Category Archives: Fog Of Scandal

Cohen Family Values

This post title may be ironic but it contains a kernel of truth. Trump’s former fixer spent a good deal of time in his remarks at his sentencing hearing discussing the importance of family and his regrets at having let them down. Bigly.

Cohen’s family values are also the best explanation for his limited co-operation with the Southern District of New York. I spent too much time Wednesday watching MSNBC and listening to pundits and legal experts alike discuss this “mystery.” There’s a simple explanation: both Cohen and his brother married into families with extensive ties to the Ukrainian and Russian mobs. It’s unclear if they’re gangsters or associates, but they’re connected. Flipping on them would not only blow up Cohen’s family, it would be hazardous to his health. There’s no mystery there at all.

Additionally, Cohen’s uncle runs a social club in Brooklyn that’s frequented by wise guys from the former Soviet Union. The Fixer sold his stake in the club after Trump’s fluke election victory. At the very least, Cohen’s uncle is a mob associate. To put it in terms that Sopranos fans will get: he’s the Artie Bucco of the story. Artie was, of course, Tony’s childhood friend whose eatery Vesuvio was a hangout for the fictional Jersey mob. Artie was a hapless schmo and sporadic wise guy wannabe, which is how Cohen is perceived by many in the MSM.

The mistake the MSM has made in covering  the Trump scandals is that they’ve treated it as strictly a political story. It’s really the story of how a career criminal was elected president* by defrauding the voters. It’s a crime story. The victim is the American people.

I think all the wise men and women on cable news should read Josh Marshall. He’s been on top of the Cohen/mob story since the Spring of 2017. In case you’ve missed his coverage, here are links to some of Josh’s Cohen stories:

From February 26, 2017: It’s All So Confusing.

From March 1, 2017: Piecing Together The Michael Cohen Story.

From April 17, 2018: The Closer I Get.

From April 18, 2018: Cohen-ology Pays Off After All.

It’s all there, y’all. It explains why Michael Cohen cannot offer the sort of co-operation demanded by the SDNY. They expect co-operators to discuss *every* crime a witness is familiar with, not just their own malefactions. Cohen would rather spend 3 years in jail than deal with the shitstorm that would ensue if he flipped on his friends and family from Brooklyn and Brighton Beach. Who the hell can blame him?

Having explained why I believe Cohen will never sign a full co-operation deal with the SDNY, working with Team Mueller is an entirely different kettle of fish. Cohen seems willing to spill everything he knows about Donald Trump. Those bridges are burned and the only way Trumpberius can hurt Cohen now is with his mouth and tweets. Cohen doesn’t give a shit about that any more. He’s done covering up for the Insult Comedian’s “dirty deeds.”

The last word (image?) goes to my First Draft colleague Michael F:

Quote Of The Day: Repulsion Edition

I wish I had read Frank Bruni’s column about the Ayers rejection before writing my Staff Infection post. I would have quoted it then. There’s no time like the present:

It’s about how he behaves — and the predictable harvest of all that nastiness. While other presidents sought to hone the art of persuasion, he revels in his talent for repulsion: how many people he attacks (he styles this as boldness); how many people he offends (he pretties this up as authenticity); how many people he sends into exile. His administration doesn’t have alumni so much as refugees. H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn and Reince Priebus are a dumbfounded diaspora all their own.

Careerists who would normally pine for top jobs with a president assess his temper, behold his tweets, recall the mortifications of Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson, and run for the hills. Trump sits at the most coveted desk in the world, but almost no one wants to pull up a chair.

I’ve gone round and round on the subject of Trump’s atrocious manners with people who insist they matter less than his awful policies. They matter equally. Exit polls after the midterms indicated that many suburban swing voters turned against Trump because of his unpresidential behavior. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

Shame is a powerful thing. Trump is shameless but a majority of Americans are ashamed of having this obnoxious creep in the White House. He shows no signs of understanding that a president who takes a “shellacking” in the midterms needs to reach out and broaden their base. It’s what Reagan did after 1982 and Obama after 2010. Trump is obsessed with his base, which is one reason why he’s politically doomed. I’m not sure when his demise will come or what form it will take, but it’s coming.

The last word goes to Country Joe McDonald:

Staff Infection

Photo via Vanity Fair.

I used to think the Bush-Cheney administration was the most incompetent of my lifetime. But they occasionally looked as if they knew what they were doing. That’s something that can never be said of the Trump regime. If there’s a way to fuck something up, they’ll find it. It reminds me of a venerable military acronym: FUBAR. That stands for “fucked up beyond all recognition” although there’s a G-Rated version that substitutes “fouled up.” Fuck that version: Team Trump is fucking up the country, not fouling up, the foul stench emanating from the White House notwithstanding.

The ongoing saga of John Kelly’s departure from the White House is the best example of Trump’s staff infection. Kelly’s firing has been rumored since March but he’s become the Trump regime’s Keith Richards: a human cockroach who refuses to die.

The Kelly gag was perfected on Sunday when the guy who was expected to replace him, Nick Ayers, turned the job down. Hilarity and chaos ensued. Ayers is Pence’s chief of staff and a greedy hustler who wants to return to the private sector to cash in on his White House connections.

There are manifold reasons for Ayers to leave. Trump’s legal woes have led to an exodus of staffers who don’t want to have massive legal bills. Reporters have started asking Ayers questions about how a 36-year-old political consultant has amassed a vast fortune. The shortest reason is a classic: rats flee sinking ships. And Ayers is a blonde rat with a blonde wife and a blonde family. One could even call his life story Blonde Ambition but I think Reese Witherspoon would object. Who could blame her?

The main reason the Kelly exit is so FUBAR is because the train is being driven by the Slumlord and the Princess. Make that trainwreck:

After Nick Ayers, the Georgia political operative who was the president’s top pick, declined the job — something of a plot twist in a presidency notorious for its episodic cliffhangers — Mr. Trump is without a Plan B. Several of his aides expressed frustration that months of intense campaigning to replace John F. Kelly — an effort led by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s elder daughter and son-in-law — resulted in yet another chaotic staffing scramble in a White House splintered by factions and rife with turnover.

“Why would anybody want to be Donald Trump’s chief of staff unless you want to steal the office supplies before they shut the place down?” said Chris Whipple, who wrote a book on White House chiefs of staff called “The Gatekeepers,” expressing the views of many outside the White House about Mr. Kelly’s job. “If you’re coming into that job, you’ve got to lawyer up.”

