Category Archives: Fog Of Scandal

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:

Your President* Speaks: So Much For The Solid South

My favorite bit from the WaPo story on the Woodward book is this beauty:

A near-constant target of withering presidential attacks was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions’s accent, Trump added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner….He couldn’t even be a one-person country laywer down in Alabama.

He forgot to call him a dumb redneck or a stupid peckerwood. This confirms a story from last week wherein the Insult Comedian insults his AG:

…the President also hates his southern accent and lack of Ivy League background. He apparently tells aides that Sessions “talks like he has marbles in his mouth.”

Nice. The irony of this venom is that the ONLY decent thing Sessions has done at DOJ was to recuse himself from the Russia probe. That was NOT done voluntarily. The president* hasn’t got a clue that the recusal was MANDATORY because of Jeff Beau’s involvement on the campaign. Dumbass.

Trump is oblivious to the fact that most of his Southern supporters have thicker accents than Sessions: white suburban women are running away from him, even in Dixie.  He needs to learn how to hick it up like Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy. Neely could coach him to say y’all instead of youse. Hey, Steve Bannon taught him to say populist instead of popularist. If Bannon can do it, so can Neely.

The last word goes to The Band:

 

Profiles In Anonymous Cowardice

A bombshell went off not long ago via the Failing New York Times. It’s an anonymous op-ed written by a “senior Trump administration official.” The guessing game has already begun but I’ll get to that at the end of this instant analysis post. This is the money quote as far as I’m concerned:

Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

I don’t know about you but this is this first I’ve heard that administration insiders explored the possibility of a 25th Amendment solution to the Trump problem. They have opted instead for a silent coup, which is almost as frightening as the president* who scares them shitless.

The title of the piece nearly sent me through the ceiling. (I still may have to pick the odd piece of plaster out of my hair.) It took a lot of nerve to call it I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration. The author is part of the problem. Instead of attempting to maintain their future job prospects or political viability, they should reveal their identity and resign. If there is indeed a cabal within the administration, there should be mass resignations. This is strategic political thinking, not patriotism. We need patriots now more than ever.

As to the writer’s identity. I think it’s more likely than not a politician. The author seems eager to establish their conservative bona fides by stressing free trade and foreign policy hawkishness. A friend of mine thinks the author could be a woman and their guess was Nikki Haley. If she spent more time in Washington, I’d agree but the author is someone with frequent access to the West Wing.

One of the more obvious suspects is Director of National Intelligence and former Indiana Senator, Dan Coats. Coats has been repeatedly been cut-off at the legs by Trump. He should have resigned long ago. If it’s you Mr. Coats, please step forward.

The weirdest possibility is Mike Pence. The op-ed’s author used the word lodestar and expressed admiration for John McCain. A guy named Dan Bloom has done some quick linguistic research and has noted that Pence has frequently used the word lodestar in speeches. He’s an unlikely candidate after spending every day since he was put on the ticket with his head up Trump’s ample rump.

In the end, it does not matter who this cowardly conservative is. If they believe that Donald Trump is mentally unstable and temperamentally incapable of doing the job, they should stand up and say so.

I’m going to give a frequent First Draft reader the last word or is that tweet. Anyway, I concur with my distinguished friend from North Carolina:

The shit is really about to hit the fan. This makes the Woodward book look like pissing in the wind.

 

 

First Draft Potpourri: Of Violence, Wise Guys & Peckerwoods

I have a dream that some day soon we will have a normal news cycle. Every time I step away from the computer and/or iPhone to focus on personal and/or local news, all hell breaks loose. (It also makes me type and/or twice in one sentence, which is lazy writing.) But that’s life in the Trump era where even a news junkie like me craves a respite of dullness from the dullards running the government.

That was a long-winded of way of introducing a potpourri post. It’s the only way I can keep up with the news of day since, unlike some other bloggers, I decline to do so on the tweeter tube. Truman Capote once said of Jack Kerouac: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” When I see a 20 part thread, my response is: That’s not writing, that’s tweeting. It’s fine for short bursts but I prefer writing to typing and/or tweeting. Uh oh, another and/or. Next thing I’ll want to fire Bruce Ohr and/or someone else…

Violence: The Insult Comedian loves scaring the shit out of people. He did it the other night during an event with evangelical supporters. Trumpy claimed that violence will ensue if Democrats win the midterms. He’s projecting once again: his supporters are the ones apt to riot. Hell, Rudy’s already promised that as a response to attempts to remove the president* from office. Bullshit: most Trumpers can barely get off the couch to find the remote. Besides they only watch Fox News so why get up at all?

