Category Archives: Fog Of Scandal

Kirstjen’s Katrina Connection

It had to happen. Some pundits are calling the caged children scandal “Trump’s Katrina.” First, former Failing NYT editor Jill Abramson in the former Manchester Guardian followed by New Yorker editor David Remnick. To be fair, Remnick acknowledges a crucial difference:

Some pundits have suggested that what is happening now in Texas will be “Trump’s Katrina.” But, without excusing the racism and the indifference shown by the authorities in that horrific episode, it ought to be pointed out that at least the federal government did not order the flooding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. What is happening now is purely gratuitous, a deliberate act of cruelty intended as leverage to build a “beautiful wall.” And it is a wall intended not only to block Mexicans and Central Americans from making their way into the United States but to divide the United States itself, in order to retain power.

Bush’s Katrina moment was based on incompetence and casual racism whereas the separated family scandal (I’m trying out different rubrics) is deliberate and based on incompetence as well as malicious racism. Shorter Adrastos: the shitheads want to keep out people from shithole countries. Team Trump *wanted* the outrage thinking it would gin up the baser elements of their base. This is what happens when Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller and the Insult Comedian are driving the train. Hopefully, it will cause a wreck in November.

There’s a more interesting direct link to Katrina involving the very white lady at DHS:

Nielsen moved over to the White House as special assistant to the president and senior director for prevention, preparedness and response. She had that job in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. Nielsen’s job didn’t involve coordinating storm response—she served more as an information conduit to the White House—but the George W. Bush administration’s botched response to Katrina reflected poorly on all involved.

A bipartisan report (pdf) prepared by the House of Representatives after Katrina specifically cites Nielsen for not recognizing the storm’s potential for destruction, although her office had received warnings. The Washington Post reported that “Nielsen was one of a handful of White House officials warned of the so-called ‘New Orleans scenario’: a hurricane rated Category 3 or higher hitting the city and bursting its aging levees.” Even after in the storm’s aftermath, with hundreds of people awaiting rescue, Nielsen’s office had trouble getting the attention of Bush, who went to California to give a speech. “It does not appear the president received adequate advice and counsel from a senior disaster professional,” according to the House report.

Nielsen is yet another example of upward mobility based on failure. She helped screw the Katrina pooch and ended up Homeland Security secretary.

I rarely watch Trump administration press briefings but I saw Nielsen the other day. It’s bad enough when the Press Secretary pleads ignorance, it’s infinitely worse when the person in charge of things does so. Nielsen made like Huck’s horrible spawn and said she hadn’t seen the images from South Texas or heard the heartbreaking recording of the weeping six-year-old Salvadoran girl. She told the assembled press corps that she’d look into it and get back to them. She’s done neither. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a shitty role model, y’all.

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his desk saying “the buck stops here.” Team Trump is intent on passing the buck. Bigly. So much so that Dahlia Lithwick compiled a list of Trumper excuses, evasions, and downright lies in defense of this disgusting policy. Their spin doctors are so dizzy that *they* need a doctor. It’s a pity Ronnie Jackson is no longer there to minister to their needs.

Speaking of pointing the finger of blame, I recently read Bob Mann’s fabulous biography of Gret Stet Senator Russell Long. The events involving the very white lady at DHS put me in mind of Long’s legendary aphorism:

To say these are trying times is a grotesque understatement. We have a president* who tweets out shit like this:

Applying the word “infest” to human beings is straight out of the Goebbels playbook. The fucking moron president* may not know the history behind this but Stephen Miller does. Making matters even more grotesque is the fact that Miller is Jewish. Oy, just oy.

Back to the very white lady at DHS. I’d like to praise the folks who heckled her out of a Mexican restaurant in Washington City. And they say that irony is dead. Nielsen puts the tacky in taco.

I was tempted to call this post Kirstjen’s Katrina Konnection but decided that was a bit heavy-handed. I’m as fond of alliteration as anyone but it’s what the Ku Kluxers do, so include me out.

Finally, it may be a struggle in 2018 but I *still* try to be a glass half full person. That’s why Todd Rundgren gets the last word:

It’s Good To Be Kaiser

The Kaiser of Chaos was feeling feisty this morning. He tweeted out a preposterous assertion of executive authority:

So, why tweet this if you’re a not guilty man? (Like “collusion,” “innocent” is not a legal term of art: please substitute “conspiracy” and “not guilty.”) Something big is going on behind the scenes right now. This is the latest in a long line of panic tweets sent by the man who thinks he’s dictator. He’s a dictator in his mind only but the public needs to pay careful attention when he gets like this.

Trump’s plan is to live and die by the tweeter tube so it’s only fitting to post a twitter riposte to the president*:

I’ve complained before about amateur internet and cable teevee lawyers. Trumpy is by far the worst of the bunch. Frankly, his real lawyers aren’t much better after that fakakata memo they sent to team Mueller asserting that it’s legal for the president* to shit on the constitution and wipe his ass with the bill of rights. And of course Mayor Noun Verb 9/11 has been all over teevee belching and farting smoke. I’ve come to the conclusion that Rudy and Trumpy are the same dude. Heckuva job, Rudy.

Very few genuine legal eagles think that Team Trump’s claims hold any water. If they did, we’d already be living in a dictatorship instead of watching a pre-Great War style autocratic hereditary monarchy creep up on us. There are signs of it every day; particularly in the admonitions to exempt Trump’s family from criticism and scrutiny. His son-in-law and daughter are White House aides so they’re fair game. Junior and Eric have big mouths so they are too. I feel sorry for Melania and cannot blame her for disappearing. Lord, what a family.

