From Washington, some April Fools’ Day announcements
April 5, 2017 12:00 AM
By Dan Simpson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
I was absolutely stricken to see that my column this week would appear April 5, rather than April 1, April Fools’ Day, one of my favorite events.
When my wife and I were in the Central African Republic, government radio one day announced that a 300-kilogram crocodile had been found in the river and that it was on display in the lobby of the country’s largest hotel. We rushed to the hotel only to be reminded that it was April Fools’ Day. I once more jeopardized my career by sending in a telegram to the Department of State on April 1 announcing that the government of Zaire had constituted a fraud team to enter in the Olympics, citing some of its feats, most of which were true, including a double run of new currency.
So here we go.
1) The White House announced that, at President Donald J. Trump’s instructions, it was establishing a new reading room at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It would contain complete copies of Mr. Trump’s income tax returns for the past decade. Access would be available not only to media representatives but also to the general public. Translations of Russian-language attachments would be provided.
2) Mr. Trump announced that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen in respect of the right to self-determination of the people of those six countries, an American principle first enunciated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Atlantic Charter of 1941. The financial and manpower savings brought about by the withdrawals would be devoted to restoring the integrity of American infrastructure. The president made this announcement during his visit to the site of a bridge collapse from fire on Interstate 85, near Atlanta, last week.
3) Mr. Trump also announced that, as soon as the FBI, Senate and House investigations of Russian involvement in America’s 2016 election campaign had produced a clear picture of exactly what Russia, under the leadership of President Vladimir V. Putin, had done, he would be meeting with the Russian leader twice. The first meeting would be at Mar-a-Lago and then in Mr. Putin’s dacha in the Russian forests. The goal would be to clarify, for both of them as well as for the world, the actual working relationship between them. Mr. Trump would bring California Rep. Devin Nunes; Mr. Putin’s guest would be Syrian President Bashar Assad, for equivalence. (Both are willing to sacrifice their people in pursuit of personal ambition.)
4) The Democratic and Republican parties both announced their dissolution on Saturday, in light of the evidence of complete incoherence on the part of both of them in the wake of their parties’ representatives’ failure both to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and vote on the American Health Care Act (Chumpcare) the week before.
The Republicans cited internal strife among standard Republicans, the Freedom Caucus, deeply experienced as the Party of “No,” and Mr. Trump, who had brought them the White House for the first time since 2004 in the 2016 elections. The Democrats cited irreconcilable differences among the Bernie Sanders and exiled Clinton wings of the party and their inability to gain votes between Nantucket and San Francisco Bay as their reason for dissolving the party.
Both tacitly acknowledged that the role of government in the United States had become that of a vampire bat installed at the jugular vein of the people, as opposed to bringing the population responsible, caring governance. There was no noticeable subsequent expression of grief or regret at the two parties’ disappearance on the part of the American population.
5) A party-less House of Representatives and Senate quickly established a stony-faced commission made up of American Gothic farmers, deep-state bureaucrats and tired basketball fans to put a definitive end to a fatally flawed, gerrymandered Congress by redrawing the constituencies for the 2018 elections. Straight lines on the map and entire disregard of the ethnic, religious, and urban/rural composition of the constituencies is an absolute requirement of the measure, with all results thrown out if any violation of those strictures can be found.
6) Tying up a loose end from the generally politically catastrophic first weeks of the term of the new president, the FBI and House and Senate Intelligence Committees coordinated to respond to the “offer” by retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn to testify before them on his ties to the Russians before, during and after the 2016 elections, prior to his having been sacked as National Security Adviser, if he were granted immunity from prosecution.
In general, U.S. military officers are absolutely resolute in their adherence to two important principles. First, they don’t lie. Mr. Flynn lied, including to the U.S. vice president. Second, they don’t fool around with the enemy. Mr. Flynn not only discussed policy with the Russians, he also was paid tens of thousands of dollars by them.
Thus, I suggest that he be subpoenaed, to testify before the FBI and the two congressional committees under oath, out of uniform, and that, in return, the death penalty be taken off the table if his actions are found to be treasonous. Otherwise, he can’t be prosecuted if he lies, which he has shown a tendency to do in the past.
In any event, Happy April Fools’ Day. Right now, I get the awful feeling that we are the fools and, if we don’t move fast, we are going to feel as if there is no discernible difference between us as Americans and the crocodile-deprived Central Africans and the systematically defrauded Congolese. It’s not necessary. The American structure still contains means to straighten us out and fly right. But we have to do it.
Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor (email@example.com, 412-263-1976).
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