Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Radio Interview

     Tonight at seven PM ET, I'll be interviewed for an hour on the ArtistFirst radio network. I'll be gabbing about writing, publishing, my novels and who knows what. You can go to www.artistfirst.com and click on "listen live". Or, if you can't listen live, after the interview, you can click on my name and listen to a recording of the show. Please try to make time to listen in. I promise a good time will be had by all.
(Addendum: The recording of my interview can be found here. Sorry for the quality. I had Tony the host call my cell phone. On reflection, I think my voice would've come through more clearly if he'd called my house phone. So if I sound as if I'm speaking underwater, I apologize. I'll know better next time.)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

K, K and K

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
K, K and K. Funny how that letter keeps popping up in threes and dogging this administration. Of course, this isn't about Donald Trump's loyal fan base in the Ku Klux Klan. This is about the other KKK: Kushner, Kislyak and the Kremlin.
     Last Friday night, after what used to be the end of the weekly news cycle before social media made it 24/7, the Washington Post, followed by the New York Times two hours later published differing accounts of Jared Kushner asking Russia's US ambassador Sergey Kislyak for direct, secure access to the Kremlin, rendering deaf the prying ears of the intelligence community. This in itself should raise a lot of eyebrows but rather than retreading common ground, the Gray Lady decided to soft-pedal it.
     With tongue in cheek she says, perhaps with genuine naïveté, "Even if the proposal was designed primarily as a conduit to discuss policy issues, it is unclear why such communications would have needed to be carried out though a secret channel." Indeed. Especially as the Trump transition team didn't make this meeting at Trump Tower public knowledge and to this day still refuses to comment on it except through a veil of anonymity. Furthermore, the NYT went on to state,
The idea behind the secret communications channel, the three people said, was for Russian military officials to brief Mr. Flynn about the Syrian war and to discuss ways to cooperate there.
     One gets the impression this rationale, which allegedly took even Kislyak by surprise, was a glorified fig leaf for what would've been even more collusionary activity between the White House and the Kremlin had the idea not been abandoned by both sides.
     But then this came out: A few days after the meeting with Kislyak in Trump Tower, Kushner then had a meeting with another Sergey, this one Sergey Gorkov, a powerful Russian banker with close ties to Vladimir Putin. Well, "close ties" is understating it. Gorkov is actually a crony of Putin's and a graduate of the FSB's spy school. Later on, Putin made him the head of the VneshEconomBank (or VEB). It would be sanctioned under the Obama administration after Putin invaded the Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
     It ought to be mentioned here that unlike the Times, the WaPo had also reported that Kushner's idea at the time was to use Russian equipment at the Russian embassy so future communiques with Moscow couldn't be overheard by the FBI, which closely monitors all communications between Russian diplomats in the US and Moscow. That, obviously, would've caused security risks for both the Russians and us. It's an idea that on its face seems so naïve or absurd (as the Times would've had it), it was no wonder Moscow didn't approve it.

"Policy is the elephant in the room"
In Matt Yglesias' breakdown of the "dueling accounts", he mentions the core issue at the heart of these recent disclosures regardless of which account you read: The actual central policy these secret, behind locked door meetings signify. And, as is always the case, what we suspect always far outweighs what we actually know, especially when speculating on national security matters. So let's take stock of what we do know:
     The White House, through Kushner, wanted to set up hard, secured channels straight to Moscow, a request that was so bizarre even Kislyak was surprised. The very meeting was also such a potentially explosive revelation that Kushner (as had Jeff Sessions and several others in the Trump White House) had lied on his SF86 form (an application for top secret security clearance) by omitting his meetings with the Russians. Essentially, this means Kushner got his job through fraudulent means and ought to fired immediately according to Justice Department regulations.
     Yet, despite these disturbing requests, meetings with Russians and lying about them on his security clearance application, despite his name coming up quite frequently in the DOJ's ongoing investigation into the Trump administration's ties to Russia, Kushner himself is still not under investigation.
     Michael Flynn, Trump's short-lived National Security advisor, was present at the first meeting with Kislyak. He was being so openly groomed as a Judas goat/fall guy that Acting AG Sally Yates warned White Counsel three times about the danger of Flynn being compromised.
      We know for a fact Trump has had an antagonistic relationship with the intelligence community since he was Candidate Trump. Therefore it's only natural for a furtive, paranoid character like Trump to send in his son in law to lay the groundwork for a hard, secured channel straight to Trump's BFF, Vlad Putin.
     Rep. Adam Schiff took to the Sunday talk show circuit today to say in no uncertain terms that after this revelation of seeking back channels to the Kremlin (then withholding that information on his security clearance application), there's no way Kushner should be allowed to keep his security clearance. At the very least, Schiff added, it ought to be seriously reviewed.
     He's right.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Leading From the Rear

     Considering his boorish behavior in pushing aside the Prime Minister of Montenegro to be front and center for the photo op, I'm frankly surprised Trump didn't insist on being in front again in his little golf cart like a NASCAR pace car. That's right.
     As the leaders of England, Italy, France, Germany, Japan & Canada briskly walked through the quaint little streets of Taormina, Sicily, Donald Trump was humble enough to putter considerably behind them in a golf cart.
      It was a perfectly symbolic way to end the G7 summit that was largely concerned with the Paris Climate Accord that was created to lower global greenhouse emissions. The United States, leading from the rear as always in matters of pollution, lagged behind the other six world leaders, including arch conservative Theresa May. Great Britain and the other five nations renewed their commitment to the Paris Accord. Trump frustrated the other six leaders by saying he needed more time to think about it. I guess he's yet to read the Wikipedia article on the Paris Climate Accord.
     It's also perfectly symbolic of a fat, lazy son of a bitch who in his first four months as "president" has already put in more golfing than Obama probably had in his first term in office. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton were too "low energy" to be president, eh?
     Lastly, Trump's lackluster close to what was an unmitigated disaster on his first overseas trip was flawlessly symbolic of his lack of interaction and commitment to the international community whether it be our honoring Article V or signing on with the other member nations in the Paris Accord, it underscored, at best, an unhealthily isolationist attitude in international affairs (except where Yemen is concerned).
     At worst, especially as regards our belligerent posture toward our NATO allies, Trump going off script and insulting our NATO partners over a moth-eaten lie is in perfect harmony with Vlad Putin's own position toward NATO and the international community as a whole.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Red Line Republicans

