Category Archives: Michael F

Medicated? Or Something Else?

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Yesterday was surprisingly quiet for Trump — for the most part an unusual Twitter silence, a late day even by his lax standards, more TV (they call it Executive Time) than usual. Did they dose POTUS? Or was he in an extended snit after Tuesday’s Oval Office command performance.

Of course, his hard core base probably loved the act. But they’re not exactly known for deep thinking either.

And with sentencing day for Cohen, and, potentially much more damaging, prosecutors announcing they’ve struck a deal with American Media, Inc. — the general mood at the White House can’t be good.

Aside: Speaking of American Media, Frank Figliuzzi told quite a story on the Brian Williams show last night. He was part of the FBI team investigating the anthrax attacks at AMI’s Florida headquarters. In the process of decontaminating the office, he asked David Pecker what objects he wanted above all to save. Pecker’s response? Photos of Elvis Presley in his coffin…and Bat Boy. No, Really.

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(slightly modified).

Anyway…is the reality show finally coming to a close? Well…unfortunately, probably not. GOP elected officials are as slavishly cult-like towards Trump as the party’s evangelical base…

And with patriotism as the last refuge, I won’t be surprised over the near term to see DJT cozying up to as many American flags as he can get his small hands and stubby fingers on…he might even find a cross of some sort to carry as well.

And Then He Loudly Cleared His Throat…

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…pocketed his monocle, put on his white gloves and top hat…while muttering about how difficult it is to find good help these days. I swear, Ross Douthat is the world’s youngest grumpy old man.

…the WASPs had virtues that their successors have failed to inherit or revive.

Those virtues included a spirit of noblesse oblige and personal austerity and piety that went beyond the thank-you notes and boat shoes and prep school chapel going — a spirit that trained the most privileged children for service, not just success, that sent men like Bush into combat alongside the sons of farmers and mechanics in the same way that it sent missionaries and diplomats abroad in the service of their churches and their country.

And somehow the combination of pious obligation joined to cosmopolitanism gave the old establishment a distinctive competence and effectiveness in statesmanship — one that from the late-19th century through the middle of the 1960s was arguably unmatched among the various imperial elites with whom our establishment contended, and that certainly hasn’t been matched by our feckless leaders in the years since George H.W. Bush went down to political defeat.

Someone needs to sit Ross down and tell him — then maybe explain — the Aristocrats joke.

House of Cads

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Maybe it’s just another cycle of ebb and flow, but again Trump’s acting for all the world like he’s guilty of something (based his compulsive/chronic lying, I’d guess of something that rhymes with “delusion”). And because Manafort lies as much as Trump, we should finally see something official from Mueller.

Well, keeping them sweating/looking nervously over their shoulder is better than nothing. Besides, someone might crack under the strain.

Or if Trump goes full clod and tries some sort of pardon maneuver, it would or should generate enough heat/fury to keep him sidetracked…one would hope.

Could be an interesting holiday season, with a number of folks getting lumps of not-very-clean-coal-at-all in their stockings. We’ll see.

Here’s Something to be Thankful For…

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With Democrats soon to take over the House Intelligence Committee, a top item on the agenda is …. hiring money laundering and forensic accounting experts.

…the purpose of the potential new hires is to examine unanswered financial questions about Trump and Russia, but their work could apply broadly across the panel’s intelligence oversight.

[Adam] Schiff, a California Democrat, has said publicly and privately that he’s interested in President Donald Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, the German financial giant that has been scorched for its connections to money-laundering. When other lenders were loath to lend money to Trump in the 1990s, Deutsche Bank stepped up and spotted him tons of cash. The president may still owe the bank up to $175 million, according to MarketWatch. Bringing on staffers with expertise in financial crimes would position the committee to pursue those questions.

I’ll drink — and eat — to that.

Have a safe and happy holiday.

Cereal Liar

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Sure, in ranking Trump’s lies, a-voter-ID-for-a-box-of-cereal would be pretty low on the list…while disguises-to-illegally-vote is both deranged and just plain weird…but to repeat, it’s the lying itself that underscores a particularly sinister method to his madness.

In Trump’s case, though, the flouting of the truth serves a particular purpose: it is always a declaration not of any moral or legal or philosophical principle, but of power. As Masha Gessen once noted in The New York Review of Books, authoritarians in the mold of Trump or Vladimir Putin do not lie or distort to truly convince the listener that what they are saying is true. They seek to demonstrate power over the truth itself, and thus dominate the body politic.

