has a following … and a loyal one. The question is can Donald Trump’s behavior help Bernie expand it enough to keep Pete at bay and Mike Bloomberg confined to New York despite his money and ads? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, Trump has allowed a new low-yield nuclear warhead, the W76-2, to be installed alongside the Trident II in stealth submarines. There already are air-launched low-yield nuclear weapons but the subs offer a higher probability of penetration. The five kiloton warhead is one-third the size of the Hiroshima bomb, and was already deployed in secret. However, a leak to the Federation of American Scientists, who released the news to the press, has made it public knowledge. To the extent it increases the temptation to use a nuclear weapon, it also increases the risk of nuclear conflict.
Are any of the Democratic presidential contenders interested?