     The more I study the latter-day Republican Party, the more I'm convinced red is the perfect color for it. Red, as in red zones, is the universal color for danger, which Republicans are constantly reminding us we're in then make their apocalyptic scenarios, for different reasons, self-fulfilling prophecies.
     Red is also symbolic of the old Soviet Union, which Republicans used to revile until the rise of Trump. Now, as far as US-Russo relations are concerned, the Democrats and Republicans have completely switched sides like drunks in a madcap game of Musical Chairs.
     Red also is the token color of rage, the color that drives bulls into a murderous frenzy or the stereotypical red fog that we metaphorically see when we ourselves are in the grip of rage.
     All three of these colors are perfect for a psychopath named Greg Gianforte.
     If you've been paying attention, Gianforte is the New Jersey-born carpetbagger piece of shit who'd gotten elected to Congress last night in a runoff election to replace former Montana Congressman-at-large Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of the Interior. Let's start with what happened on Wednesday the 24th and work our way back:
     Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was at Gianforte's campaign headquarters just as the candidate was about to make one of his final public appearances before Thursday's election. Jacobs had asked Gianforte a question about the CBO's troubling analysis of the health care bill recently passed in the House and he deflected the question yet again and told Jacobs to talk to his spokesman Shane Scanlon. Less than one second later, Gianforte can be heard grappling with the reporter and screaming at him.
     To show how completely unhinged and blind to optics Gianforte is, he attacked Jacobs in full view of a Fox news crew and other journalists. As horrifying as the tape sounds, what actually happened is much worse- According to Fox reporter Alicia Acuna, the Republican grabbed the Jewish reporter by the neck with both hands, body-slammed him, moved him sideways then began punching him while screaming at him.
     Fox's hosts completely ignored the incident, as if this is supposed to be the norm. In fact, some of them had pressured Acuna into retracting her eyewitness report (to her credit, she didn't, although that didn't stop lying right wing scumbags from saying she did, anyway.).
     Other right wing scumbags like Duncan Hunter of California said Jacobs got what was coming to him. Laura Ingraham, the one who tried to get Acuna to change her story, was basically splitting hairs and trying to make a distinction between what's assault or not depends entirely on what part of a person's neck you grab (Montana law enforcement charged him with misdemeanor assault, although it's difficult to see how grabbing a man's neck with both hands, body-slamming him and punching him isn't felony assault).
     Pedophile Rush Limbaugh, a ghost from the past, called Gianforte "manly" and "studly" for body-slamming the "pajama boy" journalist (which makes the rest of us wonder if Limbaugh has something he'd like to share with the rest of the class while he's just playing out the string of the rest of his contract that surely will not be renewed.).
     This is not new for Republicans. Nearly two and a half years ago, Rep. Michael Grimm threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony after "breaking (him) in half." And we've seen since Trump was still candidate Trump how antagonistic he's been to a press that over the decades had fawned over him and made him a household name. And of course, there was the still-recent example of Dan Heyman, the reporter who tried to ask HHS Secretary Tom Price a question about the AHCA and actually got expelled and arrested by West Virginia authorities.
     And let's not forget the abrupt expulsion of Univision reporter Jorge Ramos during Donald Trump's first presser since Election Day.
     From a purely objective perspective, it's easy to see why Republicans for decades have been antagonistic toward the 4th (and now the 5th) estate. Republicans by and large are furtive scumbags who much prefer to operate in the shadows, well hidden from public scrutiny. They hysterically accuse the very infrequent examples of actual investigative reporting as ambush journalism.
     And it's perhaps this very type of journalism that put Jacobs on Gianforte's baleful radar screen, especially since Jacobs wrote and published last April 28th this piece about Gianforte owning stock in two Russian companies that had been sanctioned by the US government since Putin had annexed the Crimea. "You did this the last time!" Gianforte screamed at Jacobs as he repeatedly punched him in the process of putting him in the hospital.
     Maybe his already thin skin was already rasped when the NY Times had reported earlier this month that the Republican candidate had been caught on tape thanking lobbyists for their work in passing the House health care bill. To hear Gianforte talk, it was as if they'd voted on the bill themselves. Which they practically had.
     This increasingly toxic relationship between the GOP and the press seemingly reached its apotheosis with Gianforte openly and brutally assaulting a reporter who was trying to do his job (then lied about it), in full view of a room full of witnesses, and had his fellow right wing nut jobs excuse his Neanderthal behavior. But was it the apotheosis? One must pay close attention to this deteriorating relationship between Republicans and the press that's supposed to be their watchdog in a supposedly free and democratic society. Republicans are making jokes about murdering the press, such as this one from the Secretary of Homeland Security when Trump was presented with a saber at his whiny commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy.
     Yes, our Homeland Security from the top down perceives the media as a threat to our nation that needs to be liquidated. Trump said so on Twitter. It must be true.
     It's a sad day in a so-called free Democratic Republic that the highest levels of our government coddle dictators like the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, North Korea and especially Russia while steadily escalating hostilities with the media that is supposed to be its watchdog. And now, we've just elected to Congress a psychopath who attacked and sent a reporter to the hospital (then, again, lied about it) and has to answer to assault charges this June 7th.
     And people are making excuses for him. Overton's Window. Assault, once a crime, is now proof of "manly" and "studly" behavior. Just asking a question of these arrogant douchebags is also asking for it. It wasn't assault, it was self-defense. He spoke too loud. He got too close to me, he grabbed me, Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?
     To say this incident last Wednesday as well as the others I've itemized, is having a chilling effect on the media is soft-pedaling it. But far from having a chilling effect, it ought to energize this lapdog media that will ignore, spin, deny and whitewash anything just for direct access to bullshit. The media at large should be going after these furtive scumbags with hammers and tongs. They hate the media because they have a lot to hide.
     When Adolph Hitler ascended to power 84 years ago, it was not a coup. He was democratically elected by the people of post Wiemar Germany. Though he'd consolidated power with astonishing rapidity (in about 70 days), the Third Reich still did not materialize overnight. He did so by stages, including suppressing the German media and demonizing and expelling from the business anyone who wouldn't get in line with the National Socialist Party's agenda. Before anyone knew it, virtually all 4700 of Germany's newspapers became mere propaganda arms for Hitler and Goebbells. And they were able to do so with the threat of a Communist takeover. Otherism. Fear. There's always a market for it and never goes out of style.
     Incremental stages. Frogs in the boiling water who fool themselves into thinking they can still take it, that the water's not getting too hot. It's not just a case of it possibly happening here. It is happening now as we speak.

