Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Breakin' the Law

This new fella, I guess his name is Donald Trump, doesn't know what the law is because he keeps breaking it every time I turn around:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visited the White House in December seeking President Donald Trump's help. The top Justice Department official in the Russia investigation wanted Trump's support in fighting off document demands from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.

But the President had other priorities ahead of a key appearance by Rosenstein on the Hill, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Trump wanted to know where the special counsel's Russia investigation was heading. And he wanted to know whether Rosenstein was "on my team."

The episode is the latest to come to light portraying a President whose inquiries sometimes cross a line that presidents traditionally have tried to avoid when dealing with the Justice Department, for which a measure of independence is key. The exchange could raise further questions about whether Trump was seeking to interfere in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia and obstruction of justice by the White House.

So, is that obstruction of justice? Asking the Deputy Attorney General if he's "on my team?" Does that meet the criteria? Or is it just another day ending with a "y" in this country? When do we get to the point where someone can finally say, "okay, that's enough."

The whole country is traumatized. Trump is so fucking stupid, he can't help but break the law when he's trying to keep people from realizing that he's been breaking the law since forever. If Trump was a Democrat, he'd have been in jail two years ago. But, because he's a Republican, he can break the law again and again and no one does anything.

This is the time in which we live. Yep, it's crazy! It's as crazy as anything anyone has ever seen.

At some point, the Republican Party is really, really going to need the FBI. And I really think there are Republicans in the FBI that are tearing their hair out right now because they know this, they know that their professionalism has always required that they be non-partisan, but, in this country, you get to be a Democrat or a Republican if you want. You can be neither, of course, and you can follow some other ideology. 

For Republicans in the FBI, sorry about all of this. It certainly looks like everything is fucked and you're on the wrong side right now.

Trey Gowdy is Another Rat Jumping From the Sinking Ship

A Congress without Trey Gowdy serving in it is a better thing, indeed.

Hey, dude--why not just leave now?

South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy announced Wednesday he will not be running for re-election and intends to leave politics after this term is over.

The Republican lawmaker, first elected to the 4th District in 2010, chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office; instead I will be returning to the justice system,” Gowdy said in a statement.

I guess he fancies himself some sort of legal genius. He tried to nail Hillary Clinton's hide to his wall and ended up making a fool out of himself. The writing is on the wall--by this fall, the swing in the house could be as many as sixty seats.

Sixty seats! Complete control of the House for the Democrats. Hell, if things continue as is, we could see a swing as big as eighty seats, and that's with numerous Gerrymandered states. The Republicans know their brand is wrapped around Trump, and Trump is sinking fast.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Given everything that's happened, the Trump family should be hiding in a hole right now. Instead, they're trying to make themselves relevant. Lara Trump has married into a crime syndicate that seems to be obsessed with Hillary Clinton:

Lara Trump on Monday blasted Hillary Clinton’s appearance on the Grammy Awards reading from “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” as “despicable” and “disgusting.”

“It’s a ridiculous book. And, you know, I find it so despicable, so sad that I guess Hillary Clinton feels she needs to validate herself and put herself back out there by doing something this ridiculous,” President Trump's daughter-in-law said on Fox News.

“It was just really disgusting, I thought,” she added. 

You know what's really disgusting? Grabbing a woman by her genitals. Paying off multiple adult film stars to cover up assaults and adultery. Fleecing the taxpayer. Hiring incompetent fools to dismantle Federal agencies. Destroying environmental protections. Letting Wall Street regulate itself. Taunting nuclear weapon producing countries. Calling other countries shitholes. Failing to implement sanctions passed into law against Russia. Making money off of the office of the president. Using the military as a prop. Obstructing justice. Charging the Secret Service rent in order for them to protect you. Tweeting about Justice Department officials. Firing everyone investigating you. Hiring Nazis.

You know, that sort of thing.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Are We Are a Banana Republic Now?

The Congress has passed legislation that imposes sanctions on Russia. The president signed that law after it was passed through both houses of Congress.

This is the law of the land. This is actual law on the actual books that would normally be implemented and carried out. This is a real thing printed on paper. It exists. And yet, it does not.

Today, the Trump Regime declined to carry out the law:

“When the Congress voted for this, the whole point of it was to slap sanctions on these Russian companies that interfered with our election and are doing all kinds of other things,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Daily Beast in an interview. “The legislation itself is not a deterrent if you don’t put teeth behind it. And the teeth behind it are the sanctions.”

Monday’s episode marked the latest chapter in a months-long tug-of-war between Capitol Hill and the White House over a sweeping sanctions law that the administration, critics contend, has refused to fully implement and has dragged its feet in doing so. Congress felt it had forced the president’s hand with the passage of CAATSA by supermajorities in each chamber. A provision of that law required the administration to brief lawmakers on Monday about its efforts to sanction foreign governments and other entities that were continuing to do business with Russian defense and intelligence firms that the State Department publicly named in October.

On Monday afternoon, administration officials gathered with senators on Capitol Hill to detail their plans for implementing the sanctions. The session was clouded in secrecy, with lawmakers refusing to reveal details that would potentially compromise confidential information. 

But as those briefings wrapped up, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert released a statement saying the administration determined that new sanctions were not needed since it was estimated “that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions.”

Basically, a law passed by Congress and signed by the president is nothing at all. It was passed with "supermajorities?" Really? What good are supermajorities if no one acts to limit Trump's power? They are meaningless. Is someone going to act? Is someone going to realize that they serve the Constitution and not a third rate real estate developer with a penchant for blondes and tyranny?

There is no "tug-of-war." The Republicans have decided that the law means whatever Trump says it means. We now live in a country where Trump will be president as long as he wants and everyone around him is now complicit in the sheer and utter destruction of American democracy.

How long will this last? The next Election Day? Please.

He Will Bring the Pain

The most important guessing game in America is centered around trying to figure out whether or not Robert Mueller is going to make liberals happy or Trumpists ecstatic:

He will be fair. He will stand his ground. He won't suffer fools. He will respect a person's standing up on principle. If wrongdoing is discovered, he will bring the pain. And if there ultimately proves to be no "there" there, Robert Mueller will withstand whatever the shrill critics and armchair prosecutors toss his way as he makes the announcement.

This is why you should not believe anything you read that goes beyond saying "no one knows what he's going to do!" There is a small team of very aggressive and very accomplished prosecutors and investigators around Mueller but, ultimately, he will channel their efforts and control the outcome of the overall investigation into Trump.

Anyone who says "I know exactly what's going on and I know what's going to happen" is fooling themselves. I try to differentiate between "hey, this is what occurred" and stay away from making definite pronouncements about what will happen. We just don't know! And this is like Christmas, which, when done properly, gives you real surprises and disappointments.