Trump lies so often and about matters so trivial that the natural impulse is to shake your head and move on. But that’s the problem. I also can’t imagine a similar reaction/dismissal if the tables were turned, i.e., if a Democratic politician displayed an equal disregard for the truth, the gauntlet would be severe, a combination of GOP officialdom taking the hissy fit to high art, magnified through the lens of the puke funnel’s usual suspects.

And on a related note, the midterms turned out to be pretty good, though you wouldn’t have known that from election night coverage. Convenient that Democratic victories always elicit advice of caution from the punditry…wouldn’t want an excess of democracy, right?

World’s Creepiest King Cake Baby Holds Press Conference

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What’s it going to take? A diaper, bib, and crown before the press points out how full-on nuts this is? I’m trying to think of an equivalent — and can’t. Even at his worst, Nixon managed to more or less keep his head screwed on.

The hour and a half of jarring, ricocheting, free association almost makes performance art seem tame, if only because Donald Trump: Let Me Tell You What I Really Think, isn’t performance art. This idiot actually is president. On the one hand, that’s embarrassing as all hell, on the other…geez…fucking scary.

And, if I remember…it’s a stretch to go back all the way to the early 2000s, but Team Bush was regularly uncooperative with a Democratic Congress, though now that’s now seen in retrospect as kind of a modern day Era of Good Feelings. And, who knows, maybe it will seem like that come January.

The ride is only beginning.

Boo

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Hope everyone enjoyed Halloween; on the other hand, I can’t think of anything scarier than…Donald Trump is president of the United States.

November 6th won’t change that, but it could serve as quite the wake up call or expression of buyer’s remorse (well…considering he was elected but didn’t actually win, an expression of actual intent).

Last night was yet another ugly, vile display…and I still shudder to think what could happen if/when there’s a genuine crisis on Trump’s watch (note: not that Puerto Rico and Florida aren’t, but I mean something like a national or international economic shock, or, heaven forbid, terrorist act, etc.).

Five days…as Adrastos says, tick tock.

It’s Also The Lying Itself

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Jack Holmes notes a particularly sinister aspect of Trump’s self-described nationalism

Inconsistencies and outright contradictions are fixtures of his rhetoric. He bangs on about “due process” and “the presumption of innocence” when his Supreme Court nominee is accused of sexual assault or Saudi allies are accused of murdering and dismembering a U.S.-resident journalist who criticized the regime. But he encourages his crowds to chant “Lock Her Up!” at the very mention of Hillary Clinton’s name—and, for that matter, of Dianne Feinstein’s. He sees no contradiction. Kavanaugh and the Saudi princes who may or may not be putting money in his pocket are his people. They deserve the protections of the law. Clinton and Feinstein are not just Democrats—enemies—they are powerful women, symbols of that which his movement was built to negate. The law can and should be used against them.

In Trump’s case, though, the flouting of the truth serves a particular purpose: it is always a declaration not of any moral or legal or philosophical principle, but of power. As Masha Gessen once noted in The New York Review of Books, authoritarians in the mold of Trump or Vladimir Putin do not lie or distort to truly convince the listener that what they are saying is true. They seek to demonstrate power over the truth itself, and thus dominate the body politic

Is it really that big of a jump for a true believer to take matters into their own hands to demonstrate tribal or nationalist loyalty (possibly with the assumption of protected status)? Maybe…though just as or even more troubling are the bottom feeders who twist themselves in knots trying to claim they’re the real victims…victims in desperate need of vengeance.

The midterms are a critical first step, but it’s a long march…

The High Priests Of The Cult Of Savvy

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I’m with Charles Pierce on this.

She is accused of “playing on Trump’s field.” So what? Only a child believes that there is one field on which an election is contested. And, truth be told, the elite political press has a great deal to do in defining what the “field” of play actually is. It was the elite political press that helped establish the “field” of play in 2016, even though they’d rather pull out their own fingernails than admit it. The way you win an election is that you beat the opponent on his field, on your field, and on any neutral fields that pop up during the campaign.

It might be worth remembering the backstory, given that I doubt Elizabeth Warren ever thought she’d have to defend this or deal with it in the first place. If I recall, this was nonsense dug up by the Scott Brown campaign: Warren included a family story in a brief bio of the kind that colleges routinely publish in “who we are” promotional material. Unknown to her, Harvard University used this to cynically tout their own cause.

