Category Archives: Political Crack

Family Smackdown Day

We all have relatives whose politics we dislike. These family ties have become increasingly strained with the advent of the crude dictator wannabe, Trumpberius aka the Kaiser of Chaos. There seems to be something in the air today that led two men I’d never heard of go after two relatives that we know and loathe.

First, Stephen Miller’s uncle Dr. David Glosser wrote a scathing article about his nephew for Politico. It may be the best thing I’ve ever read in that deservedly ridiculed online publication. After detailing their family history, Uncle David let his hypocritical nephew have it:

I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.

I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants— been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America First” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family would likely have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him.

Dr. Glosser has a future as a polemicist. It took a lot of guts to go after his sister’s son like this. It seems as if he’d finally had enough of his nephew’s wicked wicked ways. Thanks, Doc.

Then there’s Bobby Goodlatte who is the son of retiring Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte who we last met when he ran the Strzok hearing with all the style and finesse of a Kangaroo Court judge. The Good Goodlatte took to twitter to announce his support for the Democratic woman who is running for dear old dad’s seat:

Then he confessed his shame over his father’s handling of the Strzok hearing:

I’m blown away by the intestinal fortitude shown by the Good Goodlatte *and* Dr. Glosser. I hope we see more of it amid the infamy of the Trump administration and the 115th Congress. It’s time for people to speak out and save the Republic from the likes of Stephen Miller.

The holidays should be very interesting for the Miller-Glosser and Goodlatte families.  Just thinking about it tops this great scene in Barry Levinson’s ode to “chain immigration” Avalon:

The Ego Has Landed: Why Not Me Avenatti 2020?

It’s time to press pause on my pledge NOT to write about the 2020 election until after the mid-terms. Porn star mouthpiece and cable teevee big mouth Michael Avenatti attended the Iowa State Fair last week. He was not just there to dine on food-on-a-stick: he claims he’s exploring a presidential candidacy. He even spoke at the Iowa Democratic party’s annual Wing Ding thing. Wing-a-ding-ding.

I suspect he’s missing the limelight since he’s been eclipsed by the Manafort trial and has been less ubiquitous on cable news the last few weeks. His rationale, such as it is, is that Democrats need a fighter as opposed to someone with actual experience. In short, he wants to be our version of the Current Occupant and fight hot air and bullshit with hot air and bullshit. He’s equally unqualified, opinionated, and brash. Unlike Trump, he’s smart and may even understand the complexities of international time zones.

Get ready for more of this nonsense. The election of an unqualified Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head was bound to lead to a spate of Why Not Me candidates. I hereby dub it Why Not Me-ism. We’ve seen this movie before: Jimmy Carter’s out of nowhere 1976 bid was inspired by McGovern winning the Democratic nomination in 1972. Carter’s campaign biography was titled Why Not The Best? when it should have been Why Not Me? Of course, McGovern and Carter had some qualifications as opposed to Why Not Me Avenatti whose sole “qualification” is yelling at Trumpy and Cohen on MSNBC, CNN, and the Tweeter Tube.

Avenatti is a natural-born citizen who’s over 35 years old so he meets the constitutional qualifications to run. He can run if he wants to but we’re NOT obligated to take this publicity hungry egomaniac seriously. Here’s why not: as opposed to the nihilists in power, Democrats believe in governing. Donald Trump and the Republicans have made an unholy mess. The next president will do what Barack Obama was obliged to do: spend much of their time in office cleaning up after their predecessor. It will not be pretty but it needs doing. It’s hard to see the likes of Avenatti having the skills and knowledge to wield the political mop.

Speaking of bad ideas, the Republicans have decided to run against Nancy Pelosi. It’s unlikely to work, but the MSM has picked up on the notion and is asking all Democrats if they plan to vote for her for Speaker. Nancy Smash’s response is a cool “Just win, baby.” She knows she has the votes and that the House will need able and experienced leadership when the Democrats resume control. Our House leadership *should* get younger but I think a better target is Steny Hoyer. The notion of an inexperienced leader replacing one of the best Speakers in recent memory is as absurd as Michael Avenatti as president.

Democrats are not so desperate that we need to resort to the likes of Why Not Me Avenatti. Just say no to Why Not Me-ism.

GOP SCOTUS SOP

I really hadn’t planned a sequel to Monday’s GOP SOP post but it’s time for another acronym fest. The GOP SCOTUS SOP is what could be called the “nice guy narrative.” We’ve seen it many times over the years as far back as Rehnquist and more recently with John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, and now Brett Kavanaugh.

Here’s how the Divine Dahlia Lithwick put it at Slate:

I like Brett Kavanaugh. If niceness-to-me-alone is the sole indicator of judicial qualification then, like the authors above, I’m all in. Kavanaugh has never been anything but kind and courteous to me, personally. Unfortunately, that calculation leaves out millions of nameless, faceless, vulnerable people who don’t often get a chance to write op-eds about the carpool skills and free-floating niceness of Article III jurists.

Niceness is nice. I’d even go so far as to venture that niceness is very, very nice. But it’s not the basis from which to offer someone lifetime tenure on the highest court in the land. And I am still waiting for the Republican appellate lawyers, D.C. lobbyists, and operatives to stand up and tell us how “nice” Judge Garland was. Because I would submit that he was just about equal in “niceness” to Kavanaugh, and yet it mattered not one bit to anyone two years ago, since at that time, niceness was irrelevant. At the very least, then, we should be able to agree that if Garland’s kindness to small animals and assorted D.C. charities was immaterial in 2016, Kavanaugh’s warmth of character should not be an issue in 2018.

