I’m in Hawaii to give a speech on being a die-hard ethnic media journalist and a First Amendment Asian American (which one has to presume is better than being an Asian American forced to take the Fifth).
I’ve paid the price.
Which is why I’m shopping at the ABC store, where I found a unique novelty item—a fighting Donald Trump pen.
Is the pen mightier than the sword? If not, at least this one talks.
It’s a fighting, talking Trump head with small boxing gloves, of course.
It’s Donald Trump on a stick.
It delivers both a physical uppercut and a boast, all with the flick of a switch.
A one man “Rock’em Sock’em Robot” that talks and writes. But doesn’t read.
“Good people don’t go into government,” it says as it delivers a blow with its left.
Another flick, and the right punches while the head says,” “I am the smartest guy I know.”
There are more quotes from the Trump Hall of Shame.
Best laugh, the label: Made in China.
But tariff free?
For me the pen put Trump in his place. And it’s perfect to take notes while watching this week’s impeachment hearings.
Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland is up this week. When we see him say there was an “aid for political dirt” deal, will that close the deal for you? Will Lt. Col Alexander Vindman saying the quid pro quo is real connect?
At the ABC checkout, I asked the clerk at the register if she was watching the impeachment hearings.
“Uhh, no,” she said. “I’m Filipino.”
“But American though, yah? Citizen, yah?” I said in my acclimated pidgin.
She said she would rather watch Filipino movies on TV.
Of course, you dear readers are watching, yah?
If not, here’s a test.
Can you name this country? It has a centuries-old history highlighted in modern times by a journalist’s murder; the invasion and takeover by multiple foreign powers; and a people’s revolt protesting a government bereft of corruption and cronyism.
Sounds like the Philippines.
But I’m talking about Ukraine.
And now its history includes someone who looks vaguely like Cory Aquino.
If you were looking for a must-see-TV impeachment hearing hero, then it is the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
I don’t know her politics. She’s served under Republicans and Democrats alike. More than 30 years.
She is apolitical in a good way.
Don’t look for smoking guns in these hearings to connect.
Look for the emotion.
As she testified, the bespectacled Yovanovitch brought out real emotion describing how on orders of the White House, she was given one day to leave her post. Despite an exemplary record, she was yanked unceremoniously. No reasons given. Then, in the aftermath, Yovanovitch described how Trump intimidated and threatened her in published comments, and in that July 25th phone call.
As if to corroborate her testimony, Trump was actually live tweeting his disdain of Yovanovitch, essentially conducting a smear campaign in real time.
Did the president realize he was intimidating a witness and any other witnesses who may yet testify? Or did he think that was normal in an America where he sees himself as above the law?
It simply underscored Yovanovitch’s emotional story, which she told with that steely diplomatic restraint. Hard and soft at the same time.
And it all happened as the news broke that Roger Stone, another Trump confederate, was convicted in DC federal court.
As Trump is watching the hearings, three of his associates have been convicted: Campaign chair Paul Manafort, personal attorney Michael Cohen and now his confidant Roger Stone. All guilty.
It’s as if the glass windows are falling from the towers.
Will Trump pardon them all? And we haven’t even gotten to all the Rudy Giuliani back-channel activity with indicted corrupt buddies Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who incidentally made contributions to Trump’s campaign.
All in due time.
Trump’s miseries are only beginning.
For now, if you missed Yovanovitch, you’ll have to binge watch her testimony online or read the transcript.
But it doesn’t have the full impact emotionally unless you know a little more about Ukraine and its proud people. And how they continue to struggle economically as they fight the threat of Russia.
Bill Taylor’s testimony was riveting for his avuncular nature corroborating key details and the revelation of a second phone call where Trump’s voice was overheard.
But the Yovanovitch testimony provides the emotion of a diplomat scorned. Binge on that. And then read up on Ukraine’s history.
UKRAINE’S HISTORY MORE COMPLICATED THAN IMPEACHMENT
If you think following all the impeachment details are complex, you should read through Ukrainian history.
If you can’t find it on the map or know its history, don’t worry. Wikipedia will give you a thumbnail. You’ll just need a lot of thumbs.
You’ll be surprised to learn that Ukraine’s history goes back to 43,000-45,000 B.C.
Ukraine has a long rich resume through the centuries that includes multiple invasions and even mass starvation.
Through both World Wars, Ukraine has always been someone’s political football, and ultimately became a part of the Soviet Union. But in 1991, it became free and independent once again.
And that’s when things get interesting in terms of what a free Ukraine means to modern Americans.
George Kent, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, was the very first witness last week. He referred to Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity in 2014, when the people forced a corrupt pro-Russian leadership into retreat to Moscow. Russia then invaded Ukraine occupying a part of the nation the size of Texas.
And the Ukrainian people went amok.
“They formed volunteer battalions of citizens, including technology professionals and medics. They crowd-sourced funding for their own weapons, body armor, and supplies. They were the 21st century Ukrainian equivalent of our own Minutemen in 1776, buying time for the regular army to reconstitute. Since then, more than 13,000 Ukrainians have died on Ukrainian soil defending their territorial integrity and sovereignty from Russian aggression. American support in Ukraine’s own de facto war of independence has been critical in this regard.”
Kent talked about a thirst for justice and rule of law that remains after the Revolution of Dignity. He simplified it all and explained it in a way all good Americans could relate to.
Trump got in the way of a fight for freedom.
That’s why you should care and be outraged at what President Trump is accused of doing.
Trump used tax dollars intended for Ukraine’s defense as a bargaining chip to help himself.
It boils down to a simple act of bribery, an impeachable offense, according to the Constitution.
If only my Donald Trump-on-a-stick included one of his current inanities, “It was a perfect call.”
That would make my new Trump pen perfect.
VIETNAMESE AMERICANS RESIST
Among Asian Americans in general, the elephants in the room clearly are the Vietnamese—judging from the AALDEF nonpartisan exit poll released this weekend after the Nov. 16 Louisiana gubernatorial election.
Vietnamese Americans are known as the most Republican amongst us, but how loyal would they be when a big election coincides with the first round of intense impeachment hearings?
They aren’t budging.
In New Orleans where 68 percent of the Asians polled the majority Vietnamese) are registered Republicans, if the election were held today Donald Trump would get 75 percent of their vote; Joe Biden 7 percent; any other Republican 6 percent; Bernie Sanders at 3 percent; Elizabeth Warren, 2 percent; Any other party/Independent 2 percent; Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigeig, Kamala Harris, all with 1 percent each.
And when asked if the U.S. House of Representatives should proceed with an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, 71 percent said no, with only 14 percent saying yes. Fourteen percent said they didn’t know.
If they stay loyal after this week’s impeachment testimony, I need to get them some Trump pens.