Back to legal scholars. I’d like to direct your attention to two op-ed pieces in today’s Failing New York Times. The first by a Democrat: former Deputy Attorney General and US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Harry Litman. The second piece is by former Reagan and Poppy Bush White House counsel, Douglas Kmiec. who deftly lays out precedents on executive power. Holy bipartianship, Batman.

There are also some swell pieces at Slate. The first by Jed Shugerman posits that Trump’s lawyers seem to have admitted that he obstructed justice. It’s a detailed essay so you should read it for yourself but it’s as convincing as hell. We already knew that a legal team featuring Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani, and the departed John Dowd was not ready for prime time. The Shugerman piece confirms that belief.

Finally, the divine Dahlia Lithwick conducts an extended interview with Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe; known to our readers as Larrrr-eeee Tryyyyyy-buh. Tribe and Dahlia both urge Democrats to avoid “magical thinking” and understand the limits of what can be accomplished by Team Mueller, impeachment, and the 25th amendment.

These are perilous times. We have a petulant president* who believes that he is above the law. He’s surrounded by yes men and women who only tell him what he wants to hear. He conducts himself like a medeval monarch dispensing justice to his followers and denying it to his opponents. I’m fond of the Kaiser Wilhelm II analogy because *that* fucking moron was deposed at the end of the Great War. Like Trump, he was an arrested adolescent who fled to Holland to avoid being arrested. I wonder if they’d take Trumpy in? Not bloody likely.

One more tweet before we go. If only the Kaiser of Chaos would listen to Jerry Ford:

For the record, Ford’s Attorney General, Edward Levi, was the one who cleaned house at the Justice Department after Watergate. It’s his legacy of apolitical justice that’s under attack by the Kaiser of Chaos and the Duke of Deception, Rudy Giuliani.

The last word goes to the late Tom Petty. All you have to do is substitute Kaiser for King:

The Cheaper The Crook, The Gaudier The Patter

Thus spake Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon to the Fat Man’s gunsel Wilmer. Crime fiction buffs out there will recall that Wilmer was the patsy in that classic novel and movie.

I thought of Spade’s put down of Wilmer upon the release of one of what the media insists on calling THE COHEN TAPES. While I dig the way it evokes Watergate, we’re talking digital recordings, not tapes. It’s starting to bug the shit out of me so I thought I’d go on the record and I’m not talking 33’s or 45’s either.

The crook may be cheap and his patter *is* gaudy but there are NO tapes. Repeat after me: THE COHEN RECORDINGS.

That concludes this episode of How Life Imitates The Maltese Falcon.

Crossfire Hurricane: Deep State, Deep Doo Doo

I pinch myself almost every day that a minority of the voters (with help from Russian intelligence) elected an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head to the highest office in the land. We’re bombarded with this fucking moron’s nonsense and stupidity on a daily basis. One of the things I find most disconcerting is Trump’s continuing reliance on bizarre conspiracy theories when, in theory, he should be the best informed person in the country. While it’s true that most of the conspiracy theories are self-serving, the dumb fucker believes them.

Things have gotten even weirder since the failing New York Times published its big story about the FBI counter-intelligence operation Crossfire Hurricane. Against all evidence. Team Trump insists it was an Obama administration operation aimed at undermining their campaign and/or overthrowing Trump in a Deep State coup. I guess that’s why it was secret until last week. #sarcasm. Instead, it was the least intrusive way to investigate some serious allegations. Of course, we know that the Trumpers are denizens of the Derp State, so why should anyone be surprised by this meshuga crapola.

I am mildly thrilled that the Feebs used the opening line of the Rolling Stones classic Jumpin’ Jack Flash as the code name for the investigation. That would never have happened in the Hoover era when rock and roll was considered subversive, especially the Stones who were bad boys then, plutocrats now. Jumpin’ Jack Flash it’s still a gas, gas, gas.

Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has great sources in the alternate universe known, to me at least, as Trumpistan. He has a wild piece today at The Hive about the latest conspiracy theories and even got our old pal Roger Stone to go on the record:

According to people familiar with Trump’s thinking, his team is attempting to build the case that anti-Trump forces in the F.B.I. entrapped his advisers using informants to plant evidence about Russian collusion. The theory goes that the F.B.I. later used these contacts with the Russians to delegitimize his presidency. Trump’s advisers say the intelligence community believed Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, but in case she didn’t, they concocted this elaborate plot to remove Trump from office. “Just when you think it can’t get stranger, it does,” a Trump adviser told me. Stone claims the anti-Trump conspiracy includes senior intelligence officials from the Barack Obama administration. “The guy who will end up burning in all this is [former C.I.A. director] John Brennan,” Stone told me. “If I were him I’d break the capsule and swallow it now. That psychopath is going down.”

Brennan is a psychopath now? It takes one to know one, Rog. I’ll see you on the Dark Stone of the Moon, dude. The lunatic is now on the sinkhole laden White House grass. It’s time to revive this meme from the October 20, 2016 post referred to above:

I’m curious as to how the CIA director was pulling the strings at the FBI. The Feebs have always zealously protected their independence up to and including the Comey era. You don’t have to be Mark (Deep Throat) Felt to figure that one out. The only reality in the Derp State is what helps Trump save his worthless ass from prosecutors.

I’m back to pinching myself. What disturbs me is that there are people out there who believe that the so-called Deep State is why our country in trouble when it’s really the conspiracy theorist in the chief who put the derp in deep, which is why we’re all in deep doo doo. Hopefully, we won’t sink before the November election, which is when we’ll have a chance to elect a Congress that will do its job and rein in these crazies. But it will take years for the country to regain sanity after losing its mind on 11/8/2016.