Last July, David Von Drehle of Time wrote:

Trump’s own actions have turned a small hole into a yawning abyss: a special counsel’s investigation that could run from the Oval Office to Trump Tower and command headlines for the next year or more. Trump has traded the anguished Hamlet Comey for the adamantine Marine Robert Mueller, the Justice Department ramrod who remade the FBI after 9/11. As special counsel appointed in the wake of the Comey firing, Mueller has one job, no deadline and bottomless resources, and he is assembling an all-star team of veteran prosecutors whose expert backgrounds go beyond counterintelligence to include money laundering, corporate fraud and the limits of Executive Branch power.

If I had to guess, I would say that Mueller should really be running several different investigations. There's the obstruction of justice piece, and then there's the Russian collusion aspect that is critical to understand. I believe that the Trump presidency is illegitimate to the core and that it should be dismantled. Our democratic process was subverted, according to what we know as fact, and the results should not be allowed to stand. If Mueller gets to the end of this and says that there were shady things happening, but nothing that rises to the level of being able to indict someone, liberals are going to be furious. But if it goes the other way, no Republican is going to come down on the side of the rule of law. They're going to wave it away and keep ignoring Trump's utter lack of any loyalty to the law of the land.

Then there's the corruption and money laundering aspect of Trump and his vast, confusing company. It will take an army to disentangle it because the best way to cover up malfeasance is to make it as complicated as possible--a veritable Gordian knot of lawlessness. The strategy adopted by the Trump organization many, many years ago was to create shell companies under shell companies in order to mask or hide ownership and accountability. Why this is legal is something everyone should be asking. At the heart of everything Trump has ever done is a need for money. Even his sex scandals involve cash. 

But who knows? No one knows a damned thing, except for the man in the hot seat. Everyone is watching what happens, but Mueller has been masterful in not revealing what he will do and what he knows. He already has two convictions, and this not fake news, not by a long shot.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Maureen Dowd's Obsession With Melania is a Good Thing

The worst of the worst, as far as pundits are concerned, is Maureen Dowd. No one manages to occupy more prime commenting real estate with as little actual substance as MoDo. Here, she begins what we can only hope is a life-long obsession with wondering what Melania Trump is planning to do:

Melania has learned a few things from the master.

The first lady will never be as brilliant at trolling as her husband. He is an idiot-savant who plays in the roiling ocean of Twitter as naturally as a blubbery-necked sea lion.

Only Donald Trump, a Rat Pack relic who spurred the reckoning with his transgressions toward women, could send out a tweet taking credit for the women’s march.

But the Slovenian Sphinx has her moments.

It started when she seemed to sartorially upbraid Trump for his Billy Bush vulgarities by wearing a pussy-bow blouse to the St. Louis debate. Then, in a master stroke, she chose a first-lady project that could only be interpreted as a wicked rip on her husband: fighting vicious cyberbullies. Last spring, Melania’s personal Twitter account favorited a GIF of her own downcast face at the Inaugural Address with an accompanying crack: “Seems the only #Wall @realDonaldTrump’s built is the one between him and @FLOTUS.”

If the New York Times can wring fifty more of these out of her before Trump is impeached, hey, all the better. I look forward to not reading any of this, of course.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Steve Wynn is a Freaky Douchebag

Every time you turn around these days, there's a Republican who is acting like a sex-crazed pervert:

When Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexually assaulting women nearly four months ago, Republicans called on Democratic lawmakers and committees to return contributions from the Hollywood mogul and major donor. 

Now the GOP is being forced to answer for its own scandal-engulfed donor and fundraiser: Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas casino giant. 

Immediately after The Wall Street Journal detailed decades' worth of sexual misconduct allegations from women who worked at Wynn's casinos, Democrats began insisting that Republicans -- and the Republican National Committee, where Wynn is finance chairman -- return Wynn's cash. Wynn has denied the allegations.

"Since he is finance chairman, shouldn't they have to give *all* the money back they've raised since he has been there?" Alixandra Lapp, the president of a super PAC that backs House Democrats, tweeted.

When Democrats discover a rat in their midst, they get of him and take a huge hit in the media. Every idiot with a platform wrings their hands and says, "well, this is the end of the Democratic Party" and blah blah blah.

When a Republican get's caught doing this, it's a day ending in 'y' and, before you know it, there's a new one who is revealed, and you can't keep up anymore.

If you have a way through the Wall Street Journal's pay wall, you can read about Wynn here. I apologize for not being able to bring you some of the material. What I've seen is enough to leave me wondering what the hell is wrong with these people and why haven't we dealt with this sooner.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Walking Talking Perjury Trap

There is no scenario where Trump walks in, says what he has to say, and doesn't end up being charged with some form of perjury on top of whatever else Robert Mueller plans to hit him with:

Robert Mueller wants to talk to Donald Trump. The President wants to talk to the special counsel -- so it's a done deal right?

Not quite.

Trump appeared on Wednesday to make a significant gesture by telling reporters that he wanted to testify to Mueller -- and was ready to do so under oath.

His offer came a day after it emerged that the Mueller had requested an interview with the President as he apparently begins to wind up one branch of his investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey while he was probing alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

    "I am looking forward to it, actually," Trump said, before offering a preview of what his testimony might look like.

    I just don't get why people are not assuming that Trump has to resign when Mueller is finished with his investigation. Can he and his supporters be allowed to eliminate the legitimacy of the rule of law in this country? Is it really going to come down to this man having to be carried out of the White House strapped upright on a dolly? This is not some minor thing--this is absolutely the biggest political scandal of the last hundred years. This is a watershed moment in American history--are we a republic, or are we some crazy banana republic, run by a caudillo with strange hair?

    If Trump were a Democrat, he'd already be in prison. Of this, I am certain.

    Wednesday, January 24, 2018

    The Cautionary Tale of John Edwards

    If you want to understand what might happen to Trump, it is useful to revisit the John Edwards scandal.

    Edwards was a promising but deeply flawed candidate for higher office. He had the ambition but not the character needed to be a leader. He put his own selfish needs ahead of the Democratic Party. He blundered into the 2008 race while trying to hide a mistress and a love child. Think about what would have happened to the Democrats at that time. If Edwards had beaten Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and won the nomination, the scandal of his extramarital affair would have blown the presidential campaign wide open. John McCain and Sarah Palin would have just finished up two terms in office. We were in the middle of a full-scale economic meltdown, and faced with Vice President Caribou Barbie. Thank God Barack Obama won. And thank God he picked Joe Biden to run with him. For a while there, it seemed like Edwards might have gotten the nod to be Vice President.

