Category Archives: Michael F

IF It’d Been Mister Ed And Wilbur Ross…

mr_ed_wilbur_ross

His barn might have been the royal stable

In an article published Tuesday morning, Forbes’s Dan Alexander — who has become Ross’s central tormentor in the last few months — reported that, based on conversations he had with 21 people, Ross may have stolen more than $120 million from associates over the years, taking vast amounts of money from business partners and consistently scamming investors. “If even half of the accusations are legitimate,” the magazine writes, “the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.

One of Ross’s former colleagues calls him a “pathological liar.”

Unsurprisingly, Ross’s questionable ethical practices have continued during his White House tenure. As … Alexander … reported last June, Ross maintained holdings in foreign companies even while serving in government, exposing him to obvious conflicts of interest. One of these firms had major ties to a Russian oligarch who had been hit with American sanctions. Last November, Ross signed a form asserting that he had divested all the assets he had previously promised to, which turned out not to be true.

Well…explains why Trump thinks Ross is qualified to head Commerce…

With Essence of Kompromat

putin_ad

So there’s the Mueller investigation and the Manafort trial, both of which would in ordinary times and with a normal administration be crippling if not fatal. But the Trump crazy train/cult careens on, in no small part because the true believers might as well be in a cult. They seem to think Donald Trump…Donald fucking Trump…is some sort of divine intervention, which tells me more about their state of mind and what they consider ordained or divine. To which I can only reply…good lord.

So, fuck those folks. You’re not going to reason with them, they’re way beyond that, assuming they ever managed to get to reason to begin with. But…they’re not a majority, or I hope like hell not…and if they are, well, better that we know.

Anyway, just my .00002 cents worth, but forget those folks, and instead, focus on getting our base out…and if there are any undecideds (but how can anyone possibly be undecided in this age?), anyway, for anyone not sure, point out all the times Orange Narcissus has hardly been the alpha male he claims to be, but instead has groveled or otherwise displayed to the world how laughably obsequious he is towards not just Vlad Putin, but even dirtbags like Kim Jong Un.

And tie him to the whole damned Republican Party. Why not? They’ve tied themselves to him. Democratic opposition researchers should be ready to plaster every available media format with material that, over and over again, displays Trump as a toady weakling. That’s what he fears, that’s what he scared of. Being revealed as an ineffective — or worse, incompetent — idiot.

Game on.

The Michael Cohen Mixtape

Cohen_Mix_Tape

So, this is just the first of many, possibly over a hundred, recordings that demonstrate that, duh, the president every bit the sleazeball we know he is. Go figure.

Imagine almost any other politician getting caught up in something like this…

Yet, in a you-can’t-possibly-make-this-up scenario, the nuttiest of the GOP wingnuts filed impeachment charges against Rod Rosenstein.

I’m so old I remember when character issues were allegedly a big deal. Sure, they were always full of shit, but you’d think they’d be a little less openly shameless. Nope. They’re all in…and let’s hope come November, we can throw the bums all out…

 

Drink Up, Cultists

orange_kool_aid_trump_600

Even as Trump demonstrates how crazy and unsuited for office he is, the GOP doubles down on him because of his popularity with the base (what’s the line? something like Democrats despise their base, Republicans fear theirs?).

Almost every elected Republican we talk to privately thinks President Trump’s warm embrace of Vladimir Putin was unexplainable, unacceptable and un-American. Yes, they wish they could say this publicly. No, they won’t — not now, and probably never.

The cold, hard reason: They see no upside in speaking out — and fear political suicide if they do, numerous Republican officials tell us.

Headed into a election that’s expected to favor Democrats, a top GOP Senate strategist says Republicans are counting on President Donald Trump’s media dominance to turn out their voters in November — and drown out opponents’ messaging…

“Everybody thinks that President Trump is some kind of drag on the Republican Party, [when] in this case, he’s just the essential ingredient,” said [Josh] Holmes, who’s helped engineer his party’s Senate strategy for the past 16 years as a chief aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

In other words, forget any appeal to better angels, compromise, reasonableness, whatever. DT’s done everything short of acting as Vladimir Putin’s personal footstool, but it’s not enough to shake the base, who cling to him…as strongly as they do to their guns and religion. Hell, Trump is pretty much their religion, and they fetishize him as much as they do their precious weapons.

And if he and they manage to eke out a win in the midterms…

 

This Is Your Brain On Trump

brain_trump_projection

President-as-Amateur-Hour/Putin’s Stooge continues on…sure, the extended white wingnut cri de coeur (cri de Coors?) is the reddest of red meat to the GOP base, but I think that underscores the real division in the country. It’s less left versus right and more grownup versus selfish brat.

I’m not sure what else we need to motivate grownups to get out and vote. Trump’s an embarrassment, an affront to the democratic process, a sexist, racist, boor…and the living embodiment of undiluted white, racist, wingnut id. Hell, THEY’RE motivated, motivated enough to attend rallies where the scatterbrained ricochet reactionary babbling incoherence is the main attraction

November is our chance to demonstrate what sort of country we are. Let’s hope the answer is a country that at the very least isn’t a shameful embarrassment.

The Cheeto Dust Was Thick Enough To About Kill A Man

second_civil_war_500

Apologies if you’ve already seen it, but if not…Alex Jones’s most recent desperate attempt to incite his brain dead listeners was an assertion that libruls and Democrats were planning a second Civil War, starting…yesterday.

Well…between the local heat and humidity, plus personal business keeping me super busy, sigh, I was forced to opt out, along with the rest of the cohort…that said, a number… a very large number…took to Twitter to give Jones and his minions a fair share of well deserved scorn and derision.

I think this one was my favorite.

general_ted_nugent

Which Side Are You On?

choice_2018_625

It’s a cliche, but I think the upcoming midterm offers a pretty clear choice. And…no, I hadn’t heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at all until she won Tuesday’s primary, but she’s a fantastic candidate…and there are more who offer hope in an otherwise troubled time.

Five months to go until the midterms…which is just a first step. But a necessary first step. Because the alternative is…not something I really want to think about.

What Makes Miller Tick

mcallen-facility_Miller_2

Sorry to play the same song over and over, but I think it’s worth repeating. There are times to debate issues. This isn’t one. There’s no arguing. Team Trump and the GOP base (or maybe I should say Team Trump IS the GOP base); anyway, it’s a political movement based on cruelty and hatred, pure and simple.

It’s not like this is new. They’ve been around for a while…I’m sure you could go back further, but certainly since Goldwater…Nixon carried them, as did Reagan and Bush Junior…though…I’d thought of these folks as George W. Bush voters. I didn’t realize they likely view Bush as “ok, but a little nuanced and sophisticated.” Trump, for all his ugliness, speaks their language.

Which leaves us at a crossroads. I still think a majority of people in this country reject Trumpism. They did in 2016. Let’s not forget he won on a technicality/thanks to weird rules. So, in the upcoming mid-terms, we need to express this rejection in the strongest possible way. Vote them out.

Or deal with the consequences of living in a country that embraces casual cruelty as public policy. Guess we’ll see what happens.

Ave Geezer

ancient_coin_trump_450

GOP paterfamilias Don Donald might be a cult leader…but the GOP faithful are the cult itself, and they’ve been bending their knees to his brand of vicious bigotry and authoritarianism for some time.

Charles Pierce:

I don’t mean to keep beating this tin drum as loudly as I have been, but I think it’s important to keep reminding people that the current president* is an aberrational modern Republican only in the crudeness of a) his rhetoric and, b) the way he wields his power. (Also, he’s something of a nut, which, in my experience, transcends politics anyway.) For example, as was pointed earlier on Wednesday, Tuesday night’s Republican primary results in various states pretty much preclude any serious attempt by Republican office holders to throw a spanner into the crazy that is dominating our politics at the moment. This morning, on MSNBC, this is what Joe Scarborough had to say on the subject.

“It has devolved into a cult. Primary voters in the Republican Party have devolved into a Trumpist cult.”

That’s a word that’s getting tossed around a lot these days. Retiring Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, opined that his party is in the thrall of “cult-like behavior,” while longtime Republican activist and cable TV megastar Rick Wilson says that the word cult “isn’t strong enough” to describe what’s going on. This makes Corker the moderate, I guess.

Now, to be clear, I don’t disagree with any of this. We are seeing politics on one side of the aisle turning into a cult, but, alas, that cult is modern Republicanism. Trumpism is merely one breakaway sect of it, and, truth be told, it hasn’t broken away all that far. After all, Corey Stewart got nominated for the U.S. Senate from Virginia not because of his loyalty to the president*, but as an adherent to a far older cult with which the GOP was quite content to be a part of over the previous four decades: the cult of the Confederate States of America.

Another example: as the results were rolling in Tuesday night, Congressman Steve King, the Republican crackpot who represents the Fourth Congressional District of Iowa, took it upon himself to retweet a famous British neo-Nazi named Mark Collett.

I will give Trump, well, small credit (small credit like his small fingers?). In the, thank heavens, absence of any major crisis (knock on wood) he’s managed to make the run up to the mid-terms mainly about himself. And at this point, even the most scathing of Mueller reports wouldn’t change the true believers’ minds. If anything, they’d view it at Trump’s passion/martyrdom … making him the first martyr ever who’s tastes run to dictator chic.

And…I dunno: given how thoroughly fucked Trump’s reaction will likely be in the event of a disaster of some kind…like with what happened…and what is still happening…in Puerto Rico…

If noting else, we’ll find out what sort of country we’re living in…for now.

 

Worst Reality Television Ever

apprentice_2_645

Each day brings a new “can you believe what this idiot said?” moment, notwithstanding that despite being a clown and a moron, Trump’s also bringing a history of hatred and bigotry, with real consequences for actual people…not that he or his base give a shit.

But, and sorry to keep repeating, his base might be loyal, might be rabid, and certainly might be dangerous, but they’re not a majority and, despite the lazy narrative of the media, they’re not any more “the real Americans” than the rest of us…which means they can be outvoted come November…and goddamn, let’s hope that happens. A couple of days ago, primary voters put candidates on the ballot ranging from good-enough to exceptional…and this fall we’ve got the chance to do something even Trump might understand: essentially cancel his show and go with a fall-season replacement.

OK, maybe we can’t actually cancel, short of a smoking gun/pee tape (and even then, no way the Senate convicts…sigh). But winning the House could keep them on the defensive long enough to reach 2020 without any additional damage…well, assuming no major crisis…yeah, not a comfortable assumption, but on that all we can do is hope…

Two more years…

Are We Sure It Can’t Happen Here?

boy_king_donald_3_flag_cross_2

Turns out I was wrong all this time. Contrary to what I’d thought (and yeah, haven’t read it yet, though it’s on my ever-expanding list) Sinclair Lewis didn’t coin the phrase “when fascism comes to the US it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” But it’s hard to watch the latest bit of performance art in Nashville and not think, damn…this is deeply disturbing.

Gratuitous cruelty is official policy. Puerto Rico was abandoned last year, even as Trump flat out lied in bragging about his response to the two storms that devastated the island. Ever more contorted excuses are, what– tested/focus grouped?– by Ghouliani and others as they no longer bother to deny felonies like collusion with a foreign government or obstruction of justice but instead rehash the old Nixon defense of “if the president does it, it’s not illegal” (notwithstanding that collusion occurred before he “won” the election).

And that Trump spent a decade or more as a full service laundromat for mobbed-up Russian cash…not to mention having a personal life that evangelicals would condemn if they weren’t so eager to give him a mulligan…is little more than gossip column fodder. Michelle Wolf got that one spot-on. They just can’t quit him.

But we’ve got to. Trump might be a joke, but the direction he’s taking the country isn’t. It’s a race to the bottom that doesn’t end well at all.

 

Swamp Things Don’t Drain Swamps

trump_swamp_thing

It’s become a dreary slog to keep up with the sleaze and rot. Revelations that Michael Cohen got paid $400K by the Ukrainian government in exchange for allegedly arranging a meeting between their president and ours — and the subsequent decision by Ukraine to cut short an investigation into Paul Manafort — get the “in other news” treatment for the most part (imagine the level of fury from the noise machine if this had happened with a Clinton or Obama associate. Actually, you don’t need to imagine, because the Clinton Foundation was attacked by the usual suspects for this very reason.)

I think the most frustrating aspect is that it shouldn’t be, and really isn’t, any surprise at all that Team Trump is functioning more or less exactly as expected. Trump’s always been sleazy and more than a little crooked. About all that’s surprising is, despite being corrupt to the core, he’s still kind of a pipsqueak in that world. A competent crook would have really raked it in … but I digress. Trump’s crookedness wasn’t even an open secret. It was in plain view for any news organization to report on…but throughout 2015 and 2016 the only thing deemed newsworthy by the elite press was…Hillary Clinton’s email.

Nice going, media.

Oh, and we can forget about any Republican heroes. They’re either all-in…or heading out like Jeff Flake.

Two more years…

From The Department of the Patently Obvious

trump_stromy_check_screen

Not exactly news, but yeah, she got paid, he knew she got paid…oh, and he openly lied about it. Which also isn’t exactly news , i.e., he’s a compulsive liar, but what is kind of…no, not weird, but troubling…is how the media is normalizing all this.

Adrastos cites Driftglass for “Stupid Watergate,” and it certainly is a case of history if not repeating then rhyming (as well as being both tragedy and farce). The obviousness of it all, the insistence of both the media and law enforcement to tread carefully (because, IOKIYAR — you can be certain if a Democrat showed one one thousandth of this degree of corruption…), the sad laments of people like Brian “where-are-the-Republican-heroes?” Williams, the high-handed pious pronouncements from Ghouliani and Pence that one year is enough and for the good of the country let’s put it all behind us…about all that’s missing right now is a smoking gun (in the form of a pee tape? Ugh) that can’t be dismissed as insufficient…though given the shamelessness of this administration — and an elite media that’s more interested in gossip and entertainment than journalism (now that I think of it, a pee tape — ugh — would likely be little more than fodder for the likes of Hannity and Geraldo)…

But it’s not just the corruption, which itself is beyond even Nixonian epic. Quite a bit of institutional rot is being exposed, and yeah, these are dangerous times.

RIP

irony_tombstone_oliver_north

Oliver North thinks companies doing business with Iran should be sanctioned by the Trump administration.

“If we sanction [Iran] again, we ought to sanction anybody else who does business with them,” North, who was recently elected as the new leader of the National Rifle Association, told Fox News. “That’ll stop the Euros from helping to bail them out while they cheat on this program.”

No word on if he thinks this should be applied to clandestine weapons sales with the proceeds going to fund illegal wars…or whether it’s OK for Halliburton to sidestep any restrictions by using a foreign subsidiary. 

Rudy Can’t Fail

nosferatuliani_2

Or can he? Hubris, meet Hannity. Sure, Trump’s core supporters won’t — and don’t — care (I’ll give Trump the slightest of credits: he was right when he said he could shoot someone and not lose his base. Yep.)

But forget about the base. They’re the same people who stayed with Bush Junior to the bitter end, the same people who supported Cheney, or, previously, Oliver North, Nixon post-Watergate, Agnew…Goldwater…the oldest ones still might think Ike was a squish.

Ghouliani didn’t lose those voters. But here’s hoping this latest own goal erodes more of the soft support. The same voters who helped turn Pennsylvania’s 18th and the Senate Seat in Alabama. Because, not to get over-dramatic, it’s not optional…we have to outvote them this cycle. If not…geez, I just don’t want to think about the consequences.

Oh, and on a less dramatic note, it’s always fun to watch Rudy faceplant. He’s a ghoul and a creep. If only he could do even more damage and then resign in disgrace…

Look Who’s Not Talking

Frank_Costello_Michael_Cohen

Fifth Amendment rights for me, but not for thee

“The mob takes the Fifth,” Trump said at one campaign rally in September 2017. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

Trump also called staffers pleading the Fifth “disgraceful” and “a bigger deal than Watergate” at different points during the campaign.

However…

The president, however, pleaded the Fifth during his divorce from his first wife Ivana Trump in 1990 to avoid answering questions about adultery.

And Cohen revealed in a court filing Wednesday that he will plead the Fifth in Daniels’s defamation lawsuit against him.

Not that anyone should be surprised. Inconsistency — and grift — are Trump’s strengths. He’s admitted as much. Would have been nice, though, if the elite media had noticed and maybe filed some serious reports…in 2015 and 2016…

But her emails

What Else Can You Call It?

freak_show_el_caudillo

Sometimes I think it gets lost in the day-to-day, but consider just how bug-fuck nuts it’s gotten. On a given day, news about the president includes

Playboy and/or adult entertainers, Twitter, Hannity, Cohen, North Korea, Mike Pompeo, Comey, the Mueller investigation…(aside: the attack on Syria‘s already been bumped from the headlines)…and any other number of WTF moments that would, for any other administration, suck the oxygen out of the news cycle if not generate immediate demands for resignation…or prosecution…

Total freak show.

Additionally…I heard this last night on the Chris Hayes show, and I think saw/read this elsewhere…regarding the Mueller investigation…no one is arguing, for lack of a better term, actual innocence. Trump himself sticks to no collusion, while everyone else speculates on whether or not various people will turn.

POTUS as syndicate. Oh, and maybe (probably) with a pee tape.

Goddamn.

Brave Sir Robin Paul Ryan

holygrail_brave_paul_ryan_615

Bravely bold Paul Ryan,
Of Wisconsin District One
He was not afraid to lie,
Oh brave Paul Ryan
He was not at afraid
To flim-flam in nasty ways
Brave, brave, brave, brave Paul Ryan.

He was only the least bit scared
To face off against Don Trump
And to shred his dignity
And ignore the crude behavior
For to slash the safety net
Compromise can be required
And who needs any principles, Paul Ryan?

Brave Paul Ryan ran away
Bravely ran away, away
When elections reared their ugly head
He bravely turned his tail and fled
Yes brave Paul Ryan turned about
And gallently he chickened out
Bravely taking to his feet
To lobby, lie, and steal and cheat,
Bravest of the brave, Paul Ryan

Packing it in and packing it up
Sneaking away and buggering off
Chickening out and pissing off home
Bravely he is giving up the gavel.

Wake Up Call?

alarm_clock_trump_600

Well…with the election results in Wisconsin being the latest indication, let’s hope like hell it is. Not that I’m any authority — I still remember being astonished on election day 2016, but so were lots of others. Others who are letting their voices be heard.

Sure, Trump still has his cult-like minions, who really would let him shoot someone on 5th avenue (or pay hush money hide an affair), but they aren’t the majority, and there’s no reason to lay down to them.

And Trump himself is both an embarrassment and a danger. We’ve been extremely fortunate — or lucky — that there’s been no catastrophe so far, but if/when there is…and besides, as a friend has told me several times, every day Trump remains in office is, if nothing else, an affront to basic decency. The bar is set so low the revelation that Trump is a “subject” and not (yet) a “target” of Robert Mueller (at least in part because some thing a sitting president by law can’t be indicted); anyway, that revelation is greeted by Trump as some sort of vindication.

So…fuck ’em. Don’t try to reason or see their point or otherwise compromise. Outvote them in November, and outvote them again in 2020…time to wake up.

They Rebooted The Mittbot This Week

romney_bot_redux

And in rebooting, they set — or maybe just reset — whatever it is that makes Mitt run.

On Tuesday, the Utah Daily Herald reported that Romney made clear he’s still the same guy he was back in 2012. When asked to prove his conservative credentials at an event in Provo, he said:

I’m also more of a hawk on immigration than even the president. My view was these DACA kids shouldn’t all be allowed to stay in the country legally.

But, as always, Mitt’s principles extend only to the direction the wind is blowing…and he’s really going all in on the prevailing winds blowing from Vichy MAGA

Romney played his relationship with Trump off as a strength, not a weakness, when talking about his qualifications for U.S. Senate. His relationships with 40 U.S. Senators and the president are what will help him be effective as a Senator, Romney said.

 “(Trump) has endorsed me in this race,” Romney said. “He respects people who speak their mind, because now and then, as you know, if he says something I think is wrong, I’ll point it out. And if he disagrees with me, he points it out even harder.”

So much for his principled stand in 2016…and something to keep in mind if/when he’s anointed as some sort of “Republican Hero,” to use a phrase I heard Brian Williams say more than once in 2017.

Trump is a feature, not a bug. And Mitt’s no Republican Hero.