The last word goes to the Stones and two of my favorite covers of Jumpin’ Jack Flash. It’s still a gas, gas, gas.

Stupid Watergate Goes Postal

I try not to write about the same things as Athenae BUT a bloggers gotta do what a bloggers gotta do. Besides, I’m coming at the fake billionaire president* versus real billionaire publisher smackdown from a different angle, and this post title was too good to waste. I, too, am a grudge-holder but I’d prefer a Coke Zero button on my desk to a Diet Coke one any day. That may be a distinction without a difference but there you have it. Btw, I still don’t think my favorite soda pop tastes different now that it’s been rebranded as Coke Zero Sugar. It’s soda spin as far as I’m concerned: pop goes the marketing weasel.

In case I’ve confused you more than usual, I’m talking about the Insult Comedian’s harebrained scheme to screw Amazon by changing their postal rates. He and Melania seem to have a reverse Ricky and Lucy thing going on. He has the crazy ideas, she has the thick accent. It’s unknown if she ever sings Babalu.

Trumpy even called in the Postmaster General who tried to explain that she doesn’t have the power to unilaterally change rates or cancel contracts:

President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations, a dramatic move that probably would cost these companies billions of dollars.

Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission, the three people said. She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.

This president* doesn’t do process. I suspect he recalls his father Fred talking about his dealings with the Post Office back when it was a patronage spigot under FDR’s man Jim Farley. That changed in the 1970’s. Trump is usually stuck in the Eighties so this is at least a slightly different form of malakatude. I imagine him straightening his weave and saying in his best Archie Bunker voice: “My foddah told me about dis here t’ing.”

Once again we’re in Stupid Watergate territory. Nixon infamously tried to use the IRS to screw his enemies. He had John Dean hand the enemies list to the IRS commissioner who proceeded to sit on it. Nixon was not a fucking moron so he acted through intermediaries instead of doing the dirty work himself. Trump is still worse than Nixon. He’s always been stupider.

I’m not sure where Trump fits on the George W. Bush bad president scale because he hasn’t started a war or crashed the economy yet. He has, however, politicized the Justice Department and CIA just like the president who many are trying to rehabilitate. Just say no to that, y’all, just say no.

The last word goes to Rachel Maddow with a brilliant segment from her May 18th show. Rachel may not call Trump’s latest fakakta idea Stupid Watergate, but she places it in the proper historical context.

 

The Fog Of Scandal: The Fixer Meets Spiro Agnew

We’ve finally learned why Team Trump freaked out over the Michael Cohen raid. It looks as if the Fixer has been a busy boy shaking down big corporations and getting paid off by a Russian oligarch. He’s been doing business as Essential Consultants: the business is selling access to the White House. Remember when the Insult Comedian went on about pay for play during the 2016 campaign? It was classic Trumpian projection. Anyone who found the Fixer’s services essential was paying to play and some of the action involved Russian money.

Kremlingate and the Stormy shitshow have publicly intersected for the first time. There’s bound to be more to come. There’s a lot of dirty Russian money out there that needs laundering and some of it may have landed in the president’s* greedy hands. It’s a small palm to grease but money may well have flowed from Cohen’s shell company to one of Trump’s shell companies. Does anyone still think Kremlingate is too complicated for people to understand? People understand pay-offs and bribes.

This is a good time for everyone to brush up on the Agnew resignation. Tricky’s Veep was caught taking bribes from contractors back home in Maryland. The graft continued *after* Agnew moved from Annapolis to Washington City. Since federal prosecutors were uncertain if a sitting Veep could be indicted, a plea bargain was struck in exchange for Agnew’s resignation from office. This is a scenario that should be added to impeachment and the 25th Amendment in 2018. The Agnew scenario may be what Michael Avenatti has in mind when he confidently asserts that Trump will not finish his term.

This is getting more entertaining every day. I guess I have to take back my criticisms of Avenatti’s camera hog ways. Unlike Rudy Giuliani, he’s a camera hog who delivers the goods.

I originally titled this post The Fixer On Shakedown Street, so the last word goes to the Grateful Dead.

 

Enquiring Minds Flip On The Fixer

If Fox News is state television for the Trump era, the National Enquirer is the state newspaper. That’s right, a sleazy supermarket tabloid is the Trumper’s Pravda. Trump is often called a reality teevee president* it is equally accurate to call him a tabloid president*.

Long before reality teevee became a thing, Trumpy was a tabloid tycoon. When Enquiring Minds go after one of the Insult Comedian’s former lackeys, that’s some serious shit. It’s the Fixer’s turn on the checkout aisle:

Much like articles in the  old Soviet press, *what* Pecker’s publication says is less important than the headlines.  Its stories are usually lies about secrets and lies. The import is that Trump’s inner circle expects Cohen to flip like a pancake now that he’s on Team Mueller’s flattop grill.  I  would share some lies about secrets and lies but the story isn’t online yet and I’m not shelling out money for Pecker’s putrid publication. It’s okay: hardcore Trumpers (hereinafter the 20%) would rather look at the pictures anyway. Why read when your hero is functionally illiterate?

The notion that Michael Cohen would make like Sopranos capo Big Pussy and rat the boss out is not exactly shocking.  It reminds me of a line Sam Spade threw at the Fat Man’s gunsel Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon: “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”

Gaudy patter is the Fixer’s speciality.