I hereby stipulate that Kavanaugh does not pull the wings off flies, walks little old ladies across the street, and does not beat his wife or children. Hereinafter I will call him Mr. Nice Judge. None of that matters. His views and experience are what matters. And that’s the problem with this nominee. His years as a senior aide to George W. Bush have given him the most expansive position on executive power imaginable. As far as Mr. Nice Judge is concerned the Oval One is an elected dictator who can do whatever the hell he wants, whenever the hell he wants to.

Even more worrisome is the fact that Mr. Nice Judge has been involved in some serious GOP overreach: the Starr chamber investigation, the 2000 Bush-Gore recount, and the Bush  administration’s un-American  torture policies. That is why it is so important that Senators have access to his papers from his time as W’s staff secretary. What was his role in that process?

Belying his Mr. Nice Judge tag was Kavanaugh’s role in the Starr chamber investigation into Clinton White House counsel Vincent Foster’s suicide, which the wingnuts of the day posited was a murder ordered by the Clintons:

In early 1995, however, Kavanaugh offered his boss, independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, the legal rationale for expanding his investigation of the Arkansas financial dealings of President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, to include the Foster death, according to a memo he wrote on March 24, 1995. Kavanaugh, then 30, argued that unsupported allegations that Foster may have been murdered gave Starr the right to probe the matter more deeply.Foster’s death had already been the focus of two investigations, both concluding that Foster committed suicide. ““We are currently investigating Vincent Foster’s death to determine, among other things, whether he was murdered in violation of federal criminal law,” Kavanaugh wrote to Starr and six other officials in a memo offering legal justification for the probe. “[I]t necessarily follows that we must have the authority to fully investigate Foster’s death.”

That’s not very nice, is it? But that doesn’t matter. One can be a great Supreme Court Justice and still be a colossal dick, IMO William O. Douglas was a prickly prick but one of the greatest Justices to ever don robes whereas William Rehnquist was a sweetheart. Their views are what mattered, not their niceness or lack thereof.

So, the next time you hear a testimonial to Mr. Nice Judge, ignore it and focus on the fact that he’s likely to vote Roe vs. Wade into oblivion and stated in a public forum that US vs. Nixon (the Watergate tapes case) was wrongly decided.

Senate Republicans have got the confirmation process down to a science, which is why I call it the GOP SCOTUS SOP. Hopefully, red state Democrats won’t fall for it. Just remember:

There Is ONLY ONE Q

My colleague Tommy T wrote extensively the other day about the low IQ Q conspiracy. It’s a new one on me. I can’t keep up with all the tin foil hatters on the extreme right so I let Tommy do it for me. This new mad hattery brought out my inner Emily Litella:

For those of you who aren’t comedy buffs, Emily Litella was a befuddled character from the early days of Saturday Night Live. She was created and played by the late, great Gilda Radner.

I thought of Emily because as far as I’m concerned there is ONLY ONE Q:

Q was an all-powerful character who delighted in tormenting Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Since Q is an immortal space traveler dude he also turns up on Deep Space 9 and Voyager, but the Frenchman with the Yorkshire accent was his favorite whipping boy.

I refuse to acknowledge the New Q unless it turns out to be a hoax perpetrated by lefties to fish in gullible Trumpers. There is ONLY ONE Q.

Since I made a Gilda Radner reference earlier, I’ll give Q and Emily Litella the last word with Emily’s stock closing line:

GOP SOP

It’s human nature to want to think the best of people. Hell, even I give *most* people the benefit of the doubt, and I was first called a curmudgeon in my teens. But I don’t think this presumption should be extended to Republican politicians and anyone with the last name Trump.

Since the president* is on “holiday” at his golf club in Jersey, he’s had an itchy twitter finger. He’s made several admissions against legal interest and also slammed two high-profile African-American gents:

I thought the Kaiser of Chaos never watched “fake news” CNN. Guess he’s lying about that. Go figure.

The occasion for LeBron’s interview was the opening of a school for at risk kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio that the hoops legend is funding. An act of generosity equivalent to his style as a “make everyone look good” basketball player. LeBron made a few mildly critical remarks about the Insult Comedian. I’m sure you’ve heard the details so I’ll skip them. It wasn’t as strong as this earlier LeBronism:

U Bum. How short and sweet it is.

The reasons, such as they are, behind Trump’s tweet are multi-faceted: projection of his own intellectual inferiority on to others and, most importantly, racist red meat for his idiot base. Trump has a habit of calling black people “dumb” or “low IQ” when, in fact, he’s the dumbass. It’s all a part of his pandering to the worst instincts in white America while dog howling (the whistle has been traded in for a larger model) his own bigotry.

The most interesting thing about the LeBron affair was the press and social media reaction to Melania Trump’s reaction. Melania’s people issued a statement that mildly praised LeBron:

“It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today.”

