Call me cynical, but I don’t think Mitch McConnell and his buddies are entirely on the up-and-up about doing “impartial justice” in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.
Trump is the guy who promised America during his 2016 presidential campaign that, unlike Barack Obama, he would be so busy that he wouldn’t have time to play golf. “I’m not going to have time to go golfing, believe me,” he said in August of that year. “Believe me. Believe me, folks.”
As it happens, though, Trump has spent one out of every five days since taking office on one of his own golf courses, accruing better than $100 million in travel and security costs, all paid for by U.S. tax payers. Probably sensing that a full cost-accounting relative to the Secret Service details accompanying these outings would prove embarrassing to Trump as he lumbers through his 2020 re-election campaign, Treasury Secretary Seth Mnuchin wants to hide those numbers from public view until after election day, the latest example of the administration’s contempt for transparency and accountability.
As Trump and his White House stumble toward war (or not … who knows with this crowd?) with Iran, the administration faces a real credibility crisis. After all, the president has a well-deserved reputation of lying, so how are we or our allies (or our enemies, even) to know if he’s now being forthright? After all, when you’ve lost a stalwart enabler like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), things are not looking up.
Fortunately for Trump, he’ll always have Fox News’ shoulder to cry on.
With Trump’s decision to kill Iranian General (and widely acknowledged bad guy) Qassem Soleimani, the United States has effectively swatted the Middle East hornets’ nest. Few outside the region will mourn Soleimani — effectively the nation’s second in command — who had built a career deploying proxy forces that brutally advanced Iran’s expansionist aspirations. He was directly involved in killing or wounding of hundreds of Americans during the second Iraq War, helping supply insurgents with high-tech roadside bombs and other weapons. The world is arguably a better place without Soleimani in it.
But … the same argument was made years ago regarding Saddam Hussein, and the current wave of war and bloodshed washing over the Middle East is the direct result of the heedless American-led invasion of Iraq that removed him from power. Given Trump’s demonstrated aversion to detailed strategic planning, and that his White House has driven off diplomatic and military experts, denigrated NATO, and alienated the country’s longtime international allies, I suspect that even less thought was put into the Soleimani killing than George W. Bush’s Iraq adventure.
It’s an election year, though, and killing Muslim bad guys — regardless of potential fallout — plays well with Trump’s base. That it also pushes his impeachment trial off page one for a while is likely icing on the cake.
State Auditor-General Eugene DePasquale’s plan to audit the sale of Scranton’s Sewer Authority might not come to fruition. Thanks to funding cuts by the GOP-controlled legislature, the activist Democrat (and current congressional candidate in Pennsylvania’s 10th District) says he lacks the manpower to pursue every audit in the state.
Employing bluster, insults, Twitter and a heedless disregard for the constitution and the rule of law, Donald barreled headlong toward an impeachment he seems to relish, enabled by his angry white base of support and a spineless Republican Party.
Meanwhile, Roger Stone became the latest Trump associate found guilty for activities related to the 2016 election, anti-vaxxers embraced ignorance in much the same way as the president, Trump’s tariffs did more harm than good, racism and xenophobia remained motivating factors for Trump and toadies like adviser Stephen Miller, Joe Biden loaded his baggage into the 2020 Democratic primary Prius, Facebook refused to screen its political ads for lies and disinformation, The NRA was shown to be fleecing its flock, pedophile priests continued to vex the Catholic Church, and the Brexit battle rolled along with no end in sight.
Another year passes in the Lackawanna Valley, leaving in its wake that sorts of news stories we’re accustomed to: those of political corruption, or simple corrupt incompetence. The biggest story of the year was the arrest and conviction of erstwhile Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright on federal corruption charges, an event accompanied by a blizzard of state raids and subpoenas focusing on malfeasance in the Scranton School District.
Meanwhile, city voters elected Paige Cognetti to complete Courtright’s unfinished term (making her the first woman to hold that post), Scranton taxpayers learned the ugly details of what it will take to rescue the city’s school district, former SSD official Gregg Sunday was able to keep his pension despite a state corruption conviction, the city mulled selling its dilapidated city hall, garbage fees and property taxes continued to be ignored by landlords like Ken Bond and others, the city struggled to account for the use of its vehicles and employee gas cards, County Commissioner Patrick O’Malley was shown the door following his loss in the primary election, Dunmore residents battled Louis DeNaples’ plans to expand Keystone Landfill and a compliant state DEP, and Bob Bolus tried to con voters into throwing their mayoral votes away.
Pending appeal, Scranton is stuck filling a stocking it hasn’t the means to.