Speaking of Violence,  it’s time for a good old-fashioned punch-up, glam rock style. No guns allowed, just fists.

Unfortunately Trumpberius and company are apt to agree with Ian Hunter’s lyrics:

Violence, violence, it’s the only thing that’ll make you see sense.

Back to the couch and stay there, motherfuckers. It’s time for Michael F’s image from earlier this morning to play a repeat performance:

Life Imitates Billy Bathgate: Very little scares a white-collar criminal more than hearing that their accountant has made a deal with Federal prosecutors. And (but not or) Allen Weisselberg is not just a bookkeeper, he’s the Trump Organization’s CFO. He also happens to be one of the people running the company while the boss is ruining the country.

At first I wondered if Weisselberg would be the token Trump loyalist instead of a snitch and/or rat; there I go again with the and/ors. Then I read this:

Last month, the New York State Attorney General, Barbara Underwood, sued the Trump Foundation. Weisselberg had been deposed and showed a surprising willingness to give answers that put the President in an unflattering light. In January, 2016, during Trump’s Presidential campaign, his foundation made a series of donations to veterans-advocacy organizations in Iowa that were explicitly designed to gain support for his candidacy. Weisselberg filled out the checks. In his deposition, he volunteered that the Trump Foundation had no procedures in place to insure it followed the law and that Trump himself knew of and directed Weisselberg’s participation in the scheme to pay those Iowa veterans groups. Were Weisselberg eager to protect his longtime boss, he could have answered the questions far more narrowly. It was an early hint that Weisselberg, like Cohen, may not jeopardize his own freedom to defend Trump. News that Weisselberg had accepted immunity so that he could share potentially damaging information in the Cohen case provides more support for the view that Weisselberg is ready to share whatever information he has. And he has a lot.

It increasingly appears that Trump’s downfall will be his sleazy business tactics. Holy money laundering, Batman. Allen Weisselberg knows more than the Fixer or the Pecker notwithstanding the latter’s cache of Trump dirt. Why do you think the president* has been melting down even by his own standards?

You’re probably wondering why I titled this segment Life Imitates Billy Bathgate. Here’s why: EL Docotorow’s novel is based on the life and times of Dutch Schultz nee Arthur Flegenheimer. (I’d change my name too if it was Flegenheimer. Who wants a name that sounds like phlegm?) Dutch’s numbers wizard was a guy named Otto Berman who everybody called Abbadabba. Tom Dewey’s “racket busters” considered him the linchpin to unraveling Shultz’s rackets but Lucky Luciano whacked Abbadabba before prosecutors could flip him. End of arcane mob history lesson.

In Billy Bathgate, Abbadabba Berman was the most interesting character. He mentored the title character and protected him from Flegenheimer’s unphlegmatic wrath. The movie version was not as good as the book but the cast was excellent: Dustin Hoffman played Schultz, and Steven Hill played Abbadabba. Ironies abound as Steven Hill also played the Manhattan DA in Law & Order who shares a name with one of Trump’s pursuers, Adam Schiff. I am not making this up. I even posted about the Adams when the Kaiser of Chaos was a mere birther.

In the Trump Organization’s saga, Allen Weisselberg is Abbadabba Berman. And an Abbadabba trumps a Fixer or a Pecker any day.

It was harder than hell to find pictures of either numbers wizard. I skipped the picture of Abbadabba after he was whacked. Abbadabba-doo. You knew that was coming, right?

That concludes the wise guy part of the post, let’s move on to the peckerwoods.

The Senate Building Flap: It hasn’t been a great week for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. His deal with Chinless Mitch to let his members go home and campaign has been roundly criticized.  But he did put some points on the board when he suggested that the Richard Russell Senate office building be renamed for John McCain.

The name change should have been easy: Russell, one of the most powerful Senators of his time, was an avowed racist and white supremacist. Unlike some of his fellow Southerners, Russell never became reconciled to Civil Rights. He was a Lost Causer til the bitter end.

It appeared that the name change would sail through until some Southern GOPers expressed concerns about it. The Turtle punted it to a “bipartisan gang.” It’s unclear if members of the Russian mafia and/or La Cosa Nostra will have any input. It’s a pity that the Fixer flipped because he’d know how to set it up…

Think about it: Southern Republicans were afraid of removing the name of a Southern Democrat from a building. They’re obviously scared of alienating their white nationalist base and/or the Racist-in-Chief. They’ve lost Pecker, so they can’t afford to lose the peckerwoods.