The Other Mr. Whipple knows his shit. Javanka should have squeezed the political Charmin before assuming that Ayers would do their bidding. This was a shit show even for Team Trump.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m on about, here’s one of the “don’t squeeze the Charmin ads” featuring Mr. Whipple that ran for some 20 years:

The terlet paper analogy is apt. The Trump regime seems to be circling the bowl right now. His legal situation is dire and nobody reputable wants to be his chief of staff. Leo McGarry weeps. Perhaps Trump should hire an EMT for the job, they’re used to running toward danger.

As someone who watched a certain shitty reality show so you didn’t have to, I have some suggestions for the next chief of staff among Celebrity Apprentice contestants:

  • Gary Busey would appeal to the Trump base; ain’t no man whiter or angrier than Gary Busey.
  • In the unlikely event that the president* wants to expand his base and appeal to black voters, there’s always dreadlock wearing rapper Lil Jon.
  • If Trump wants to retain the support of Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy, Meat Loaf is his man.

A side benefit of the latest White House shitshow is that it’s serving up an extra dose of humiliation for the ultimate Trump dignity wraith, John Kelly. The retired general has been behind Trump’s horrific immigration and detention policies from the git go. Instead of being the adult in the room, he was the other bigot in the room.

I will never forgive Kelly for lying about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and dismissing her as an “empty barrel.” John Kelly has reached the bottom of the barrel. I hope he drinks deeply of the dregs and sickens himself.

Team Trump’s staff infection shows why nepotism is frowned upon in our government. The Slumlord and the Princess may be grand in a way that their cruder fathers never will be, but they haven’t the foggiest idea of what they’re doing.

As Trump’s legal woes mount and his popularity plummets, he will rely more and more on Javanka’s bad advice. The FUBAR watch remains in effect for the duration. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. Believe me.

Your President* Speaks: Smocking Gun Edition

I swore off doing these posts because the Insult Comedian says and tweets stupid shit pretty much every day. In the wake of his own personal Black Friday, he’s been tweeting up a flop sweat storm. There have been several instant classics, so I decided to bite the bullet much like Neil Young in this song:

We’ll proceed in reverse chronological order. The first panic tweet is a two-parter.

A smocking gun? Is that a cross between smoke and smock or mock and smoke? In either case, it’s eminently mockable.  Try singing this song as Smocking Gun:

Our second entry is the Insult Comedian’s dickish assault on the Senior Senator from the nutmeg state:

You’re planning to travel with the Dick? Will you have spotted dick for dessert?

Now that the Trump-Macron bromance is over, the president* has turned on the younger handsomer man:

The riots aren’t about the Paris climate change agreement. And the rioters are certainly not shouting “we want Trump.” If they were, I’d be more than glad to send him to Paris. It’s time for another marginally relevant musical interlude:

It’s rich for Mister Bone Saw’s best buddy to talk about “questionably run” countries. I bet some of those dictators know how to get away with paying off their side-chicks without getting caught. MBS would just have them killed and dismembered. Perhaps they’d use one of these:

I need the musical interludes to retain what little sanity I still have left. Besides, One Night In Paris is about an American procuring Parisian prostitutes.

Finally, the Insult Comedian had some twitter tea for the Tillerson:

This is, of course, classic Trump projection. He’s the one who’s “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.” I guess  that makes Mike Pompeo “very legal and very cool.” Sycophants always are. I just realized that made no sense: Trump disease is very very contagious.

Tillerson may not be my cup of tea but he’s an engineer who rose to the top of a massive oil company. He’s an arrogant asshole but not as dumb as a rock. Trump wins that particular trifecta.

The last word (image?) goes to Michael F:

The Fog Of Scandal: Hey Nineteen

I’m one of the Mueller probe’s staunchest supporters and biggest fans. They inadvertently gave me an early Christmas gift: Michael Flynn met nineteen times with Team Mueller. That allowed me to use a Steely Dan song as the title of this post. The late Walter Becker, Donald Fagen, and I would like to thank Bobby Three Sticks. I somehow doubt he’d get the joke. He’s a good man but not known for his sense of humor. He’s closer to a Bodhisattva than a Gaucho. Hey, Bodhisattva is the B-side of Hey Nineteen, so it’s kinda sorta relevant. End of egregious Steely Dan reference.

Mike Flynn is the most interesting person to get caught up the fog of Trump’s scandals. He’s more like a tragic Graham Greene or John LeCarre character than a typical Trump associate. He’s the only Kremlingate figure who is not a lifelong dirtbag. Instead, he’s a highly decorated army intelligence officer who rose to the rank of Lieutenant General: that’s 3 stars for us civilians. He was essentially a good person for the first 50 years of his life. It’s a truism that when people like that go wrong, they go all the way.

Things started to go sideways when Flynn landed a desk job at the Pentagon as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn was a swashbuckling field officer, not an administrator skilled at keeping the paper moving. It was as if Hawkeye Pierce had been put in charge of running all the MASH units in Korea. He was a surgeon, not a bureaucrat.

Flynn was a fish out of water at the DIA who was fired amid allegations of emotionally abusive treatment of his subordinates. He was so embittered that he went from moderate Democrat to an Islamophobic wingnut. His open bitterness toward the president who hired and fired him, Barack Obama, made him easy pickings for Russian intelligence.

Flynn’s post-DIA behavior was disgraceful. His full-blown paranoia about Islamic extremism landed him in the Trump campaign. He traveled extensively with the candidate; more often than not he was seated next to the irascible and unstable Trump. He was considered something of a Trump whisperer.

Like pretty much everyone else in Trump’s orbit, Flynn expected to lose the election. His plan was to cash in as a lobbyist for Turkey, which led to his role in a proposed scheme to kidnap the Turkish dissident, Fetullah Gullen. Team Trump looked into deporting Gullen not long ago. These machinations *could* discussed in the redacted portions of the sentencing memo.

I nearly called this post Sympathy for the Devil. Flynn’s post-DIA conduct has involved, lying, cheating, scheming, and scamming. Flynn’s descent to hell was accelerated by his exposure to Trumpberius. Flynn is the most tragic of Trump’s many dignity wraiths. His life was turned to shit by his time on the campaign and 24 days as National Security Adviser.

Flynn’s sentencing memo details his crimes but discusses the extent of his co-operation with the Special Counsel’s Office. The recommendation for no jail time indicates he sang like Sinatra and may well have expressed contrition and shame over his wicked, wicked ways. FYI, My Wicked Wicked Ways was the title of Errol Flynn’s memoirs. End of obligatory Errol Flynn reference.

I liked how the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman characterized Flynn’s plea.

Watching the Flynn plea play out will be fascinating. It’s a pity that cameras aren’t allowed in federal courts. I’d love to see for myself if my “Mike Flynn as repentant criminal” theory holds water. The mere fact that his sentencing will take place *before* investigations pertaining to it conclude, is an indication of sincerity, good faith, and contrition.

