Category Archives: Michael F

“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.

IF It’d Been Mister Ed And Wilbur Ross…

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Which Side Are You On?

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…