Since my Life Imitates The Sopranos pictures are so popular, here are side-by-side stoolies:

The guy with the pinky ring looks more like a law school graduate than the nitwit with the cell phone. So it goes.

Since Cohen is big in the taxi business, I’ve been meaning to post this pre-Uber Tull tune. There’s no time like the present:

 

The P-Word

Not that P-Word; get your minds out of the Russian gutter, y’all. P in this instance is for pardons. I hate to agree with the Insult Comedian about anything but the question about pardoning Michael Cohen was indeed stupid. Unless you’re Tricky Dick, one has to be charged with a crime before being pardoned. There are no charges against Trump’s fixer thus far so there’s nothing to pardon. Additionally, if Cohen committed crimes in the Empire State, Trump cannot pardon him for those, which means the state Attorney General or local District Attorneys can go after him. I somehow doubt that Andrew Cuomo has any plans to pardon Cohen.

There’s an army of ill-informed amateur lawyers out there. They’re the people who think Michael Avenatti is Clarence Darrow reincarnated because he’s good on teevee. One of the most dangerous things in the country is to get between Avenatti and a microphone. I think the guy lives in CNN and MSNBC’s studios. I’m worried about his health: one cannot survive for long on a diet of green room muffins and donuts.

Back to the plague of amateur lawyers. It’s the curse of our time that every loud mouth with a social media feed considers themselves an expert on everything. Hell, I used to practice criminal law but I don’t fancy myself a legal expert. I still know a helluva lot more than the average cable teevee host or  “twitter personality.” Btw, if anyone ever calls me a “twitter personality,” just shoot me before I make like Fred Fucking Sanford:

Sanford And Son GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

We appear to have gone from fake news to fake lawyers to fake heart attacks. So it goes.

Repeat after me: it’s easier to talk about pardons than it is to issue one, the whole Scooter Libby thing notwithstanding. The amateur lawyers would have you believe it was the legal equivalent of a Cohen pardon test drive. It was not: Libby was convicted of crimes for which W refused to pardon him much to Cheney’s disgust. Cohen is merely under pressure from federal prosecutors to flip on the Trump crime family. Yo, Donald, talking about your underlings flipping makes you look guilty. Hey, that means he’s fucked up and been truthful. Anything can happen.

A quick note about Rudy Giuliani joining Trump’s defense  team. I laughed for 5 minutes solid when I heard this news. He hasn’t been involved in criminal law in 30 years and his claim that he can end the Mueller probe is bluster and bullshit worthy of the Insult Comedian. I wonder if Trump is aware that James Comey used to work for Rudy. It could change everything. Anything can happen.

Since people like it when I post a side-by-side picture of Michael Cohen and a fake wise guy, here’s one with real wise guy Sammy The Bull Gravano when he was a witness for Comey who then worked for Giuliani. It’s a fucking small world after all.

I have no idea what will happen between Cohen and Trump and neither does anyone else. My money is on Cohen ratting out Trumpy. That would be the smart move. Of course, Cohen is deeply stupid. So, anything can happen.

The last word goes to Tim and Neil Finn:

The Latest Trump Dignity Wraith

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everyone who gets involved with Donald Trump gets slimed. The latest example is Admiral/Doctor Ronny Jackson who had a reputation as a competent doctor and a nice guy during the Bush and Obama administrations. That began to change when he gave a preposterous briefing about Trump’s health. Then came his nomination to run the Veterans Administration, which is a nearly impossible job given the competing interest groups and the size of the agency.

Tonight there’s breaking news that could derail the nomination altogether:

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee is reviewing allegations he’s hearing about Ronny Jackson, the White House physician and President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was unclear late Monday whether the Senate panel would postpone Jackson’s confirmation hearing, which was scheduled for Wednesday, in light of stories about the nominee told by current or former White House medical staff.

Sources familiar with the tales say that Tester’s staff is reviewing multiple allegations of a “hostile work environment.” The accusations include “excessive drinking on the job, improperly dispensing meds,” said one of the people familiar, who was granted anonymity to speak frankly about the situation. The other people familiar with the stories also confirmed those details.

If proven true, “it’ll sink his nomination,” said one of the sources.

This is what happens when you nominate someone without any vetting. There was no interview, no nothing, just a presidential* gut instinct that he liked Admiral/Doctor Jackson and that somehow made him qualified to run a massive bureaucracy. Trump’s gut may be large but his instincts are terrible. The incompetence, it burns.

I considered stealing a line from a tweet by Steven Beschloss, brother of historian Michael, but decided that was too Trumpian:

Excessive drinking can definitely make one hostile. The irony is that none of the post-Nixon presidents have been known as heavy drinkers. The last presidents to drink with their White House physician were FDR and Harry Truman and they were only occasionally hostile. Hostility is Trump’s speciality.

It looks as if Admiral/Doctor Jackson is the latest Trump dignity wraith. Stay tuned.

Client Number 3

Everything involving Michael Cohen has a zany aspect:

In a letter Sunday night, Cohen’s attorneys claimed that Cohen had been engaged in “traditional legal tasks” with at least three clients in 2017 through 2018. The letter named President Donald Trump, who has already sought to get involved in the current dispute over the seized documents, and Elliot Broidy, a GOP fundraiser for whom Cohen arranged a hush payment for a Playboy model he impregnated, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cohen resisted naming the third client, citing his client’s preference that his identity not be made public.

And Client Number 3 is Sean Hannity.