From now on...

     .....when I hear that Mark Twain quote, "There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress," I'll think of Greg Gianforte. Because Gianforte just became the first man in US history to win a seat in Congress while having an assault charge hanging over him.
     Of course, one could say that the only reason Gianforte won is because roughly half of Montana's 700,000 registered voters mailed in their ballots long before Gianforte choked, body-slammed and punched Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs the day before election day.
     More on this later.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Musclehead From Brussels

 (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
It should've been written into the script: The Big Bully arrives in town, starts throwing his weight around, then Jean-Claude Van Damme leaps to save the day and kicks the bad guy senseless. Alas, that did not happen any more than a Batman will come to save Gotham City (formerly known as the United States).
     Any dead-end Trumper hoping against hope, reason and basic sanity that our Chief Executive would go on his first Big Boy Trip and not embarrass us should be bitterly disappointed. And if they're not, then they deserve to have their mental health care taken from them if Sauron gets his way and passes the AHCA, It all started, not so innocently enough, in Saudi Arabia.
     The tone for dysfunction was set when Trump reached for Melania's hand as they were leaving Air Force One and she rejected it by putting her left hand to her hair. Needing a consolation, Trump then patted the First Lady's ass. (Melania would do it again a couple days later in Israel.) Then, after agreeing, through a Jared Kushner-brokered deal to sell $110 billion in arms to the Saudis (in exchange for a $100,000,000 bribe to Ivanka's proposed foundation), Trump, the King of Saudi Arabia and Egypt's dictator held a glowing orb ceremony that looked as if it came out of a bad Roger Corman movie.

     Whether they were attempting to reach the blubbery spirit of Roger Ailes, the Dark Prince or Sauron himself, they reached someone- The very next day a 4x4 sinkhole opened up right in front of Mar-a-Lago (aka the Panhandle Kremlin). Then co-First Ladies Ivanka and Melania decided to opt out of wearing head scarves, something for which Trump himself raked Michelle Obama over the coals when she'd done the same (something for which even Ted Cruz had cheered her).
     Then after three of the world's biggest dictators and perpetrators of state-sponsored terrorism had their creepy seance pledging to end non state-sponsored terrorism, it was off to Israel, then the Vatican. And in the theological trifecta, Trump managed to thoroughly humiliate us in all three religions.

The Stupidest Person on the Face of the Earth

No, the Israelis didn't shoot Trump, even though he'd given away their secrets to the Russians, but they must've surely thought about it. As usual, it all started right out of the gate, literally, when Melania again swatted away Trump's hand on the red carpet in Tel Aviv. Then, as if the world's media wasn't already giving his itinerary and every detail within it enough press, he then announced to Israeli officials, in Israel, "I've just left the Middle East."
     It kinda went downhill from that point on.
     The Israeli visit at least held the faintest hope for Trump to acquit himself as something more than the mentally-challenged misfit he's proved to be on the world stage. After all, since Trump was on the campaign trail in 2015-6, he's been calling consistently for a two state solution between Israel and Palestine. Alas, it was not to be.
     When he left 28 hours later, he had not given one shred of evidence he'd thought this peace thingie through despite all the time he'd had to develop a peace plan during his campaign, his transition, and during the 120+ days he's been in the White House (aka Kremlin-on-the-Potomac). But there was one bright takeaway from Trump's visit- He'd told Netanyahu that when he was talking to the Russians in the Oval Office, he "never mentioned Israel."
     Which I'm sure came as a great relief to the Israelis even though their code-word protected intelligence about ISIS was given to a nation with whom they'd pointedly not shared said intelligence. And speaking of which, after Trump's visit, Israel has also decided not to share some of their classified intelligence with us. Yeah, maybe that's for the best.
     For any American President making an official state visit to Israel, a stop at the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem is a must. There's a guestbook for heads of state to sign. And Donald Trump's bizarre note in the Yad Vashem guestbook reads like something someone would write of their Disneyland vacation on Yelp.com. To say the least, it stands in stark contrast to the much lengthier, more comprehensive note left by President Obama. It essentially was all about him and what a great tourist stop was the memorial erected to remember the 6,000,000 victims of the Holocaust who were never mentioned in Trump's jaunty tourist memorandum. One can only wonder if Trump left an invoice to Mexico inside the Wailing Wall.
     Then it was on to the Vatican and beyond...

No Weddings But a Funeral For Democracxy
Pope Francis is certainly the most popular pontiff since at least Pope John XXIII. He seems to genuinely love his role as the Vicar of Christ as much as he relishes ministering to the poor. He seems like a nice, folksy head of state who has a ready smile for anyone he may meet... uh, with certain exceptions.
     It can't be said the two First Ladies didn't play their part. In stark contrast to their refusal to wear head scarves in Saudi Arabia, Ivanka and Melania, in keeping with papal tradition, wore black dresses and veils (and giving the photo op something of a creepy Diane Arbus ambiance to the whole thing.).
     I'll just gloss over the creepiness, the countless embarrassments Trump caused us in Vatican City and the two leader's prior barbs at each other over Trump's wall and just let the awkward pictures do the talking.

     Trump left the Vatican, saying he was more determined than ever to pursue peace in the world. Meanwhile, before he even got to the Vatican, this little tidbit about a certain Navy SEAL raid in Yemen somehow got pushed off the MSM's radar. I'm sure Trump felt real bad about it afterwards once he met with the Pope. Sure.