Donald Trump is clearly afraid of Mike Flynn’s testimony. As of this writing, the disgraced General and Vladimir Putin are among the few who have not been given the Insult Comedian treatment. Trump’s house of cards continues to teeter. It may well lead to my best case scenario Mueller probe outcome: a grand family plea bargain that results in a presidential* resignation. That’s rank speculation but it’s what pundits do.

The last word goes to (who else?) Steely Dan:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Deportee (Plane Crash At Los Gatos)

Roots by Frida Kahlo

I’ve been following the horrific events at the US-Mexico border. After a few weeks of relative quiet on the caravan front, the Insult Comedian has ramped up the war of words in this fake crisis. He added a new weapon to his usual arsenal of hot air and bullshit: tear gas. Trump claimed that it was “very safe tear gas” but there’s no such thing, especially since they tear gassed babies. Exposure to tear gas has detrimental effects on childhood development. It’s some nasty shit. I was exposed to tear gas in the Paris Metro many years ago. I don’t recall what the protest was about, but I recall feeling woozy, raspy, and weepy for hours after being tear gassed. I guess it wasn’t the “very safe” kind that Trump is so proud of. #sarcasm

Trump’s ridiculous claim that tear gas is “very safe” reminds me of an encounter with one of my Greek Greek relatives. I called him Theo (Uncle) Panos but he was married to my father’s  cousin. He was a proud and boisterous man who had a small business making and selling taverna-type chairs in the Monastiriki district in old Athens. He believed that everything Greek was the best. It was one reason he and Lou got on so well. I’ll never forget dining al fresco one evening with Panos and his family. There were flies swarming and  I kept shooing them away. Panos laughed and said, “Don’t worry. In Greece, the flies are clean and very safe.”

This week’s theme song was written in 1948 by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman in protest of the racist treatment of Mexican nationals who perished in a plane crash in Los Gatos, California. 32 people died: 4 Americans and 28 Mexican migrant workers who were being deported to Mexico. The media of the day listed the names of the dead Yanquis but referred to the Mexicans solely as deportees.

Sometimes the “crash” in the title is replaced with “wreck” but the song remains the same. Deportee (Plane Crash at Los Gatos) is one of the great protest songs and has been recorded many times over the last 70 years.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Woody Guthrie, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Gilmore, and Nancy Griffith.

Now that we’ve been deported, it’s time to jump to the break. We’ll try not to crash-land but I make no guarantees. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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The Fog Of Scandal: Individual 1

Image by Michael F

Thursdays are rarely important. But Thursday November 29, 2018 is the day that Donald Trump’s legal house of cards began to collapse. It was no surprise to this blogger: it was jerry-rigged and built on a rickety foundation of lies and greed.

I’ve used my friend and colleague Michael F’s images before but never the next day. The image above and the post title House Of Cads, seem almost premonitive in the wake of Michael Cohen’s latest guilty plea.. Yo, Michael, if you have any lottery number suggestions, I’m all ears.

Individual 1 is, of course, Donald J Trump, accidental president* and sleazy real estate developer. His story about the unconsummated deal for a Trump Tower Moscow was exposed as a lie yesterday. We don’t just have the former Fixer’s word for it: there are digital recordings and documents. Cohen’s bill of information is, well, informative.

Cohen pled guilty to lying to Congress. He lied out of loyalty to Individual 1 who went into full Insult Comedian mode upon learning of the plea. He called his former Fixer “not very smart” and a “very weak person.” There’s that word again.

This morning Trumpberius tweeted about his Russia un-deal:

He forgot to invoke McCarthyism, which is always hilarious given that his mentor Roy Cohn was Tailgunner Joe’s right-hand man.

I’ve had some semi-heated discussions with people about charging Trumpers with lying to Congress. People tend to be dismissive about perjury. It’s a sign of the times: lying is in fashion. Lying under oath is never “very legal & very cool.” A reminder that lying to the Senate Watergate Committee was one of the charges that brought down Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Mitchell. Are you listening, Junior?

The Mueller investigation is unfolding like a long running teevee drama; more like The Sopranos than The Godfather. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg but with each new court filing Team Trump melts a bit more. As Josh Marshall put it: “They all lied. They’re all guilty.”

Life Imitates The Godfather: Paulie, Won’t See Him No More

Clemenza and Paulie Gatto in The Godfather

There’s something about the Manafort-Trump relationship that makes me think of gangster movies. Imagine that. During Manafort’s trial, the Insult Comedian rhapsodized about Al Capone as a stand-up guy, so naturally I wrote a post called Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort?

I’ve tried to avoid Godfather references in order to stand out from the mobster movie analogy crowd. And I realize the Clemenza-Paulie Gatto analogy is imperfect because Paulie G was whacked for betraying his Don whereas Paulie M first betrayed, then stood by Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto. I should apologize for that long sentence but it would break my momentum. I don’t mess around with either Jim or Big Mo. The Seventies references are really flying today.

Now that I’ve Godfathered the hell out of you, let’s turn our attention to the Manafort at hand. After weeks of quiet, the Manafort case has exploded. Team Mueller pulled out of its plea deal with Manafort because of his incessant lying. Imagine that. Then, it got messier when the Failing New York Times broke the story that Manafort’s lawyer has been briefing Trump’s lawyers about their discussions with Team Mueller. There *was* a co-operation agreement between Teams Manafort and Trump but such deals usually end with a plea bargain. This is sleazier than hell but may not be illegal. It may, however, be actionable by the relevant bar association. Stay tuned.

Making matters even stranger is that mob buster turned wartime consigliere Rudy Giuliani was the source for the bombshell NYT story. We’ve gone from Gatto to Gotti in a heartbeat, a lovebeat. It’s unclear if Rudy did this out of an inability to NOT brag about the contacts or because he’s a stupid twat who thinks this helps his client’s case. It does not. It makes Trump look guilty. But Team Trump agrees with Tricky Dick:

This gambit is classic Manafort. He’s an expert at playing both ends against the middle. It’s why he’s in the jam he’s in today. But at least Trumpy loves him again.

I agree with those who think Manafort is playing for a pardon. He’s also playing the long game. Even for Trump, it’s politically impossible to pardon Manafort before the 2020 election. In his more lucid moments, the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover has admitted that a Manafort pardon would be disastrous politically. Of course, his idiot client is quite capable of impulsively issuing one just to blow shit up. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

There are many Manafortian theories out there. Former US Attorney, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and MSNBC legal eagle, Harry Litman, has written a must read op-ed analyzing them. Unlike Litman, I believe that Manafort has a legitimate fear of being whacked by Russian spooks or wise guys in jail. It’s why he’s in solitary. It’s a plot line straight out of  The Americans.