Brown’s smear was elaborated upon by the puke funnel, and topped off by Orange Narcissus’s particular short-fingered vulgarian touch…a smear that implied Warren, and by extension her family, were undeserving, opportunistic liars, unfairly attempting to claim quota status…which is exactly the sort of lie a media worth the name would immediately put an end to. Or, absent that, might at least note how reckless Brown et al were in describing their opponents as a “basket of deplorables”…wait, sorry…I meant undeserving liars getting free stuff that regular (i.e., white) folks can’t.

Oh, and that the Senator is, you know, a little girl.

As far as I’m concerned, Warren’s response is exactly what she should do: stand up to a bully, close the chapter, and move on. It’s also an excellent introduction of a good, even superb, candidate for high office.

But, as usual, the where-are-the-Republican-heroes cultists and their enablers will do everything they can to keep the playing field tilted rightward. Hence, the handwringing and head shaking. She wasn’t…sufficiently savvy, in their august judgment.

Well…fuck ’em.

They’re All In With Him

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Never Trump was never much to begin with…and definitely stick a fork in it now.

Republicans have also exploited their insulting thesis that #MeToo is really about lying or delusional women falsely accusing men, which they are trying to spin into a female lament about sons and husbands and fathers and brothers being the real victims.

Then there are the down ballot acolytes

A Republican lawmaker in Minnesota is under fire for snatching the microphone away from his Democratic rival during a debate.

The two had been passing a single microphone back and forth, sharing their thoughts on a wide variety of issues. However, as Mahlberg was answering a question about linking education funding to the Consumer Price Index, Quam raised a card indicating he would like a rebuttal. Instead of waiting for Mahlberg to pass him the mic, he seized it from her hands…After Quam was finished speaking, he tried to pass the mic back to Mahlberg, but she literally wasn’t having it. When she didn’t take the microphone from him, he tossed it in front of her.

The GOP is Trump, and he is the GOP.

Come to think of it, that’s probably been the case for some time. Maybe it hid behind  cheerier or at least most respectable facades, but you can go back a generation and find the kind of hostility that’s DJT’s trademark. Plus, it’s not like Nixon (or Wallace) appealed to the better angels of our existence.

It’s his party.

Tired Of All The Winning Yet

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Because this is what it looks like. I keep repeating stuff, apologies, but because that’s what the midterms come down to: Donald Trump. This is his vision for the presidency (well, to the extent his handlers allow him to be president), this is his vision for the country. His base feels the same way. They few as features what we think are horrible, disqualifying flaws.

It sucks that we’ll have to overcome a significant and ongoing voter suppression effort on the part of the GOP (which helped get us to this to begin with), but, so it goes. Same with the gerrymandering. That’s just more proof that Trump is not an anomaly, but the purest expression of the party (and for shit’s sake can Democrats STOP rehabilitating previous GOP politicians like the two Bushes and Reagan? Republicans don’t laud FDR…).

Next month will tell us a lot about this country…here’s hoping what it tells us isn’t genuinely disturbing.

The Kavanaugh Mess: It’s Over (Not Quite)

The mess itself is not over but the possibility of defeating the nomination died this morning when, predictably, the Senator from Arizona flaked out. There are a few holding out hope that Collins and Murkowski remain undecided but I am no longer among them. Absent a miracle, the confirmation fight is over.

There were several reports last night that a “gang of four” including the aforementioned GOPers and Joe Manchin plan to vote as a bloc. The first time I saw that I knew that Judge Bro would be promoted to Justice Bro. I feel sorry for the three women justices and even sorrier for the country.

Nothing that Judiciary Committee Democrats did or said yesterday mattered. The Senate has been fundamentally changed by Mitch McConnell, what the minority thinks no longer matters.

The fact that the American Bar Association wants an investigation does not matter either. Angry white men want one of their own on SCOTUS and they will get their wish.

The fact that Republicans applied criminal law standards of corroboration and reasonable doubt to what is really a job interview shows that they followed the Thomas-Hill playbook. The only difference was that Senators did not yell at Christine Blasey Ford. They let Brett Kavanaugh and Lindsey Graham do the yelling instead.

I’m feeling alternately angry and numb this morning. I put a lot into covering this story. I made the mistake of thinking that Senate Republicans would act like rational politicians looking at the next election. Instead, they put all their chips on promoting Judge Bro to the Supreme Court. The voters need to make them pay for their short-sighted thinking.

Even though yesterday’s hearing was as much Kabuki theatre as Kangaroo court, Michael F provided me with an alternate image. I hate to waste such generosity. Here’s the earless version:

Image by Michael F

The last word goes to Roy Orbison. We could all use some beauty in our lives right now even if it comes from a sad song.