National Lampoon's Belgian Vacation
If anyone had any illusions that President Griswold wouldn't embarrass the United States at the dedication of the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, they were sadly misinformed. If there's anything else that Trump shares with the establishment GOP besides killing the poor and middle class, tax cuts for his billionaire buddies and deregulating every industry under the sun, it's his ignorant hatred of the United Nations and NATO's mission.
     At this point, it's difficult if not outright impossible to determine if Trump even knows what Article 5 in Chapter II of the UN charter is, much less remember that it was invoked only once by the UN- For our benefit right after the 9/11 attacks. But Trump today mentioned Article 5 in vague terms, preferring, instead, to focus on his moth-eaten lie of 23 of 28 NATO member nations not kicking in their fair share to fight terrorism (in reality, they'd paid more than mere money to that end- To date, over 1000 non-American NATO troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan alone). Ironically, standing next to Trump was a sculpture made of twisted metal found at Ground Zero.
     What Trump either doesn't remember or care to learn is that each nation pledges their support and pays for it out of their respective defense budgets. It's difficult to believe that one of Trump's more pragmatic and knowledgeable aides hasn't taken him aside and informed him of this simple fact.
     Perhaps it's that rampant ignorance that accounted for the faces and body language of the world leaders who had to listen to this drivel. Afterwards, Trump pushed Montenegro's Prime Minister aside so he could be front and center for the photo op, then refused to shake the hand of the lady who'd offered hers.
     It's that arrogant, right wing ignorance and hostility toward NATO (As well as the United Nations) that makes observers who actually have a functional cerebrum to wonder if he'll just as impetuously pull out of the 195 nation Paris Climate Accord. In light of his rolling back all the Obama regulations on polluting industries, a reasonable person would have cause to suspect it.
     So, let's sum up our Big Boy's First Big Boy Trip:
     He'd cozied up to dictators from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, had a creepy glowing orb ceremony, thought he was out of the Middle East once he landed in Israel and made an Israeli diplomat publicly face palm himself, left no evidence he has a peace plan for Israel and Palestine to follow, screwed the pooch as far as Israeli intelligence-sharing goes, left a chipper Yelp review of Yad Vashem, successfully wrestled the perpetual smile off Pope Francis's face, praised dictators while insulting our NATO allies, and managed to kill some Yemeni elders while preaching vapidly about peace.
     And if that doesn't sufficiently scare you, he found time to submit to Congress while abroad a budget with a two trillion dollar error.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Beautiful People

And I don't want ya and I don't need ya
Don't bother to resist or I'll beat ya
It's not your fault that you're always wrong
The weak ones are there to justify the strong
The beautiful people, the beautiful people
It's all relative to the size of your steeple
You can't see the forest for the trees
And you can't smell your own shit on your knees
There's no time to discriminate
Hate every motherfucker that's in your way
Hey you, what do ya see?
Something beautiful or something free?
Hey you, are you trying to be mean?
You live with apes man, it's hard to be clean
The worms will live in every host
It's hard to pick which one they eat most
The horrible people, the horrible people
It's as anatomic as the size of your steeple
Capitalism has made it this way
Old-fashioned fascism will take it away
Hey you, what do ya see?
Something beautiful or something free?
Hey you, are you trying to be mean?
You live with apes man, it's hard to be clean
     Yes, we're all stars now in the Dope's show.

Good Times at Gotham City, 4/23/17

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Creepiest Picture o' the Day

     While Donnie Dumbo was touring Arabia and selling $100+ billion worth of war machines so Saudi Arabia can defend itself against widowed and orphaned Yemeni women and children in exchange for $100 million to Ivanka's proposed "foundation", this picture leaked out. Oh no, it doesn't at all scream New World Order to liberal moonbats who might optimistically see in this Trump and his fellow dictators making an accidental summoning of the real landlords of Earth who are the aliens watching this blatant orgy of corruption on full, flagrant display. But one can hope they do summon them so they can finally 86 their fucking Prime Directive and set our sore asses straight.

     Meanwhile, as every dictator's favorite BFF was staggering around collecting gaudy medals and complimenting al-Sisi's shoes, this came out at the same time.

     Oops. Those Yemenis just can't catch a break, can they? Al Qaeda, if you need reminding, is largely Saudi-based and being entirely Sunni... like Saudi Arabia.
     Нет, нет, здесь нечего смотреть, товарищи.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Oh, the Troubles I've Yet to See

     Ah, May. This is the time of year when politicians, including wouldbe dictators, take to the road and deliver commencement addresses to colleges and universities both real and fake. It's when those who've already climbed to the top of the dung heap give broad advice to the young'uns about how they, too, can acquire the seductive ways and means of impunity. And, if you're Donald Trump, you'll use your bully pulpit to sling mud at your critics regardless of how justified their criticisms or how inappropriate the occasion.
     Donald Trump did just such a thing today at the US Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut during his second commencement address in four days. Because only someone with both a Messianic and a persecution complex can so effortlessly weave a speech that's supposed to smoothly usher new graduates into a new life with whining about how unfairly the press has been treating him. Go ahead, play the video while I quietly vomit in a corner.
     Yes, Donnie Dumbo perverted another commencement address, this one at a major US military academy to whine about how no other politician had been treated more unfairly than him. Yes, not including the last guy who never caught a break because he was guilty of LWB (Leading White Black), all four presidents who've been assassinated and the 14 others (including, again, the last guy) who'd survived assassination attempts (including Reagan, who never whined about it.) Or Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head, or Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, who in 1856 was nearly caned to death in the Senate by Rep. Preston Brooks or Congressman Leo Ryan, who suffered a knife attack and was murdered while investigating Jonestown.
     But, hey, what did those guys know? Trump's been victimized by a media that's been largely ignored when Trump isn't slamming them at every opportunity.
     Trump owes the entire USCG Academy and everyone who was present an apology but, of course, asking him to do so would be more evidence of how unfairly and badly the media has been treating him, how everybody's been unfair to him, including those in his own party.
     America, our country is being incompetently ruled by the world's oldest toddler and it's time for him to go.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Talk About Stepping on Your Own Dick