The other Manafort news involves a story in the Guardian describing three meetings between him and albino devil Julian Assange. Many have discounted the story because of its sourcing. It *is* possible that the Guardian got played but the suspicion of the story strikes me as rank provincialism. The Guardian is one of the world’s great newspapers so its stories should be accorded the same respect as those in the NYT or WaPo. Besides, its sourcing is quite similar to many Woodstein Watergate stories. I also think the Steele Dossier implicitly supports the story. Stay tuned.

I’m used to making Watergate or Iran-Contra references about the DC scandal of the day. I am, however, unused to comparing our politics to gangster movies. What can I tell ya? I call them as I see them.

The last word goes to Corleone Caporegime Peter Clemenza:

Sorry for the last word fib, but I would be remiss in my duties as a mob movie maven if I didn’t post Clemenza’s lines after Paulie G met his maker:

Trump’s Sordid Saudi Word Salad

I guess the Insult Comedian hadn’t heard about the decline and recall of the Romaine empire when he issued his appalling statement about the Saudis and their murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The statement is pure word salad, peppered with Satan’s punctuation: 8 exclamation points. The late language maven William Safire weeps as do I.

Trump is proud of this illiterate, immoral, incoherent, and imbecilic statement.  It continues his seemingly endless race to the bottom, which has the nation’s moral compass spinning out of control. It was dictated by the president* to enable the Saudi dictator. Sad.

In this despicable document, Trump informs us that money matters more than the truth, human life, or national honor. None of this is surprising but if we lose the capacity to be shocked by the baseness of this president* he has won. I dislike the clunky word normalization, but if  it ever fit a situation this is it.

Trumpberius and Slumlord Jared are all in on Mohammad bin Salman. In fact, Crown Prince MBS is making the already awful Saudi dictatorship even worse. It’s moving from a family owned, consensus oriented authoritarian state to one man rule. That’s why nobody believes his claims about the Khashoggi killing. Not even Trump, but as far as he’s concerned, it doesn’t matter:

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that — this is an unacceptable and horrible crime.

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

Trump claims that there are 450 billion reasons why we should turn a blind eye to this act of barbarism. He is, of course, full of shit on the details, but it does not matter. The Saudi dictatorship butchered a legal US resident for the “crime” of being a dissident writer. That’s all that matters.

I’m grateful to whoever leaked the story of the CIA’s Khashoggi report. Perhaps the same person leaked this appalling story to NBC last week:

The White House is looking for ways to remove an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests.

Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.

The effort includes directives to the Justice Department and FBI that officials reopen Turkey’s case for his extradition, as well as a request to the Homeland Security Department for information about his legal status, the four people said.

The Trump regime subsequently denied the story but such denials ring hollow in the face of its overt hostility to human rights, and our country’s tradition of being a safe haven for dissidents. We should never extradite dissidents to their country of origin to face execution. We should never even consider doing so to help *another* dictator out of a jam. This is, in a word, reprehensible.

It’s indisputable that the American record on human rights is a mixed bag. We’ve done more than our share of dictator coddling BUT we’ve always aspired to be better. Even past “tough guy” leaders paid lip service to human rights This makes Trump and his lackeys worse than John Foster Dulles, Richard Nixon, or Dick Cheney. “Worse than Cheney” is not something anyone should want to hear about themselves. Trump, of course, hears nothing and learns even less.

I was raised by my parents to be proud of my country and tolerant of its flaws. I am ashamed to be an American right now. It hurts to say that but I know we can and will do better in the future.

The last word goes to Randy Newman:

The Fog Of Scandal: More Trouble Every Day

Donald Trump insists on being the center of attention even when it’s not in his best interest. His post-election presser was a tangle of pathology. I’ve never seen a party leader trash losing candidates by name. Their sin was a refusal to imbibe this:

Image by Michael F.

Candidates who swilled the nasty shit down also lost House races. Trump’s raw naked emotion yesterday was yet another failure of leadership. It also drew attention to the GOP’s poor performance in House races. The election may not have been the repudiation of Trumpism we hoped for BUT it was a stinging rebuke.

The Insult Comedian once again proved that he’s a fake tough guy by refusing to announce Jeff Bo’s “resignation” at the presser. It would have interfered with yelling at reporters. A genuine tough guy wouldn have faced the media shitstorm head on. The irony is that Jeff Bo was shitcanned for doing the ONLY decent thing he did as Attorney General: recuse himself from overseeing the Kremlingate probe. As to Trumpberius: he’s a pussy, he should grab himself.

The much feared slow motion Saturday Night Massacre began yesterday with the appointment of Iowa cornholer Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General. I saw him misdescribed as a loyalist and a crony. Whitaker is lackey who was appointed solely to attack the Mueller probe.

Whitaker’s Trumpworld sponsor is Sam Clovis who also brought Carter Page and George Papadopolous to that deranged corner of the political universe. Clovis is a  minor witness in the  Kremlingate probe. That, in and of itself, should force Whitaker to make like Jeff Bo and recuse himself, but his writings and tevee appearances *should* make recusal mandatory:

“It is time for Rosenstein, who is the acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation, to order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel,” he wrote then. “If he doesn’t, then Mueller’s investigation will eventually start to look like a political fishing expedition.”

He subsequently argued that the DOJ should starve the Mueller probe of funding and turn down any requests involving Trump’s finances. He was planted at DOJ to wreak havoc on the investigation. He’s a tumor that has metastasized into full-blown cancer.

It’s unclear what would happen if the DOJ’s ethics office informs Whitaker that he must recuse himself. Indications are that he will refuse to recuse, which could eventually result in disbarment. I hope that such a refusal  leads to targeted resignations and/or a work strike by DOJ lawyers. They’ve sworn an oath to protect and defend the constitution, not a criminal president*.

Does this mean the Kremlingate probe will end? Hell no. Bobby Three Sticks strikes me as someone who has a backup plan for his backup plan.

What we’re seeing here is obstruction of justice in broad daylight. It’s a blatant and premeditated attempt by Team Trump to hijack the constitution. Yes, I said premeditated; usually, the Insult Comedian just wings it. This time is different: it was timed to happen *before* Democrats assume control of the House. The incoming Chairman of the Judiciary Committee is demanding answers:

Anyone who tells you that they know where Demented Donald’s Wild Toady Ride will end up is kidding themselves. The situation is volatile and fluid. Only one thing is certain: these are the actions of a guilty man out to save his worthless ass.