I wonder if hush money was involved? Hannity has always had a devoted family man facade so it if it is, this is getting juicier by the day. From now on, I shall call Hannity Client Number 3. I’d like to thank Michael Cohen for helping me out. That’s much funnier than Fox News Meathead even if the latter is true.

Pass the popcorn and cue the Hannity GIF:

Someone Sean GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Comeypalooza 2018

Comeypalooza 2018 rolled on with his interview with my diminutive countryman, George Stephanopoulos, last night. My evil side wished they’d done it standing up since Comey is 6’8″ and George is 5’7′. Of course, such interviews are filmed with the participants seated but I can dream. This day after kinda sorta instant analysis is *not* a dream.

Watching Comey reminded me of how complex life is. I was every bit as mad at Comey as most Clinton supporters in October 2016. I excoriated him in a post entitled Easy Comey Easy Go. I even unfavorably compared his FBI to one of America’s most distinguished prosecutors, Robert Jackson. I still think he fucked up with his ham-fisted intervention in the election BUT unlike many powerful people he’s willing to admit the possibility that he made a mistake. Comey is not the “untruthful slimeball” of Trumpian tweets but a flawed human being capable of doing fine things but also capable of screwing up. Bigly.

Even if he doesn’t explicitly say that he’s trying to make up for that epic mistake in 2016, it’s obvious that he regrets any role he played in electing Donald Trump. Some of the language he used in the interview with my diminutive countryman was eye-popping. This is the money quote on Trump’s fitness to be Oval One:

A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that’s not a policy statement. Again, I don’t care what your views are on guns or immigration or taxes.

There’s something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.

On balance, Comey’s role in the rolling dialogue as to whether Trump is fit to be president* is a useful one. He can be on the annoying side when he’s tending the Comey Myth but his insights into Trump’s personality are fascinating. These two men were destined to clash. They’re not just from different worlds but from different solar systems.

Watching Comey I kept thinking this guy must have been a great trial lawyer. He’s a stellar wordsmith and story-teller. Plus juries love a lawyer with a sense of humor, especially a prosecutor. Nobody expects a prosecutor to be funny. The same qualities will make him an outstanding witness for the prosecution.

The George & Jim show only ran for an hour Sunday night but the conversation went on for 5 hours. The full transcript is fascinating reading and can be found HERE.

Life Imitates The Sopranos: Michael Cohen Edition

I’ve spent a fair amount of time the last few years chastising people for comparing the Trump crime family to The Godfather. The correct comparison is The Sopranos who had a portly hot head as boss as opposed to the dignified Vito and Michael Corleone. I’m glad to see that whoever made this video Josh Marshall posted gets it.

The backdrop may be swankier than the Pork Store in Newark but the feel is the same. I wonder if Cohen ever tans himself Paulie Walnuts style?

Repeat after me: Michael Cohen is a fixer. Fixers don’t get attorney-client privilege. Just having a law degree doesn’t confer privilege on a conversation. If that were the case, my conversations with Della Street and Paul Drake would be privileged. Then the world would learn that they’re both butt-heads. Uh oh, I just pierced the human-cat privilege…

Since we have new Michael Cohen pictures it’s time for a side-by-side picture with a different Sopranos character. It could be called when Paulie met Michael:

Maybe Cohen can help Paulie find the Russian guy they lost in the Pine Barrens. Nah, that would take a modicum of competence.

Watching the video of Cohen walking the streets of New York gave me an earworm, which could be the alternate soundtrack to the Fixer stroll. That’s why the Bee Gees have the last word:

 

Endgame

I’d like to believe this is true: 

Of course Trump is raging and furious and terrified. Prosecutors are now looking at his core. Cohen was the key intermediary between the Trump family and its partners around the world; he was chief consigliere and dealmaker throughout its period of expansion into global partnerships with sketchy oligarchs. He wasn’t a slick politico who showed up for a few months. He knows everything, he recorded much of it, and now prosecutors will know it, too. It seems inevitable that much will be made public. We don’t know when. We don’t know the precise path the next few months will take. There will be resistance and denial and counterattacks. But it seems likely that, when we look back on this week, we will see it as a turning point. We are now in the end stages of the Trump Presidency.

Ryan’s trying to get out before he gets blamed for anything (too late, dipshit) and McConnell’s pretending like he don’t even KNOW these people at this party he is at with his name on the door, and everybody in the Resistance — those who aren’t total garbage, anyway, yeah I’m looking at you Frum — is so tired we can’t remember what protest we were even at last week.

So I’d like to believe it’s almost over but I don’t. Our systems were designed to do things slowly. Election by election, seat by seat, fight by fight. I’d like to believe we’ll get out of this before November but I don’t see any other way out.

A.

Wag The Dog Incoherently

11 days ago Donald Trump said he wanted to be out of Syria within a matter of months. Tonight American, British, and French forces bombed Syria. I guess that earlier statement is, to quote Nixon flack Ron Ziegler, inoperative.

All week long the fog of scandal has enveloped the White House. The Michael Cohen investigation in New York may prove to be more devastating to Trump than anything Team Mueller can come up with. And now the president* is bombing Syria after a chemical weapons attack that his inability to keep his mouth shut may have caused.

It’s bad enough that we’ve entered the wag the dog phase of the Trump regime, it’s even worse that it’s being done in an ad hoc, incoherent, and chaotic manner. Of course, that’s how they do everything. An alternate title for this post could have been Winging It With The Kaiser of Chaos.

With John Bolton and his mustache on board at the NSC, we can expect more late night bombing raids. Perhaps they’ll even come up with a coherent strategy next time. Who am I kidding?