In a spurt of the sort of human generosity I alluded to at the top of post, people gushed praise of FLOTUS* including those who should know better. This is the same reaction that greets many of Ivanka Trump’s mild disagreements with her monstrous father when, in fact, she’s Agrippina to his Tiberius. (I guess that makes Junior, Nero.) Here’s how my pal Dakinikat put it in a post about the Sam Bee flap a few months back:

 I’d like to remind y’all that vaginas are deep and warm and Ivanka Trump is neither so I suggest we think of a better set of words to describe KKKremlin Caligula’s daughter than “feckless cunt”.  We could adopt Demoness reincarnation of Diva August or good ol’ Aunt Livia to keep it all in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Historically, Livia was the mother of Tiberius and if you know anything about Roman history of the time, you’ll know he was as perverted and evil as the rest of them. Remember, Rome was still supposed to be a Republic at the time but that dreadful set of ghouls–including the fiddling Nero–ruined nearly everything within a few generations.  We could give her a nick name based on Agrippina but that would be a weirder sexual dynamic than I’m prepared to put through my mind.  However, I am praying for a few good men with lean and hungry looks to end our Trumpvian nightmare.

I know that was a long-ass quote but I think good writing should be rewarded.

Back to the post title: it’s SOP (standard operating procedure) in the GOP for female relatives of a leader to soften their image. It’s been going on for years, most notably in the Bush family, as Slate’s Christina Cauterucci explains in a wonderfully titled piece, Make-Believe Mutiny:

In 2001, Laura Bush famously departed from her husband’s stance on abortion by saying she thought Roe v. Wade should stand. The first lady was contradicting her president spouse on an issue of great import, and at the time, I thought it was a gutsy move that could have a positive impact on GOP abortion politics.

<SNIP>

And before Laura, Barbara Bush criticized the GOP during George H.W. Bush’s second presidential campaign for enshrining a “fundamental individual right to life” for “the unborn child” in its party platform. The strategy neatly aligns with the right-wing model of a heterosexual partnership: The big tough man makes big tough decisions from a place of rational judgment and patriarchal authority, while the woman respectfully registers a slightly different opinion, borne of feminine emotion. He is free to take or leave her suggestion, which carries no meaningful weight or influence. If he does modify his stance to lean towards hers, he can claim that his hypermasculine immunity to empathy—a quality Republicans fetishize in their leaders—blinded him to the nuances of an issue that needed a female touch.

This is particularly important when the Republican president* is an asshole of epic proportions like Donald Trump. It’s well-nigh impossible to humanize Trumpberius but they’ll continue trying. The media and public should be leery of this because it’s just spin. In fact, it’s the only slightly skillful spin to come out of the Trump administration. So everyone should treat it as what it is: disinformation calculated to distract and divert attention from the evil incompetence of the Insult Comedian and his team of sycophants.

So, the next time Melania or Ivanka slightly deviates from the Trump line, just remember: it’s GOP SOP.

Life Imitates I, Claudius: Trump As Tiberius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort?

The Kaiser of Chaos was a busy boy with an itchy twitter finger yesterday. The tweets dripped with flop sweat and palpable panic.  He “ordered” Jeff Beau to end the “rigged witch hunt” and praised Paul Manafort for his work for Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole. Those tweets arguably constitute witness tampering by tweet since Trumpy hands out pardons like Oprah doles out cars.

Ending the “rigged witch hunt” could bring the Manafort trial to a screeching halt, which would be a pity: I want the jury to hear more about Paulie’s lavish wardrobe. It’s also a pity that Judge Ellis has barred the use of the term oligarch. I believe in calling an oligarch an oligarch. Ole Garch sounds like a Swedish architect to me. I wonder if he had anything to do with the theft of the Swedish crown jewels? It could have been an angry Norwegian outraged over 91 years of Swedish domination of his homeland. If revenge is a dish best served cold, ain’t nothing colder than a Scandinavian winter or an angry and bitter Norwegian.

Enough of my weirdness, the weirdest of Trump’s recent tweets was this one:

Does this mean Manafort is a syphilitic murderer? He’s certainly a tax avoiding motherfucker like Scarface. Speaking of the gangster, the Insult Comedian misspelled his name: it’s Alphonse with a PH, not Alfonse with an F. That proves that Rudy Giuliani didn’t write this tweet: he’d spell a paisan’s name correctly. Remember when Rudy used to be anti-gangster? Now he’s a mob lawyer working for Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto. Many of us become what we hate.

I think Josh Marshall nailed *why* Trump used this seemingly bizarre analogy:

To Trump, Capone was a winner. He was rich. Everybody gave him respect. But he was brought down on BS charges, mundane financial crimes. He was treated very unfairly, to use the President’s signature phrase. This isn’t hyperbole or a mere attack. Over a forty-plus year career, Trump was deep in business with some of the most notorious and violent mobsters of the late 20th century. Trump managed not to get in to trouble first because he had the right friends but just as much because he kept the relationships largely passive. He laundered their money. His main overt act was willful obliviousness. Trump Tower itself was a notorious haven for all sorts of organized crime figures, mostly from other countries. Mostly from Russia and the former Soviet Union.