So much for all those GOPers who have bashed reformed segregationists like Robert Byrd, Russell Long and, yes. even Richard Russell’s protegé, Lyndon Johnson.

LBJ didn’t really “threaten” Russell. He presented him with a fait accompli that obliged him to serve on the Warren Commission.

It’s time for me to stop stirring the potpourri and writing and/ors. The last word goes to Randy Newman. Some Southern Republicans are still rednecks and/or peckerwoods who “don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.”

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Freeperati – “do not collect $200” edition

Morning, everyone!

I’ll bet you’ve been waiting for days to see the Freeperati melt down over The Darnold’s Very Bad Day?

Wait no longer.

Manafort jury has reached a verdict on 8 of 18 counts
MSN News ^ | August 21, 2018 | MATTHEW BARAKAT, CHAD DAY and ERIC TUCKER

Posted on 8/21/2018, 3:37:40 PM by detective

Jury in Paul Manafort financial fraud trial says it’s reached a verdict on 8 counts, but remains undecided on 10 others.

The jury in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort suggested to the judge Tuesday that it was stuck on at least one count in the case.

Jurors asked U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III on their fourth day of deliberations how they should fill out the verdict form if they were unable to reach consensus on a single count, though they did not suggest what charge was at issue. The jury of six men and six women also said it would need a new verdict form.

1 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:37:40 PM by detective
To: rdl6989

“Guilty on 8.”

Will that require one presidential Pardon or 8 Presidential Pardons?

8 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:41:57 PM by Blue House Sue

How about none?
Does none work for you?
To: Repeal 16-17

This is still in no way a “vindication” of the Mueller witch hunt.

12 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:42:37 PM by henkster (Monsters from the Id.)

You fonny boy.
To: Repeal 16-17

Ok now declared hung jury on the 10.

14 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:43:12 PM by Williams (Stop tolerating the intolerant.)

To: detective

Manafort helped elect Trump, the left is out for blood.

25 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:47:53 PM by stockpirate (TYRANNY IS THY NAME REBELLION IS OUR ANSWER. HANG THEM ALL!)

To: detective

Bastards.

Obama and Hillary sell uranium to our enemies and nothin is done.

Manafort is lazy in doing his tax returns and they send him to the slammer.

Please pardon this great patriot Mr President ! This is a politically(sic) witch hunt and we all know it

28 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:49:06 PM by WashingtonFire (President Trump – it’s like having your dad as President)

OtherwiseOK1
To: tennmountainman

All this does is point out the obvious double standard that exists in our “justice” system.

… and OUR side is in charge!

Imagine that.

I’d like to know why:

Trump isn’t firing Sessions.
And Sessions isn’t firing Rosenweasel
And Rosenweasel isn’t firing the seditious bastards in the FBI
and NONE of them are shutting down Mueller’s years-long witch hunt in an investigation WITHOUT A CRIME.

We’re IN CHARGE and the system is STILL allowed to carry on with all of its business-as-usual corruption! That’s what gets under my skin. I keep waiting for SOMEONE or SOMETHING to clean it out and it just doesn’t seem to happen. It’s always “oh, well… wait for THIS report” or “THAT report” or “Wait until after the election!” -— then it will be “Wait until after the Holidays!” then it will be “Wait until the new Congress is seated!” then a thousand other things – with “WAIT” being the key word in each one.

Come on, President Trump – DO SOMETHING.

/rant

29 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:51:05 PM by Pravious

US tycoon Donald Trump plays a stroke as
To: detective
None of these charges have anything to do with Trump.

Well then, he has nothing to worry about, does he?

Yet by rooting for Manafort to be judged not guilty, folks here are basically making it about Trump. They are playing right into the hands of the Trump haters.

30 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:51:43 PM by SamAdams76 ( If you are offended by what I have to say here then you can blame your parents for raising a wuss)

OtherwiseOK2
To: CJ Wolf

Yep, didn’t help my confidence in his innocence when he went that route.

While it does bother me that Clinton and company haven’t been taken to task, I’m not convinced Manafort wasn’t guilty here.

If he evaded taxes and got caught, Trump shouldn’t pardon him.