     "We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth's murderers," a spokesman for Seth Rich's family said today.
     Great. Now Trump's got them doing it with the "fake news" accusations.
     But the Rich family's denial of what's come out today is highly unusual because they've thrown their own private dick under the bus. That private eye's name is Rod Wheeler, a retired DC-area homicide detective who was ostensibly paid for by a right wing businessman named Ed Butowsky, according to the family's spokesman, Brad Bauman. Butowsky, a parttime Fox talking head, of course denies the connection.
     So the problem is the family's denying the findings of their own private eye and still seem to be holding out hope that the DC Metro Police are still invested in discovering who Rich's killer was. What the poor, deluded family doesn't realize is that the DC police closed the investigation as soon as they got to the crime scene.
     Rich, you may recall, was gunned down on a deserted street in Washington, DC late one night last July. The Keystone Kops quickly judged that the DNC staffer was simply the victim of a robbery gone wrong. But how many armed street robbers will shoot a person twice in the back then run away before stealing anything?
     Rich, who was still alive when the first police arrived on the scene, retained on his person his wallet with his money and credit cards, his cell phone, his watch and a necklace. As with the Finders non-investigation in the late 80's, the DC police shut this case down faster than you can say DNC. In fact, one of Wheeler's findings was being told by a DC detective that they were told to stand down and not investigate Rich's murder any further, which just prompted the DC police to take to their Twitter account and deny it.
     And, for a guy who was ostensibly working not to find a grieving family's loved one's killer but spreading lies, he was awfully specific in the numbers he was giving: He claims to have discovered on Rich's laptop incontrovertible evidence that he'd been in touch with Gavin MacFadyen of Wikileaks and that he'd disseminated 44,053 DNC emails and 17,761 attachments to MacFadyen.
     Rich and MacFadyen are both dead.
     Among the treasure trove of emails that those still inexplicably loyal to the so-called Democratic Party still claimed to have been hacked by the Russians are numerous instances all but proving the DNC hamstrung Bernie Sanders in his quest for the Democratic nomination. After all, why would the DNC wish for news like that to get out?
     And if Hillary's thugs had him killed, they were too late. The emails had already been sent off and Wikileaks began publishing them 12 days after Rich's murder.
     Those who wish to pin this on the DNC, on Wasserman Schultz or on Hillary have a long ways to go. There isn't the slightest shred of evidence linking anyone in the DNC to this particular homicide. But the timing is as suspicious as the DC police stonewalling one of their own in his investigation and hastily pronouncing Rich's death as a mere robbery gone awry.
     Rich's death and the circumstances surrounding it have all the sleazy elements of a George Pelecanos thriller. Except in a Pelecanos novel, the bad guy usually gets caught.

The Yamchurian Candidate

At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.” - H.R. McMaster, National Security Advisor
"As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism." - Donald Trump today on Twitter
I’m sure Kislyak was able to fire off a good cable back to the Kremlin with all the details.” -A former US official
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
Thomas P. Bossert, the assistant to the President for homeland security and counterterrorism, had to do some quick thinking and make some fast phone calls to Langley, VA and Fort Meade, MD. We don't know the exact contents of those calls but three facts are clear- Donald Trump had just met with high level Russian officials in the Oval Office, had recklessly declassified previously code-word classified intelligence and gave it to them on a silver platter.
     Such phone calls are hastily made in the interests of damage control by stern, colorless, pragmatic bureaucrats who help every government on earth run on a more or less even keel. One can only imagine the looks on the faces of the people at the other end of those phone calls at CIA and NSA headquarters. And, in the short reign of Trump, one can easily imagine such fires frantically being tamped out on a regular basis.
     The horrible optics alone should have called for a Congressional probe. Trump's meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and their Ambassador to the US came the day after James Comey was fired by Trump. The US news services were kicked out and supplanted by TASS, the official news apparatus of the Russian government. Then in a TV interview, Trump essentially admitted he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation he was heading up (even though his right wing supporters don't believe him).
     H.R. McMaster, Trump's National Security Advisor, was trotted out yesterday and again today to essentially fall on his own sword and it was difficult to hear him from under the bus wheels that were rolling over his chest. McMaster's story today was in stark contrast with his earlier press conference. Today he acknowledged that Trump did share classified intel with the Russians. But earlier, he'd claimed, "At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly."
     Yet today, he'd also said that what Trump shared was "open source reporting." Which explains why the American media weren't allowed to attend the meeting with the Russians but Tass was.

A Child's Crusade
Don't get me wrong or think I'm going soft. My colleague David Brooks has been been a blithering, pseudo-intellectual idiot since Tucker Carlson was in short pants. But in today's op-ed, Mr, Pink Tie nails Trump and puts his usually shaky finger on the pulse of what's truly wrong with this so-called administration. These are just some of the highlights of Brooks' piece:
At base, Trump is an infantalist... Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency, lack of self-control his leitmotif... First, most adults have learned to sit still. But mentally, Trump is still a 7-year-old boy who is bouncing around the classroom... Trump seems to need perpetual outside approval to stabilize his sense of self, so he is perpetually desperate for approval, telling heroic fabulist tales about himself... Which brings us to the reports that Trump betrayed an intelligence source and leaked secrets to his Russian visitors. From all we know so far, Trump didn’t do it because he is a Russian agent, or for any malevolent intent. He did it because he is sloppy, because he lacks all impulse control, and above all because he is a 7-year-old boy desperate for the approval of those he admires.
     You get the message. Most interestingly, Brooks talks about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which is a familiar term to many of us. For those to whom it isn't, it's when a person's incompetence is such that they're not even aware of their incompetence. It goes back to the late John Updike's gentle jeremiad about success, in which he'd said the successful are often fooled into believing that "You get the idea that anything that you do is in some way marvelous." Brooks concludes with this lyrical observation that nonetheless has nightmarish implications, "We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar."
     And this gets to the crux of this reckless and dangerous disclosure to the Russians: That Trump isn't the usual case of a man suddenly drunk on his seemingly limitless power: He's a child or at best a teenager getting his first taste of some alcoholic ambrosia or what he believes was imparted straight to him by the gods. He's a man who can't keep a secret, a Quixotic quidnunc tilting at windmills that don't exist (fake voters, fake news, fake this and that) who simply can't keep a secret.
     And it may very well be that Trump honestly believes that giving code-word classified intelligence to the Russians about an ISIS plot and potentially exposing a very sensitive source of intelligence was an act of humanity. But if this is how Trump and his Russian buddies think this the way to go about it, especially as we ostensibly have opposing interests in Syria, then it's a foolish child's crusade.
     Among the many lessons Trump needs to learn in statecraft is that not exercising power is the true test of power, that just because you can wield power (such as declassifying classified information) doesn't mean that you should. Trump will never learn that. Because, after nearly 71 years on this planet, if Trump hasn't learned that simple lesson, he never will.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Great Moments in Fascist Stoogery, Part One