UPDATE: As of 1:45 CST, Senators Flake and Murkowski are withholding an aye vote on the nomination unless there’s a one-week long FBI investigation. That’s my current understanding but the situation is FLUID and CONFUSING. It’s up to the White House to re-open the background check.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Act Two Instant Analysis

My earlier post illustrates the perils of instant analysis. Christine Blasey Ford (CBF) was such an outstanding witness that I let my guard down and became overly optimistic as to the fate of the Kavanaugh nomination. The situation remains fluid but committee GOPers regained their equilibrium after the second act.

It’s not that Kavanaugh was a good witness: he was not. He yelled and spent his testimony defending his resume, not his character. Initially, I thought his lack of judicial decorum meant that he expected to lose. It turned out that he was playing to an audience of one: a man with even less class than Kavanaugh exhibited today. Despite crying and refusing to blow his nose, Judge Bro seems to have held on to the president’s* support.

I’ve never seen a judicial nominee be rude to senators and act like an Insult Comedian Junior. Kavanaugh even insulted the personification of Minnesota nice; Senator Amy Klobuchar. Judge Bro realized he’d gone too far and apologized to her. Wise choice: she’s one of the best liked members of Senate on both sides of the aisle. I suspect Don McGahn pointed out that Klobuchar is fairly tight with Collins and Murkowski. The Alaska senator remains a possible no vote but I’m putting away my crystal ball. She will not be the only Republican to vote no, which only gets us to 50-50 with Pence holding the tiebreaker.

It was easy to see the belligerent drunk described by CBF and many others as Kavanaugh shouted his way through his testy tetchy testimony. Hardcore Trumpers loved his act and Republican solons seemed re-invigorated by all the nastiness. It’s hard to doze off when a red-faced bro is shouting at you, after all.

Other high points were watching Chuck Grassley lose his shit and Lindsey Graham pitch an epic hissy fit: Bless his heart. Since Republicans clearly regard women as dispensable, they dispensed with the services of prosecutor Rachel Mitchell during the second act without so much as a thank you.

Where do we stand now? Unfortunately, I think we find ourselves where we started the day despite the compelling testimony of CBF. Kavanaugh is damaged goods, but he *might* have the votes. Then, again he might not. I am no longer certain of the outcome. It depends on how Kavanaugh’s ranty testimony went over with the undecided Republican Senators. The ball is in their court:  one of them, Ben Sasse, sounded like an aye vote during the hearing. I already covered Murkowski: she needs Republican company. As to Jeff Flake, his fine words rarely translates into action but anything can happen in this political environment.

I still think the political damage to Republican candidates caused by the hearing will be severe. In any other time and place, the Kavanaugh nomination would have been pulled. But we’re in the Trump era where the shameless run the show and the majority of GOP solons simply do not care about allegations of sexual assault. You cannot shame the shameless.

While it may be an insult to kangaroos to call this hearing a kangaroo court, I asked my friend and colleague Michael F to “help a brother out” with an image:

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Image by Michael F

“Total Twilight Zone”

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I’m actually quoting Kavanaugh — yeah, it IS the fucking Twilight Zone — but it’s been that ever since Mr. Self-Described Very Large Brain descended an escalator and vaulted to the top of the GOP race for presidential nominee (Large Brain? Doubtful. Small Mind? Definitely).

It’s been a Twilight Zone ever since the mainstream press spent the better part of two years ignoring his epic, wholesale corruption, the way too cozy relationship with Russian goons, the money laundering, the skinflint stiffing of contractors, the general sleaziness because, you know, her emails, Benghazi, Clinton Rules, etc., and especially, both sides.

It’s a Twilight Zone simply nominating a person like Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. I believe the women accusing him. However, even if they hadn’t come forward — at significant risk — Kavanaugh’s history shows him to be a thoroughly creepy individual, representative of the cesspool that…that nominated an equally sleazy figure like DJT. He and Trump are made for each other.

But are they made for us? Heavens, let’s hope not.

Trump Ship

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He’s your captain.

And…just another reminder that DJT’s cloddish, boorish, ignorant and embarrassing reactions to a significant natural disaster are a feature, not a bug. What anyone with a modest amount of, I don’t know, intelligence, maturity, empathy, whatever, finds appalling, MAGAs find appealing. The chronic, pathological lying, the gaslighting…the nomination of a total creep like Brett Kavanaugh (who’s clearly a liar and a scumbag, whether you think he’s also guilty of sexual assault or not)…it’s all baked in the (sheet) cake.

The midterm is a chance to reject the sort of cartoonish lunacy that considers an empty calorie summit with Kim Jong Un a great achievement…or to endorse it. What kind of country do we want?

Hopefully not one that wants a shitheel like Trump at the top…

 

“I Alone Can Fix It”

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First, hurricanes suck, period. Death, destruction, displacement…Even if your losses aren’t catastrophic, you have to deal with all sorts of headaches: power outages, the never-ending search for food, water, gasoline; any savings you had gets flushed away…so, no lie, I’d actually prefer Trump’s emergency response to be at least minimally competent. You don’t wish this disaster on anyone — and it will be a disaster, even as the storm is getting a bit, emphasis on a bit, less destructive.

But good god, if Trump thinks Puerto Rico was a success, that’s a bar set so low you need a back hoe to pull it out of the ground. No, it’s more typical Trump: compulsive lying with a sort of implied threat to do — what? bark/howl, call you a pathetic nickname? — if called on his obvious lie? What the hell was the assembled press doing when Trump lauded himself? Shouldn’t the reaction have been some sort of derisive grunt if not an actual exclamation along the lines of what-the-fuck, seriously, what-the-fuck? Trump lies because he’s a compulsive liar and because he thinks he can, because he does, and because there’s no push back. This isn’t politics/the librul media. It’s pointing out the goddamned obvious.

Do you think Obama could’ve gotten away with something so blatantly untruthful? Even Bush Junior’s heckuva job became a punchline.

But the media puts its collective head in the sand, or reacts with both sides/opinions differ. In the meantime…lets hope for the best along the Atlantic coast. As I said, if Trump’s response is minimally or even significantly competent, for whatever reason, I won’t complain, because it’s minimally human to not want this to happen to anyone.

Rats Deserting The Sinking Ship Are Still Rats

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Adrastos has it pretty much covered, just to add a few thoughts of my own, this whole sorry scenario was brought about in no small measure by a toxic political atmosphere and degree of journalistic malpractice that, for lack of a better term, both-sided to the extent Trump could barely eke out a win.

But now we have our “GOP hero” (warning: that’s a Newsbusters link…apologies)..

And that’s kind of the point and problem: Republicans get lauded with praise for, what? Pointing out the painfully obvious point that Donald Trump is an idiot and an asshole? Hell, Trump is merely the distilled essence of what’s been boiling in the GOP cauldron since at least the late 50s/early 60s, when movement wingers labeled Eisenhower a squish. Nixon was Trump with intellect. Reagan was Trump with veneer/Teflon (aided and abetted by an exceeding friendly press). Bush Junior was Trump with a twang. Palin? Trump’s John the Baptist.

Meanwhile, Democrats have for decades now been pretty much forced to apologize for being Democrats, even when they’re about as DLC as it gets (e.g., Hillary Clinton). Even as Obama bent over backwards to meet the GOP quite a bit more than halfway, the sensible people/conventional wisdom insisted he wasn’t going far enough (this despite the near disastrous Grand Bargain and his expressed willingness to trade tort reform for GOP support of the AEI/Romneycare inspired  ACA).

Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley are hopeful  signs that Democrats are tired of being told by conventional wisdom to be Republican-lite, particularly when it both gets us nowhere AND gives us Donald Trump…an administration so clearly rancid it requires desperate measures, and inspires anonymous excuse makers.

The first step in removing the orange stain is the midterms.

Not That Anyone Needs Reminding…

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…but, the midterms are pretty much about him. This guy. CPOTUS. Couch Potato in Chief (via)

Cable television news hosts and commentators are among the first voices that Trump hears in the morning and the last he listens to at night. Now he is increasingly relying on those voices in making decisions — often running afoul of his actual advisers in the process.

Stuart P. Stevens, a Republican political consultant and writer who was Mitt Romney’s senior strategist in the 2012 presidential election campaign, decried Trump’s reliance on the “insane feedback loop of Fox.”

“Here’s a guy who has access to the most sophisticated intelligence ever available, that cost billions to produce, that people have died for,” Stevens said. “And he’s relying for his information on something you can buy for like $2.98 a month with your cable subscription.”

One major risk for Trump is bad information — as illustrated in the recent flaps over South Africa and Google.

To be honest, part of me thinks this might be the best, or at least least worst, situation given the circumstances, i.e., Trump doesn’t do much more than flop down on his fat ass and watch TV. That’s probably a bit better than, I dunno, Trump getting up off his fat ass and doing pretty much anything. Also a good bit better than…President Pence.

But to ensure he doesn’t do much more than sit/lie on the couch and watch the box, it’s essential to send a strong message. A message that says no, we don’t like your policies, your attitude, that you managed to back door your way into the office…and we don’t much like you, period. Otherwise, the next two–or, god help us, six–years will be a good bit worse than the last two.

MAGA: My Attorney Got Arrested

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Source for this post’s title

Whether recent events contribute directly to the end of Amateur Hour/The Apprentice POTUS Edition, they do keep it on the defensive…I think that’s a good thing (or is a wounded Trump a dangerous Trump? And, lord help us, what would a Pence presidency be like?)

[B]y pleading guilty Cohen has implicated the president in a conspiracy to commit federal crimes. Cohen admitted that Trump directed him to commit felonies, and in the ordinary course of things, Trump would be getting indicted. These crimes are more serious than lying about a sexual dalliance with a White House intern, although I’m not quite ready to say that, on their own, they amount to a high crime. As part of a larger case arguing for removal from office, these criminal acts should play a supporting rather than a leading role.

…the one thing Trump probably cannot survive even in a Republican-led Senate is confirmation that the Steele Dossier was correct about Cohen traveling to Prague. That is the most serious allegation in the entire Russia investigation.

Trump himself is swaying between his usual belligerent outbursts and milder criticisms…I also think we’ll see him making more speeches to the GOP base, which looks to be his comfort zone. This could be about as best as we can hope — if he’s on the defensive and/or delivering rambling, free association wingnut tripe to his adoring minions, it’s that much less time he has to destroy our country.

Elections have consequences. And that’s truer than ever for the upcoming midterms.

 

Permanent Relo For Manafort?

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Having recently relocated myself, I can confirm it’s both a bit of work and a transition period getting used to the new surroundings. Paul probably had less to move… toothbrush, maybe a few personal effects. I read he also had a laptop. I wonder if he gets to keep that when he goes from jail to prison (probably not, but maybe he can buy a typewriter).

So, the case is with the jury. Whether the evidence is as overwhelming as the prosecutors say — and whether you have a holdout on the panel — I guess we’ll find out over the next few days. That said, if prison was a lifetime achievement award based on personal history,  Manafort should have relocated some time ago. God, what a piece of work.

Other lobbyists sought out authoritarian clients, but none did so with the focused intensity of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly. The firm would arrange for image-buffing interviews on American news programs; it would enlist allies in Congress to unleash money. Back home, it would help regimes acquire the whiff of democratic legitimacy that would bolster their standing in Washington.

 The firm’s client base grew to include dictatorial governments in Nigeria, Kenya, Zaire, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia, among others. Manafort’s firm was a primary subject of scorn in a 1992 report issued by the Center for Public Integrity called “The Torturers’ Lobby.”

The firm’s international business accelerated when the Philippines became a client, in 1985. President Ferdinand Marcos desperately needed a patina of legitimacy: The 1983 assassination of the chief opposition leader, Benigno Aquino Jr., had imperiled U.S. congressional support for his regime. Marcos hired Manafort to lift his image; his wife, Imelda, personally delivered an initial payment of $60,000 to the firm while on a trip to the States. When Marcos called a snap election to prove his democratic bona fides in 1986, Manafort told Time, “What we’ve tried to do is make it more of a Chicago-style election and not Mexico’s.” The quip was honest, if unintentionally so.

The firm’s most successful right-wing makeover was of the Angolan guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi, a Maoist turned anti-communist insurgent, whose army committed atrocities against children and conscripted women into sexual slavery. During the general’s 1986 trip to New York and Washington, Manafort and his associates created what one magazine called “Savimbi Chic.” Dressed in a Nehru suit, Savimbi was driven around in a stretch limousine and housed in the Waldorf-Astoria and the Grand Hotel, projecting an image of refinement. The firm had assiduously prepared him for the mission, sending him monthly reports on the political climate in Washington. According to The Washington Post, “He was meticulously coached on everything from how to answer his critics to how to compliment his patrons.” Savimbi emerged from his tour as a much-championed “freedom fighter.” When the neoconservative icon Jeane Kirkpatrick introduced Savimbi at the American Enterprise Institute, she declared that he was a “linguist, philosopher, poet, politician, warrior … one of the few authentic heroes of our time.”

Can only hope he goes from Savimbi chic to prison orange (or green, I guess, based on the mug shot) and stays there. Creep. And it’d be nice if fellow creep Roger Stone joined him.