The last word on this chaotic Thursday goes to Frank Zappa and the Mothers:

The MAGA Bomber’s Enemies List

As of this writing, here’s who the MAGA Bomber is telling to pipe down by mailing them a pipe bomb:

  • George Soros
  • The Clintons
  • The Obamas
  • Eric Holder
  • John Brennan 
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz
  • Maxine Waters
  • Joe Biden
  • Robert DeNiro

Robert Fucking DeNiro? It’s a good thing that he’s not in his prime or he just might go Raging Bull or even Taxi Driver on someone’s ass.  I guess that makes him the Paul Newman of this dangerously crazy incident: the salad dressing mogul was on Nixon’s enemies list. Bobby D is in good company.

Trump made a statement yesterday at the White House. Here’s how some wise ass described it on the tweeter tube:

He was back in full tilt Insult Comedian mode at a rally in Wisconsin last night and tweeted this out this morning:

He seems to think his tiny hands are clean. They are not. I know incitement speech when I hear it. The MAGA Bomber has been paying attention to Trump’s stump rantings: the members of the enemies list have all been attacked by the president*. In a word, disgusting.

There’s evidence that the MAGA Bomber comes from the creepy world of Pepe the Frog:

The pipe bomb discovered Wednesday and addressed to former CIA director John Brennan via CNN features a parody of the ISIS flag with the words “get ‘er done,” a common right-wing meme, according to a Wednesday NBC report.

On the fake flag, the Arabic words are replaced by suggestive female silhouettes. The meme reportedly originated on a far-right parody site called World News Bureau.
So much for false flaggery. Pipe bomb trutherism is a pipe dream but Rush Limbaugh is still pushing it as were these MAGA Maggots yesterday in Florida:

We’ve had periods of political violence before in our history but the incitement never came from the White House. That’s what makes this moment in time so fraught with peril. Here’s how Charlie Pierce put it yesterday:
In the 1970s, there were no national politicians encouraging the Weathermen to involve themselves in the political process. Bernadine Dohrn didn’t get to visit the White House. Of course, in the 1950s and the 1960s, there were southern state politicians a’plenty who knew the people who were setting off the bombs, but the national government was pretty much on the other side; even though it was often dilatory in that regard, it got there eventually. (In 2002 and 2003, the last two culprits in the Birmingham church bombing were finally convicted by Doug Jones, now a senator from Alabama.)
The current president* of the United States trafficks in imaginary threats and encourages, by word and deed, feelings of dread and isolation and deep, familiar paranoia, the entire Hofstadter buffet. And there is an entire media infrastructure dedicated to reinforcing those feelings, 24-7, on all platforms of the modern communications industry. The Weathermen didn’t have their own TV network.
There’s only one palliative for the pernicious and mendacious fearmongering by the Party of Trump; VOTE on November 6th, and in every election thereafter. Democratic control of at least one House of Congress means oversight and investigations. A Republican victory means an emboldened president*, a cowed Congress, an expanded enemies list, and more right-wing domestic terrorism.

From Bone Spurs To Bone Saws

The featured image is of a bone saw circa 1880. I doubt that Saudi thugs used an antique bone saw to torture and dismember Jamal Khashoggi, but the Saudi regime*is* a throwback dictatorship. By their standards, 1880 was modern until the advent of Crown Prince MBS aka Mister Bone Saw. The previous cooing over him as a reformer had my MBS detector going off constantly. In my experience, people who scream the loudest about reform are often crookeder than Lombard Street. That fits Mister Bone Saw like a  bloody designer glove.

The post title, of course, refers to the president* who infamously avoided the draft by claiming to be afflicted with bone spurs. I have my own Vietnam era double standard: I’m easy on those who didn’t want to go to Vietnam because they were opposed to that stupid and futile conflict. Donald Trump thought the war was swell but swells like him did not serve. That makes him a chicken hawk or as some call him: Cadet Bone Spurs.

The Kaiser of Chaos has come a long way from his schooldays. He’s gone from whining about bone spurs to serving as a flack for those who wield bone saws. He’s crawfishing a bit from his earlier talk of “rogue killers” but he remains a moral shrimp.

Trump is desperate to absolve MBS of any responsibility for the atrocious murder of a dissident journalist. As far as he’s concerned, arm sales even phantom ones are more important than political killings. He doesn’t mind bone saws as along there are bucks involved.

Cutting Mister Bone Saw slack has been Trump regime policy since the beginning. They have never once objected to the wholesale slaughter of Yemenis by the Saudis using American arms. A past Republican president said  “the business of American is business.” But I doubt that Coolidge had the “merchants of death” in mind when he said that. That’s what arms dealers were called after the slaughter of the Great War. It’s high time to revive the phrase.

There are many horrible things about the Kaiser of Chaos but among the worst is the fact that he’s a phony tough guy. The man loves to praise journalist beating thugs like Greg Gianforte but has a well-documented record of physical cowardice.

Fake tough guys are not unusual: John Wayne evaded the draft during World War II to focus on his career. At least he felt guilty over acting in war movies while members of his audience fought and died for our country. It led to Wayne’s overcompensating hawkishness during Vietnam. John Wayne may have been a fake tough guy but he was capable of shame. Trump’s picture is in the dictionary next to shameless.

Cadet Bone Spurs and Mister Bone Saw deserve one another. They’re corrupt liars who turn everything to shit. The “fistfight” explanation is as credible as the typical Trump speech. It’s beneath contempt and only a corrupt idiot would buy it. I think you know to whom I’m alluding.

Saudi Arabia has long had a detestable dictatorship but, in the past, their first option was to buy people off; then, they’d resort to brute force but discreetly and behind closed doors. It seems to be the other way around in 2018.The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was as indiscreet as it gets. Jared Kuhsner may not mind but I do.

Adrastos On The Bimini Bummer At The Bayou Brief

My latest piece at the Bayou Brief is called Hart-Atwater: The Louisiana Connection. I take a skeptical look at James Fallows’ recent article, Was Gary Hart Set Up?

The Bimini Bummer is my new nickname for Gary Hart’s ill-fated meeting with Donna Rice, which led to this National Enquirer front page:

 

Of Dictator Coddling

The MSM is fond of calling everything about the Trump administration* unprecedented. In many cases, they’re right: to use the most obvious example, past presidents did not publicly trash the FBI. JFK and LBJ loathed J Edgar Hoover but the latter reappointed him based on the pragmatic Johnsonian notion that he’d “rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in.” Besides, like his hero FDR, Lyndon enjoyed the gossip J Edgar Hee-Haw shared with him.