     It was a heart-warming moment from a bygone America, a slight, 10 minute-long reprise of the good ole days of driveins, doctors who made house calls, mail delivery twice a day, the Good Humor Man and lynchings.
     Yes, professional peckerhead and part-time punching bag Dick Spenser was at it again last Saturday with yet another stunt described by some of the participants as a "candlelight vigil." Really, really big candles that could easily be mistaken for torches in the hands of an angry mob. All that were missing were the requisite pitchforks (I guess they couldn't get a good bulk rate at the local Walmart.).
     So what were they all up in arms about last Saturday night? Well, Spenser decided enough was enough and the Alt-whiteright poster boy from Whitefish, Montana decided he couldn't let some lily-livered, bleeding heart liberal City Council members allow Confederate General and vicious racist Robert E. Lee's statue to be taken down in Charlottesville, Virginia. Because General Lee is so popular in Montana and all. Forget the fact that a judge issued a six month injunction to keep the statue up so they could whitewash literally and figuratively the true meaning of southern pride and heritage.
     The illegitimate sons of Trump could be heard calling out, "Russia is our friend", making the first time in human history that fascist elements became allies with Russia. The Mayor of Charlottesville likened the gathering to a KKK rally, which, of course, that's what it really was, minus the bed sheets. Just to ensure no one mistook their message, they were also chanting, "Blood and soil", a popular Nazi-era slogan.
     Yes, the Neonazis love Putin and his quasi Communist state of Russia.
     Then no sooner than they'd lit their yuge candles that were mistaken for torches in the hands of an ugly white mob, they were told to disperse from the area. In all, the "rally" in Lee Park lasted for 10 whole minutes.
     Note in the NY Times article there was no mention of any violence, cops showing up in riot gear and tanks like what we'd seen a few years ago in Ferguson. Nope, the deputies just had to show up all nice and conciliatory like Sheriff Andy Taylor and tell them to knock it off and to go back home to their moonshine and pork rinds.
     Why is it something in me suspects the outcome would've been slightly different if the City Council had ruled the statue to stay up and an equal number of torch-wielding black protesters had shown up in Lee Park? Because, you know, we can't let them darkies get all uppity an' all. Why, next thing you know they'll be demanding the right to vote, to not be lynched without a kangaroo court and 12 hour days in the cotton fields!
     Sorry, guys. I'll go as far as the driveins, doctors who make house calls, twice a day mail delivery and the Good Humor Man. This America from a bygone age celebrating slavery, lynchings and racism with impunity is something we could all do without. This stunt, and that's all it was- a pathetic stunt that withered at the first sign of law enforcement, was meant to do one thing- Resurrect images from America at its darkest and ugliest and to instill fear in those who might support the removal of the statue of such an offensive man as Lee.
     It didn't work.

Friday, May 12, 2017

We Are All Rod Serling

Good Times at Gotham City, 5/12/17

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"To serve the governed, not the governors."

     A reporter in West Virginia last Tuesday night was arrested just for doing his job.
     Let that sink in for a moment.
     Dan Heyman was primarily at the West Virginia State Capitol building to cover the protesters in attendance because of HHS Secretary Tom Price's appearance as part of his "listening tour". The 30 year veteran of print and radio journalism knew the routine- Those who aren't bold enough to get as close as possible to the source and raise their voices to make their questions heard walk away empty-handed. That's how the job is done.
     The West Virginia Capitol Police apparently thought they'd rewrite the rules of the journalism game and abruptly took Heyman by both arms and dragged him out of the hallway, a public place. The charge? "Willful disruption of governmental processes." Whether or not they were acting on direction from Price, Kellyanne Conway or the Secret Service, they decided on the spot that raising your voice to government officials was somehow impeding "governmental processes."
     Heyman was trying to ask Price, without success, if domestic violence was a pre-existing condition with the Republican health care bill that barely oozed out of the House and toward the Senate. After several repeated attempts to get even a "No comment", he was hauled off and hit with this ridiculous charge.
     Eight hours and $5000 later, he was finally released and is awaiting an arraignment hearing.
     This, obviously, sets a chilling tone for what will be the rest of the Trump administration but it's certainly not an isolated incident. Throughout the Bush years, we heard of journalists getting roughed up at Bush's rallies, a thug mindset on the part of law enforcement that saw its reprise when Trump was screaming his head off on the campaign trail.
     You remember those darkening days, right? Back then, Trump had barred some of the most prestigious outlets of the mainstream media because they told the truth about him. It's a nakedly hostile attitude toward the 4th Estate that's reaching its Nexus phase with stunning rapidity. Now, apparently, the only media outlets this crypto-fascist government trusts are Fox, Breitbart and even Tass, Russia's official state news outlet.
     We saw Trump's disgusting disregard for the press and for disabled people when at a rally in November 2015, he mocked a disabled reporter to the delight of his trucker hatted fan base. He came right out and said the press was "the enemy of the people" And then he genuinely wonders why the press, which is supposed to be independent and unbiased, has such a strong collective antipathy toward him.
     Donald Trump is a genuine danger to our democracy, our security and of the independent press that's supposed to be the watchdog of that endangered democracy. As Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black had succinctly put it in a landmark 1971 ruling, the press is "to serve the governed, not the governors."
     That also includes presidents and low-level Cabinet officials.