There are some in the MSM who believe that bellicose rhetoric aimed at the Russians means that Putin doesn’t own Trump. Wrong. The gap between the Syrian attack, Trump’s bloodthirsty tweets, and the bombing raid gave the Russians plenty of time to move their military assets and personnel around to minimize their losses. The same thing happened with the delay in imposing sanctions: Putin and his cronies had time to hide their money. It’s all for show. It’s what happens when a scandal plagued administration has its wag the dog moment.

Just think, earlier today everyone was speculating about Rod Rosenstein getting shitcanned. Holy Instant Nostalgia, Batman. Instead I’m writing an instant analysis of Trump wagging the dog. As Jim Comey would surely say at this moment,LORDY.

I only hope this post is more coherent than president* Trump’s national security policies.  Repeat after me: LORDY.

An Attack On Our Country?

There’s been a feeding frenzy over the raid on Michael Cohen’s office, apartment, hotel room, and hot tub. I made the last bit up. There’s even been some tut-tutting about Cohen being Trump’s “lawyer.” At the risk of sounding like a broken record: Cohen is not a lawyer in the usual sense. He’s a fixer/gangster. He’s more like a caporegime in the Trump crime family than a “personal lawyer.” It looks as if the fixer is fucked. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

More alarming was Trump’s latest public meltdown, which may be the creepiest one yet. He was surrounded by the military brass and his national security peeps including John Bolton and his mustache. The meeting was ostensibly about Syria. Instead of refusing to comment on Cohen, the Kaiser of Chaos lost his shit:

So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man. And it’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time.

<SNIP>

And it’s a disgrace. It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.

Like a Good Banana Republican, the Insult Comedian conflates his own legal woes with the problems of the nation. The presence of men in uniform evoked a cabinet meeting in Peron’s Argentina, Pinochet’s Chile, or better yet, Noriega’s Panama.

Trump keeps setting firsts. No previous president has ever ranted in public like this. Even Tricky Dick only did it in private. The world was privy to Trump’s unhinged internal monologue this afternoon. I usually find him annoying, this tirade was scary and like the Tom Petty/Mudcrutch song, I don’t scare easy.

As an opponent of Trump’s I’m glad he keeps lighting his own house on fire. His fatal inability to shut the fuck up will be his eventual downfall. The only question is timing. It can’t come soon enough for most of us, but it may take years. We’ve had bad presidents before but only Nixon approached this level of lunacy. The immediate future looks bleaker than it did when Tricky left office. Solid, sensible, mainstream conservative Jerry Ford succeeded him. Mike Pence is no Jerry Ford. He’s more like Spiro Agnew on steroids.

Shorter Adrastos: the fixer is fucked and the country is fucked up. Fuck that shit.

The Fog Of Scandal

Donald Trump seems to be surrounded by a magnetic field that attracts greedy and venal people. The greed field seems to repel anyone with integrity and even an ounce of human decency. The schlemiel phase of the regime ended with the departures of Reince, Gum Spice, and the cameo appearance of the Mooch. It’s in the full-tilt cartoon villain phase as names such as Pruit, Zinke, Devos, Carson, Ross, Mnuchin, and Kudlow continue to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

In addition to the greed field, the Trump regime is encased in a permanent fog of scandal. It’s a fog as dense as the Insult Comedian’s intellect and nearly as impenetrable. The people around Trump are the sort of rich people whose only goal in life is to further enrich themselves now that they’re in public office. As I said in a different context the other day, they can’t help themselves. I’m reminded of one of the cornerstone lies of the Trump campaign:

“My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy,” declared Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign. “I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy. But now I want to be greedy for the United States.”

In addition to good old-fashioned plundering and theft, Team Trump and its allies are trying to turn the clock back to the early 1880’s. That was before the civil service was introduced to the federal government by, of all people, a legendary grifter, Chester Arthur. Arthur was a hack placed on the 1880 GOP ticket by New York Senator Roscoe Conkling whose picture is still in the dictionary next to the word corrupt. Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

The dread Newt Gingrich has been trying to eradicate and/or erode the civil service for decades. He appears to be making some headway since Trump’s idea of “draining the swamp”is to eliminate non-partisan experts and bring on the greedheads and lackeys. Believe me.

There’s a swell cover story in New York Magazine wherein Jonathan Chait argues that Democrats should run against the fog of scandal enveloping the nation’s capital:

“Small episodes of corruption can play an outsize role in American politics, since the human scale of petty self-dealing is often easy to understand. And in Trump’s case, the smaller and larger scandals reinforce each other. Why is Trump giving rich people and corporations a huge tax cut? Why has he been threatening to take away your health insurance? Why is he letting Wall Street and Big Oil write their own rules? Above all, if Trump supposedly believed that “if I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company — it’s peanuts,” why are his children still running it? For the same reason he has let his Cabinet secretaries run up large travel expenses, and why his son-in-law met with oligarchs in China and the Gulf States whose money he was trying to get his hands on.”

Chait argues at the beginning of the piece that Kremlingate is:

“…substantively important, but it is also convoluted and abstract and removed from any immediate impact on voters’ lived experience.”

I agree with Chait that Krelimgate is complicated and foggy in its own way. BUT it’s the spoke on the wheel of scandal that’s driving the country over the cliff. I may need some anti-metaphor medicine, I seem to be wheeling them out left and right…

The only way people can prevent the Trump regime from driving the country into a ditch is to organize and vote in such great numbers that the voter suppression mechanisms devised by Republicans will be overwhelmed.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appears to be terrified of a blue wave that could wash away the fog of scandal both in Washington City and the state capitals.  The good news is that the Kaiser of Chaos is oblivious, basking in the applause of his supporters and staff of sycophants. It’s what happens when you live inside the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. Believe me.