31 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:51:55 PM by DoughtyOne (01/26/18 DJIA 30 stocks $26,616.71 48.794% > open 11/07/16 215.71 from 50% increase 1.2183 yrs)

Blasphemer3
It gets better (or worse, depending on your POV) below, so you know what to do.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Malaka Of The Week: Duncan Hunter

California Republican Duncan Hunter was the second Congresscritter to endorse the Insult Comedian. As if to confirm he’s one of Trump’s “best people,” he was indicted on the heels of corruption charges against the first Congresscritter to endorse Trump, Chris Collins. Collins has opted to shuffle back to Buffalo, Hunter vows to fight the charges. And that is why Duncan Hunter is malaka of the week.

Hunter “inherited” his seat from his father one-time House Armed Services chairman and “why not me” presidential candidate, Duncan Lee Hunter. Hunter has styled himself as Junior. He is not, he’s Duncan Duane Hunter. One might even say that he’s a Catfish Hunter

As a true blue Trumper, Hunter is a major grifter and fraudster. He and his wife Margaret have been charged with a lengthy bill of particulars:

“I’m saying when I went to Iraq in 2003 the first time I gave her power of attorney and she handled my finances throughout my entire military career and that continued on when I got to Congress since I’m gone five days and home for two,” he said to Fox News’ Martha McCallum. “She was also the campaign manager. So whatever she did, that will be looked at, too, I’m sure. But I didn’t do it.”
How gallant. This is NOT how a Marine is supposed to behave. In addition to being tackier than a 3-three-year-old who just ate cotton candy, it’s a feeble defense. The money was donated to Not Junior’s campaign and he’s responsible for any credit card fiddling. Shorter Adrastos, Duncan is a donut in the Gordon Ramsay sense of the word:
 

A federal indictment alleges that House Armed Services member Duncan Hunter was not happy when he didn’t get a tour of a military base in Italy and had this to say: “Tell the Navy to go fuck themselves.”

Prosecutors also accused the California Republican of falsely claiming that personal expenditures were for “wounded warriors.”

Fuckin’ A. A is for asshole.

Before the shit hit the fan, Hunter’s seat was safe: 538.com gave him a 91.83% chance to win. In the wake of the indictment, the Cook Political Report has moved the race from likely to leans Republican. Here’s hoping Ammar Campa-Najjar, Not Junior’s Democratic opponent, can pull off a minor miracle. The whole “it’s my wife’s fault” thing will definitely hurt. I suspect Hunter will double down on Trump-style racism and xenophobia against his opponent who is Palestinian/Mexican-American.

Duncan Hunter epitomizes the greed and mendacity of Trump’s so-called best people. He’s an entitled little putz who expects daddy and/or Trumpy to get him out of this mess. And that is why Duncan Hunter is malaka of the week.

The Legal Docket: Of Henry Fonda Wannabes & Flippers

The first Manafort juror has spoken. It’s a Trump supporter who nonetheless voted guilty on all 18 counts despite loathing star witness Rick Gates. She revealed that there was one hold-out on the 10 counts on which a mistrial was declared. It’s a woman so the Henry Fonda analogy is imperfect. Of course, it was always flawed because Fonda’s character in Twelve Angry Men flipped the jury and this person was a lone hold-out to the bitter end. I had to mention Twelve Angry Men because it’s one of my favorite movies and launched the career of one of my favorite directors Sidney Lumet.

Here’s the interview with juror Paula Duncan:

I just made history. It’s the first time I’ve ever posted a Fox News video. I’m worried that I’m going to hell. I had hoped to go to heaven so I could meet Henry Fonda and Sidney Lumet. I’ll do penance by posting this scene from one of Sidney’s finest films:

ATTICA. ATTICA. ATTICA.

In other legal news, the Insult Comedian wants to change our legal system to suit his personal needs and trust me, he’s needy. Here’s what the Kaiser of Chaos had to say about “flippers:”

“You know, they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it. I know all about flipping, 30, 40 years I have been watching flippers,” he said.

“Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed. It’s not fair … if somebody defrauded a bank and he is going to get 10 years in jail or 20 years in jail but if you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made, in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that.”

I doubt that Trumpy means this Flipper:

I’m pretty sure that’s not the famous teevee dolphin Flipper but Trump’s lying is contagious. Call it creative prevarication. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I skipped posting a GIF of Tommy Flanagan the pathological liar because Jon Lovitz is a wingnut. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Back to Trumpy’s musing about abolishing plea bargains. It would not only paralyze the court system it would have allowed John Gotti, Whitey Bulger, and a wide variety of wise guys to walk. But that’s a small price to let the president* have his way. #sarcasm.

