First things first: Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!
I am grateful and thankful for all of you, and will have you in mind with each bite of my humane tofu pot pie.
But for now, let’s go amok.
When you watch the impeachment inquiry hearings from Hawaii like I did recently, you know you are an unabashed news nerd, and a pro-Constitution Asian American.
Guilty, as charged.
It was ideal, really. The early bird show in Paradise started at 5 am. You watch till noon, then you hit the beach.
But most people I talked to just skipped the hearings and went to the beach.
Hearings? Impeachment? You want Mai-Tai, brah?
I was a little disappointed. Not one person said to me, “You know that immigrant man in uniform, Lt. Col. Vindman, is a patriotic hunk.”
Or: “Boy, that Fiona Hill made it sound like ‘Masterpiece Impeachment!’ She could read Russian dossiers to me all night!”
And definitely nobody said, “I love that frat-boy potty-mouth, Gordon Sondland. I want him on my team!”
Thanksgiving is just a day in between hearings for Trump.
The Intelligence Committee hearings were overwhelmingly damning. Gordon Sondland was pretty convincing that the orders came from the top and that there was a quid pro quo, though he left a tiny loophole. He said he never heard Trump give him the directive. It was Sondland’s assumption that Trump wanted the aid to Ukraine held up in exchange for dirt on his political opponent.
So Sondland’s testimony was less courageous and patriotic, and more of a “c.y.a” move to cover his sycophantic naivete while playing rookie diplomat.
More courageous and patriotic were the testimonies of Lt. Col. Vindman, the immigrant in uniform, who listened in on that infamous Trump-Zelensky phone call on July 25 and knew something was rotten. His best quote was to deny he was a Never Trumper, but more of a “Never Partisan.”
It’s the answer all Americans should have on the question of impeachment.
Never partisan. Pro-Constitution. Pro-Democracy.
I can’t see a let-up when the Judiciary Committee hearings start next week.
Congressman Ted Lieu will get his facetime, and if you follow Lieu on Twitter, you know the former Air Force veteran and Asian American firebrand will come out swinging.
Trump would be able to come in and testify, if he chooses. Unlikely, but then there goes another fake GOP talking point about no due process, no lawyers, etc. Of course, Trump has essentially obstructed Congress by preventing White House officials from testifying.
What’s the president scared of?
WATCHING FROM PARADISE
Hawaii is the most Asian American state in the union. You can’t get any further from Washington and still be in America.
But from what I can tell, Hawaii confirms what the latest polls show about most of the country. People don’t like to show where they are on impeachment. At best, they are on the fence: 50 percent Humpty. 50 percent Dumpty.
Democrats are far more for impeachment than Republicans, naturally. But everyone’s still not quite engaged in the transcripts and hearings. It’s like they’ll catch whatever’s important on the highlights, if some irrefutable thing emerges.
A smoking gun? Or a buried smoking pig?
Don’t expect it.
Trump and his loyalists don’t concede a point on anything. Not even the truth. They negate and obfuscate at every turn. It’s the perfect defense when the jury is a jaundiced public.
But then the Democrats haven’t been able to sell the truth or expose the Republican defense, which is tantamount to a third-grader’s tantrum, i.e., “Nah-uh!”
That’s the best the GOP has done. That, plus debunked conspiracy theories and remarks like “the money was paid to Ukraine anyway!”
None of it exonerates Trump. It only obscures and confuses the issue.
That issue, of course, is whether the president withheld money allocated by Congress to Ukraine for military aid in exchange for political dirt on the Bidens.
Is making the people’s business personal an abuse of power? Breach of national security? The testimony has been damning.
But Trump and the GOP have convinced the public that the whole thing is a witch hunt or just not worth paying attention to.
THEY WALKED OUT OF MY SPEECH?
Saturday night in Honolulu, I gave a speech before 350 people and started telling Trump jokes, and a handful of people walked out. Of course, nothing I said or did was remotely as offensive as anything Trump has said or done.
Surprisingly, Trump has some support in the Aloha State among Asian Americans, specifically those in the business class. They don’t wear impeachment on their sleeve.
But if the economy is good for them, and for a small portion here as in the mainland it is, they won’t mind hanging with the Trump status quo. A few told me outright they just don’t see what Trump is being charged with as impeachable. Then again, many of them are immigrants from countries where a little corruption and bribery is seen as the standard approach to doing business.
That’s the Trump effect. He has lowered the standards in America for everything.
And as far as civil rights, DACA, travel ban, a border wall? I didn’t much notice any public ruckus. Then again, I was hanging around Filipinos, among the most conservative Asian Americans. After the Vietnamese Americans, there are no stronger Trump supporters in the U.S.
Still, it’s early in the game, and new facts come out every day. All are related in some way to our general state of affairs. Trump’s pardoning of the Navy Seal accused of war crimes hit a nerve for some. When Navy Secretary Richard Spencer revealed discomfort at Trump’s decision, Spencer was forced to resign. There are the OMB officials who saw the withholding of aid as a potential violation of federal law. The same OMB officials indicated that Trump released the aid days after finding out about the whistleblower report.
Bit by bit, new facts come out. But how embarrassing when the GOP ignores them and blindly defends the president with debunked conspiracy theories and witch hunt rhetoric.
It makes the public distrust everything.
If the House does vote to impeach and the trial moves to the Senate, Sen. Mazie Hirono from all her statements is likely a removal vote. So is Obama pal, Sen. Brian Schatz. And that’s still not enough to remove.
With December and January left, Republicans are playing the clock, as well as playing dumb.
The slow pace advantages Republicans unless people stay vigilant and follow every little development. Suggestion: Don’t listen to Trump or read his tweets.
Not if you’re interested in the truth.
When President Trump did the annual turkey pardon, he tried to joke around and make it a light moment.
Naturally, as a vegan, I was thinking about the 46 million turkeys set to be consumed at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Nothing funny about celebrating gratitude with animal death.
Pass the mashed potatoes and tofu pot pie please.
But I did see the humor in watching Trump pardon the two white Carolina turkeys, named Bread and Butter, and wondered if he wasn’t thinking of his own cast of characters, starting with the convicted Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos not to mention those other Trump loyalists awaiting their ultimate fates. Rudy Giuliani? The Ukrainians Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman?
Every last one of them may want the turkey treatment someday.
Maybe even the president himself.
Hang on to the standards we still have. That’s something to be thankful for. Just don’t get sucked in by the impeachment rhetoric, or you might as well say “Aloha, Constitution.”