The last word goes to Todd Rundgren and Utopia’s cover of the theme song of Trump’s shitty reality show:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “If you’ve got it, flout it” edition

Sorry – all out of “Stormy” puns.  (Adrastos already used the best ones).

Soooooo…..

Stormy Daniels, Flouting NDA, Details Trump Affair To ‘60 Minutes’
Yahoo! ^ | 26/3/18 | Rebecca Shapiro

Posted on 3/25/2018, 6:28:18 PM by Eleutheria5

…..

Though the adult film star previously denied the affair, she’s now arguing that she should be released from the agreement and be free to speak publicly of her former relationship with Trump as the president did not sign the document.

Cohen has admitted to paying Daniels $130,000. Trump’s lawyers are threatening to make her pay $1 million every time she violates the nondisclosure agreement. The White House has denied any affair occurred.

“He knows I’m telling the truth,” Daniels said of the president.

The adult film star and her lawyer Michael Avenatti have claimed before she has photographic evidence of her affair with Trump.

Just so you know the latest MSM ploy.
So now The Darnold fucking a porn star while his wife sits home with their young son is a “ploy”. Good to know.
I don’t care if he did.
Yeah – we’ve kinda figured that out already.
I don’t care if he didn’t. But we have to keep abreast of all the latest sleazoid tactics, so we know what not to give a sh!t about.
1 posted on 3/25/2018, 6:28:18 PM by Eleutheria5
Oh – and now you can type “shit” on Free Republic as long as you replace the “i” with an exclamation point.  Also good to know.
To: Eleutheria5

 

This world has become a Jerry Springer show.

3 posted on3/25/2018, 6:30:12 PM by lilypad

Well, when you vote for a reality show schmuck, exactly what did you expect?
To: Eleutheria5 

Do I care if she slept with the President?

So you don’t care if she did?

Except he wasn’t President when it allegedly happened.

So you do care if he did, but you don’t because the election hadn’t happened yet?

If I want to watch porn, I’ll go to Pornhub.

Apparently, you’re not the only one.

.

TrumpStormyPorn

.

Stormy Daniels’ account is yesterday’s news. Yawn.

7 posted on 3/25/2018, 6:34:05 PM by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)

Nope.  I just looked, and it’s still today’s news.  Even on FOX.
To: Eleutheria5

 

This issue is not what did or did not happen
The whore sold her story for $130K and now wants to break the contract
If courts let this happen, NDA’s are useless

11 posted on 3/25/2018, 6:36:33 PM by silverleaf (A man who kneels for the national anthem doesn’t stand for much of anything)

“The NDA took my baby away…..”
To: Eleutheria5 

Her story is preposterous. She had to have sex because she made a bad decision going to his room alone.

She HAD to have sex? Or he HAD to ask her to?

The woman is a PORN star.

32 posted on 3/25/2018, 6:44:56 PM by Williams (Stop tolerating the intolerant.)

How dare you! She’s a porn-again christian.
To: Bogie 

I’m not buying a word she says.

So you don’t believe her?

She’s worried about her daughter?

So you DO believe her?

Maybe she should of(sic) thought of her daughter when she chose her career,

Her career wasn’t fucking The Darnold, as I recall. Nobody from the porn industry came up to her and threatened her family if she ever made another film.

She’s just not credible.

54 posted on 3/25/2018, 6:52:49 PM by surrey

Read more after the “read more”…
.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

First Draft Potpourri: The Legal Merry-Go-Round

I originally considered giving this post the sub-head, The Legal Docket. But given that it’s partially Trump related, I think Merry-Go-Round is more suitable. Trump’s legal woes do make me dizzy, and when I contemplate Stormy/Stephanie spanking him with a magazine with his face on the cover, I feel like puking. Somebody  pass the barf bag. Please.

Let’s start with the funniest legal story of the week thus far.

The di Genova Fiasco: So Trumpy decided to hire Fox News legal big mouth, Joseph di Genova after seeing him on teevee. He *thought* he liked the cut of his jib, not that the Insult Comedian knows what a jib is. What could possibly go wrong? Everything.

The announcement was made *before* the president* met di Genova in person. What could possibly go wrong? Everything.

It turned out that Trump didn’t like di Genova and his wife/law partner Victoria Toensing as much IRL as on cable news:

The senior administration official said the couple also looked disheveled when they came to meet with the president on Thursday, which helped convince Trump they weren’t the right fit for the team.

That trumped their obvious conflicts of interest. It’s always appearances with the Kaiser of Chaos. He hired Tillerson because he looked distinguished and Mattis because of his nickname, Mad Dog. The good news is that , unlike his boss, the general isn’t one.

So, Trump’s teeevee watching cost him his lead lawyer, John Dowd, and he’s still scrambling to find a decent replacement. We’ve come to a weird moment: no reputable lawyer wants to represent the Current Occupant. The reasons are manifold:

  • He’s known to stiff people who work for him.
  • Taking him on as a client would piss-off female partners at large law firms and hurt efforts to recruit women associates.
  • There’s an excellent chance that Trump would ask them to do something unethical and/or illegal in defending him. Who the hell wants to be disbarred because of an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head?
  • Life’s too short to have a raging, gaping asshole as a client.

No wonder nobody wants to work for him, not even tribal GOPers like Ted Olson. Maybe Michael Cohen can help, uh, fix the Trump defense team. If they settle the Stormy/Stephanie case, maybe Michael Avenatti can rescue Trump’s leaky legal ship.  #sarcasm

The Stevens Bombshell: You’ve all read or heard about retired Supreme John Paul Stevens’ op-ed piece in the Failing New York Times. Justice Stevens advocates repealing the Second Amendment. I’m certain that Stevens knows how difficult it is to repeal an amendment. I think he dropped this bombshell to get our attention and make us focus on the lunacy of the NRA/GOP’s absolutist position on guns in the post District Of Columbia vs. Heller world.

Stevens also wanted to remind us of conservative/Nixon appointed former Chief Justice Warren Burger’s view of the Second Amendment:

During the years when Warren Burger was our chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge, federal or state, as far as I am aware, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment. When organizations like the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and began their campaign claiming that federal regulation of firearms curtailed Second Amendment rights, Chief Justice Burger publicly characterized the N.R.A. as perpetrating “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

I’m glad Stevens has lobbed a hand grenade into the gun control/safety conversation. It’s also an excellent time to revisit his scathing dissent to Scalia’s fakakta majority opinion in Heller.

Let’s move on to another legal eagle op-ed in the FNYT. This piece comes from Duke Law Professor and former Clinton administration Solicitor General, Walter Dellinger.

Indict The Fucker Now, Try Him Later: Dellinger, of course didn’t refer to the president* as a fucker but I like to be direct. Dellinger was the lead government lawyer on the Clinton-Paula Jones case when the Justices ruled that a sitting president *could* be sued. He believes that the logic of the case applies to Trump:

In Clinton v. Jones the entire court agreed that the fact that a federal court’s exercising of its constitutional power to hear a case “may significantly burden the time and attention of the chief executive is not sufficient to establish a violation of the Constitution.” Mere indictment of a president would not meet the stringent standard in Clinton v. Jones for presidential immunity from ordinary legal processes.

Read the whole thing. It’s clear that current DOJ guidelines *only* bar trying a president while in office. An indictment is a whole ‘nother thing.

Repeat after me: Indict The Fucker Now, Try Him Later.

That concludes this brief ride aboard the Legal Merry-Go-Round, which is a term I prefer to carousel since it’s infinitely more evocative.

The last word goes to the Waterboys whose song, Room To Roam, has a merry-go-round feel to it. I hope it doesn’t make you dizzy.

Stormy Sunday: An Interesting Anticlimax

The tweeter tube was wild before Anderson Cooper’s interview with Stormy Daniels aired. They were impatient with the Kansas-Duke overtime whereas I was thrilled to watch Coach Buy-A-Vowel suffer after screwing up at the end of regulation by not calling a time-out. Coach K struck out.

The hype over AC/Stormy was overwhelming. There was no way it could have lived up to expectations greater than Pip’s and it did not. I was underwhelmed by the hype. I hate hype and always view it with skepticism.

People were hoping that the Stormy/Stephanie interview would be the magic bullet that would slay the monster. It was not, unless that is, Michael Cohen is the monster you had in mind. CBS has reported Trump and his Fixer dined at the White House the night before the interview. Presumably, Cohen ate well-done steak and kissed Don Donaldo Il Insulto Comico’s ring as well as his copious rump. Cohen will continue to maintain his Don had nothing to with the hush money. Nobody will believe him. He’s the perfect patsy.

As to the interview itself, not much new news was made but Stormy/Stephanie was very impressive. She came off more like the madam in a Western than a stripper/porn actress. I’m not sure if she was more  Joanie Stubbs in Deadwood or Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke:

Whatever she is, Stormy/Stephanie was impressive and, more importantly, credible. Her portrayal of Trump as a buffoonish blowhard rang true and she didn’t overstate. I suspect some people hoped that she’d denounce him as a monster and the worst president* ever but that would not have been as effective.

Trump comes off as pitiful. He’s definitely got the worst and creepiest pickup line of all-time: “You remind me of my daughter.” He deserved the spanking he got from her just for that line.

I admit to hoping that Stephanie/Stormy would show a bill from an abortion provider that was paid for by Donald Trump. The only new news was this description of the wise guy style threat she received in Vegas, baby:

Daniels said she was on her way to a fitness class with her infant daughter in Las Vegas when she was accosted in the parking lot.

“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone,” she said.

This sounds like something Cohen would hire someone to do but he’s denied it and she, quite rightly, did not tie it to Trump’s Fixer. The Fixer’s lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to Stormy/Stephanie, which will be ignored. Along with flawed non-disclosure agreements, cease and desist letters are a dime-a-dozen in Trumpworld,

I’m not sure where this story goes next. Team Stormy was wise to put her on 60 Minutes, which shows that she’s not in it for a quick pay-off. I don’t think it’s going to cost Trump the support of the horny louts who comprise a slice of his base base. It’s part of the steady drip, drip, drip of scandal. It’s certainly easier for people to understand than Kremlingate. Up to now, the volume of scandals has helped Trump but in the long run, the fog of scandal may prove to be his undoing.

Finally, my favorite part of AC/Stormy fest was when she described Trump watching Shark Week on teevee during their second meeting. I’d like to thank the good people at Slate’s Brow Beat for figuring out which episode it was.

I’m pretty sure Trump identifies with the shark. The problem for him is that the real shark in this case is Team Stormy’s Michael Avenatti, not Michael Cohen who is a fixer, not a litigator. This brings to mind a classic lawyer joke:

Why won’t a shark attack a lawyer swimming in the ocean?
Professional courtesy.