Finally, Trump’s dickish tabloid media pal, David Pecker, has cut an immunity deal with SDNY prosecutors. This is one of the least surprising developments of the week. As Trumpberius himself might say, “Pecker has all the qualities of a dog except loyalty.”

Thinking about the venerable teevee show Flipper has given me an earworm:

That’s right folks, a dolphin got the last word. He’s a helluva lot smarter than Don Junior.

The Fog Of Scandal: 8 Is The Magic Number

I’m a political scandal junkie but I’ve never seen anything like the events of yesterday afternoon. The manic intensity of it conjured up images of magic 8-balls and the kids’ card game Crazy Eights, hence the featured image. It was a crazy day in a crazy time.

I posted my instant analysis on the tweeter tube:

One of many remarkable things about a remarkable day is that the two things happened SIMULTANEOUSLY. I switched on MSNBC and watched them whipsaw back and forth between two huge stories. Holy adrenaline rush, Batman.

I’ve been following the Manafort trial very closely; make that first trial. This was Manafort’s best shot at an acquittal or hung jury: a white suburban jury and a judge who enjoyed baiting lead prosecutor Greg Andres. The mistrial declared on 10 counts is the best refutation yet that this is NOT a “rigged witch hunt” as a certain unindicted co-conspirator is wont to say.

Judge Ellis’ conduct has made this case bulletproof on appeal. The government is unlikely to retry the 10 counts because a second round is coming up next month in the District of Columbia. DC juries have customarily taken a dim view of rich Republican defendants so Manafort’s options boil down to copping a plea or begging for a pardon. Going to trial on the heels of a loss would be foolhardy. Trump may be a fool but Manafort is not.

Even *if* Trump is inclined to pardon Manafort, the calendar argues against it. The inevitable firestorm would become a major campaign issue, which would be delightful as far as I’m concerned but makes a pardon less likely. The smart move is for Manafort to cut a deal with prosecutors. Besides, how will be pay for a second trial? He’s a former rich guy, after all. I don’t think his Russian pals will pay for his defense. They know a loser when they see one.

The Failing New York Times sees the Cohen plea as the bigger deal:

I’m inclined to agree. The plea deal does not mention co-operation with Team Mueller BUT the former Fixer’s mouthpiece Lanny Davis has made it clear that his client is ready, willing, and able to co-operate. I suspect the special counsel’s office will want to test the credibility of his story. Like Omarosa, the Fixer is a liar who learned from Trumpy to document things. This will be very interesting indeed.

The reporter with the best ties to Fixerworld is Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox. She was at yesterday’s hearing and captured the atmospherics beautifully. Here’s the money quote:

Whether Cohen would be able to surrender voluntarily was a matter of concern for him, according to people familiar with his thinking. He had wanted to avoid a perp walk, which his children, who are around college-age, would inevitably have had to witness. Last week, he made jokes about setting up a chair in front of the court house in the middle of the night so as to allow agents to take him in immediately, these people said.

The fact that he was not subjected to a perp walk means that Federal prosecutors want to preserve Cohen’s dignity, such as it is, and to keep their options open in regard to co-operation. According to Fox, the Fixer has gone from:

… a man who once told me he would take a bullet for Trump to one aiming directly at his former boss, making no secret of the fact that he felt he was being hung out to dry by the president and those around him, that he was strapped for cash, that he was willing to do whatever it took to protect his family.

Holy reciprocal disloyalty, Batman.

Thus far Trump’s response has been muted by his standards notwithstanding this morning’s twitter tantrum. I expected a public meltdown at last night’s West By God Virginia rally for Joe Manchin’s dull challenger but it didn’t happen. No worries: I think Trumpberius will soon be in need of a straitjacket.

I’m not sure exactly what will happen next in this dizzy scandal but the Current Occupant has been directly implicated in a crime by someone close to him. As Lanny Davis put it in a statement after the hearing:

“Today [Michael Cohen] stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

Why not indeed? It’s time for the Insult Comedian to get some real attorneys and sideline the Pagliacci of lawyers, Rudy Giuliani.

In the immortal words of Warren Zevon, “Send lawyers, guns and money, the shit has hit the fan.”

WZ gets the last word:

First Draft Potpourri: Of Quislings & McCarthyites

I haven’t done a potpourri post for quite some time. The events of last weekend were stinky enough to revive this malodorous blogging tradition. The only kind of potpourri I like is the Jeopardy category, which is odorless since William Castle’s Smell-O-Vision process never caught on.

We begin with the artist formerly known as Rudy Noun Verb 9/11 Giuliani whose appearance on Chucklehead Todd’s teevee show created quite a stir.

Truth Isn’t Truth: Rudy Giuliani has turned into a giant gaffe machine. His latest soundbite echoed across the internet yesterday. Josh Marshall was present at the creation and captured the moment in its sublime newspeaky mendacity:

Rudy has tried to clean up his own mess but the original quote has the ring of authenticity. The Trumpers believe that there’s no such thing as objective truth and that they can say or do anything as long as it gets their dear leader out of trouble.

A reminder that the term truthiness was coined by Stephen Colbert during the Bush-Cheney administration. They may have had better manners than the Trumpers but equaled them in mendacity. Remember that the next time a former Bushie compares Trump unfavorably to W.

Let’s close out this segment with a tune posted on Twitter by my main man Monkeyfister:

Deanmania: I’m an unabashed fan of Watergate whistleblower John Dean. I’ve read most of his books and find his comments on current events incisive, insightful and other I-words. Apparently, Michael Cohen’s mouthpiece Lanny Davis is a Dean fan as well:

“I reached out to my old friend John Dean because of what he went through with Watergate, and I saw some parallels to what Michael Cohen is experiencing. I wanted to gain from John’s wisdom,” Davis told POLITICO.

“I certainly don’t want to raise expectations that Mr. Cohen has anything like the level of deep involvement and detailed knowledge that John Dean had in the Nixon White House as a witness to Nixon’s crimes, but I did see some similarities and wanted to learn from what John went through.”

Dean’s role seems to be that of informal adviser/whistleblower whisperer. If anyone can fix the Fixer, it’s Dean who was in a similar fix 45 years ago.

Here’s where McCarthyism fits into our Deanmania narrative, a series of angry tweets from Trumpberius:

Ironies about in the Insult Comedian’s Sunday tirade. First, calling John Dean a rat means the Kaiser of Chaos identifies with Tricky Dick. You know, the guy who resigned the presidency in disgrace 44 years ago. Second, Trump’s self-described mentor was Tailgunner Joe’s right-hand man, Roy Cohn. I’ve already covered that bit of sleazy ground in a 2016 post, Oy, Such A Mentor. The president* is engaging in projection yet again. As I pointed out in a 2018 post, Exhuming McCarthy, Trumpism is the new McCarthyism.

Let’s move on to a segment wherein I don’t link to my old posts but instead urge the revival of  a venerable term for traitor. Here’s a visual cue:

The Quisling Revival: I have watched in awe former CIA Director John Brennan’s attacks on Trump’s role as Putin’s Puppet. Brennan has decided to leave it all on the field in his effort to tell the truth about the First Liar. I have a suggestion for Mr. Brennan of something to call his unworthy adversary: a name that is synonymous with treachery and treason, Quisling who is depicted above side-by-side with his modern counterpart.

Vidkun Quisling was the Norwegian Fascist who sold out his country by facilitating the Nazi invasion in 1940. His reward was to become the Norwegian Fuhrer or so he thought. Instead, this delusional collaboraor became Hitler’s puppet who was expected to follow orders. Sound familiar? Quisling was tried and executed for treason in 1945.

Winston Churchill and the British press used the term Quisling as an epithet during World War II and I think the resistance should do likewise in 2018. Heeeere’s Winston:

A vile race of Quislings? Sounds like your basic Trump apologist to me.

Finally, on a lighter note, Dr. A and I attended a party “celebrating” Sharknado 6: It’s About Time. The party was thrown by our friend Will who has been Sharknado “obsessed” for years. He hosted Sharknado fests at his former business, Pizza Nola, for many years. The last Sharknado waltz took place at the Howlin’ Wolf and featured this cake:

The movie, of course, was dreadful. It was the first time I’d sat through one of these fakakta movies and I only survived by heckling/riffing. I realized that the final Sharknado featured no less than 5 Celebrity Apprentice contestants; proof positive that we’ve died and gone to hell.

The last word goes to (who else?) Tim Finn and Split Enz:

Deep Jury Tampering Thought

So much bullshit comes out of the Insult Comedian’s stupid bazoo that sometimes I tune him out. It’s one way to stay sane as the world goes mad. I missed the importance of something he said on Friday until the Guardian pointed out what should have been obvious:

“I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad,” Trump said. “I think it’s a very sad day for our country. He happens to be a very good person, and I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”

On Saturday, with the jury recessed for the weekend before an expected third day of deliberations on Monday, legal experts said it was highly uncharacteristic for a sitting president to weigh in on an ongoing trial, much less one involving a former aide.