The notion that Trumpian Saudi coddling is unprecedented is, to use the Insult Comedian’s favorite phrase, fake news. In dealing with the medieval Saudi family dictatorship, oil has always been the decisive factor, not human rights. When he wasn’t coddling the Shah of Iran as president, Jimmy Carter was coddling the Saudis. Despite his sincere commitment to human rights, Carter sold arms to the Saudi family dictatorship. Repeat after me:

The presidents Bush were noted Saudi coddlers as well. Who among us can forget the image of W and holding hands with then crown prince, later King Abdullah?

One might even call that image Abdullah and the dullard. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Back to the whole unprecedented thing. While American dictator coddling goes way back, Trump has taken it to heights unseen since the Cold War. Ronald Reagan’s UN Ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, drew a distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. According to Jeane and Ron, the former rocked and the latter sucked. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a distinction without a difference, but it was classic Cold Warrior doctrine.

The tragedy of Saudi dissident/WaPo columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, illustrates how far gone the Trump regime is in its “human rights don’t matter” policy. Trump has been dancing around the issue for day, he has even passed on a theory from Saudi King Salman that “rogue killers” are behind the Khashoggi murder instead of Jared’s pal, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, hereinafter MBS.

In part, the Khashoggi affair has captured the world’s attention because of its whodunit aspect. The possibility that his iWatch captured what happened has excited geeks everywhere, but the real importance of this tragedy is that the president’s* “the media is the enemy of the people” rhetoric has given a green light to dictators to kill their journalistic enemies. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

The only upside of the Khashoggi affair is that it has ended MBS’ reign as the IT dictator. There’s always one: even Bashar al-Assad had a brief stint as a Westernized IT dictator before he became the chemical weapons-using Butcher of Damascus.

The best thing I’ve read about MBS as the fallen Prince Charming is by Jim Rutenberg in the Failing New York Times:

The embrace between the American establishment and the leader known as M.B.S. was set to continue in Riyadh later this month at a business conference hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed. The sponsors, partners and participants of the conference — known informally as “Davos In The Desert” — included a number of media companies: CNBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, CNN and Fox Business Network.

With the exception of Fox, which is reviewing its participation, all of those organizations pulled out as the Khashoggi story climbed most-viewed article lists and drew cable coverage. The story’s popularity was helped along by its thriller-like qualities, which included the allegation that the journalist’s body was dismembered with the aid of a bone saw before it was removed from the consulate.

And suddenly the “M.B.S.” moniker took on a grim new meaning among the plugged-in set of Washington: Mister Bone Saw.

That sounds like a nickname that could have been used on The Sopranos. I doubt, however, that slain dissident’s corpse will be cut up at the Istanbul equivalent of Satriale’s Pork Store. Life continues to imitate The Sopranos even in the Muslim world.

There’s another worrisome aspect of this story: MBS’ close relationship with the Trumper Princeling, Jared Kushner. There are rumors of bribes in the form of Saudi loans to Slumlord Jared’s teetering real estate empire. Barrels of Saudi oil money can definitely grease the wheels in the most corrupt administration in American history.

These are tough times for those of us who believe in the Wilson/FDR/Carter emphasis on human rights around the world. Those three leaders did not always practice what they preached, but the Current Occupant could care less about human rights. John Bolton’s hobby as National Insecurity Adviser has been bashing and abandoning the UN Human Rights Council, after all.

All of the Insult Comedian’s comments about Saudi Arabia have been tinged with envy. He recently “joked” about America’s having a president for life some day. The idea of a hereditary Trump family dictatorship excites him even more than conning the suckers at his next campaign rally. He’s like a toddler with a new toy. One could say that we’ve gone from dictator coddlers to dictator-envying toddlers. Repeat after me: from coddlers to toddlers.

I eagerly await the next twist in the Khashoggi murder story. I dread the next twist in the Trump dictator coddling story.

Let’s close this post on a lighter note. The last word goes to The Beatles:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

UPDATE: The Saudis have their cover story. It looks as if they’re going to claim that Khasshogi’s died in an unauthorized interrogation gone wrong. Since Team Trump is applying the Russia Rules to the Saudis, the White House will buy whatever they’re selling even if the story is ridiculous.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Volunteers

Two Flags by Jasper Johns

It’s still stupidly hot in New Orleans; summer hot. And we had the third warmest September in recorded history. There are rumors of a cool front next weekend but the relentless heat is putting a damp damper on the local festival season. It typically starts the first weekend of October because that’s when it cools off. Not this year, apparently. Climate change? What climate change? End of weather related rant.

The Kavanaugh Mess ate my week, so let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Volunteers was written by Marty Balin and Paul Kantner. It was the title track of Jefferson Airplane’s classic 1969 album; you know, the one with the pb&j sammich gatefold. Volunteers has an interesting origin story: Marty was awakened by a truck one morning with Volunteers of America painted on the side. A protest song was born. Marty Balin died last Saturday at the age of 76. There’s an extended tribute to Marty at the end of the post.

We have two versions of Volunteers for your listening pleasure. The original studio track and a live version from Woodstock.

“Look what’s happening out in the streets. Got a revolution.”

Now that we’ve revolted in a revolting way, let’s jump to the break.

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Porcini Envy?

I’m a bit late to the mushroom dick dance. I had other things to do yesterday so I missed out on most of the zany twitter responses to this quote from Stormy Daniels’ book:

“He knows he has an unusual penis,” Daniels writes. “It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool…

“I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart…

I guess a description of the First Dickhead’s dick was inevitable given the company he keeps. It’s also appropriately inappropriate that the Mario Kart character is named Toad. I’m not a gamer like my pal Dave Gladow so I had to google it along with “Yeti pubes.” Ugh. Stay classy, Stormy.

It’s hard to be witty when writing about the Insult Comedian’s not-so magical mushroom, but somehow my friend Chef James Cullen was able to pull it off:

Now there’s a man who knows from mushrooms. That tweet earned him bragging rights:

While I wish I had written that shroom poem, it did not give me porcini envy.

The last word goes to the Strawberry Alarm Clock, of all people:

I don’t know about you, but strawberries and mushrooms aren’t my idea of an ideal flavor profile. Of course, this tune comes from an album called Incense and Peppermints. That’s almost as disgusting as Stormy’s description of Trump’s game boy.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Play It All Night Long

The Automat by Edward Hopper.

It’s been a crazy news week: the Woodward book, Hurricane Florence, exploding houses in  Massachusetts, the Kavanaugh letter, and the Manafort flip. How far Paulie flips remains to be seen but, given his connection to the Former Soviet Union, his plea deal is *potentially* the Kremlingate kill shot. I’ve long thought Manafort was either placed on Team Trump by Russian intelligence or encouraged to sign up by them. Stay tuned.