There have been many fine movies and teevee series over the years featuring Alphonse with a PH. I should thank the president* for giving me the latest in a series of Life Imitates post titles. First, there was The Sopranos, then The Americans, and now The Untouchables. Cue an extended version of the theme music, which was written by the great Nelson Riddle:

Now that I think of it, Ennio Morricone’s theme music for Brian DePalma’s 1987 film is pretty darn swell as well:

Al Capone *was* a fascinating character, which is why he remains such a famous gangster 71 years after his death. It is disturbing however that POTUS* identifies with him, not Eliot Ness. One would think he’d like comparisons to the best-known screen Nesses, Robert Stack and Kevin Costner. Hell,Costner is even a Republican; at least he used to be until the advent of the Trump regime. Good on ya, Kevin.

Enough Elliot Nessery. It’s time to post a rogue’s gallery of actors who played Alphonse with a PH. We begin with a two-fer: Ben Gazzara from a decent 1975 bio-pic, Capone, and Robert DeNiro in the DePalma/Mamet take on The Untouchables.

Next up from left to right: Neville Brand in teevee’s The Untouchables, Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire, and chewing a cigar as well as the scenery, Rod Steiger in 1959’s Al Capone. Steiger was a walking slab of prosciutto in this role. He’d be in the hammy actor hall of fame if such a thing existed.

There’s bound to be a white-collar gangster movie about Paul Manafort at some point in time. I’ve already made a casting suggestion in the form of a Separated at Birth segment:

Chazz Palminteri has played more than a few wise guys in his career including Big Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino family before he was whacked by John Gotti. The Trumps, of course, had ties to the Gambinos and Rudy is the one whose team brought them down. It’s a small fucking world, after all.

The Insult Comedian’s Florida Man

Florida Man Ron DeSantis and Trump. Photograph by Octavio Jones/Tampa Bay Times

The president* held one of his incoherent rallies yesterday in Tampa, Florida. He said one of the stupidest things he’s ever said and that’s saying a lot:

Trump claimed Democrats were attempting to give undocumented immigrants the right to vote.

“Which is why the time has come for voter ID, like everything else,” Trump told the crowd. “You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card. You need ID.”

In a career of specious arguments, this one is near the top. When was the last time the Insult Comedian went grocery shopping? Has he ever gone grocery shopping? The only times I’ve ever been carded was when I’ve bought booze. We know the Darnold only drives people to drink, he’s not a drinker himself.

I conceived this post before the Kaiser of Chaos put his foot in his mouth last night. He was in Florida campaigning for Congressman Ron DeSantis who is running in the GOP primary to succeed Governor Bat Boy. Typically, Oval Ones stay out of primaries but Trump cannot help himself. FYI, Rick Scott, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, skipped the rally. He’s nervous about appearing in public with his fellow megalomaniacal rich guy.

Trump endorsed DeSantis because of his appearances on Fox News as a fierce MAGA Maggot and Trump flatterer. That’s right, the Fox and Friends effect is in force. Anyone surprised? You shouldn’t be, the Insult Comedian schedules impromptu meetings based on what he’s seen on his favorite show. I wish I were making that up but I am not.

Florida Man DeSantis’ head is so far up the Trump rump that he made the ickiest and most obsequious pro-Trump ad of the year thus far.

I hope young Casey DeSantis grows up and rebels against her father’s stupid politics.  It’s what he deserves after exploiting her in that ad. Oh, the malakatude.

Tweet Of The Day: The Sound Of Mueller

The New Orleans Advocate’s Walt Handlesman is justifiably proud of his Walt Toons. This one is best described as Rodgers and Hammerstein meet Kremlingate. It’s so good that I set aside a lifetime of loathing The Sound of Music to post it.

If you enjoyed The Sound of Muller, please donate to First Draft’s annual fundraiser.

Today On Stupid Trumper Tricks

Remember the Trumpy Bear? It may have been topped by the latest malakatude from the Trump personality cult: a Trump action figure. I should have said personality cults because his adversary is Kim Jong Un who surely leads Tweety Boy around by the nose in between body slams.

The notion of a Trump action figure is ludicrous: the man sits around eating junk food, watching teevee, and tweeting. The only action he’s involved in is golfing when he’s not wrecking the country. Besides, he’s a golf cart rider, not a walker.

There *is* an alternate package that doesn’t have Putin as a referee but it’s not as funny. This thing is on sale at Wal-Mart and other retailers for a mere $16.99. It’s hair-pulling good fun. It would make an excellent dog or cat toy if your pet is particularly destructive.

That concludes this edition of Stupid Trumper Tricks.

Paul Manafort Meets Dollar Bill Jefferson

I’ve been reluctant to write anything about the Manafort trial because I expect him to cop a plea before it starts. Why? The evidence against him is overwhelming and a guy who worked for foreign dictators is not the most sympathetic defendant imaginable. Additionally, his wing man Gary Gates is the prosecution’s star witness. Hopefully, I’m wrong because the trial is bound to be entertaining and informative.

The pre-trial period has gotten me thinking about my former Congressman, Dollar Bill Jefferson. The main thing Dollar Bill and Paul Manafort have in common is the most eccentric judge on the federal bench, TS Ellis. I followed the Jefferson trial closely and enjoyed Ellis’ judicial antics. He walked up to the boundary of reversible error in that case but never quite crossed it. Judge Ellis hasn’t changed, he’s as quirky as ever. Rachel Maddow has had a great time reading the pre-trial transcripts aloud on her show, which is another reason I hope the trial proceeds. I’d hate to deny Rachel that pleasure.

Superficially, Manafort and Jefferson have little in common. One is an Italian-American Republican, the other an African-American Democrat. In addition to Judge Ellis, they have three things in common: intelligence, greed and, most fatally, hubris. Dollar Bill was, perhaps, the smartest man in Gret Stet politics but greed led him to overreach, which, in turn, landed him in prison. At least he never worked for a foreign dictator, which makes Manafort far worse. I have also come to the conclusion that Manafort was planted on Team Trump by the Russians. Dollar Bill betrayed his constituents, Paul Manafort betrayed his country.

In a piece I wrote for the Bayou Brief last December, I described Dollar Bill as follows:

In 2017, Dollar Bill is a living, breathing cautionary tale.

<snip>

Dollar Bill’s political legacy was swept away in a tide of graft, greed, and corruption. He got away with it for so many years that he thought he was bulletproof. He was not. It’s a shame because he could have been a great man instead of what he is: a convicted felon who was so disgraced that he lost his final race in 2008 to a Vietnamese-American Republican who had never before held a political office, Joseph Cao.

Dollar Bill went to trial, the same path Manafort is on today. He should be a cautionary tale for Manafort as well: he was convicted and Judge Ellis threw the book at him. Ouch.

Finally, since it’s First Draft’s annual fundraiser and the Manafort-Jefferson connection is fueled by money, I thought I’d let Dollar Bill do some tin cup rattling on our behalf:

Click here to see Athenae’s fundraising post and please give until it hurts. Thanks, y’all.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Sweet Dreams

Any Eye For A View by Paul Fleet.

I vowed not to complain about the heat this week. It’s always hot in New Orleans in July, after all. Besides, much of the world is having a heat wave so we’re not alone. Suffice it to say that even people who like warm weather are complaining about it. I’m trying my best to be stoical in the face of it all. I’m not sure if I’ll succeed in this but who the hell wants to hear a grown man whine about the humidity?

A big local story was the anointment of Zach Strief as the new play-by-play announcer of the New Orleans Saints. He has huge shoes to fill: Jim Henderson was to the Saints and their fans what Vin Scully was to the Dodgers. I’m skeptical that the inexperienced Strief is up to the job: he’s a recently retired Saints offensive lineman, and while he’s a bright, articulate guy, he’s unqualified to be a play-by-announcer.  Of course, this is the age of the unqualified.

Our theme songs this week are variations on a dreamy themey. Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dreams was written by Don Gibson who recorded it 8 years before Patsy. Her version is the one we remember. Sweet Dreams was also the title of the fabulous Jessica Lange starring 1985 bio-pic.

Yes’ Sweet Dreams comes from their second album, Time and a Word. They were still finding their way in the musical world at that point.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) was a monster hit for the Eurythmics in 1983. There was an epidemic of teenage girls who cut their hair very short because they wanted to be Annie Lennox. Who could blame them?

That concludes this foray to Disambiguation City. It’s time to awaken from your dreams, sweet or otherwise, and jump to the break.

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The Fog Of Scandal: Liars Calling Other Liars Liars

This is the week Michael Cohen and Donald Trump finally broke up. Their relationship has been slipping away ever since the raid on the former Fixer’s office but this week divorce papers were filed in the form of leaks and tweets. It seems that Cohen has gone from a willingness to take a bullet for Trump to shooting at him. In the immortal words of Lynyrd Skynyrd: Gimme back my bullets.

The Cohen-Trump recording released at the beginning of the week offered more questions than answers. Other than proving that Trump lied about paying off Karen McDougal, its legal relevance is dubious.

Last night’s leak was a horse of a different color; not that either Trump or Cohen knows anything about horses. All I know is what I see during Carnival parades whereat I’m impressed that horses can shit and walk at the same time. Michael Cohen can barely walk and chew gum at the same time.

Back to last night’s breaking news. Cohen confirms what has been obvious to anyone without a pro-Trump bias: Trump knew in advance about the June, 2016 meeting between Manafort, Junior, Slumlord Jared and some connected Russian shitbirds:

According to sources with knowledge of the situation who spoke to CNN, Cohen claims he was present when Donald Trump Jr. told Donald Trump about the potential meeting with a Russian lawyer, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, and Trump green-lit it. While he doesn’t have any evidence to validate his claims, Cohen is reportedly willing to share that information with special counsel Robert Mueller.

This, in turn, led liar Rudy to claim that liar Cohen was lying:

“I don’t see how he has any credibility,” he said. “There’s nobody that I know that knows him that hasn’t warned me that if he’s backed up against a wall he’ll lie like crazy, because he’s lied all his life.”

Projection thy name is Rudy.

The world knows that most of Cohen’s lying has been in service of  big fat liar Donald Trump.  Who believes any of these lying liars? Cohen’s yarn is plausible but needs corroboration. One reason I’m inclined to believe it was this morning’s Trump twitter meltdown. It’s what happens when he feels cornered.

The most alarming sub-plot of this story is the statement drafted for Junior when the first story about the meeting came out. Here’s Josh Marshall’s take:

Then there’s what happened in the aftermath of the Times stories breaking the news about the Trump Tower meeting that were published just over a year ago. Mueller’s investigators have focused closely on the fact that President Trump dictated a statement which was released in the name of his son Don Jr. about the meeting. It was a false cover story which quickly fell apart. He claimed it was about adoptions. How did he know about it? Well, it seems that he knew about it in advance. But there’s another thread to the story.

Trump dictated that false statement, with the cover story about adoptions only hours after he had a one on one meeting with Vladimir Putin (with no other US persons involved) which was apparently also about adoptions. As I explain here, if you put all this information together, there’s a pretty strong case to be made that not only did President Trump know about the Trump Tower meeting in advance but that he concocted his false cover story with the assistance of Vladimir Putin.

Was this discussed at the one-on-one Putin-Trump meeting? Enquiring minds want to know. Of course, if David Pecker had the story, he’d sell it to the Donald.

Speaking of peckers, a closing note about Junior’s new squeeze former Fox News bot, Kimberly Guilfoyle:

 Six sources said Guilfoyle’s behavior included showing personal photographs of male genitalia to colleagues (and identifying whose genitals they were), regularly discussing sexual matters at work and engaging in emotionally abusive behavior toward hair and makeup artists and support staff.

Was it Junior’s pecker? Eww, just, eww. It may be time to hurl, and I’m not lying about that.

Wingnuts Can’t Count

I hate what the Republicans have done to the House of Representatives. It was never a perfect institution (nothing human ever is) but, beginning with Newt Gingrich, they’ve transformed it into a theatre of the absurd. I almost called it a Kabuki theatre but I don’t want to confuse Jason Spencer into thinking that’s a Chinese, not Japanese thing. Kanichiwa, Sushi, Sony, Nissan. Sorry, I just can’t let go of Malaka Spencer a man who puts the dim in dim sum.

The latest empty GOP gesture comes in the form of articles of impeachment filed against Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. The so-called Freedom Caucus is the author of this idiot plot led by the Tar Heel twit, Mark Meadows, and the Buckeye rape enabler, Jim Jordan.

The charges are specious. Essentially, Rosenstein is accused of insufficient servility towards House GOPers and failure to aid and abet Trump’s Kremlingate cover up. The votes don’t appear to be there but the Insult Comedian is pleased: he likes others to do his dirty work for him. Jim Jordan seems to be his new fixer. He’s even dumber than Michael Cohen and that’s saying a lot.

Rod Rosenstein has turned out to be the unlikely hero of this sordid mess. He looks like the sort of guy who got stuffed into lockers in high school by louts such as Jim Jordan. Rosenstein turns out to have a steel spine and brass balls. He rarely lets House wingnuts see him sweat and he shouldn’t sweat this fakakta impeachment effort.

The House Wingnut Caucus does not appear to have the votes for this abuse of democracy. They don’t care. It’s all about publicity and sucking up to the Insult Comedian. It’s a sham and a shame, but one cannot shame the shameless or those who cannot count.

Here’s Jim Jordan trying to count:

He *may* be able to count to 20 by using all his fingers and toes but I have my doubts.

This preposterous impeachment is yet another reason that Democrats need to retake the House. Let’s put Jordan and Meadows out to pasture.

Malaka Of The Week: Jason Spencer

We live in an era of fake tough guys. It’s a phenomenon made worse by social media, which is full of nebbishes with keyboard courage. I don’t do Reddit but Twitter is jam-packed with tough talking bullies who are cowards in real life. As Dashiell Hammett put it: “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”

The latest phony hard man to be exposed is Georgia State Representative Jason Spencer (R-Dipshit.) Sacha Baron Cohen literally pantsed this jerk on Who Is America? And that is why Jason Spencer is malaka of the week.

The first time Malaka Spencer came to my attention, he was in Lost Causer mode. He made empty threats against LaDawn Jones a former black legislator who supports removing Confederate monuments.

The lowest point was when Spencer told her that if she and others kept up their fight to rid the state of Confederate monuments, “I cant guarantee you won’t be met with torches but something a lot more definitive.”

Later, removing any doubt, he said the people who want the statues gone “will go missing in the Okefenokee,” referring to a swamp and national wildlife refuge near his home town. “To many necks they are red around here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

That’s one of many reason this little creep deserved the comeuppance served to him by Erran Morad, Cohen’s Mossad agent character. Cohen convinced this idiot that, if he screamed the N-Word and pranced about with his pants down/ass out, that would somehow protect him from terrorists. You have to see it to believe it.

Spencer’s attempts at damage control were almost as ridiculous as the bit where he posed as a Chinese tourist who spouted off random Japanese phrases. They’re not the same, dude:

“Sacha Baron Cohen and his associates took advantage of my paralyzing fear that my family would be attacked. In posing as an Israeli Agent, he pretended to offer self-defense exercises. As uncomfortable as I was to participate, I agreed to, understanding that these ‘techniques’ were meant to help me and others fend off what I believed was an inevitable attack.

“My fears were so heightened at that time, I was not thinking clearly nor could I appreciate what I was agreeing to when I participated in his ‘class.’ I was told I would be filmed as a ‘demonstration video’ to teach others the same skills in Israel.

That’s the problem with fake tough guys like Spencer and his hero, Donald Trump. They’re motivated by fear. They try to fend it off by picking on people. It’s not only cowardly, it’s downright stupid. Who the hell is intimidated by a malaka with his pants down? Or by an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head?

Top Georgia Republicans are calling for Spencer’s head based on his racist behavior. They should add another charge to their political indictment: he’s too stupid to represent a district in the state lege. And that is why Jason Spencer is malaka of the week.

UPDATE: Spencer will be taking his malakatude to the private sector. He’s announced that he’s resigning his seat at the end of the month.

To Hell With The Trump Base

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of hearing about the vaunted Trump base. It causes Republican Senators to retire and Congresscritters to wet their pants in fear. Their entire political world is based on doing nothing that will upset the Trump base. They’re obsessed with Republican primary voters, which will cost them dearly in the next general election as long as our people turn out.

The power of the Republican base is wildly overrated. It’s ridiculous nonsense to anyone who can count. The number of voters who identify with the GOP has been declining for years. There are currently 25-26% of the voters who call themselves Republicans. That means the 88% of Republicans who support Trump make up 23-24% of the total electorate. That’s why the GOP has long been devoted to voter suppression culminating in 2016 where the Trump/Bannon/Russian strategy was to depress the Democratic vote. It worked then but we’re on to them.

The bottom line is that the vast majority of Americans do not support this president*. If they turn out to vote in November, Republicans will lose the House and hopefully the Senate and a slew of state house races. There is a solid anti-Trump majority in the country and the hardcore Trump base makes up at most 1/4 of the voting public. Their only hope is that Democrats and Independents stay home. Don’t give them that satisfaction. Vote them out. As Al Gore was fond of saying in 1992,  “It’s time for them to go.”

I was probably too polite in my post title. Here’s what I should have said:

FUCK THE TRUMP BASE.

That concludes this political pep talk. Class dismissed.

Life Imitates The Americans

There are, of course, substantial differences between Elizabeth Jennings of The Americans and Mariia Butina. Elizabeth operated in the shadows whereas Two-I Mariia was openly trying to influence the NRA while keeping her real motives under wraps.  Another difference is that Elizabeth got away with it whereas Two-I Mariia is in jail. What they have in common are guns and honey traps.

There was some derision among the dimmer twitter types when the Butina scandal turned to sex. There are too many people on both the left and right who react to news stories based on their ideological predilections. Butina’s honey trap exploits are not the most important part of the story but they’re integral to it.

The woman, Maria Butina, carried out her campaign through a series of deceptions that began in 2014, if not earlier, prosecutors said. She lied to obtain a student visa to pursue graduate work at American University in 2016. Apparently hoping for a work visa that would grant her a longer stay, she offered one American sex in exchange for a job. She moved in with a Republican political operative nearly twice her age, describing him as her boyfriend. But she privately expressed “disdain” for him and had him do her homework, prosecutors said.

Butina gets an A in honey trappery. The schmuck she conned is a GOPer named Paul Erickson. TPM has a hilarious piece about this malaka, which is must reading. Erickson’s strings were pulled by Two-I Mariia and her handlers for 5 years before her exposure. He was shocked, shocked that a Russian woman nearly thirty years his junior had ulterior motives. Erickson thought he was her dream man, instead he was her dream patsy.

Butina’s exploits have to give one pause. It looks as if Donald Trump isn’t the only American compromised by the Russians. The NRA seems to be too. They fell for Butina’s claim that a “gun rights” movement was starting in Russia supported by the Kremlin. They’re as gullible as the dipshits who fell for Sacha Baron Cohen’s Kinderguardian scam.

Elizabeth Jennings would be proud of Two-I Mariia’s exploits. She influenced US policy, infiltrated the NRA, asked the Insult Comedian a question at a public event, and made fools of a bunch of horny middle-aged men. The only thing she did wrong, Russian spywise, was to get caught. Federal prosecutors were right to hold Butina without bail, her picture is in the dictionary next to flight risk.

I’d like to thank the Russians for giving me a pretext to write about The Americans again. The Two-I Mariia scandal has temporarily put my Jennings withdrawal symptoms into remission. I cannot wait for the Free Mariia Butina movement to shift into high gear.

I wonder who the Russians are willing to trade for her: how about Philip and Elizabeth? The Trumpers could be fooled into believing that they’re real, not fictional. All it would take is a private meeting between Trump and Putin. Donald believes everything Vlad says, after all.

I considered posting a song used in The Americans BUT nobody does it better than Carly Simon or James Bond for that matter:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Is Yet To Come

Shattered Color by Lee Krasner.

It’s been a long and difficult week for Americans who haven’t imbibed the MAGA Kool-Aid. I already wrote about it on Thursday and Monday so we’re going to keep this introduction snappy and mercifully brief. I wonder if the Insult Comedian would call that a double positive?

This week’s theme song is upbeat and positive in response to all the gloomy shit going on in the world. The Best Is Yet To Come was written for Tony Bennett in 1959 by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, and Chaka Khan. That’s right, Chaka Khan. She can sing anything, y’all.

This is the second time I’ve used The Best Is Yet To Come as a post title. The first was after President Obama’s re-election in 2012. It’s time for him to eschew the non-political Jimmy Carter post-presidential model, make like Harry Truman and hit the stump this fall. His party and country need him. Give ’em hell, Barack.

I’m not sure where the tree of life is right now, but I long to “pick me a plum.” I’ll figure out how to do so after the break.

Continue reading

Deep Montenegro Thought

Perhaps Trump’s hostility to the tiny Balkan nation, like his immigration policy, is rooted in ignorance and bigotry. It’s not impossible (a Trumpian double negative) that he thinks the country was founded by a guy named Monte Negro, and was named for its founder like Kenya. Kenya? Obama must be involved. Mayhaps that’s why the Kaiser of Chaos shoved Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic at last year’s NATO summit.

Yo, Trumpy, if the “aggressive” Montenegrins attack anyone, we don’t have to come to their rescue. They’re on their own: article 5 only kicks in when they’re attacked. Tell your little friend Tucker while you’re at it. As if that silver spoon motherfucker’s spawn is going to fight anyone with anything other than his mouth.

PS: This turns out to be the second iteration of the Monte Negro pun. The first was in a post about  last year’s NATO summit:

I guess he thought the Montenegrin PM was a waiter named Monty Negro or some such shit. The help is always abused in the racist alternate reality known as Trumpistan.

The Fog Of Scandal: The McFaul Guy Gambit

Wednesday is often referred to as Hump Day. Yesterday, Wednesday, July 18, 2018 will be remembered as a day that America was humped by its idiot president* and his criminal administration. Fuck it, strike the word humped, we were fucked. The only way the situation can be un-fucked is with massive turn out at the polls this fall. We seem to have finally hit the much ballyhooed constitutional crisis. Believe me.

The president* spent the day sowing confusion over his remarks at the infamous Helsinki presser. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. He inches up to admitting that Russia interfered with the 2016 election but adds qualifying language because a full admission means that the Mueller probe is NOT a witch hunt. It’s why he cannot go there. His endless denials and denunciations of the investigation are signs of guilt. People with nothing to hide do not act like this.

The Failing New York Times broke a monster story on Hump Day eve. It shows why former CIA director John Brennan’s hair has been on fire. Make that would be on fire if he had hair. I still detect a faint whiff of burning edges…

Here’s the money quote:

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

By my estimation as a lapsed lawyer, this makes Trump an accessory after the fact to a criminal conspiracy. It’s time to ditch the word collusion. It’s not a legal term and it has been used to envelop the Mueller probe in the fog of uncertainty. C is for Conspiracy, not Collusion. C is also for Cover Up and Constitutional Crisis.

It’s been abundantly clear for quite some time that the president* has been compromised by the Russians. That view has finally gone mainstream after the Helsinki summit. Welcome to the fight, y’all. The acknowledgment that Trump is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vladimir Putin is more important than the details. We may not learn the nature of the kompromat for a while but once again: actions speak louder than words. I say money, you say pee tape. Let’s call the whole thing off. What would I do without Ira Gershwin?

There was a brief flurry of condemnation from GOPers after the “I don’t know why it would be Russia” outrage. Once again, it involved words, not action. Trump’s  follow-up statements were made to allow Republican office holders to crawl back under their beds and hide. There *is* political collusion between them and their dear leader. Republican Senators, even those not up for re-election, are terrified of their base, so they fall in line when they should heed Athenae’s advice and CAUCUS WITH THE DEMOCRATS.

Speaking of spineless Republicans. If former Indiana Senator and current Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coates, had any gumption he’d resign after months of disrespect from his boss. They seem to have banned gumption for the duration of the Trump era. Gumption is another word I’m trying to revive. Use it and pass it along.

One of the most sinister things to happen at the Helsinki summit was the private meeting between Trump and his spymaster. The Russian side are talking up various “agreements” between Putin and his puppet. We’ve already heard about the “incredible offer” to exchange law enforcement information. I call it the “let the fox investigate the chicken coop” offer. It’s truly an incredible offer per the second definition offered by Dictionary.com:

  1. so extraordinary as to seem impossible: incredible speed.
  2. not credible; hard to believe; unbelievable:The plot of the book is incredible.

This entire story is incredible. A book publisher would reject it out of hand as totally (another favorite Trump word) incredible.

Things got even more bizarre yesterday when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to rule out allowing the Russians to interrogate American citizens such as former Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. Sanders declined the offer and gave her stock ignorant reply: “I’ll get back to you on that.”

The State Department later ruled it out BUT this was a no-brainer except for this brainless administration. We do not hand over our former officials to the Russian secret police just because Putin hates them and they did not vote for Trump. As of this writing it’s unclear what the Trump regime policy is.

Hopefully, they won’t make Michael the McFaul guy. You were probably wondering when I’d circle back to the post title. I like to keep y’all off balance.

Despite Putin’s McFaul guy gambit, the Ambassador is nobody’s patsy. He’s not going down without a fight:

Upon hearing of the McFaul guy gambit, I had a shot of bourbon and tweeted this out:

The Daily Beast’s crack national security reporter, Spencer Ackerman, surveyed past and present American diplomats about the McFaul atrocity. The last word went to a current US official who used what the Grey Lady would call undiplomatic language:

The current U.S. diplomat said the openness to turning over McFaul capped off a shocking week for U.S. geopolitics.

“The president has first and foremost his interests at the top of his mind, as opposed to the government’s. That’s very clear over the past week and a half, between shitting on our NATO allies and kissing Putin’s ass,” the diplomat said. “He cares more about himself than the nation and any of us who serve it.”

The diplomat continued: “Either he’s compromised by Putin or he’s a pussy, in which case he should grab himself.”

I wish I had thought of that.

My last word goes to my countryman, Toronto Star cartoonist Theo Moudakis, who is not a malaka unlike this organ grinder and his monkey: