Sunday, November 24, 2019

The gaslighting of Ukraine.

Vasudevan Kumar | CC0 | Pixabay
Have you ever had a feeling of deja vu while watching a congressional hearing? Probably not. I don't think it has ever happened to me until this week.

This was on Wednesday, during the testimony of Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union. Sondland had already changed his story once. He testified to the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors -- and then after reading about the testimony of some other witnesses, he "corrected" his own original testimony. So his public testimony before the committee last week was his third attempt to tell the truth.

While he was flinging his co-conspirators under the bus left and right, he said something that caught my ear. The comment came under questioning from committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA). Schiff was asking him to confirm that the US was withholding military aid and a White House meeting with President Trump until Ukraine agreed to look into two things: a Russian talking point that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in our 2016 election; and an investigation into corruption involving Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy exploration conglomerate, where Joe Biden's son was on the board of directors.

SCHIFF: He had to get those two investigations if that official act was going to take place, correct?
SONDLAND: [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.
Under further questioning, Sondland explained that the conditions for the announcement kept changing. At first, a statement from the government would be enough. Then the statement would have to come from a Ukrainian official. Then the announcement had to come from Zelensky himself. And he would have to do it in public. Trump wanted Zelensky "in a box," Sondland explained.

I've been in that box.

So this is a story about Basement Guy. You may remember that nickname from Mom's House, as I mentioned him in passing. I had met him in grad school.

When I was still in broadcasting, child care was a constant worry. I worked nutty hours -- often different shifts around the clock in the same week, especially after I went to Mutual-NBC Radio News -- and traditional child care just didn't cut it. I was always having to patch together something in addition to before-school care and after-school care. An au pair would have been perfect, but I couldn't afford to hire one on my salary.

When Basement Guy moved in, I asked him sometimes to watch the kids for me. His son was close in age to my daughters, so I figured it wouldn't be too heavy a lift for him. But he always balked (which in hindsight was a good thing, as he turned out to be a sociopath).

At last he came up with an offer: He would watch my kids for the summer if I'd buy him a truck. A used truck was okay. He was going to spend a couple of weeks in Costa Rica to do research, he said, so I'd have time to find him one while he was gone.

The offer appealed to me because a) I needed the help and b) he'd been using my car. So I said okay. I even asked a friend who had a friend who frequented auto auctions to keep an eye out for a truck for BG.

But then his request kept changing. He didn't just want any old truck -- he wanted a Ford F-150. It had to be black. It couldn't be any older than a certain model year. It could be a work truck, but not too beat up, and the seat shouldn't be all sat out. And he told his son about how cool it would be when I picked him up at the airport in his new-to-him truck.

In short, he was setting me up to fail. He'd boxed me in. The odds of my finding the specific truck he was looking for were slim to none. The friend-of-a-friend's report confirmed my misgivings: There were no trucks like that at the auction.

So I picked up BG at the airport in my car. He insisted that he drive, so I moved over and let him take the wheel. On the way back to my place, he said, "I guess you didn't get me a truck."

"No, I didn't," I said.

He was silent for a few moments. Then he said, "Well, I wasn't going to watch your kids this summer anyway."

Which is how I know in my gut that Trump was never going to give Ukraine the military aid, and he was never going to give him the White House visit. There would always be one more condition put on the things that were so valuable to Zelensky -- one more "favor to ask, though."

The only reason Ukraine got the military aid in the end is because of the whistleblower. The one who uncovered Trump's scheme to gaslight a foreign government in order to get dirt on a domestic political rival. The one Trump wants to meet face-to-face.

I hope that whistleblower is already in witness protection.

The NaNo project continues apace. I got behind this week due to having a life (how dare I!) but I caught up a bit yesterday. I'm less than 15,000 words away from winning, which is totally doable, given I'll be off work starting Thursday for Thanksgiving.

In fact, let me get on that...

These moments of bloggy deja vu have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and fans!

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