This week’s theme song, Play It All Night Long was written by Warren Zevon for his 1980 album, Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School. It has one of the greatest opening verses in rock history:

Grandpa pissed his pants again
He don’t give a damn
Brother Billy has both guns drawn
He ain’t been right since Vietnam

As well as a killer chorus:

“Sweet home Alabama”
Play that dead band’s song
Turn those speakers up full blast
Play it all night long

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original studio recording and a live solo version from Learning to Flinch with WZ on piano.

Now that we’ve played “that dead band’s song,” let’s jump to the break in lieu of turning the speakers up full blast.

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Book Review: Fear by Bob Woodward

When reading a book like this, you usually learn that its subject has some redeeming characteristics. That’s never been the case with any book about Donald Trump; even Hitler liked children and dogs whereas Trump is indifferent to the former and hates the latter. Trump always comes off worse than expected. That’s the case in Fear by Bob Woodward.

The Insult Comedian and his idiotic minions have attacked the book as “fake news” and “fiction” and denounced Woodward as a tool of the Democrats. Woodward is, of course, hawkish and quite conservative: I’m unsure if he’s still a registered Republican but he used to be.

The White House has even strong-armed sources such as Jim Mattis, Rob Porter, and Gary Cohn into issuing non-denial denials. But none of them has disputed the truth of Woodward’s damning narrative. How could they?

I do not understand why Gary Cohn, who is much richer than Trump, issued such a statement. One would hope he would like to recover at least part of his good name after his time as a Trump dignity wraith. He’s also a registered Democrat who should not give a shit how the GOP does in November. Here’s my conclusion: Gary Cohn is a pussy. He should grab himself.

Yeah, I know. I used that line in my Everybody Hates Ted post. It’s too good not to recycle.

I read Fear in two days, which is fast by my standards. When the writing is excellent, I like to luxuriate in the prose. It’s not something I do when reading Woodward: he’s a plodder, not a stylist. That approach tends to *further* his credibility. Even after all the acclaim, he’s the Joe Friday of American journalism:

I guess that makes Carl Bernstein the Bill Gannon of American journalism. I’d rather be Sherman T. Potter myself…

Woodward’s book has caused the Insult Comedian to have his 19th Nervous Breakdown as president*. His frenzied tweeting makes him the book-salesman-in-chief. The book has sold 750,000 copies since its publication: I picked up one of the last copies at my local Costco on publication eve. Woodward is known for his exquisite manners, so I wonder if he plans to write the president* a thank you note. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

Fear is written in the classic Woodward voice: omniscient narration with dialogue based on his recordings. Like Tricky Dick and Omarosa, Woodward records his interviews, which is why Team Trump cannot possibly win its pissing match with the WaPo legend. Hell, they’ve lost to the dread Omaraosa.

The content of the book has been widely discussed. Woodward sticks to important subjects such as trade and national security; eschewing the gossipy approach of Michael Wolff and Omarosa. The most interesting segments involve Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd who may have violated attorney-client privilege by being so garrulous with Woodward. I’m glad he talked: we learn a lot about Dowdy’s view of the Mueller probe. I don’t agree with his take but it gives us insight into how Team Mueller operates. As a prosecutor, Bobby Three Sticks is a helluva poker player. He’s acting like he has an ace in the hole, y’all.

You can tell that Trump has not read the book or he’d understand that Woodward is fair to him. Woodward is something of a Kremlingate skeptic and buys into much of Dowd’s blather. I do not: Dowd assumes that the witnesses whose testimony he’s familiar with have told the truth to the FBI, Congress, and Grand Jury. In many cases, I assume the opposite. Ain’t no way Trump Junior didn’t lie to protect his father. Lying is in the genes.

The Trump White House is full of potty-mouthed officials. I remember when the Nixon White House Transcripts came out. People were shocked over the expletives deleted. Nobody’s shocked by all the cursing in Fear, I fear. Fuckin’ A.

My major takeaway from reading Woodward’s latest is that Trump is every bit as jaw droppingly stupid as we’ve all feared. 63 million Americans voted for a fucking moron who is incapable of admitting error or absorbing new information. I remain appalled that the many Trump officials who know that he is unfit for office have not resigned. Other than Secretary Mattis, whose continued presence may deter a deranged president* from going to war, they have no excuse for putting party and self above country.

The last word goes to Bob Woodward:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Tears Of A Clown

Circus Sideshow by Georges Seurat.

The big local news of the week was a non-event that I alluded to yesterday: Tropical Storm Gordon. I was reasonably confident it wouldn’t pay us a visit. For whatever reason, storms in the Gulf tend to jog to the east as they approach New Orleans. I’m much more concerned when the early bullseye is to our west than on us.

The new Mayor’s team surprised me with a calm reaction to Gordon:

Mitch Landrieu was prone to overdramatize storm threats by dressing in combat-like gear and declaring unnecessary curfews. Team Cantrell played it cool. If they can transfer this mojo to other city issues, I might be less critical. I’m not holding my breath because I don’t feel like turning blue. It’s a bad look for me.

A depressing local story took place across Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville. A synagogue was defaced with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi graffiti. Anti-Semitism is fashionable on the alt-right and, in some quarters, the hard left. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has damaged Labour’s reputation as an anti-racist party with remarks such as the ones described by the Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone:

He mentions an impassioned speech made at a meeting in parliament about the history of Palestine that was “dutifully recorded by the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience” (audience members he presumably knew nothing about). So far so bad. But it gets worse. He goes on to say that these unnamed Zionists in the audience “clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either … So I think they needed two lessons, which we can perhaps help them with.”

This is classic anti-Semitism as it treats British Jews as the unassimilated OTHER. It was too much for Jewish Labourite Josh Glancy who stated categorically in the New York Times that he wouldn’t vote Labour again until Corbyn is ousted as leader. He describes Corbyn’s views as follows:

I’d always thought that if Mr. Corbyn was ever nailed down on this issue, he’d be spouting the anti-Semitism of the international left: Shadowy Zionist lobbyists. Omnipotent Rothschilds. Benjamin Netanyahu glorying in the slaughter of innocent children.

Instead we got something much closer to home. This was the anti-Semitism of Virginia Woolf and Agatha Christie. It was T.S. Eliot’s “lustreless” Bleistein puffing on his cigar and Roald Dahl insisting that “there is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity.” The comments were more redolent of the genteel Shropshire manor house where Mr. Corbyn was raised than the anticapitalist resistance movements where he forged his reputation.

Ouch. Labour’s anti-Semitism controversy has derailed efforts to oust the inept and incoherent Tory government of Theresa May. It’s a vivid illustration of how the far left and far right can converge. It’s happened before: the dread Oswald Mosley was a Labour MP before forming the British Union of Fascists.