I was so focused on Trump’s witness tampering antics that I missed the significance of this comment. The Manafort jury is not sequestered. The fate of the trial hangs on the notion that jurors will ignore the news and not let it effect their deliberations. Juries do their best to fulfill this obligation BUT there’s an outside chance that Trump’s comments could taint the jury. There was method to his madness for a change.

It will be interesting to see if prosecutors ask Judge Ellis to further instruct the jury to ignore these comments. My hunch is that they will keep their powder dry and see what happens. They cannot appeal an acquittal but they *can* ask for the judge to set aside an adverse verdict. I still think Manafort will be convicted but the possibility that Trump’s comments could impact at least one juror and lead to a mistrial is most worrisome.

The last word goes to 10cc:

Stupid Watergate’s Stupid Enemies List

Rachel Maddow opened her show last night with a segment about Nixon’s enemies list and the day John Dean spilled the beans about it. Nixon was a sneaky bastard who had the good sense to keep his enemies list secret. Donald Trump is a fucking moron who has the poor judgment to reveal his enemies list in public.

It shouldn’t matter what one thinks of John Brennan or any of the other members of Trump’s enemies list. Trump is attempting to curb the free speech rights of American citizens because they have the temerity to oppose Trumpberius’ inept attempts to bring autocracy to the world’s oldest continuing democracy. The good news is that this intimidation attempt is doomed because none of Brennan’s barbs have been based on classified materials. Unlike Trumpy, he knows how to STFU.

It’s noteworthy that when Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the announcement, it was on behalf of the president himself, not the White House. She’s showing signs of distancing herself from the Insult Comedian of late with the odd factual correction and the like. It’s too little, too late to make up for a year of non-stop mendacity.

As always, the Kaiser of Chaos cannot keep his story straight. He initially claimed that the removal of Brennan’s security clearance was caused by the former chief spook’s erratic behavior. That was greeted with derisive laughter given the source. His latest story turned up in the Wall Street Journal:

During a 20-minute impromptu interview with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Trump blamed former CIA Director John Brennan — and the nine other, notably Democratic, former officials whose security clearances he’s reviewing — for starting the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Brennan was one of the officials who informed Trump about Russian meddling just before his inauguration.

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, (it) is a sham,” he told the WSJ.“And these people led it! … So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

There are at least three Republicans on the list: Jims Comey and Clapper as well as Gen. Michael Hayden who was an acerbic critic of former President Obama’s foreign policy. The Obama administration never contemplated treating Hayden as a “security risk.” Why? He was just speaking his mind on the issues of the day. That’s how we’re supposed to roll in America.

The other members of Trump’s stupid enemies list should treat it as a badge of honor. It means they’re standing up for American values and against the chaos and foreign policy confusion wrought by the Trump regime. Let’s give them a shout-out:

  • Andrew McCabe
  • Lisa Page
  • Peter Strzok
  • Susan Rice
  • Sally Yates
  • Bruce Ohr

The most disturbing name on the list is the last one. Bruce Ohr is a current Justice Department employee whose wife works for Fusion GPS of Steele Dossier fame. This could mean that there’s more to come, but it’s unclear if Trumpy has the balls to try to strip the security clearances of Bob Mueller and Rod Rosenstein. I think even Crazy Rudy knows that would be obstruction of justice.

During the campaign I wrote a post called Worse Than Nixon. Trump lives up to that rubric each and every day. Kremlingate has even been called “worse than Watergate” by Carl Fucking Bernstein who knows what he’s talking about. So much for it being a “rigged witch hunt.”

That concludes this post about Stupid Watergate’s Stupid Enemies List. Typing that title again made me feel Stupidly Happy. The last word goes to Rachel Maddow with the segment I mentioned at the top of the post:

Dark Stone Of The Moon Redux

Our old pal, Roger Stone, is back in the news. As usual, it’s not for anything good. Roger the Ratfucker posted, then deleted this ode to the Space Farce and the swastika on Instagram:

One would think that someone who is under threat of indictment would be more cautious about what they post online. Flying under the radar strikes me as the thing to do but Roger is an exhibitionist. Stone gotta Stone. Instead of the Right Stuff, the Trump gang has the Weird Stuff.

I remain astonished and appalled by the wingnut fixation on Nazi symbology. Not only were the Nazis pure evil, they were among the biggest LOSERS in history. Brokaw’s “greatest generation” fought and defeated them, but in 2018 an associate of the Current Occupant is celebrating the swastika. I guess it’s yet another way to drive the liberals crazy: outrageousness for its own sake is the essence of Trumpism, after all. I don’t get it.

Americans used to know how to treat Nazis:

It *is* true that former Nazi rocket scientists were at the core of our space program. Werhner von Braun’s cohort at least had the decency to be ashamed of and lie about their past.  I’m old enough to recall jokes about the NASA Nazis. Now Roger the Ratfucker wants to celebrate Space Force Stormtroopers. I don’t get it.

The post title refers to a piece I wrote in October, 2016 upon learning that Stone is a moon shot denier/truther. He’s convinced that the moon landing really took place on a sound stage in New Jersey:

Why Jersey? Hasn’t it suffered enough from being the locus of the War Of The Worlds radio show hysteria, the Lindbergh kidnapping, and the Christie governorship? What do Nucky and Chalky think of this? Does this make Bert Cooper’s final episode on Mad Men a lie? I obviously miss Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men

The other weird thing about this is that Stone’s hero, Richard Nixon, was President at the time of the moon landing and took full advantage of it. Is Roger the Ratfucker saying that Tricky Dick was tricked? Me, I think Roger is not only cruising for a bruising, he’s batshit crazy.

End of self-quotation. Repeat after me: I don’t get it.

I’ll give Roger the Ratfucker, as well as Roger Waters, the last word:

Life Imitates I, Claudius: Trump As Tiberius

There have been a spate of stories this week depicting the Trump White House as the court of a mad king/emperor. We’ve learned that many of Trump’s associates prepare CYA documents because of his slipperiness, mendacity, and disloyalty. The Insult Comedian expects absolute loyalty from his underlings but, as we’ve seen over and over again,Trump’s loyalty is a one way street.

Then there was this alarming report by Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman:

 Whether it’s confidence, bluster, or delusion, Trump is venting to advisers both inside and outside the White House that the Manafort trial proves Mueller has nothing on him and his family, because Manafort’s trial doesn’t involve Russia or the 2016 campaign. “The Manafort trial is spinning him into a frenzy,” one Republican in frequent contact with the president told me. Another Republican told me Trump thinks “the only thing the trial shows is that Manafort is a sleaze.”

It takes one to know one. Trump is also being fed patent nonsense by his lawyers:

Trump’s latest attacks on Mueller are partly being enabled by conversations with his attorney Emmet Flood, one source told me. “Emmet feels there’s nothing there with collusion, so it’s fine for Trump to comment and tweet,” the source explained. This person added that Trump appears to be in earnest about his desire for Sessions to end the Mueller probe, and spoke of a timeline of a couple of weeks. Otherwise, Trump has threatened to fire Rosenstein himself.

Sessions has recused himself from the investigation he CANNOT fire Rosenstein and/or Mueller. Ever since Trump’s disastrous performance in Helsinki, elected Republicans seem less inclined to further his “you’re fired” delusions. They’re not criticizing him but they’re showing more caution, especially since the Jordan-Meadows attempt to impeach Rosenstein fizzled. But the truth has no meaning for Trump, so who the hell knows what he’ll do next? I’m a pundit, not a prophet.

I’ve spent part of this week comparing historical characters and their fictionalized selves to the freak show that is the Trump administration. I’ve also dubbed Trump the Kaiser of Chaos because of his similarities to the infantile and petulant Kaiser Wilhelm II. BUT Kaiser Bill was never this crazy.

My friend Dakinikat of Sky Dancing fame calls Trump Kremlin Caligula. It’s a good one but Trump increasingly reminds me of another crazy Caesar who was also depicted in the classic teevee series, I Claudius: Caligula’s predecessor, Tiberius. In that great 1976 series, Tiberius was installed via the machinations of his mother Livia. That, in turn, left him dubious of his own legitimacy and led him to do crazy and extreme things. Sound familiar?

At the end of his life, Tiberius isolated himself from the court at Rome and spent most of time debauching at his version of Mar-a-Lago: his villa on the Isle of Capri. Neither golf nor cable teevee had been invented at that point but I’m sure Tiberius would have dug them.

It’s side-by-side picture time. On the left is Trump without his epic combover and orange spray tan. On the right is George Baker as Tiberius who is oranger than Trump in this shot.

The good news is that George Baker grew up to play nice Inspector Wexford in The Ruth Rendell Mysteries. Trump will never grow up. He’ll always be Trumpberius.