Losing Hearts and One Mind in Particular

     47 years ago last Tuesday, Richard Nixon, still a new president, made a bizarre early morning visit to the Lincoln Memorial. The 37th president was having yet another sleepless night and after napping for less than two hours, decided shortly after 4 AM to go down to Lincoln's Memorial and interact with some student protesters.
     Nixon's subsequent account he'd dictated for his Chief of Staff, Watergate stooge H.R, Haldeman, was at stark odds with what the students and Nixon's own staff remembered. Nixon's attempt to interact with these young people, perhaps to change one heart or mind to his way of thinking, showed if nothing that the only setting in which he was comfortable was when he was by himself in the Oval Office. Nixon didn't even have sex with his own wife Pat as they slept in separate bedrooms.
     This was just five days after Kent State and Nixon was already taking a lot of heat for his bombing of Cambodia and, even earlier, his escalation of the bombing raids in North Vietnam. Whatever his intentions for climbing down from his balcony of his Ivory Tower to set the peasants straight, it didn't work out very well. Haldeman himself wrote in his diary soon afterwards, "I am concerned about his condition."
     By the time Watergate began closing in on him, it was reported that Nixon, mad and paranoid as Lear, would drift through the halls of the White House like a wayward spirit in the wee hours, looking at the oil portraits of his predecessors and muttering to the other ghosts as he had the befuddled students four years earlier.
     Donald Trump has already fixated on Andrew Jackson, a fact he'd indelibly made obvious a week and a half ago with his bizarre statements about the Civil War and Jackson's self-perceived role in it. Of course, the Civil War didn't begin until 32 years and nine more Presidents after Jackson's first term began. As with Nixon's dictated accounts of that bizarre morning at Lincoln's Memorial, Trump's own account of a war that had been fought over 150 years ago is considerably divorced from the facts at hand.
     Of course, it's far likelier that Trump is simply lying about his reasons for firing James Comey, the man who was actively investigating him and even aiding in a grand jury investigation into Russia's role in the last election. There's that bizarre second paragraph in Trump's letter to Comey telling him he was being fired:
While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.
     That now infamous paragraph was obviously written not to Comey but as a preemptive salvo to any of his critics who would have the temerity to question his motives for doing so. Even more chillingly, it could've been written to himself because he honestly believed what he'd written.
     And Trump's firing of Comey at the worst possible time, during an investigation into the extent of Russia's involvement with the election, hence his campaign, betrays a grasp of history as faulty as his understanding of the Civil War or the life span of Frederick Douglass. Regardless of how righteous one's reasons might be for doing so, you simply cannot fire the man who's investigating you. Nixon found that out the hard way. Watergate didn't disappear with Archibald Cox and Russiagate will not go away with James Comey.
     It's impossible to imagine Donald Trump opening his mouth about any subject without him saying something stupid or wrong or otherwise cringe-worthy. Nixon was always bizarre. But it took the Kent State massacre, the Vietnam War and the greatest scandal in US political history to finally make him crumble. Trump already has a great head start on the 37th president. It took Nixon six and a half years to do the damage he'd done to the government, the Office of the Presidency and even his entire party. After barely more than 100 days, Trump's just about equaled that damage.
     There is something very dangerously wrong with Donald Trump. It's not as if we didn't have a clue during the campaign or during his countless interviews with the media over the decades. His comments about women from the time he was in his 20's all the way down his now infamous 2005 statements to Billy Bush in which he'd bragged about grabbing women "by the pussy," we should have been clued in as to what the fallout would inevitably be about putting such a moral quadriplegic within reach of the nuclear football.
     It wasn't as if we weren't clued in as to the extent of his connection to Russia and its power brokers, its oligarchs and even Russian organized crime. This is a man who'd openly invited the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton's emails and, when it happened shortly afterward, took the extraordinary step of telling his opponent during a presidential debate that he would put her in prison.
     Whether it's VD-related or senility or dementia, Trump is a very ill man. And his enablers, and they are enablers, are covering it up. The Reagan years informed us that despite how feeble the president may be in both mind and body, the government's first priority is not to the people or the national interest or its security but in covering up that frailty regardless of the ultimate cost.
     There is something deeply, seriously, sincerely wrong with Donald Trump. And the sanctity of the Constitution, our very democratic way of life or Trump must give way. It is absolutely impossible for both to simultaneously coexist.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tiny Hands, Big Cox

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
"Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off. We’ll take care of this… Can you just turn that light off?" -Sean Spicer, from the bushes of the White House
Today, I'm thinking of the late Archibald Cox. Many of us are, whether or not we appreciate or are conscious of the historical context. Cox became such an indelible part of American history when Nixon fired him. Of course, Nixon had to get through a few people at the DOJ to do that, including the Attorney General  When his Attorney General Elliot Richardson refused to fire the Watergate Special prosecutor (a nearly unprecedented non-move in itself), Richardson resigned. When the axe was placed in the hand of his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, he, too refused the order and also resigned. The Saturday Night Massacre, as it would be known, was completed when Nixon's Solicitor General, failed SCOTUS nominee Robert Bork, did the dirty deed with alacrity. In short, everyone who colluded with Nixon went down in flames either then or later. Some, like Chuck Colson, ended up in prison. Everyone who pursued Nixon and the lawful ends of justice were transformed into American heroes, including Cox.
     Late yesterday afternoon, "President" Donald Trump took the extraordinary step of firing FBI Director James Comey, a man heading up an FBI investigation into Russia's meddling with the 2016 election. What was even more extraordinary is that, to use Trump's more or less official narrative (on, of course, his Twitter account), Comey had told Trump on no less than three occasions he was not being investigated. So why would Trump wait for months before firing the guy who'd assured him he'd been exonerated for his collusion with the Russian government?
     And what was most extraordinary about the firing was that Trump and the White House thought firing Comey at the end of the news cycle would be a win/win situation because certain Democrats had been critical of Comey's handling (justifiably) of the Clinton email investigations that had yielded no charges, no grand juries, no nothing.
     Which was Trump's official reason for firing the FBI Director. It was all about the emails. Not about Comey asking for additional money for his Trump-Russia investigation in the days before he was fired.
     Predictably, Democrats and Republicans alike began screaming their heads off and, of course, Trump lost the message as he dropped a putter long enough to tweet that Democrats were being hypocritical in their condemnation of Trump firing the guy who was the head of an investigation into his dealings with Russia.
     The issue, of course, isn't whether or not Comey was effective in leading the bureau or how ultimately fruitless was his investigation into the Clinton emails but the fact that Trump fired the one guy who stood to do him the most harm. Trump must have known something about what was said between Comey and the Senate Intelligence subcommittee in that now-famous closed door session of March 15th. Dianne Feinstein recently reminded Chuck Grassley of the contents of Comey's testimony which she'd characterized as "thorough": and "comprehensive."
     In other words, Comey had a lot of dirt on Trump and, Trump being the simpleton that he is, thought that getting rid of Comey would also get rid of the investigation into Russia's role in the election. It will not. Comey was not the investigation but the head of it.
     Since then, things have been happening fast and furious, proving, once again, that things only move quickly in DC when someone powerful is in trouble and when the press smells blood in the water.

In the Weeds
     As usual, Sean Spicer and his people were on their heels by 5:30 last night. In fact, they were so literally taken aback they had to resort to hiding in the White House bushes in the dark to avoid the press and wouldn't come out again until they turned their cameras off. Then, typically, the impromptu briefing got increasingly adversarial as Spicer mumbled and bumbled his way though a bunch of stock answers. By early this afternoon, Spicer was so terrified of the press he threw Sara Huckabee Sanders (Mike Huckabee's daughter) to the suddenly befanged wolves of the DC Press Corps.
     In rapid succession, we heard the following:
     Comey would testify before the Senate on Thursday. Then it was possibly Wednesday (today). By this morning, we heard that Comey's place at the table would be filled by the Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He will also be flanked by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. In other words, Trump's Three Stooges.
     After claiming he had nothing to hide, Trump's now lawyering up, a sure sign that he has a lot to hide, especially after he heard about Lindsey Graham's threat to investigate him for his business dealings (Graham, don't forget, supported Comey's termination).
     Democrats seized upon Comey's abrupt termination and forcefully drove home the point that it proved more than ever the need for an independent investigation. Trump can legally fire the FBI Director or his Attorney General or thousands of other government employees. He can't fire elected officials.
     Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved just as swiftly-Today he'd essentially quashed any hopes of an independent investigation. Yes, the husband of Trump's Transportation  Secretary has eliminated any chance of an independent investigation into her boss. Nice how that just happened to work out, huh?
     So now, unless McConnell's got another nuke left in his dwindling arsenal, Senate Democrats are reduced to blocking Trump's FBI Director nominee until they get their special prosecutor to head up that independent investigation into Trump's dealings with Russia. And to prove Trump's innocence regarding his dealings with Putin's Russia, this is what he'd posted on his own Instagram account at the very same time Sally Yates and James Clapper were testifying before the Senate Intelligence subcommittee:

     To add insult to injury to our intellects, Trump had met today with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and their Ambassador spy to the US, Sergey Kislyak, the same Kislyak with whom many of Trump's top aides had met during and after the campaign then lied about to Congress.
     Trump couldn't make his complicity with the Russians more obvious or in-your-face audacious if he sucked Putin's cock during a State dinner before a dozen C-Span cameras.

Why Isn't Russiagate Part of the National Lexicon?
     It's a fair enough question. While over the last four and a half decades we've heard countless useless iterations involving the -gate suffix pertaining to minor political scandals, this is one that's earned its place because of the chillingly eerie way in which this recalls Watergate, still the granddaddy of all exposed political scandals. Pundits are absolutely correct in saying this pushes us closer to the Constitutional crisis toward which the Trump administration has been inexorably pushing us since January 20th.
     This is a looming Constitutional crisis involving measures that have fairly broad bipartisan support, starting with Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who's been unwavering in his condemnation of Trump since withdrawing his support for him just before Election Day. To put it mildly, Comey's firing betrays Trump's horrible timing and sense of optics.
     And anyone misinformed enough to support Comey's firing is missing the big picture- It's true that Director Comey bungled the Clinton email investigations. He extended immunity for virtually all the witnesses and extended that immunity even to materials seized, including laptops containing damning evidence. Comey was handed a political investigation in a highly polarized general election year and couldn't have fucked it up any more than he had.
     Yet despite what Donald Trump screams on his Twitter account and what he'd said in his letter to Comey (who didn't realize he'd been fired until he saw it on the news while speaking to FBI employees), this had nothing to do with the long-dead Clinton investigation. Why wait months before firing Comey and why wait until the former Director was heading up an investigation into Trump himself, the details of which he was sharing with US Senators in open and closed door hearings?
     And again, why fire the man who, by Trump's own account, had vindicated him from any wrongdoing and told him so on three different occasions? This is a so-called Chief Executive who'd hung on to the toxic Michael Flynn for an additional 18 days after firing the Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, after she'd warned the administration about Flynn for the third time.
     It doesn't take a degree in political science or years of writing political journalism to know when an administration is running scared. The Press Secretary's literally hiding in the bushes, sending out flaks to take the heat, Trump's lawyering up and is so blind to bad optics he's entertaining Russian spies like Kislyak in the Oval Office just hours after firing an FBI Director who was leading an investigation into Trump's connection to the country that surely skewed the last election in his favor.
     The furor over Comey's firing stems not from any loyalty or faith in the man's abilities. It's not even about Comey's effectiveness in leading the FBI. In the final days of a term that was to last until 2023 (a ten year term limit for FBI Directors was installed, ironically, so the FBI wouldn't get embroiled in political matters), Comey perhaps felt that he'd owed it to the American public to get one investigation right and to bring down a criminal who was even worse than Hillary Clinton. It wasn't what Comey was that now brings us a couple of steps closer to this Constitutional crisis- It was what he represented-
     A rare chance for the bad guy to get a fat stake in his black heart. And the bad guy, as we'd just discovered last night, wouldn't have that.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

He Still Thinks He's on The Apprentice

     Yeah, he still thinks he's on The Apprentice.
     Brain Stem Zero, charitably referred to as "President Trump", had just fired FBI Director James Comey. The reason? Well, as with the Yates firing last January, there are two possible reasons and one is more chilling than the other.
     As it was told to the New York Times, Trump's avowed reason for firing Comey immediately was his perceived bungling of the Clinton email investigation. This is ridiculous for several reasons. First off, Comey's October 27 letter to Congress had been widely perceived as actually helping Trump by turning off voters to Hillary Clinton. While this may be a simplistic way of looking at it, Comey's ill-advised letter to Congress less than two weeks before the election couldn't have possibly harmed Trump.
     Secondly, despite his bravado at the third presidential debate about putting Hillary in jail, days after "winning" the election, he played the magnanimous big man and said he wouldn't pursue criminal charges against Clinton, which makes his supposed reason for firing Comey all the more nonsensical.
     Then there's the possible real reason- Just last week, Comey had testified before the Senate and revealed that the FBI was assisting in at least one grand jury looking into Russia hacking the election and its ties to the Trump campaign.
     Plus, as the Times simply put it, "Mr. Comey was leading an investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election."
     Yeah, this is Archibald Cox all over again. Let the inevitable coverup begin.
     So, to recap:
     On January 30th, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates goes to the White House for the third time in a row to warn White House counsel about Michael Flynn, still the National Security Advisor, being vulnerable to blackmail. White House Counsel then has the gall to ask the Acting Attorney General why the Justice Department is so curious about one White House Official lying to another.
     Later that same day, Sally Yates is fired.
     Last week, James Comey testifies before the Senate and informs them that not only is he leading an investigation into the extent of Russia's role in hacking the election, which also benefited Trump, and the day after Jim Clapper and Sally Yates testifies before that same body, Comey gets fired. On the spot. Effective immediately. Toward the end of today's news cycle.
     We need to do two things now:
     Number one, as Sen. Ron Wyden said on his Twitter account, we need to get Comey back in there now that he doesn't have to worry about getting fired. And we need to know what he knows and when he knew it.
     Secondly, if this highly suspicious termination proves anything, it's the need for an independent investigation led by an independent investigator that Trump can't fire to get to the bottom of what happened.
     And firing Comey when and how he did greatly underscores that. It sends a clear signal to those of us with our ears on the rails that Yates and Comey were both getting close to the truth and they both got fired by the same guy.
     More on this tomorrow.

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KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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