A final note before moving on. I am staunchly anti-Netanyahu: his government’s moves against Israeli-Arabs are repugnant and amount to imposing an Apartheid regime in Israel. Having said that, anti-Netanyahu-ism shouldn’t morph into anti-Semitism. Many Jews in both the UK and the US are opposed to the current Israeli government. But even those who support it, should not be othered in their own country. Genteel bigotry is just as bad as synagogue desecrating bigotry. Now that I think of it, it’s worse: the genteel bigots should know better.

It’s time for me to dismount my sopabox and move on to this week’s theme song. The Tears Of A Clown is one of my all-time favorite records. It was written by Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Hank Cosby for the Miracles in 1970.  It’s one of the songs that made me into the music geek that I am today. It’s on Smokey with Pagliacci as an unindicted co-conspirator.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original Miracles single and Smokey with Daryl Hall on the latter’s teevee show.

Now that we’ve wept the tears of a clown, it’s time to dry off, then jump to the break.

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Deep State Throat

I wish I could take credit for Deep State Throat as an epithet for the author of the New York Times op-ed but I saw it first on the twitter feed of Never Trump Republican Rick Wilson. He’s a funny man so I wanted to give him credit before stealing the sobriquet. And if Mr. Wilson picked it up elsewhere, thanks to that person.

I’m under no illusion that the identity of Deep State Throat is the most important thing I could write about. (The performance of Senate Democrats during the Kavanaugh hearings has been most inspiring; special kudos to Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Pat Leahy.) But I’m a Watergate junkie and one of my odder hobbies for many years was speculating as to who Deep Throat was. It’s only natural that I’m drawn to speculating about the identity of Deep State Throat.

One thing I’m trying not to do is to dismiss out of hand specific institutional actors. It was a mistake John Dean made when he investigated the identity of Deep Throat. He ruled out the FBI, which was how he lit on Alexander Haig, Nixon’s second chief-of-staff. Under Dean’s sway, Haig was *my* leading candidate but second on my list was former G-Man W Mark Felt.

I  do not consider Mark Felt a hero. He was an important whistleblower, but he was the ultimate disgruntled employee. He had good reason to believe that he would succeed Hoover, which gave him an axe to grind. His main gripe with Tricky and his henchman was that they violated the norms and procedures of Hoover’s FBI. He had no problem with black bag jobs or illegal surveillance of dissidents. But he did look spiffy with a fedora and a rod:

I love those 1940’s ties. I have several of them and enjoyed wearing them in another lifetime. The Insult Comedian would hate them as they’re on the short side. He prefers long ties that point at his tiny pecker. It’s probably why he had a friend by the name of Pecker until he, too, turned on Donald. Penis envy explains a great deal about Trump.

Back to Deep State Throat. There were ritual denials from many senior Trump administration officials including my two prime suspects. The denials don’t rule any of them out. First, they work in an administration whose motto seems to be “lie early and lie often.” Second, Mark Felt repeatedly denied being Deep Throat until he was elderly. Say no more.

I’ve written off some early contenders such as Mike Pence and Nikki Haley who both have presidential ambitions. Deep State Throat will be as radioactive to vestigial Trumpers as Nelson Rockefeller was to the Republican Right back in the day. Besides, Haley isn’t in Washington enough and Pence’s political viability depends on not wielding the knife himself. Michael Heseltine, who wielded the knife against Margaret Thatcher, had to settle for being John Major’s Deputy Prime Minister. Pence is already playing second fiddle, he wants to conduct.

I have two prime suspects if Deep State Throat is truly a “senior Trump administration official” as described by The Times. Let’s start with Pence’s fellow Hoosier. Dan Coats has been willing to publicly disagree with the president* and holds the sort of sincere Reganite views expressed in the op-ed. He issued what is best described as a non-denial denial.

 “Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my Principal Deputy is patently false. We did not. From the beginning of our tenure, we have insisted that the entire IC remain focused on our mission to provide the President and policymaker with the best intelligence possible.”

Note that Coats did not denounce the op-ed or declare its contents to be “patently false.” I’m also struck by the mention of his principal deputy; nobody other than former HRC aide Philippe Reines has mentioned Sue Gordon. Did Gordon and Coats collaborate on the op-ed?

The fact that Coats’ right-hand is a woman feeds into a theory advanced by Deep Blog, a self-described intuitive and smart motherfucker, that Deep State Throat is a woman. Charlie Pierce and his wife, Margaret Doris, have floated the notion that Kellyanne Conway is the mole.

She points out that there is something unmistakably feminine in the tone, that it is written in the kind of English practiced in the realms of advertising and public relations, and that the ensuing guessing game has knocked both Bob Woodward’s book and Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination hearings off the top of the news, regardless of what it may be doing the the president*’s evaporating sanity. If, as I speculated on Wednesday, this is a vehicle on which you can ride away from the garbage fire that is this administration*, but you still want to hold onto your conservative Republican street cred, this is exactly the kind of thing you’d concoct.

She thinks it’s Kellyanne Conway.

The op-ed also has a somewhat snide tone at the end when Deep State Throat blames the American people for the Kaiser of Chaos:

The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

That sounds more like the snippy Conway than the genial Coats. In his days on the Hill, Coats was known to be nice to the “little people” from cleaners to staff. Of course, other Trump officials have bragged about how they obscure their identity when leaking: 

“To cover my tracks, I usually pay attention to other staffers’ idioms and use that in my background quotes. That throws the scent off me.”

The Trump White House is a viper’s nest of backstabbing bastards. It’s reminiscent of the Courts of the Caesars: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. That’s why I call Donald Trumpberius.

One theory I do not buy is this one: “The op-ed was a plant only designed to distract attention from the Kavanaugh hearings and Woodward book,” In a word: piffle. That is far too slick for the Trumpers who excel only in incompetence. Trump himself has engaged in an epic public temper tantrum and internal witch hunt since the op-ed was published. He wants Deep State Throat’s head on a platter or arm attached to a lie detector by Senator Aqua Buddha.

It will be fascinating to watch this lurid melodrama play out. I suspect Deep State Throat’s secret identity will be revealed sooner as opposed to later but it won’t be Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, or Peter Parker. I fully expect Deep State Throat to go public, since unlike Mark Felt, he/she/it craves attention. They’re relishing the attention but must be aggravated by those, like me, who have called them a coward when Deep State Throat thinks of themselves as a hero. Reveal your identity and resign if you really want to save the Republic from the president* you serve.

The last word goes to Asia with a song with a song about betrayal: