Category Archives: The Darnold

Cohen Family Values

This post title may be ironic but it contains a kernel of truth. Trump’s former fixer spent a good deal of time in his remarks at his sentencing hearing discussing the importance of family and his regrets at having let them down. Bigly.

Cohen’s family values are also the best explanation for his limited co-operation with the Southern District of New York. I spent too much time Wednesday watching MSNBC and listening to pundits and legal experts alike discuss this “mystery.” There’s a simple explanation: both Cohen and his brother married into families with extensive ties to the Ukrainian and Russian mobs. It’s unclear if they’re gangsters or associates, but they’re connected. Flipping on them would not only blow up Cohen’s family, it would be hazardous to his health. There’s no mystery there at all.

Additionally, Cohen’s uncle runs a social club in Brooklyn that’s frequented by wise guys from the former Soviet Union. The Fixer sold his stake in the club after Trump’s fluke election victory. At the very least, Cohen’s uncle is a mob associate. To put it in terms that Sopranos fans will get: he’s the Artie Bucco of the story. Artie was, of course, Tony’s childhood friend whose eatery Vesuvio was a hangout for the fictional Jersey mob. Artie was a hapless schmo and sporadic wise guy wannabe, which is how Cohen is perceived by many in the MSM.

The mistake the MSM has made in covering  the Trump scandals is that they’ve treated it as strictly a political story. It’s really the story of how a career criminal was elected president* by defrauding the voters. It’s a crime story. The victim is the American people.

I think all the wise men and women on cable news should read Josh Marshall. He’s been on top of the Cohen/mob story since the Spring of 2017. In case you’ve missed his coverage, here are links to some of Josh’s Cohen stories:

From February 26, 2017: It’s All So Confusing.

From March 1, 2017: Piecing Together The Michael Cohen Story.

From April 17, 2018: The Closer I Get.

From April 18, 2018: Cohen-ology Pays Off After All.

It’s all there, y’all. It explains why Michael Cohen cannot offer the sort of co-operation demanded by the SDNY. They expect co-operators to discuss *every* crime a witness is familiar with, not just their own malefactions. Cohen would rather spend 3 years in jail than deal with the shitstorm that would ensue if he flipped on his friends and family from Brooklyn and Brighton Beach. Who the hell can blame him?

Having explained why I believe Cohen will never sign a full co-operation deal with the SDNY, working with Team Mueller is an entirely different kettle of fish. Cohen seems willing to spill everything he knows about Donald Trump. Those bridges are burned and the only way Trumpberius can hurt Cohen now is with his mouth and tweets. Cohen doesn’t give a shit about that any more. He’s done covering up for the Insult Comedian’s “dirty deeds.”

The last word (image?) goes to my First Draft colleague Michael F:

Quote Of The Day: Repulsion Edition

I wish I had read Frank Bruni’s column about the Ayers rejection before writing my Staff Infection post. I would have quoted it then. There’s no time like the present:

It’s about how he behaves — and the predictable harvest of all that nastiness. While other presidents sought to hone the art of persuasion, he revels in his talent for repulsion: how many people he attacks (he styles this as boldness); how many people he offends (he pretties this up as authenticity); how many people he sends into exile. His administration doesn’t have alumni so much as refugees. H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn and Reince Priebus are a dumbfounded diaspora all their own.

Careerists who would normally pine for top jobs with a president assess his temper, behold his tweets, recall the mortifications of Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson, and run for the hills. Trump sits at the most coveted desk in the world, but almost no one wants to pull up a chair.

I’ve gone round and round on the subject of Trump’s atrocious manners with people who insist they matter less than his awful policies. They matter equally. Exit polls after the midterms indicated that many suburban swing voters turned against Trump because of his unpresidential behavior. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

Shame is a powerful thing. Trump is shameless but a majority of Americans are ashamed of having this obnoxious creep in the White House. He shows no signs of understanding that a president who takes a “shellacking” in the midterms needs to reach out and broaden their base. It’s what Reagan did after 1982 and Obama after 2010. Trump is obsessed with his base, which is one reason why he’s politically doomed. I’m not sure when his demise will come or what form it will take, but it’s coming.

The last word goes to Country Joe McDonald:

Staff Infection

Photo via Vanity Fair.

I used to think the Bush-Cheney administration was the most incompetent of my lifetime. But they occasionally looked as if they knew what they were doing. That’s something that can never be said of the Trump regime. If there’s a way to fuck something up, they’ll find it. It reminds me of a venerable military acronym: FUBAR. That stands for “fucked up beyond all recognition” although there’s a G-Rated version that substitutes “fouled up.” Fuck that version: Team Trump is fucking up the country, not fouling up, the foul stench emanating from the White House notwithstanding.

The ongoing saga of John Kelly’s departure from the White House is the best example of Trump’s staff infection. Kelly’s firing has been rumored since March but he’s become the Trump regime’s Keith Richards: a human cockroach who refuses to die.

The Kelly gag was perfected on Sunday when the guy who was expected to replace him, Nick Ayers, turned the job down. Hilarity and chaos ensued. Ayers is Pence’s chief of staff and a greedy hustler who wants to return to the private sector to cash in on his White House connections.

There are manifold reasons for Ayers to leave. Trump’s legal woes have led to an exodus of staffers who don’t want to have massive legal bills. Reporters have started asking Ayers questions about how a 36-year-old political consultant has amassed a vast fortune. The shortest reason is a classic: rats flee sinking ships. And Ayers is a blonde rat with a blonde wife and a blonde family. One could even call his life story Blonde Ambition but I think Reese Witherspoon would object. Who could blame her?

The main reason the Kelly exit is so FUBAR is because the train is being driven by the Slumlord and the Princess. Make that trainwreck:

After Nick Ayers, the Georgia political operative who was the president’s top pick, declined the job — something of a plot twist in a presidency notorious for its episodic cliffhangers — Mr. Trump is without a Plan B. Several of his aides expressed frustration that months of intense campaigning to replace John F. Kelly — an effort led by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s elder daughter and son-in-law — resulted in yet another chaotic staffing scramble in a White House splintered by factions and rife with turnover.

“Why would anybody want to be Donald Trump’s chief of staff unless you want to steal the office supplies before they shut the place down?” said Chris Whipple, who wrote a book on White House chiefs of staff called “The Gatekeepers,” expressing the views of many outside the White House about Mr. Kelly’s job. “If you’re coming into that job, you’ve got to lawyer up.”

The Other Mr. Whipple knows his shit. Javanka should have squeezed the political Charmin before assuming that Ayers would do their bidding. This was a shit show even for Team Trump.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m on about, here’s one of the “don’t squeeze the Charmin ads” featuring Mr. Whipple that ran for some 20 years:

The terlet paper analogy is apt. The Trump regime seems to be circling the bowl right now. His legal situation is dire and nobody reputable wants to be his chief of staff. Leo McGarry weeps. Perhaps Trump should hire an EMT for the job, they’re used to running toward danger.

As someone who watched a certain shitty reality show so you didn’t have to, I have some suggestions for the next chief of staff among Celebrity Apprentice contestants:

  • Gary Busey would appeal to the Trump base; ain’t no man whiter or angrier than Gary Busey.
  • In the unlikely event that the president* wants to expand his base and appeal to black voters, there’s always dreadlock wearing rapper Lil Jon.
  • If Trump wants to retain the support of Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy, Meat Loaf is his man.

A side benefit of the latest White House shitshow is that it’s serving up an extra dose of humiliation for the ultimate Trump dignity wraith, John Kelly. The retired general has been behind Trump’s horrific immigration and detention policies from the git go. Instead of being the adult in the room, he was the other bigot in the room.

I will never forgive Kelly for lying about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and dismissing her as an “empty barrel.” John Kelly has reached the bottom of the barrel. I hope he drinks deeply of the dregs and sickens himself.

Team Trump’s staff infection shows why nepotism is frowned upon in our government. The Slumlord and the Princess may be grand in a way that their cruder fathers never will be, but they haven’t the foggiest idea of what they’re doing.

As Trump’s legal woes mount and his popularity plummets, he will rely more and more on Javanka’s bad advice. The FUBAR watch remains in effect for the duration. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. Believe me.

Your President* Speaks: Smocking Gun Edition

I swore off doing these posts because the Insult Comedian says and tweets stupid shit pretty much every day. In the wake of his own personal Black Friday, he’s been tweeting up a flop sweat storm. There have been several instant classics, so I decided to bite the bullet much like Neil Young in this song:

We’ll proceed in reverse chronological order. The first panic tweet is a two-parter.

A smocking gun? Is that a cross between smoke and smock or mock and smoke? In either case, it’s eminently mockable.  Try singing this song as Smocking Gun:

Our second entry is the Insult Comedian’s dickish assault on the Senior Senator from the nutmeg state:

You’re planning to travel with the Dick? Will you have spotted dick for dessert?

Now that the Trump-Macron bromance is over, the president* has turned on the younger handsomer man:

The riots aren’t about the Paris climate change agreement. And the rioters are certainly not shouting “we want Trump.” If they were, I’d be more than glad to send him to Paris. It’s time for another marginally relevant musical interlude:

It’s rich for Mister Bone Saw’s best buddy to talk about “questionably run” countries. I bet some of those dictators know how to get away with paying off their side-chicks without getting caught. MBS would just have them killed and dismembered. Perhaps they’d use one of these:

I need the musical interludes to retain what little sanity I still have left. Besides, One Night In Paris is about an American procuring Parisian prostitutes.

Finally, the Insult Comedian had some twitter tea for the Tillerson:

This is, of course, classic Trump projection. He’s the one who’s “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.” I guess  that makes Mike Pompeo “very legal and very cool.” Sycophants always are. I just realized that made no sense: Trump disease is very very contagious.

Tillerson may not be my cup of tea but he’s an engineer who rose to the top of a massive oil company. He’s an arrogant asshole but not as dumb as a rock. Trump wins that particular trifecta.

The last word (image?) goes to Michael F:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati -Judgement call edition

Hi, readers –  back from Playa Del Carmen. Still unpacking, but there’s time for a short and sweet “Obsession”.

Trump Unleashes on ‘Dumb as a Rock’ Tillerson: He ‘Didn’t Have the Mental Capacity’
msn ^ | 12/7/2018 | Josh Feldman

Posted on 12/7/2018, 3:11:27 PM by detective

President Donald Trump is clearly not happy with comments from his former Secretary of State.

Rex Tillerson got candid today not just about his time at State, but about the President and how “undisciplined” he is. He also claimed that he had to explain to Trump that various things he proposed were illegal.

Trump clearly heard about the comments, and he fired back with some choice words for the man who once reportedly called him a “moron”:

“Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him,” Trump tweeted Friday afternoon. “His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!”

1 posted on 12/7/2018, 3:11:27 PM by detective
IknowYouAre
To: detective

 

Rex was the third most incompetent and lazy SoS in history, just after Hellary and Kerry the Klown.

Thankfully we had a strategic genius of unsurpassed wisdom and courage in the WH keeping things running !

4 posted on 12/7/2018, 3:15:31 PM by WashingtonFire (President Trump – it’s like having your dad as President)

I can only assume he’s referring to the janitor…
.
After a few Tillerson-bashing / derp state posts, someone finally poses the real question:
To: gibsonguy

 

Question—. If Tillerson is so dumb, such an idiot, etc. Then why in the heck did Trump pick him in the first place?

10 posted on 12/7/2018, 3:21:09 PM by Dilbert San Diego

Good question.
To: Dilbert San Diego

 

He has made a lot of dumb hires. In that respect he is very naive, he thinks everyone is as sincere as he is in service to their country.

18 posted on 12/7/2018, 3:24:09 PM by Dont tread and Live (waso)

So, what you’re saying is that The Darnold is easily fooled?
Duh, motherfucker.
To: detective

 

Sometimes Trump can be ineloquent – but you know where he stands and that is rare in a politician

12 posted on 12/7/2018, 3:22:06 PM by laconic

Alzheimer’s is also rare in a politician, but Reagan spent his entire last term drooling into a napkin.
.
Also:
.

Trump “Gibbery gibbery gibberish, la la me, best, biggest, blaggety blah blah tremendous blageddy gibberish.”

Trump supporter in the stands “We love him because he says what he’s thinking!”

To: detective

 

Every one of you misses the point. The point is not that Trump is “man enough” to tell it like it is. (rolls eyes)

The point is, he – TRUMP – is the person hiring all of these “dumb as a rock” people to Cabinet positions. What does it say about his judgement? THAT, is the point.

19 posted on 12/7/2018, 3:24:19 PM by TangledUpInBlue

To: SaveFerris

 

Exxon is a corpocracy. Trump operates an oligarchy type business. (,,,)

33 posted on 12/7/2018, 3:54:25 PM by Sequoyah101 (It feels like we have exchaged our dreams for survival. We just ha va few days that don’t suck.)

Sssh – you’re not supposed to say that out loud.
To: detective

 

Trump has made himself look petty… again. I really wish he would not do that. If he didn’t do this he would be a really great man. He could defend himself without being so much like a 12 year-old.

35 posted on 12/7/2018, 3:57:47 PM by Sequoyah101 (It feels like we have exchaged our dreams for survival. We just ha va few days that don’t suck.)

No.
No, he can’t.
Trump IS a 12 year-old, and he will always BE a 12 year-old.
More after the temper tantrum.

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The Fog Of Scandal: Hey Nineteen

I’m one of the Mueller probe’s staunchest supporters and biggest fans. They inadvertently gave me an early Christmas gift: Michael Flynn met nineteen times with Team Mueller. That allowed me to use a Steely Dan song as the title of this post. The late Walter Becker, Donald Fagen, and I would like to thank Bobby Three Sticks. I somehow doubt he’d get the joke. He’s a good man but not known for his sense of humor. He’s closer to a Bodhisattva than a Gaucho. Hey, Bodhisattva is the B-side of Hey Nineteen, so it’s kinda sorta relevant. End of egregious Steely Dan reference.

Mike Flynn is the most interesting person to get caught up the fog of Trump’s scandals. He’s more like a tragic Graham Greene or John LeCarre character than a typical Trump associate. He’s the only Kremlingate figure who is not a lifelong dirtbag. Instead, he’s a highly decorated army intelligence officer who rose to the rank of Lieutenant General: that’s 3 stars for us civilians. He was essentially a good person for the first 50 years of his life. It’s a truism that when people like that go wrong, they go all the way.

Things started to go sideways when Flynn landed a desk job at the Pentagon as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn was a swashbuckling field officer, not an administrator skilled at keeping the paper moving. It was as if Hawkeye Pierce had been put in charge of running all the MASH units in Korea. He was a surgeon, not a bureaucrat.

Flynn was a fish out of water at the DIA who was fired amid allegations of emotionally abusive treatment of his subordinates. He was so embittered that he went from moderate Democrat to an Islamophobic wingnut. His open bitterness toward the president who hired and fired him, Barack Obama, made him easy pickings for Russian intelligence.

Flynn’s post-DIA behavior was disgraceful. His full-blown paranoia about Islamic extremism landed him in the Trump campaign. He traveled extensively with the candidate; more often than not he was seated next to the irascible and unstable Trump. He was considered something of a Trump whisperer.

Like pretty much everyone else in Trump’s orbit, Flynn expected to lose the election. His plan was to cash in as a lobbyist for Turkey, which led to his role in a proposed scheme to kidnap the Turkish dissident, Fetullah Gullen. Team Trump looked into deporting Gullen not long ago. These machinations *could* discussed in the redacted portions of the sentencing memo.

I nearly called this post Sympathy for the Devil. Flynn’s post-DIA conduct has involved, lying, cheating, scheming, and scamming. Flynn’s descent to hell was accelerated by his exposure to Trumpberius. Flynn is the most tragic of Trump’s many dignity wraiths. His life was turned to shit by his time on the campaign and 24 days as National Security Adviser.

Flynn’s sentencing memo details his crimes but discusses the extent of his co-operation with the Special Counsel’s Office. The recommendation for no jail time indicates he sang like Sinatra and may well have expressed contrition and shame over his wicked, wicked ways. FYI, My Wicked Wicked Ways was the title of Errol Flynn’s memoirs. End of obligatory Errol Flynn reference.

I liked how the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman characterized Flynn’s plea.

Watching the Flynn plea play out will be fascinating. It’s a pity that cameras aren’t allowed in federal courts. I’d love to see for myself if my “Mike Flynn as repentant criminal” theory holds water. The mere fact that his sentencing will take place *before* investigations pertaining to it conclude, is an indication of sincerity, good faith, and contrition.

Donald Trump is clearly afraid of Mike Flynn’s testimony. As of this writing, the disgraced General and Vladimir Putin are among the few who have not been given the Insult Comedian treatment. Trump’s house of cards continues to teeter. It may well lead to my best case scenario Mueller probe outcome: a grand family plea bargain that results in a presidential* resignation. That’s rank speculation but it’s what pundits do.

The last word goes to (who else?) Steely Dan:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Deportee (Plane Crash At Los Gatos)

Roots by Frida Kahlo

I’ve been following the horrific events at the US-Mexico border. After a few weeks of relative quiet on the caravan front, the Insult Comedian has ramped up the war of words in this fake crisis. He added a new weapon to his usual arsenal of hot air and bullshit: tear gas. Trump claimed that it was “very safe tear gas” but there’s no such thing, especially since they tear gassed babies. Exposure to tear gas has detrimental effects on childhood development. It’s some nasty shit. I was exposed to tear gas in the Paris Metro many years ago. I don’t recall what the protest was about, but I recall feeling woozy, raspy, and weepy for hours after being tear gassed. I guess it wasn’t the “very safe” kind that Trump is so proud of. #sarcasm

Trump’s ridiculous claim that tear gas is “very safe” reminds me of an encounter with one of my Greek Greek relatives. I called him Theo (Uncle) Panos but he was married to my father’s  cousin. He was a proud and boisterous man who had a small business making and selling taverna-type chairs in the Monastiriki district in old Athens. He believed that everything Greek was the best. It was one reason he and Lou got on so well. I’ll never forget dining al fresco one evening with Panos and his family. There were flies swarming and  I kept shooing them away. Panos laughed and said, “Don’t worry. In Greece, the flies are clean and very safe.”

This week’s theme song was written in 1948 by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman in protest of the racist treatment of Mexican nationals who perished in a plane crash in Los Gatos, California. 32 people died: 4 Americans and 28 Mexican migrant workers who were being deported to Mexico. The media of the day listed the names of the dead Yanquis but referred to the Mexicans solely as deportees.

Sometimes the “crash” in the title is replaced with “wreck” but the song remains the same. Deportee (Plane Crash at Los Gatos) is one of the great protest songs and has been recorded many times over the last 70 years.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Woody Guthrie, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Gilmore, and Nancy Griffith.

Now that we’ve been deported, it’s time to jump to the break. We’ll try not to crash-land but I make no guarantees. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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The Fog Of Scandal: Individual 1

Image by Michael F

Thursdays are rarely important. But Thursday November 29, 2018 is the day that Donald Trump’s legal house of cards began to collapse. It was no surprise to this blogger: it was jerry-rigged and built on a rickety foundation of lies and greed.

I’ve used my friend and colleague Michael F’s images before but never the next day. The image above and the post title House Of Cads, seem almost premonitive in the wake of Michael Cohen’s latest guilty plea.. Yo, Michael, if you have any lottery number suggestions, I’m all ears.

Individual 1 is, of course, Donald J Trump, accidental president* and sleazy real estate developer. His story about the unconsummated deal for a Trump Tower Moscow was exposed as a lie yesterday. We don’t just have the former Fixer’s word for it: there are digital recordings and documents. Cohen’s bill of information is, well, informative.

Cohen pled guilty to lying to Congress. He lied out of loyalty to Individual 1 who went into full Insult Comedian mode upon learning of the plea. He called his former Fixer “not very smart” and a “very weak person.” There’s that word again.

This morning Trumpberius tweeted about his Russia un-deal:

He forgot to invoke McCarthyism, which is always hilarious given that his mentor Roy Cohn was Tailgunner Joe’s right-hand man.

I’ve had some semi-heated discussions with people about charging Trumpers with lying to Congress. People tend to be dismissive about perjury. It’s a sign of the times: lying is in fashion. Lying under oath is never “very legal & very cool.” A reminder that lying to the Senate Watergate Committee was one of the charges that brought down Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Mitchell. Are you listening, Junior?

The Mueller investigation is unfolding like a long running teevee drama; more like The Sopranos than The Godfather. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg but with each new court filing Team Trump melts a bit more. As Josh Marshall put it: “They all lied. They’re all guilty.”

Very Deep Thought

I just saw the Liar-in-Chief on cable teevee. In addition to incorrectly claiming that Michael Cohen had already been sentenced to a long prison term, he used his favorite word:

Trump’s mangled and gnarly syntax has actually impacted my writing style. When I finish a draft of anything but a shopping list, I scrub out the verys. Occasionally they survive but that’s a very rare occurrence. Oops, I did it again.

The last word goes to Richard Thompson:

 

Life Imitates The Godfather: Paulie, Won’t See Him No More

Clemenza and Paulie Gatto in The Godfather

There’s something about the Manafort-Trump relationship that makes me think of gangster movies. Imagine that. During Manafort’s trial, the Insult Comedian rhapsodized about Al Capone as a stand-up guy, so naturally I wrote a post called Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort?

I’ve tried to avoid Godfather references in order to stand out from the mobster movie analogy crowd. And I realize the Clemenza-Paulie Gatto analogy is imperfect because Paulie G was whacked for betraying his Don whereas Paulie M first betrayed, then stood by Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto. I should apologize for that long sentence but it would break my momentum. I don’t mess around with either Jim or Big Mo. The Seventies references are really flying today.

Now that I’ve Godfathered the hell out of you, let’s turn our attention to the Manafort at hand. After weeks of quiet, the Manafort case has exploded. Team Mueller pulled out of its plea deal with Manafort because of his incessant lying. Imagine that. Then, it got messier when the Failing New York Times broke the story that Manafort’s lawyer has been briefing Trump’s lawyers about their discussions with Team Mueller. There *was* a co-operation agreement between Teams Manafort and Trump but such deals usually end with a plea bargain. This is sleazier than hell but may not be illegal. It may, however, be actionable by the relevant bar association. Stay tuned.

Making matters even stranger is that mob buster turned wartime consigliere Rudy Giuliani was the source for the bombshell NYT story. We’ve gone from Gatto to Gotti in a heartbeat, a lovebeat. It’s unclear if Rudy did this out of an inability to NOT brag about the contacts or because he’s a stupid twat who thinks this helps his client’s case. It does not. It makes Trump look guilty. But Team Trump agrees with Tricky Dick:

This gambit is classic Manafort. He’s an expert at playing both ends against the middle. It’s why he’s in the jam he’s in today. But at least Trumpy loves him again.

I agree with those who think Manafort is playing for a pardon. He’s also playing the long game. Even for Trump, it’s politically impossible to pardon Manafort before the 2020 election. In his more lucid moments, the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover has admitted that a Manafort pardon would be disastrous politically. Of course, his idiot client is quite capable of impulsively issuing one just to blow shit up. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

There are many Manafortian theories out there. Former US Attorney, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and MSNBC legal eagle, Harry Litman, has written a must read op-ed analyzing them. Unlike Litman, I believe that Manafort has a legitimate fear of being whacked by Russian spooks or wise guys in jail. It’s why he’s in solitary. It’s a plot line straight out of  The Americans.

The other Manafort news involves a story in the Guardian describing three meetings between him and albino devil Julian Assange. Many have discounted the story because of its sourcing. It *is* possible that the Guardian got played but the suspicion of the story strikes me as rank provincialism. The Guardian is one of the world’s great newspapers so its stories should be accorded the same respect as those in the NYT or WaPo. Besides, its sourcing is quite similar to many Woodstein Watergate stories. I also think the Steele Dossier implicitly supports the story. Stay tuned.

I’m used to making Watergate or Iran-Contra references about the DC scandal of the day. I am, however, unused to comparing our politics to gangster movies. What can I tell ya? I call them as I see them.

The last word goes to Corleone Caporegime Peter Clemenza:

Sorry for the last word fib, but I would be remiss in my duties as a mob movie maven if I didn’t post Clemenza’s lines after Paulie G met his maker:

Trump Fatigue

Image by Michael F

His detractors have long had it but Trump fatigue is afflicting many who voted for him. They’re beginning to spill the Trumper Kool-Aid instead of drinking it. The election was a disaster for the GOP: they lost the national popular vote by 8 points. As a point of reference, Ronald Reagan’s margin over Jimmy Carter in 1980 was 9 points.  Reagan was a master of expanding his base, all Trump does is shrink his.

In addition to being a corrupt obnoxious idiot, Trump’s primary political problem at this point is overexposure. Most of us would prefer not to think about politics on Thanksgiving. Trump was busy bragging, hate tweeting, and informing the country that we should be grateful for HIM.

The vast majority of people cannot sustain the level of intensity generated by this president*. People need a break from politics. Past presidents understood this, went on vacation, and made few public appearances during the holidays. Trump must always be the center of attention. He’s incapable of dialing it back during the holidays. That’s a big mistake. Thanks, Donald.

I had a brief encounter with an elderly Republican this week: “You were right about this guy. He never shuts up. He’s going to die of overexposure.”

That’s my new favorite image. Here’s another twist on it: the Donner party died of exposure, the Trump regime will die of overexposure.

As I wrote this, a classic Neil Young song lodged itself in my head. Neil gets the last word:

Sorry about your house burning down, man. I guess you should have raked more. #sarcasm.

Trump’s Sordid Saudi Word Salad

I guess the Insult Comedian hadn’t heard about the decline and recall of the Romaine empire when he issued his appalling statement about the Saudis and their murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The statement is pure word salad, peppered with Satan’s punctuation: 8 exclamation points. The late language maven William Safire weeps as do I.

Trump is proud of this illiterate, immoral, incoherent, and imbecilic statement.  It continues his seemingly endless race to the bottom, which has the nation’s moral compass spinning out of control. It was dictated by the president* to enable the Saudi dictator. Sad.

In this despicable document, Trump informs us that money matters more than the truth, human life, or national honor. None of this is surprising but if we lose the capacity to be shocked by the baseness of this president* he has won. I dislike the clunky word normalization, but if  it ever fit a situation this is it.

Trumpberius and Slumlord Jared are all in on Mohammad bin Salman. In fact, Crown Prince MBS is making the already awful Saudi dictatorship even worse. It’s moving from a family owned, consensus oriented authoritarian state to one man rule. That’s why nobody believes his claims about the Khashoggi killing. Not even Trump, but as far as he’s concerned, it doesn’t matter:

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that — this is an unacceptable and horrible crime.

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

Trump claims that there are 450 billion reasons why we should turn a blind eye to this act of barbarism. He is, of course, full of shit on the details, but it does not matter. The Saudi dictatorship butchered a legal US resident for the “crime” of being a dissident writer. That’s all that matters.

I’m grateful to whoever leaked the story of the CIA’s Khashoggi report. Perhaps the same person leaked this appalling story to NBC last week:

The White House is looking for ways to remove an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests.

Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.

The effort includes directives to the Justice Department and FBI that officials reopen Turkey’s case for his extradition, as well as a request to the Homeland Security Department for information about his legal status, the four people said.

The Trump regime subsequently denied the story but such denials ring hollow in the face of its overt hostility to human rights, and our country’s tradition of being a safe haven for dissidents. We should never extradite dissidents to their country of origin to face execution. We should never even consider doing so to help *another* dictator out of a jam. This is, in a word, reprehensible.

It’s indisputable that the American record on human rights is a mixed bag. We’ve done more than our share of dictator coddling BUT we’ve always aspired to be better. Even past “tough guy” leaders paid lip service to human rights This makes Trump and his lackeys worse than John Foster Dulles, Richard Nixon, or Dick Cheney. “Worse than Cheney” is not something anyone should want to hear about themselves. Trump, of course, hears nothing and learns even less.

I was raised by my parents to be proud of my country and tolerant of its flaws. I am ashamed to be an American right now. It hurts to say that but I know we can and will do better in the future.

The last word goes to Randy Newman:

Decorum, Nevermorum

Chris Wallace conducted one of the best televised Trump interviews thus far. The clips I’ve seen reminded me of his late father Mike who was one of the best and toughest interviewers in teevee history. The son may work for Fox but this interview would have made his father proud.

Trump has a new favorite word: decorum. He’s been using it, like some people in the Gret Stet of Louisiana use hot sauce, on everything in sight. It’s unclear if he knows what it means since he continues to display a lack of decorum: the Adam Schitt tweet springs to mind. If that’s decorous, Beavis and Butthead are highbrows. They’re not. Believe me.

The most unsettling portion of the Wallace interview was this exchange about retired Admiral McRaven:

WALLACE: Bill McRaven, retired admiral, Navy SEAL, 37 years, former head of US Special Operations —

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton fan.

WALLACE: Special Operations —

TRUMP: Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan.

WALLACE: Who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden, says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.

TRUMP: Okay, he’s a Hilary Clinton, uh, backer and an Obama backer and frankly —

WALLACE: He was a Navy SEAL 37 years —

TRUMP: Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice? You know, living — think of this — living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan, in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer. But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there. And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year and they don’t tell him, they don’t tell him—

An incredulous Wallace then asks, “You’re not even going to give them credit for taking down bin Laden?” But by this point, Trump has pivoted to the separate question of whether American financial assistance to the government of Pakistan is a good idea.

This appears to be Trump’s sincere view: Any person or institution that would have the temerity to criticize him on any grounds is corrupt and incompetent and thus not worth listening to on any subject.

McRaven’s real “crime” in Trump’s eyes is that he rose to John Brennan’s defense after the former head spook’s security clearance was taken away.

Our readers know that I’m a liberal who has tremendous respect for the military. It’s rooted in a conversation I had with my father near the end of the Vietnam War. I was in the habit of ragging on servicemen at that point in time. Lou sat me down and said something like this:

“Son, I don’t like this war either. As far as I’m concerned you, either fight all out or you don’t fight at all. I was lucky enough to fight in a war I believed in, but if I hadn’t it wouldn’t have mattered. Those boys in Vietnam didn’t choose to go there. Save your harsh words for the politicians who got us into this mess, not the kids who are fighting there.”

I don’t recall the exact words but the sentiments have stuck with me. Admiral McRaven deserves the same respect my father urged me to have for our troops. He’s a brave and intelligent man who has served our country with distinction and honor. Donald Trump is a man with no honor whatsoever. He’s incapable of understanding people like McRaven or Robert Mueller. It’s one of the primary reasons he’s unfit to sit in the Oval Office and why he richly deserves the asterisk I’ve given his presidency.

It’s time to circle back to the post title. I suppose I shouldn’t use a punny title for a serious post but I cannot help myself. Y’all should know that by now.

I love, love, love Admiral McRaven’s surname, which evokes Poe’s classic poem. In my hands it comes out: Decorum, nevermorum.

I never claimed to be decorous or decorative for that matter. I could even be described as rotten to the decorum.

That is all.

Trump’s Raking, California’s Burning

There have been so many pinch me moments since Donald Trump became president*. The latest came with his bizarre response to the California wildfires. As always, this fucking moron thinks he knows everything when, in fact, he knows absolutely nothing. It’s always made worse by the refusal of anyone around him to tell him when he’s wrong, which is more often than not. The only Yes-men I’ve ever cared for were Anderson and Squire.

About the featured image. I felt it was important to translate it to the original Astoria-Queens dialect. If I could line up Joe Pesci for a reading, I would. My cousin Vinny knew a thing or two about da utes.

Back to Donald’s Excellent California Misadventure. Make sure you click on the embedded video in the tweet:

There’s just so much to unpack from Trump’s latest big bag of stupid. First, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said he NEVER said anything about raking to Trump. Second, Finland is a small-ish, cold, and wet country. California is vast and dry from an epic drought. My home state is inherently prone to wildfires and all the raking in the world will not end that. Additionally, most of the forests there are managed by the Federal, not state government. But when did the Insult Comedian ever let the facts get in the way of making him look stupid?

When did da president* from Noo Yawk become an expert in forestry? Has he ever even wielded a rake? Perhaps he’s thinking of the kind of rake described in this tweet:

I attempted to post that tweet at a rakish angle but it proved impossible. Unlike the Current Occupant, I know when I don’t know something, you know.

One of Trump’s few talents is his eerie ability to make everything about himself. In this instance, it’s a horrific talent: 76 people have died and over 1000 are missing as of this writing. The Camp fire is a bona fide tragedy that all the raking or Smokey Bear bashing in the world will not solve. Yes, I said Smokey Bear bashing:

I would loved to have been a fly on the wall when Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsome discussed the presidential visit.  I thought I saw Jerry grit his teeth when Trumpberius went on about raking. The temptation to put the business end of a rake where the moon don’t shine must have been overwhelming. I applaud the outgoing Governor for his restraint. It must have been hard for Jerry: he doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

Nero had his fiddle, Trump has his rake. Dave Alvin has the last word:

The Crazy Is Contagious

I’m not sure if the inmates are running the asylum, but they seem to be running the White House. The president* has been in a week-long funk since he proclaimed victory in the midterms, a lie that not even he believes. He’s been lashing out, picking unnecessary fights, and behaving like a man who should be wearing a straitjacket, not an overlong red tie. Hence the featured image of Houdini in a straitjacket. There’s occasionally method to my madness.

Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has filed a bone-chilling report about West Wing craziness:

As Donald Trump’s West Wing careens through one of the most turbulent weeks of his presidency, White House officials are struggling to understand the source of the fury fueling the president’s eruptions. “This is a level of insanity I’ve never seen before,” one former West Wing staffer told me. Current and former officials are debating different theories for Trump’s outbursts, ranging from his fears over his son Don Jr.’s legal exposure to the prospect that House Democrats will unleash investigations in January. “He’s under a tremendous amount of mental stress,” one prominent Republican close to him told me.

<SNIP>

Trump remained in a dark mood during his weekend trip to France to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. As The Washington Post reported, he got into an argument with British Prime Minister Theresa May during a phone call on the flight across the Atlantic on Friday. On Saturday morning, Trump skipped attending a rain-soaked ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery to honor the Battle of Belleau Wood. When his absence became a scandal, the White House said the decision had been made because Marine One reportedly could not fly in the rain, and Secret Service did not want Trump traveling by motorcade. One Republican briefed on the internal discussions said the real reason Trump did not want to go was because there would be no tent to stand under. “He was worried his hair was going to get messed up in the rain,” the source said. “[John] Bolton and everyone was telling him this was a big mistake.” A former administration official said Trump hates being outside in wet conditions. “What I honestly think? He woke up and said, ‘It’s pouring rain. This is a joke and I’m not doing this.’”

So it really was his hair. We’d all been making those jokes but even I didn’t think that was it. I wrote it off to another tantrum when it was a hairy tantrum. The whole incident is the best example yet of his lack of political acuity. The fact that this would become a huge mess was predictable but the president* was shocked. Listening to people can be a good thing. Try it sometime, Donald.

The Insult Comedian’s weirdest public quote of the week was this:

“The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes. When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”

I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this. Of course, I’m relatively sane.

A change of shirt is not enough, I’d add this to make it a better disguise:

Has this bozo ever actually gone to a polling place? We know that he was a sporadic voter before running for president* and it shows. This is what happens when low information voters elect one of their own.

The other White House crazy comes from the East Wing. Melania Trump got John Bolton’s right hand woman, Mira Ricardel, shitcanned. That was weird enough but the crazy was compounded by this:

In a White House where the drama has been constant, but almost always behind the scenes, an email to reporters on Tuesday from Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, was unusually direct: “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”

This led to lazy comparisons to Nancy Reagan’s problems with Ronnie’s second chief of staff, Don Regan. I never thought I’d defend Nancy BUT that dispute was largely kept behind closed doors. Nancy’s spokesperson did not issue a statement. It became a bigger deal upon the publication of Regan’s book about his time in the two-A Reagan administration. Unlike the Trumps, the Reagans were famously close: Nancy probably rolled over in bed and said, “That one-A Regan has gotta go.”

Back to Ricardel’s ouster. Who’s going to wax and oil Bolton’s mustache now? I was working on a Ricky Ricardo pun on her last name but decided to cut her some slack. Why? I’ll never know.

Finally, in the world of crazy there was this story out of Baltimore:

A man shouted a pro-Nazi and pro-Trump salute during a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre on Wednesday night in an outburst that some audience members feared was the beginning of a shooting.

Audience member Rich Scherr said the outburst happened during intermission. The man, who had been seated in the balcony, began shouting “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump.” Immediately after that, “People started running,” Scherr said. “I’ll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, ‘Here we go.’ ”

The man was escorted out a few minutes later and the show continued. But Scherr, 49, said it was hard to focus on the play after that. “My heart was just racing. I didn’t even really pay attention to the second act.”

Oy, just oy.

I think David Simon nailed it when he RT’d the Sun story:

Circling back to our featured image, this Nazi creep wouldn’t liked Harry Houdini any more than Tevye. Houdini’s father was a Rabbi.

The last word goes to Dave and Phil Alvin:

Profiles In Phony Courage

It was quite a week for president* Trump. He pitched fit after fit, tantrum after tantrum. He confirmed that his picture is in the dictionary next to narcissist. He claims to have “won” the midterms, if so, he is an even sorer winner than usual. And his foray to France was the worst presidential* trip abroad since his trip to Helsinki.

Trump proved over and over again why I call him the Insult Comedian. He confuses bluster with bravery, whinging with winning, invective with courage.

It is not courageous to berate Jim Acosta and revoke his press credentials. Acosta *is* a loudmouth and a showboat, BUT he’s in the tradition of such pitbull teevee reporters as Dan Rather and Sam Donaldson. Donaldson was a burr in the saddle of both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. They dealt with it like adults, not professional wrestlers. Donaldson and I have a mutual acquaintance who assures me that Sam *is* a “rude, terrible person.” Dealing with obnoxious reporters is the Acosta of freedom.

It is not courageous to abuse black female reporters by calling them stupid and accusing them of asking “racist questions.” It seems to disprove the notion that the Insult Comedian is “the least racist person ever.” #sarcasm

It is not courageous to refuse to attend a ceremony honoring the Great War dead because it’s raining. Who is he now? The wicked witch of the West Wing? Is he afraid of melting?

It is not courageous to attack the people and government of California as wildfires rage. Is he suddenly a forestry expert? The only trick Trumpy missed was blaming Jerry Brown and calling my home state a socialist hellhole. He’ll have to blame Gavin Newsom after January. The taunts could even involve Trump Junior’s dating Newsom’s ex-wife. Stay tuned.

It is not courageous to make baseless allegations of voter fraud. It may, however, be a preview of 2020 if Trump is on the ballot and loses.

It is not courageous to scare the shit out of people over THE CARAVAN before the election, then drop the subject immediately thereafter.

I could go on and on about Trump the fake tough guy. Like former Vice President Dick Cheney, Trump is a scaredy cat pretending to be a bad ass. He’s all profile and no courage.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a pussy. He should grab himself.

The Fog Of Scandal: More Trouble Every Day

Donald Trump insists on being the center of attention even when it’s not in his best interest. His post-election presser was a tangle of pathology. I’ve never seen a party leader trash losing candidates by name. Their sin was a refusal to imbibe this:

Image by Michael F.

Candidates who swilled the nasty shit down also lost House races. Trump’s raw naked emotion yesterday was yet another failure of leadership. It also drew attention to the GOP’s poor performance in House races. The election may not have been the repudiation of Trumpism we hoped for BUT it was a stinging rebuke.

The Insult Comedian once again proved that he’s a fake tough guy by refusing to announce Jeff Bo’s “resignation” at the presser. It would have interfered with yelling at reporters. A genuine tough guy wouldn have faced the media shitstorm head on. The irony is that Jeff Bo was shitcanned for doing the ONLY decent thing he did as Attorney General: recuse himself from overseeing the Kremlingate probe. As to Trumpberius: he’s a pussy, he should grab himself.

The much feared slow motion Saturday Night Massacre began yesterday with the appointment of Iowa cornholer Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General. I saw him misdescribed as a loyalist and a crony. Whitaker is lackey who was appointed solely to attack the Mueller probe.

Whitaker’s Trumpworld sponsor is Sam Clovis who also brought Carter Page and George Papadopolous to that deranged corner of the political universe. Clovis is a  minor witness in the  Kremlingate probe. That, in and of itself, should force Whitaker to make like Jeff Bo and recuse himself, but his writings and tevee appearances *should* make recusal mandatory:

“It is time for Rosenstein, who is the acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation, to order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel,” he wrote then. “If he doesn’t, then Mueller’s investigation will eventually start to look like a political fishing expedition.”

He subsequently argued that the DOJ should starve the Mueller probe of funding and turn down any requests involving Trump’s finances. He was planted at DOJ to wreak havoc on the investigation. He’s a tumor that has metastasized into full-blown cancer.

It’s unclear what would happen if the DOJ’s ethics office informs Whitaker that he must recuse himself. Indications are that he will refuse to recuse, which could eventually result in disbarment. I hope that such a refusal  leads to targeted resignations and/or a work strike by DOJ lawyers. They’ve sworn an oath to protect and defend the constitution, not a criminal president*.

Does this mean the Kremlingate probe will end? Hell no. Bobby Three Sticks strikes me as someone who has a backup plan for his backup plan.

What we’re seeing here is obstruction of justice in broad daylight. It’s a blatant and premeditated attempt by Team Trump to hijack the constitution. Yes, I said premeditated; usually, the Insult Comedian just wings it. This time is different: it was timed to happen *before* Democrats assume control of the House. The incoming Chairman of the Judiciary Committee is demanding answers:

Anyone who tells you that they know where Demented Donald’s Wild Toady Ride will end up is kidding themselves. The situation is volatile and fluid. Only one thing is certain: these are the actions of a guilty man out to save his worthless ass.

The last word on this chaotic Thursday goes to Frank Zappa and the Mothers:

Campaign Notes: Split Decision

I can’t let go of my beloved tick tock image of Harold Lloyd in Safety Last. I decided to give it an encore after a long night of watching/following the election returns. It still aptly describe the state of a nation with a Republican senate and lunatic president*.

Overall, it was a good night for Democrats: the House was the Big Kahuna. But it has so many moving parts that it’s harder for the average person to follow. Still, Democrats won the majority and there were upsets galore in Virginia, New York, Iowa, California, Texas and a real shocker with Kendra Horn’s win in Oklahoma. There will be more than 100 women in the next Congress. That’s genuine progress.

Like Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, and Ella Fitzgerald,  I prefer to accentuate the positive:

Anyone with a lick of sense knew how difficult the Senate would be since 2/3 of the seats up were held by Democrats. It was worse than expected since three of the No on Kavanaugh red state senators Donnelly, Heitkamp, and McCaskill were defeated. Montana Senator John Tester’s race was just called in his favor, which means that Washington will be spared another real estate developer in office.

I think Democratic expectations were too high last night. It’s going to take more than one election to turn things around. The GOP’s post-2006 comeback took five election cycles. The House fell first for the GOP in 2010 because it’s more democratic. The Senate was never intended to be a democratic institution. Its members were elected by state leges until 100 years ago, after all.

I’m going to use the ultra-punditty “takeaway” format for the rest of the post. It’s otherwise known in these parts as Odds & Sods or First Draft Potpourri. I’ve been stirring the potpourri here for nine years, so why stop now?

Shooting Stars: The three most exciting candidates of the cycle were Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Gillum, and Stacey Abrams. They all got the fuzzy end of the electoral lollipop. Ms. Abrams, quite rightly, has refused to concede.

Since I was skeptical of Betomania, I’m more impressed by the results than the idolators.  It has been 28 years since a Democratic candidate received 48% of the vote in a statewide race in ruby red Texas. That candidate was, of course, Ann Richards and if there’s an afterlife I know she’s “so fucking proud” of Beto. Democrats made advances in the state lege, knocked off two House GOP committee chairman, and now believe they can win statewide. I think every race should be run the way Beto ran his: with courage, inspiration, and passion.

We re-learned two important lessons last night with Andrew Gillum’s narrow defeat:

  • Florida is still where political hearts go to be broken.
  • The Bradley effect is still in effect.

The Bradley in question is former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. He appeared to have a substantial lead over of GOPer George Deukmejian in the 1982 race to succeed Jerry Brown as California Governor. Bradley lost. The Bradley effect was born. To be fair, Bradley was more of a black Bill Nelson but, as Bob Marley would surely say at this point, who the cap fit, let them wear it.

I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Beto O’Rourke or Andrew Gillum. As to the other shooting star, Stacey Abrams has, quite rightly, refused to concede to Thievin’ Brian Kemp for reasons we’ll go into in our next segment.

The Power Of Red State Election Fuckery: Brian Kemp was up to his old vote suppression tricks on election day in Georgia. There were missing power cords, power outages, and other mishaps yesterday. They all seemed to occur in heavily Democratic areas. Incompetence or election fuckery? I think it was both.

Stacey Abrams refuses to concede until all the votes are counted in the hopes of winning enough to force a run-off. She has good reason to keep at it: there are 400K disputed votes.

We all seem to have underestimated the staying power of voter fuckery. Barack Obama and Eric Holder are right on this issue. Their effort to dial back voter suppression is not mere wonkery but crucial to the future of our democracy. The good news is that Dems flipped some state leges and won a raft of Governorships. That will help kickstart the repair work. It’s time to unfuck the electoral system.

Good News: Some really odious people were defeated yesterday. This calls for bullet points, not bullets, since we’re non-violent gun grabber types around here:

  • Dana Rohrabacher got a Harley Rouda awakening.
  • Dave Brat is still the worst.
  • Kris Kobach
  • Dean Heller
  • Corey Stewart
  • Bruce Rauner
  • Claudia Tenney
  • Scott Walker

I saved the best for last. My friend and colleague Scout Prime posted a tweet thread about the defeat of the man Doc calls Governor Deadeyes:

Click on the date at the bottom of the tweet image to read the whole thread. Well done, amiga.

While we’re posting tweets, here are the publisher lady’s thoughts on the killjoys who want to spoil our festive mood:

People seem to underestimate the magnitude of flipping the House. There are some aggressive incoming chairs with itchy subpoena fingers: Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, and Elijah Cummings to name a few. In between bragging about his “victory,” the Insult Comedian understands the threat, which led him to issue one of his own:

So much for that “softer tone” thing. Then there was this bit of projection:

The battle has been joined. No retreat, no surrender.

A split decision is much better than losing everything. Two years are an eternity in politics. Team Mueller has been in time-out for the last month. I expect them to make some noise in the near future that will harsh the Insult Comedian’s buzz.

One more thing. The funniest result yesterday was out of Nevada: Dennis Hof won a state assembly seat. It’s noteworthy because of his occupation and another salient fact. Here’s my headline:

DEAD PIMP WINS

How can I possibly top that?

The last word goes to Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton:

Album Cover Art Wednesday will return next week.

Campaign Notes: The Homestretch

The reason I’ve always been optimistic about the midterms is that Americans like divided government. I prefer Democratic control of all the political branches but most Americans like checks and balances, especially with an unbalanced president*. The electorate appears poised to flip the House and I still think the Senate is in play. I’m confident of the former but tentative about the latter, which is strictly based on my gut instincts and what Poppy Bush called “The Big Mo,” which seems to be hanging out with Democrats right now.

I put absolutely no stock in generic Congressional polls. Reliance upon them strikes me as a fool’s game given the past decade of frenetic gerrymandering and red state voter fuckery. I remain a devotee of Tip O’Neill’s adage “all politics is local” as well as that of the late Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders owner Al Davis “just win baby.” I know Al has been dead for 9 years but my love-hate relationship with the old villain has ripened into affectionate remembrance.

I am also skeptical about reliance on early vote totals. I remain uncertain as to what impact they have on election day turnout. I prefer voting on election day: the same poll workers have staffed my polling place since at least 2008. Many of them are neighbors with whom I’ve had front porch/stoop conversations.

The early vote obsession is the contemporary equivalent of exit poll mania. I remember 2004 when the exit polls leaked and I thought John Kerry had won. It was much worse when we found out that he’d lost. The only good thing about that result is that we were spared having John Edwards as Veep. I am still convinced that Kerry’s own first choice, Dick Gephardt, might have made the difference in Midwestern swing states but that’s 14-year-old graveyard whistling.

Graveyard Whistling is the name of the most recent Old 97’s album. They’re originally from Dallas, Texas, which provides an awkward transition into a final look at Betomania.

I remain a Beto skeptic. I think he’s an excellent candidate who has run a good race but the idolatry on the part of some people is OTT. I’ve been a good boy and haven’t yelled at anyone who mentions Beto yard signs as proof that he’s going to win. Repeat after me: YARD SIGNS DON’T VOTE. That bit of virtual yelling felt good.

A side benefit of Betomania is that Texas Dems have a chance to flip some House seats including that of 11-term incumbent Pete Sessions in the Mixmaster metro area. That’s suburban Dallas to the uninitiated. Suburbia is fertile soil for Democrats in this cycle. Trump’s manners or lack thereof *do* matter to educated suburban voters, especially women. The gender gap will be something to behold tomorrow.

Until proven otherwise, Texas remains a white whale for Democrats. My skepticism is rooted in Team Beto’s reliance on young voters and Hispanic voters; groups that do not usually turn out in great numbers. Additionally, Hispanic voters are more conservative than many Democrats think they are. A substantial percentage of Hispanic men are inclined to raise the drawbridge to future immigrants. Sad but true.

I hope to be proven wrong about Texas. I think that it will eventually become a purple state and this election cycle has helped that along. Other than the 1964 LBJ landslide, my native California went Republican in every presidential election between 1952 and 1988. Now it’s a socialist hellhole according to Fox News. I wonder if the Foxers have ever called Jerry Brown a Blue Meanie?

I’ve also been avidly following the race in the Virginia 7th. It pits the aptly named teabagger Dave Brat against former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger. Dr. A and I have family and friends in that district and they’re hoping to have a Democratic Congresscritter.

Retired Republican Senator John Warner thinks Spanberger’s the best and Brat’s the wurst.  In addition to endorsing other Democrats, including the man who should be Veep, Tim Kaine, the former Armed Services committee chair and Navy Secretary has also denounced the Insult Comedian:

“It’s a very serious time for the country. I did not support Trump,” he said, and “I’m deeply troubled by the central issues. So much of my life has been devoted to the intelligence work and national security — and I’m just not comfortable with the way he’s handling these national security issues,” said Warner.

“He has no inner compass at all,” Warner said of Trump. “He’s put a tremendous divide in this country.”

I understand from a friend who used to work for Warner that he swears like a Marine when he discusses Trumpy behind closed doors.

John Warner is a patriot who believes in putting country before party. Unfortunately, there are few conservatives like him nowadays. Let’s hope that those who are vote Democratic to put a brake on an out of control president*.

I am excited about election day but will be glad when it’s over. I think the Democrats will gain anywhere from 25 to 50 seats in the House. The upside involves the hope that most of the close races will go our way. It’s what tends to happen when Big Mo has your back.

As to the Senate, I think we’ll do better than expected but fall short of a majority unless we run the table on the close races. John Ralston has convinced me that Dean Heller is going down in Nevada. Absent the return of the Bradley effect in Florida, I think Andrew Gillum will pull Senator Bill Nelson to victory. Btw, I think Gillum had the quote of the cycle, “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying that the racists believe he’s a racist. ” Yeah you right, Mister Mayor.

I am also cautiously optimistic about Joe Donnelly in Hoosierland and Claire McCaskill in the Show Me State. I may be one of the few pundits who thinks Heidi Heitkamp could pull off another upset as she did in 2012:

The crazy Peach State Governor’s race seems headed to a run-off thereby keeping Georgia on my mind. Democrats are clearly gaining statehouses this cycle. I know Athenae will be pleased not to have Bruce Rauner to kick around anymore. Let’s all hope that First Draft alums Scout, Jude, and Doc will have a new Governor. It’s time to watch Scotty lose.

I understand why rank and file Democrats are nervous about tomorrow’s election. They’re still traumatized by 2016. Here’s the deal: I’m old enough to have lived through the White House wilderness years when we lost 5 of 6 presidential elections. It gave me thick political skin and a suspicion of political idolatry. I fell hard as a 14-year-old for George McGovern. That did not turn out well. The country preferred Nixon until it didn’t. A reminder from John Dean that the Kaiser of Chaos is worse than Tricky Dick:

While I’ve liked many candidates since 1972, I don’t fall in love with them. I prefer to keep a wary distance. I do, however, love my country, which is why I hope for a big turnout tomorrow and in all future elections.

It’s a cliché at this point, but this *is* the most important midterm election of our lifetime.  Its chance to vote for hope, not fear; the future, not the past; diversity, not bigotry. It’s time to give Fortunate Son Donald Trump and his enablers their comeuppance. Repeat after me: To Hell With The Trump Base.

Let’s end this omnibus homestretch post on an inspirational note with a Bruce Springsteen song that a certain valiant losing candidate used as his theme song in 2004.

The last word is a quote from one of my favorite movies:

Campaign Notes: Running Scared

Harry Truman has long been the patron saint of underdogs. As you can see, Senator Heidi Heitkamp had a Trumaneque election night moment in 2012. The North Dakota GOP has been working overtime to prevent another Heitkamp upset with an effort to suppress the Native American vote. The Senator is still fighting the good fight as the title of a profile of her by Irin Carmon illustrates: Heidi Heitkamp Doesn’t Care That You Think She’s Going To Lose. Here’s hoping that political lightning strikes again.

The tragic events of the last week have stalled GOP momentum in the campaign. Even the ordinarily obtuse and insensitive president* has noticed. Of course, he’s been whining about it instead of placing it in proper perspective and accepting his share of the blame because of his abhorrent behavior. The Insult Comedian is not big on perspective or accepting responsibility. He thinks the world revolves around him, not the sun. Believing your own rhetoric is hazardous to your political health, especially when it’s a tissue of lies.

As to the post title, Democrats are running scared and Republicans are running scary. Trump is incapable of running a positive campaign and not talking about himself. He is also scared to death that Team Mueller will come after him after election day. Count on it, asshole.

I remain optimistic about our chances in the House. The Senate map remains tough but if enough suburban voters are repelled by Trump’s hateful and hate-filled rhetoric there could be a surprise. The GOP deserves a comeuppance for foisting this third-rate strong man on us. Let’s hope they get what Bush called “a thumping” in 2006 and Obama called “a shellacking” in 2010.

Trump’s rhetoric gets more extreme by the day. He’s even dragging the military into politics by sending troops to counter the so-called caravan invaders:

Restating his vow to deploy thousands more troops to the southwest border, Trump fumed over border-crossers and said he had instructed U.S. military personnel to “consider it a rifle” if incoming migrants hurl stones at them: “Anybody throwing stones, rocks … we will consider that a firearm because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock.”

I have a lot of respect for our armed forces. I’ve never met a single officer who would order their soldiers to fire on unarmed civilians for throwing rocks. It’s time for a musical antidote to the bigoted GOP campaign:

Trump knows nothing about the military. Not only did he not serve, NO MEMBER of the Trump family has ever worn a uniform; not even in World War II. Fred Trump was too busy screwing the poor to take up arms in defense of our country. All the military age men in my immigrant  family served in World War II and my Uncle Bill was killed in action in Italy. I take this personally.

They may be unwilling to go on the record but many GOPers expect Trump’s bigoted rhetoric to backfire bigly:

…but congressional Republicans battling for political survival in swing districts with large clusters of college-educated voters and women have grown increasingly worried that such groups are having trouble stomaching what Trump is dishing up.

“The kind of voters Trump is talking to right now, there aren’t enough of them in these areas to get us over the finish line,” said one GOP campaign official.

“We understand this is an issue that motivates his base, but the economic issues are what we really need to win these swing voters because they are who’s going to decide who controls the House,” the official told POLITICO, adding that Trump “is solidifying swing voters who were already leaning Democratic and are now definitely going vote for Democratic candidates.”

Make it so, voters. Make it so. The last word goes to the late, great Roy Orbison.

Oops, I forgot something:

4 DAYS UNTIL THE MIDTERMS. TICK TOCK, MOTHERFUCKERS.