    What some might not remember is that Edwards was indicted and put on trial for sums of money that pale in comparison to what Trump has been stealing:

    The wealthy banking heiress and widow [Rachel "Bunny" Mellon] who was once a close friend of Jacqueline Kennedy had been a supporter of Edwards since the 2004 election. 

    After already contributing to Edwards the maximum allowed by law, Mellon provided additional money. According to court documents, between June 2007 and January 2008, Mellon allegedly wrote personal checks payable to a friend, hiding that she was giving money to Edwards.

    The checks were made out to the wife of Edwards aide Andrew Young, in her maiden name, and were deposited into accounts controlled by her and Young. As Edwards and Young planned, Young allegedly used the money to provide Hunter with rent, furniture, care, living expenses, medical visits and prenatal care.

    In total, the now 101-year-old Mellon gave Edwards seven checks ranging from $10,000 to $200,000.

    On October 10, 2007, the National Enquirer ran its first story saying Edwards was having an affair.

    The next day while campaigning in Summerton, South Carolina, Edwards denied the report, calling it "tabloid trash." 

    With tabloid reporters and photographers chasing Hunter and publishing photos of her pregnant, a second wealthy donor came forward. Fred Baron, a wealthy Texas lawyer who is now deceased, was the national finance chair of the campaign.

    Court documents show that from December 2007 to January 2008, Baron allegedly wrote nine checks ranging from $9,000 to $58,000. The money was used for Young to hide a pregnant Hunter from the media, as he falsely claimed paternity for her child. Baron's money was used to charter a private jet for trips to Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Aspen, Colorado; San Diego and Santa Barbara, California.

    We're talking $200K in illegal donations? That's one person's fee to join the club at Mar-a-Lago. The money Trump's raking in at his hotel in Washington D.C. makes that look like loose change found in the seat cushions. Hell, Trump and his minions made tens of millions of dollars disappear from the Trump Inaugural Committee fund. Edwards went on trial for chump change compared to what Trump is stealing every day by charging fees and rent to the Secret Service.

    What we need to remember is that the government occasionally screws these things up. Edwards was acquitted, and the Feds decided not to retry him. I guess there wasn't enough return on their investment here to justify trying to get a conviction.

    Here's my point. Edwards was a whole lot smarter than Trump. Compare them side by side and you'll see what I mean. Edwards used a wealthy woman's money to hide his mistress. Trump has ordered his lawyers to pay them off, one by one, using shell corporations. He has left a paper trail that a blind bird dog could follow. Edwards couldn't pull it off, and what he tried was quaint compared to the scale of the corruption and greed being perpetrated by Trump, who is still actively involved in what his companies are doing. The Feds will not shy away from going after millions and millions of dollars if they think they can get it all back.

    Does anyone really think that all of this won't catch up to Trump eventually?

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018

    Robert Mueller Will Question Trump Soon

    There is no upside to this for the President, and that's why everyone should be celebrating:

    Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is seeking to question President Trump in the coming weeks about his decisions to oust national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with his plans.

    Mueller’s interest in the events that led Trump to push out Flynn and Comey indicates that his investigation is intensifying its focus on possible efforts by the president or others to obstruct or blunt the special counsel’s probe.

    Trump’s attorneys have crafted some negotiating terms for the president’s interview with Mueller’s team, one that could be presented to the special counsel as soon as next week, according to the two people.

    The president’s legal team hopes to provide Trump’s testimony in a hybrid form — answering some questions in a face-to-face interview and others in a written statement.

    Those discussions come amid signs of stepped-up activity by the special counsel. Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed for several hours by Mueller’s investigators, according to Justice Department officials.

    I think this should be a four or five hour interview with Trump, one of his lawyers, and only Mueller and one of his staffers. Run a tape, of course, and let Trump talk and talk.

    In fact, make it a freewheeling stream-of-consciousness interview, and make sure everyone gives Trump the chance to talk about himself, his accomplishments, and why he thought obstruction of justice was something that could be solved with a little Ex-Lax.

    Nothingburger, my ass.

    Trump is Turning His Followers Into Weapons

    Where would we be right now if this jackass had followed through on his threats?

    A Michigan man was arrested after allegedly threatening to shoot and kill CNN employees, WGCL-TV reported Monday.

    The FBI launched an investigation after the man, who is unnamed in the CBS report, reportedly called CNN 22 times about a week ago.

    "Fake news. I'm coming to gun you all down," the man told a CNN operator, according to court documents obtained by WGCL-TV.

    He allegedly later called CNN again, saying, "I'm smarter than you. More powerful than you. I have more guns than you. More manpower. Your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours."

    "I am coming to Georgia right now to go to the CNN headquarters to f---ing gun every single last one of you," he said.

    Trump didn't make this guy an asshole, nor did he make him mentally deranged. What Trump has done is much worse--he has allowed his unhinged public commentary to overwhelm every norm of public discourse. He has created an unfiltered, uncontrollable rage that animates the lives of people who feel connected to his fascist mindset. Trump routinely says things that no normal president would ever say in public or on purpose. He has weaponized his followers, using their unmoored tendencies to become his local mob. 

    The mob is looking for a riot right now, and for a meeting between the spark and the gas can. 

    They have been unleashed in places like Charlottesville and at his campaign "rallies." The abuse hurled at the media is shocking in a Western democracy. Does Trump care? Of course not. He thinks he's still in Manhattan, trying to score some cash off of some rubes. He has never cared where all of this is headed. When a gunman shoots people in this country, Trump doesn't care if he inspired the guy or not. All he cares about is whether they are talking about him and showing his picture on the news.

    This is the endless loop that plays in the waiting room in hell, by the way.

    Chris Cillizza is a Hack and CNN Should Fire Him

    This infuriating headline leads to an article full of bluster and bullshit. It is classic Cillizza! The Dems lost! Dems are getting their butts kicked!

    Yeah, whatever, man.

    Do you know what does NOT appear in this article? You can read it for yourself.

    The fact that Democrats funded the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for the next six years does not factor into his "analysis." The fact that this will keep kids alive means nothing to CNN's vaunted political insider and analyst. This is no minor thing. For someone with his platform to not know the significance of funding CHIP until well past the 2020 election is huge.

    Why do they employ this hack? Oh, that's right. Stupid bloggers like me click on his articles. Got it.

    Cillizza makes no mention of this significant policy achievement. Taking CHIP away from the GOP as a hostage means that everything they negotiate from here on in will focus on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This is actually great strategy, because, between now and the 2018 Mid-Term elections, the Republicans can be painted as bigots and racists for deporting the Dreamers. 

    In any negotiation, you're not going to get everything you want. In Washington D.C., you're never going to completely run the table and get all of your policy goals in one fell swoop. Mature people understand that what you get is the best deal available, and you can build on that and keep negotiating and keep pushing. That's what happened today.

    Cillizza has no idea what CHIP is and why it is significant. His pathetic screed doesn't even cover it. He thinks the entire thing was about DACA. What a boob. 


    Monday, January 22, 2018

    NAFTA is About to Collapse

    The chart above shows that there is a significant amount of economic activity happening here in North America. This is largely invisible to Americans, but if NAFTA collapses because we have an incompetent government right now, the impact will be felt everywhere:

    President Trump could soon kill a major trade deal with Mexico and Canada if huge compromises aren't made this week.

    Round 6 of the renegotiation of NAFTA, the pact between Mexico, Canada and the U.S., starts Tuesday in Montreal, Canada.

    No major progress has been made on key issues through the first five rounds. Only one more round after this week is scheduled, and Trump continues to repeat his threat that if he doesn't get the deal he wants, he'll withdraw.

    "It's going to be the decisive round," says Scott Sinclair, senior fellow at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

    Trump made NAFTA a core campaign issue. He argues that Mexico is taking jobs and billions of dollars in commerce away from the United States. He also believes a new deal will help the U.S. finance payment for the border wall.

    All of this movement back and forth allows the entire North American continent to function like a massive free trade zone that is the envy of the world in terms of how well it has worked since 1994. Money moves back and forth across our northern and southern borders and we could see a massive shift in our overall economic health towards the negative if we allow Trump and his minions to dick around with something that benefits the whole region. This is not a zero sum game. This affects people's lives. 

    Countless Americans will lose their jobs if trade barriers go up and these deals fall apart. It would be the Trumpiest of Trump moves to let something that works perfectly well die because no one around him can explain why it works as well as it does.

    I do not want to see people lose their jobs or end up ruined by the collapse of NAFTA, but I think it is inevitable because of the ideological diarrhea at the top of the Federal government. The only way for the American voter to understand the horrors of Trumpism is to suffer its effects.


    Saturday, January 20, 2018

    How Many Abortions Has Trump Forgotten to Pay For?

    I hate to be cynical, but Trump strikes me as the kind of a person who would get a lady pregnant and then realize that neither he nor she was ready to take on the responsibility of parenting or supporting an out-of-wedlock child. They would talk about it in hushed tones, and promises would be made, apologies would come forth, and then Trump's people would help the woman have an abortion. Somehow, Trump would forget to pay for that abortion and then there would be more discussions, more calls, maybe even more E-mails. There would be a lot of back and forth and then everything would be forgotten. Again.

    When I read this, I can't imagine how many abortions Trump has forgotten to pay for because my mind doesn't count that high:

    President Donald Trump expressed his support for the pro-life "March for Life" in a speech from the White House Friday, applauding what he called an "incredible movement" and thanking those in attendance for embodying the theme of the march: "Love saves lives."

    Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

    The president delivered his address from the Rose Garden as rallygoers at the March for Life watched on video screens just a few blocks away on the National Mall.

    "I want to thank every person here today and all across our country who works with such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure that parents have the care and support they need to choose life," Trump said.

    Though the president's position on the matter appeared unequivocal Friday, he faced questions during his presidential campaign about past support for a woman's right to have an abortion.

    What I think is truly sad is that the people who support Trump because he claims to be Pro-Life in Every Way Possible already know he's committed tons of adultery and has told women to have abortions. They know he has no morals. They know he doesn't really support the cause that they believe in but they cling to him because he put Mike Pence in as Vice President. They know he's a villain, they know he's an awful human being, but they hate Democrats more, so they worship him.

    In other words, they have disconnected their brains from reality and are willing to stand with him in public even though a thick blanket of filth and moral bankruptcy covers this man like fleas on a rat being flung into the deep water. They just don't care. 

    Friday, January 19, 2018

    The Traitors at The New York Times

    Nothing could be more inaccurate than that headline at the New York Times:

    • Senate Democrats on Friday night blocked passage of a monthlong stopgap spending bill, leaving less than two hours to find a path forward before much of the government was set to shut down.

    • The roll call, which is still technically open, was 50 in favor and 48 against. Sixty votes are needed to end debate and move to a final vote. Five Democrats voted to end debate, while four Republicans voted with most of the Democrats to block the bill. See how the senators voted »

    • After it became clear that the bill lacked the votes need to move forward, senators remained on the chamber’s floor, apparently discussing whether some compromise could be reached.

    • Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, was trying to rally support for a shorter three-week spending bill which could muster the 60 votes for passage. But because the bill would need to clear the House, at least a short shutdown appeared unavoidable.

    Someone at the Times is wrong. This is not a news flash. This is how things are. I continue to believe that the American people are not going to see what is really in front of their eyes until the media explains it to them the correct way:

    For the First Time in American History, A Party in Control of the House, Senate, and Executive Branches Has Shut Down the Government

    That's the headline, however awkward, that needs to be run. Democrats didn't shut down anything--they have no power! They're not in the committee rooms, writing the bills! The Republicans write the bills and deny Democrats the ability to have any input! No Democratic amendments have made it to the floor of the Senate this year. It's a fiasco.

    Thursday, January 18, 2018

    White House Asks Congress Not to Roll Area Bum

    Steve Bannon has always been a bum, and when Congress tried to roll him this week, someone at the White House realized that this was a bad thing:

    The White House believed it had an agreement with the House Intelligence Committee to limit questions for Steve Bannon only to events on the presidential campaign, and not during the ousted former chief strategist's time in the Trump administration, an official told CNBC.

    According to the White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, staffers for the committee and the White House on Friday discussed the parameters of Bannon's testimony. The White House emerged from that conversation believing it had an agreement to limit the questioning of Bannon just to events during the campaign, and not during the transition period or his time in the White House.

    Then, hours into Bannon's closed-door testimony on Tuesday, Bannon's lawyers informed the White House from Capitol Hill that the questions would extend beyond the scope of what the White House understood the agreement to be. At that point, the White House told Bannon not to answer any further.

    "We said 'Hey, hey, pump the brakes,'" the official said Wednesday. "We said to Bannon, 'Don't answer those questions because we haven't agreed to that scope under the process.'" The committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, said the White House did not inform him or his fellow party members on the panel about such an agreement.

    "That was never conveyed to the minority," Schiff said Tuesday night. "And I think it came as quite a surprise to our entire committee frankly, apart from the majority staffer that was involved in that communication."

    The Trump administration official declined to say who initiated the mid-testimony phone call or who took part on behalf of the White House. At that point, House Intelligence Committee Republicans and Democrats joined forces to issue Bannon a subpoena on the spot to compel his testimony. It is not clear what, if any, questions Bannon answered after that. A Reuters report said the former top Trump aide refused to comply with the subpoena .

    Bannon did not comment substantively Tuesday evening as he left Capitol Hill. The House Intelligence Committee didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC. Despite the attempt to limit questioning of Bannon, the White House official insisted the administration is not asserting executive privilege. "We're not asserting anything," the official said.

    "They need to discuss it with us. There's a process that's existed for decades."

    Oh, come on! The chances of anyone working in the Trump White House knowing how anything works are slim and none.

    Here's what we know--the Mueller team is zeroing in on obstruction of justice charges for everyone involved in trying to explain Donald Trump Jr's meeting with Russian intelligence operatives in the bowels of Trump Tower in June of 2016. That includes Trump and it includes everyone who tried to be cute about it and suggest that they were talking about adoption instead of releasing stolen E-mails from the Democratic National Committee.

    This is where the collusion was formalized and established as fact. This is where a foreign power's agents assisted a Republican Party candidate in winning the presidency. This is ground zero for every nightmare scenario and it's where the bodies were buried. An American election was stolen from the rightful winner by Americans aligned with Russians in a criminal conspiracy. The only reason why the White House is telling known stumblebum Steve Bannon to shut up is centered around the fact that he was either a participant or had knowledge of the coverup and thus knew the details of the crime itself.

    Bannon was in the thick of things when this story broke and he is clearly a witness to something that looks like obstruction of justice to the people investigating this. Trump's GOP allies in Congress are obstructing justice in their own way by throwing sand in the gears of the investigation. History is going to be savage to the public legacy of these people, and rightly so.

    I believe that there will be a cottage industry on the left that will grow out of necessity in the years ahead. It will focus on reminding the American people that each and every Trump Administration official has been complicit in a crime. This stuff is not going down the memory hole. Twenty years from now, some low-level Trumpkin is going to try to get appointed to a Federal position, and that's when a dozen knowledgeable people need to spring into action and remind everyone that these jackasses used Russian help to steal everything that wasn't nailed down.

    Anyone who thinks Bannon isn't going to exact revenge for how he has been treated is fooling themselves. This is a man who will howl for blood until he gets it. His whole professional life has been built around nurturing bizarre, hateful grievances.

    The President's Doctor Has No Credibility

    I want to take on two issues at once. First, Dr. Ronny Jackson's presentation yesterday left the Internet howling in derision. How can a man as plainly obese as Trump be in "excellent" health? The New York Times has an article about Trump's cardiovascular health and it demonstrates pretty clearly that there is cause for concern. Second of all, can we really criticize a flag officer in the military for providing his assessment of something as basic as the president's health? Of course we can.

    The Times looks at Trump's health issues:

    Cardiologists not associated with the White House said Wednesday that President Trump’s physical exam revealed serious heart concerns, including very high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, which raises the risk that Mr. Trump could have a heart attack while in office.

    Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, a rear admiral and the White House physician, said Tuesday in his report on the president’s medical condition that Mr. Trump was in “excellent” cardiac health despite having an LDL cholesterol level of 143, well above the desired level of 100 or less.

    Dr. David Maron, the director of preventive cardiology at Stanford University’s medical school, said Wednesday that it was alarming that the president’s LDL levels remain above 140 even though he is taking 10 milligrams of Crestor, a powerful drug that is used to lower cholesterol levels to well below 100.

    Dr. Maron said he would “definitely” be worried about Mr. Trump’s risk for having a heart attack if the president were one of his patients. Asked if Mr. Trump is in perfect health, Dr. Maron offered a blunt reply: “God, no.”

    Other cardiologists also disputed Dr. Jackson’s rosy assessment of the president’s heart health. Several said Mr. Trump’s goal should be to get his LDL below 100, or even under 70. He has a real risk of having a heart attack or stroke, especially considering his weight and lack of exercise, they said.

    This right here destroys Admiral Jackson's credibility. Clearly, the facts support the idea that Trump has a poor diet, high LDL cholesterol, and does not exercise as much as he needs to. For the Admiral to say that Trump is in "excellent" health numerous times smacks of someone following orders, not someone giving a clear, unbiased medical assessment.

    How "excellent" does this look to you?


    Second, shouldn't Dr. Jackson, a rear admiral, be above reproach?

    Well, answer me this. Would you put it past the people around Trump, and Trump himself, to order someone to lie on their behalf? The entire structure of the Trump White House is built around lies, witness tampering, collusion, and obstruction of justice. You're telling me that, within that vast, corrupt criminal organization, those around Trump left the assessment of his health up to chance? Please.

    To put it bluntly, nobody working for Trump is going to let someone they can't control tell the American people that there's something wrong with the president.

    There is a long, proud history of flag officers giving assessments about things that don't hold up under scrutiny. Every time I turn around, there's an example of it, and these cover lies far more serious than whether or not someone shaved thirty pounds off of Trump's waistline. There are three retired flag officers around Trump-Mattis, Kelly, and McMaster, and they routinely lie about everything under the sun to protect the political viability of the Republican Party's control over the government. The notion that Jackson wouldn't lie if told to do so is hard to swallow--I get that. No one wants to imagine that a senior officer in our military might not tell the truth. 

    I don't have any evidence that Admiral Jackson is lying, and I hope he is telling the truth. But the idea that we have to accept his statements without evaluating them and that we have to take them at face value is absurd. In this country, we have civilian control of the military for a reason--we are not beholden to military rank and to people in uniform. It's the other way around--they work for us. Questioning everything Admiral Jackson said is patriotic, and it will remain that way unless we surrender our country to despots and tyrants.


    Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    The Government Shutdown Reminds Me of Someone

    We are headed for a showdown this week:

    Friday marks the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump taking the oath of office, and unless lawmakers can eke out a deal in the coming days, it could also mark the first government shutdown under his watch, and under unified one-party control in Washington.

    Trump declared back in May that the country “needs a good shutdown” to “fix mess,” and amid uncertainty that lawmakers and the White House can agree on a path forward on government funding, immigration, or health care, a shutdown is becoming a tangible possibility.

    Between now and Friday, Congress and the White House will scramble to cut a deal on DACA, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and a continuing resolution to keep the government open. Should those talks fail, the race will be on to blame the opposing party for the ensuing wreckage.

    Over the past few weeks, high hopes for crafting a long-term budget deal have evaporated, and lawmakers are instead cobble together the votes for yet another short-term package to keep the lights on—the fourth continuing resolution in four months. The bill put forward by the House would fund the government until Feb. 16.

    “We should have had a budget by October of last year. This is outrageous,” fumed Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) to reporters Tuesday night.

    Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) echoed his frustration minutes later, complaining that the Pentagon can’t function on week-by-week or month-by-month budget uncertainty.

    “I am tired of making the men and women in the military suffer because of stupid politicians,” he said. “Those who designed sequestration, I think, have blood on their hands.”

    Extremists in Congress are driving this fight, and all of them self-identify as Republicans. This week, we will have proof positive that, once again, when you hand the government over to the Republicans and let them control all three branches of government, all you get is chaos and confusion.

    When I think back on what happened when then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich shut down the government in order to accomplish God-Knows-What, I'm reminded of the fact that Gingrich is a contemporary of Trump and can very easily walk into the the Oval Office and say, "whatever you do, don't shut down the government."

    It's an election year. Every indication we have is that there is a Blue Wave of Democrats coming. Virtually every elective office will be contested, even in the reddest of states. We just flipped a Senate seat in Alabama. Democrats are winning all over the map. The dumbest thing that the GOP could do this year is demonstrate that they are unfit to lead and govern. And the Republicans are saying, "hold my beer."

    Gingrich was the third most powerful man in America in the mid-1990s, if not as powerful as President Bill Clinton. He was swept into power with the promise of reforming Congress and the entire Federal government. He had a Contract With America. He and his party won a whopping 54 House seats in the 1994 elections. Everything was going his way.

    And then, do you know what happened? Newt Gingrich was revealed to be a massive fraud and an ethically-challenged douchebag. Why the Republicans would want to replicate all of this right now is beyond understanding. This whole year has been incomprehensible. What do they think will happen when they start bleating about the ethical improprieties of anyone after Trump and his criminal regime are swept from power? I assume they'll dump the entire Trump era into a massive memory hole. Nothing else would make sense.

    I fully expect a certain kind of person to become extinct in a few years. Soon, you won't be able to meet a single individual who remembers voting for and enabling Trump. They simply won't recall, and damn you for bringing up something so rude.

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Trump Tells the Press to Leave

    The autocrat gives orders, and the press is suppressed once again:

    It's as if he thinks he "owns" the White House and that he "owns" the presidency. No one has ever been able to explain to him that he is not a dictator and we have a free press in this society that is going to ask him uncomfortable questions. The Trump regime is happy to use the media when it suits them. They are happy to leak information and manipulate public opinion. But when someone asks them something unpleasant, the answer is clear.


    Who the hell does he think he is?

    Trump Holds the Umbrella On Himself, Leaves Family in the Rain

    This is an amazing sequence of images. It tells you everything you need to know about Trump's character.

    A man like this surely wouldn't have sex with an adult film star right after his wife gave birth to his son, would he?

    Only a proper narcissist would let his son, who has no jacket, and his wife, who has nothing on her head, get rained on while boarding Air Force One.

    This is What it Looks Like When You're Losing Your Mind

    There is a terrible inconsistency at work here:

    When President Trump spoke by phone with Sen. Richard J. Durbin around 10:15 a.m. last Thursday, he expressed pleasure with Durbin’s outline of a bipartisan immigration pact and praised the high-ranking Illinois Democrat’s efforts, according to White House officials and congressional aides.

    The president then asked if Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), his onetime foe turned ally, was on board, which Durbin affirmed. Trump invited the lawmakers to visit with him at noon, the people familiar with the call said.

    But when they arrived at the Oval Office, the two senators were surprised to find that Trump was far from ready to finalize the agreement. He was “fired up” and surrounded by hard-line conservatives such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who seemed confident that the president was now aligned with them, according to one person with knowledge of the meeting.

    Trump told the group he wasn’t interested in the terms of the bipartisan deal that Durbin and Graham had been putting together. And as he shrugged off suggestions from Durbin and others, the president called nations from Africa “shithole countries,” denigrated Haiti and grew angry. The meeting was short, tense and often dominated by loud cross-talk and swearing, according to Republicans and Democrats familiar with the meeting. 

    Lawmakers were treated to one version of Trump and then a completely different one. How are you supposed to make any deals with someone who changes overnight into a different version of themselves?

    It's as if the whole country realizes that Trump is crazy and has lost his mind, but an elite few have decided that this is the version they prefer. They have no interest in putting the general welfare of the country ahead of their own access to power. They won't invoke the 25th Amendment because it will reveal that they should have acted to remove Trump long ago. 

    I'll be very curious when, and if, they release any of Trump's medical records today.

    Monday, January 15, 2018

    Trump is Racist

    Is Trump racist? Yes! He's always been a racist! That's what his supporters love about him! That's what they voted for! If you look at everything he did in public life in New York City, you would have to conclude that he's a racist! That's what everyone was telling the American people during the 2016 election! That's what everyone was saying when Trump led the charge against President Barack Obama over his birth certificate!

    Guess what? If John Lewis says you're a racist, you're a racist!

    Sorry for all of the exclamation points, but of course he's racist! Why are we having this discussion?

    And yet, here we go again:

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump is defending himself anew against accusations that he is racist, this time after recent disparaging comments about Haiti and African nations.

    "No, No. I'm not a racist," Trump said Sunday, after reporters asked him to respond to those who think he is. "I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you."

    Trump also denied making the statements attributed to him, but avoided the details of what he did or did not say.

    "Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments?" he asked, referring to lawmakers who were meeting with him in the Oval Office on Thursday when Trump is said to have made the comments. "They weren't made."

    Trump stands accused of using "shithole" to describe African countries during an immigration meeting with a bipartisan group of six senators. The president, in the meeting, also questioned the need to admit more Haitians to the U.S., according to people who were briefed on the conversation but were not authorized to describe the meeting publicly.

    Trump said in the meeting that he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway instead.

    The White House has not denied that Trump said "shithole" though Trump has already pushed back on some depictions of the meeting.

    Get a load of the guy standing next to him. Is that what you signed up for, asshole? So that you could stand next to the President of the United States and hear all of that?

    A better question might be--why the hell are you in West Palm Beach? The government is about to shut down, you've just been called a racist in public by important people for what seems like the hundredth time, and everyone in your administration is trying to find a lawyer who can protect them from severe legal jeopardy.

    What kind of a president survives a week where it is revealed that he's been paying adult film stars to keep quiet about his adultery?

    Everything is crazy and no one has any idea when this madness will end.

    Saturday, January 13, 2018

    Trump Was Golfing, Of Course

    CNN has confirmed that President Trump was golfing when a false alert warning residents of Hawaii about an incoming ballistic missile was issued.

    This is now the most 2018 story ever - massive fuckup, no leadership or accountability, and everyone assumes Trump is playing golf and doesn't give two fucks about anyone or anything.

    I can already imagine what the media's response would be if there was a Democrat in the White House and this had happened.


    The above image is my editorial change for the cover of the New Yorker. 

    I hate to criticize any artist, especially the great Anthony Russo, but this comes down to the editing of the image and the decisions behind it. Yes, it is perfectly minimalist in every way. I love the image, I love the use of space to show the diminishment of the president and the literal hole in which he resides.

    But here's the thing. The fucking hole has to be brown.

    I already know I am wrong. I apologize. But, dammit, the hole HAS TO BE BROWN.

    I don't know why this bothered me when I saw it. And, immediately, I second guessed myself. If the artist intended a minimalistic approach, then black and white should remain that way. In this case, the yellowing of Trump's fake hair - rendered tan here - meant that color needs to be present.

    Hence, the goddamned hole is brown.

    Friday, January 12, 2018

    What the Hell Kind of a Country Is This Anyway?

    There are two things that have sort of collided with one another this week, and I should clear the air.

    One, I think Facebook has become so toxic and so inimical to the idea of sharing information of value and then commenting on it, I shut down my account. This has meant that there is no reason to host advertising here. The business model for "blogging" is essentially dead now. Anyone who reads this gets to read it free from bullshit and any need to worry about why it is here and why it is being said. The things that I do won't trigger weird ads and so on and so forth. The price for being here? It is nothing. That's the way it should be.

    Two, this country is severely fucked right now. When I saw that the President of the United States called Haiti and the entire continent of Africa a "shithole," it broke me. What do you say to that? You can be outraged, you can attack, and you can use foul language. You can complain that the president is a racist asshole. At the end of the day, a parent has to explain the word shithole to a child; a person who came here from those places takes a hit on their self-esteem. The image of this country is diminished; our standing among the nations of the Earth falls.

    What the hell do we do now?

    We resist. That's the only path forward. We have to resist this insanity and continue to identify what's being done and condemn it and inform ourselves. It's no use giving up. Then, the bastards win.

    Sunlight. That's the disinfectant that this stain on the American character needs most of all.

    Monday, January 8, 2018

    Why, Yes, a Sitting President Can Testify Under Oath

    [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="753.0"]  President Bill Clinton, testifying before a Grand Jury, September 21, 1998  President Bill Clinton, testifying before a Grand Jury, September 21, 1998 [/caption]

    Well, horror of horrors, someone has got it in their head that Special Counsel Robert Mueller simply cannot call on the President of the United States to testify under oath and answer questions about Russia.

    This can't happen, right?

    Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has told President Trump’s legal team that his office is likely to seek an interview with the president, triggering a discussion among his attorneys about how to avoid a sit-down encounter or set limits on such a session, according to two people familiar with the talks.

    Mueller raised the issue of interviewing Trump during a late-December meeting with the president’s lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow. Mueller deputy James Quarles, who oversees the White House portion of the special counsel investigation, also attended.

    The special counsel’s team could interview Trump soon on some limited portion of questions — possibly within the next several weeks, according to a person close to the president, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal conversations. 

    “This is moving faster than anyone really realizes,” the person said. Trump is comfortable participating in an interview and believes it would put to rest questions about whether his campaign coordinated with Russia in the 2016 election, the person added.

    What? Really?

    As Trump might say, this might be consensual, but it's certainly not presidented.

    The very idea that a sitting president would have to answer questions put to him by lawyers is shocking, to say the least. Under oath? What?

    Oh, that just couldn't be! No president has ever been asked by a Special Counsel to to this! I have it on good authority that, next week sometime, Hillary will be deposed by twenty special FBI agents and the Marshal of the Supreme Court! And...and...and...

    Oh, there's video?


    The Monstrous Policies of Donald Trump Are a Crime Against History

    [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620.0"]  Three American Catholic nuns along with a lay missionary were beaten, raped and shot to death by an El Salvador government death squad early in the country’s more-than-decade-long civil war.  Three American Catholic nuns along with a lay missionary were beaten, raped and shot to death by an El Salvador government death squad early in the country’s more-than-decade-long civil war. [/caption]

    El Salvador has a history, and that history helps explain why sending over 200,000 people back to that country against their will is a monstrous decision:

    The Trump administration will end protections for certain nationals of El Salvador, a move that could leave more than 200,000 immigrants who have lived in the US more than 15 years without any legal status, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

    The termination will come with an 18-month delay, as the administration also recently did in ending other recent Temporary Protected Status for other countries. That time will allow individuals who have lived under the status to either seek other means of staying in the US or prepare to leave. The delay means the more than 250,000 TPS protectees will have until September 9, 2019, to either find a different way to stay in the US or prepare to leave.

    The widely expected move culminates a series of similar decisions from the Trump administration to substantially curtail the use of Temporary Protected Status -- a protection from deportation and authorization to live and work legally for nationals of countries that have suffered a disaster such as war, an epidemic or natural disasters.

    The DHS says more than 250,000 Salvadorans -- all of whom are required to have lived in the US continually since 2001 -- are covered by TPS. Previous estimates by the department have put the number who will most likely be left without other protections around 200,000.

    One of the really never fully-realized accountable moments in American history has been this country's support for El Salvador's death squads:

    1980: Three American Catholic nuns along with a lay missionary were beaten, raped and shot to death by an El Salvador government death squad early in the country’s more-than-decade-long civil war. The four men convicted of the crime later said that they were following orders from higher up, and a 1993 UN report concluded that there was a cover-up over the incident by top military and political officials in country’s U.S.-backed, right-wing regime. Also in 1993, a U.S. State Department report said, “This particular act of barbarism did more to inflame the debate over El Salvador in the United States than any other single incident.”

    Today, there is virtually no debate and no remorse for what we did to El Salvador. Instead of thoughtful discussions about what to do with people who do not want to go back to a country where murdering criminals run wild, we get the way Trump talks when allowed visitation with his phone. We get the greatest hits parade. Lock Her Up, Throw Them Out, Build The Wall, You'll Be So Tired Of All The Winning. Yeah, right.

    It may be difficult for an American to realize this, but not everyone wants to go back to the country of their birth, especially when their relatives were murdered for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's inhumane to think of this as the result of Trump's election, but that's what it really is. The people who voted for Trump voted to send people back to where they came from. In the case of El Salvador, that means sending them back to a country where their sudden arrival in a particular neighborhood might trigger their murder.

    The people we send back to Latin America end up dead, you see:

     Thousands of children entering the United States illegally from Central America might qualify for refugee status but are being deported to their own country where they face persecution by gangs, the United Nations Refugee Agency has warned. 

    The arrival of nearly 70,000 children traveling alone at the U.S. border last year - mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala - sparked a row in Washington over how to handle a crisis President Barack Obama called “an urgent humanitarian situation”. 

    Many children are making the dangerous journey from Central America - a region with the world’s highest murder rates - through Mexico to the United States to escape rampant drug-fuelled gang violence at home. 

    Children stopped by immigration officials in the U.S. or Mexico and deported can face persecution by local street gangs, known as maras, and could therefore be eligible for refugee status, the UNHCR says. 

    “Some children and their families are afraid of being persecuted by the maras when they return. Our interest is that children are properly interviewed before they are deported,” said Fernando Protti, UNHCR regional representative for Central America.

    The decent thing to do is to oppose this policy and resist the Trump Regime. I mean, what else is there? What other options exist for a country so used to outrage and horror? Politically, in this country, we have not done enough, either during the Obama and Bush years or in the current time frame, to come up with a rational, humane policy.

    Well, that time is now.



    Sunday, January 7, 2018

    Drunk Hobo Begs Trump For a Pardon

    Once someone got a pot of coffee into Steve Bannon, he realized that there were seven or eight days missing from his memory. What the hell did he do? Why was he wearing hobo clothes? Why were strangers yelling at him from all sides?

    Oh, hell:

    President Trump’s former chief strategist offered a semi-apology Sunday after days of withering castigation from the White House over his scathing comments in a new book, praising Trump in a public statement that aimed to soften his earlier criticism.

    Stephen K. Bannon’s mea culpa came as Trump and his senior aides continued a barrage of public insults against him. The president’s top policy adviser, Stephen Miller, on Sunday called Bannon an “angry, vindictive person” whose “grotesque comments are so out of touch with reality.”

    In a written statement, Bannon asserted that passages in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff in which he was quoted as being critical of Donald Trump Jr.’s contacts with a Russian lawyer — calling their meeting last year at Trump Tower “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” — were a mischaracterization. 

    Bannon insisted his criticism was aimed not at the president’s eldest son but rather at former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was fired and is facing charges in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation. Manafort, who also attended the meeting along with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, should have known “how the Russians operate,” Bannon said.

    There is no evidence to suggest that Bannon's drinking got the better of him after going on a bender. I've checked, and no one has found him under a bridge with seven empty bottles of Mad Dog 50/50 and a Heath bar smeared behind his ear. These are all suppositions based on his hygiene and general appearance.

    Critical Information is Vanishing Right Before Our Eyes

    Here's one more thing to get angry about:

    From the redesign of the White House website to the removal of hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) webpages about climate change, the Trump administration, as part of transforming the federal government in its first year, has already left a distinct mark on federal websites.

    In some cases, we’ve observed politically motivated and otherwise unexplained removals of documents and entire websites. The Department of the Treasury removed a non-political, research report about corporate income tax from the Office of Tax Analysis website. According to numerous sources, the report was likely removed because it was at odds with Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s tax policies.

    Despite widespread concern in the beginning of 2017, we do not have evidence that data has been removed from federal websites almost a year into the Trump presidency. The one exception we know of is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s animal welfare datasets, which was taken down and then partially returned following public outcry and several lawsuits.

    What we have seen are substantial removals and overhauls of webpages, documents, and entire websites, as well as significant shifts in language and messaging across the federal Web domain. We know this because we’ve been monitoring tens of thousands of environmental federal webpages at the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) and keeping tabs on relevant reporting and investigations by members of the press and civil society in our roles as Sunlight Fellows.

    This is all part of a concerted effort to hurt the American people. It is part of a pattern that is undeniable. The Republicans are removing information that is critical to public health and public safety. They're taking away information about the environment and climate change (this started almost as soon as Trump was sworn in almost a year ago). They are keeping critical information about policy and process out of the public's hands because the size and scope of this denial of information is without precedent. This is being done systematically, and thank goodness for the Sunlight Foundation for keeping track of. They are working on behalf of the public's right to know, and that includes the people in this country who are perfectly okay with the dumbing down of the government.

    In other words, when you don't know what has been taken away, you have no idea what everyone lost in the last year. It's not just the people who voted against Trumpism who are losing here. It's the whole country, dammit.

    Saturday, January 6, 2018

    Another Distraction From the Real Scandal

    I have a feeling that everyone is going to waste their time waiting for someone to discover that, once again, the Clintons didn't do anything wrong:

    The Justice Department has launched a new inquiry into whether the Clinton Foundation engaged in any pay-to-play politics or other illegal activities while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state, law enforcement officials and a witness tells The Hill.

    FBI agents from Little Rock, Ark., where the foundation was started, have taken the lead in the investigation and have interviewed at least one witness in the last month, and law enforcement officials said additional activities are expected in the coming weeks.

    The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the probe is examining whether the Clintons promised or performed any policy favors in return for largesse to their charitable efforts or whether donors made commitments of donations in hopes of securing government outcomes.

    I love the fact that none of the right context is used here. The Clinton Foundation is a highly rated charity that takes the money that comes in and transforms it into good deeds elsewhere. How can you have "pay-to-play" politics when the pay goes to numerous good causes, not the least of which are to help people with opioid addiction and to help people with AIDS? 

    How many times have you seen this in a breathless news article?

    The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity

    I'll bet you a million bucks this equates to "some Republicans said this and told us we couldn't identify the fact that they have a clear bias against the Clintons and are only interested in planting a negative news article about Bill and Hillary in the media because we're fucking idiots who fall for it every time."

    After untold numbers of Clinton "scandals," you're telling me this is the one that's going to stick? Come on.

    Friday, January 5, 2018

    This is Life in America Right Now

    There is a real phenomenon out there, and it's leaving people upset, angry, and in great distress:

    Recently, one of the couples I work with as a therapist in D.C. came to me to with a new concern. The couple (let’s call them Sally and Steve) had been working to strengthen their communication and feel more connected, and the relationship was improving. But something was bothering Steve:

    “Sally and I value that our political views are compatible. We have always enjoyed discussing current events, and our careers relate to politics, as you know. I initially took comfort in the fact that we went through the shock of Trump’s victory together, but something has changed. Sally is constantly reading news updates on her phone and watching CNN, even in the middle of the night. It’s gone too far. It’s no longer something that connects us; it’s now a wedge between us.”

    It’s a dynamic I’ve seen with other couples and individual therapy clients I work with. To be sure, a heightened political anxiety has been with us since the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump voters in D.C. feel like outcasts, shunned by family and friends. Both Democrats and Republicans who oppose the president are struggling with a sense of uncertainty. A remarkable number of clients report experiencing nightmares in which the president makes an appearance. It’s not unusual for a client to recount their personal challenges in a calm and contained tone and then burst into tears while describing their concern about our current political climate.

    One particular aspect of this stress is, in my experience, increasing — the stress associated with news consumption.

    "I've fucking had it with the news."

    That's something I hear over and over again. The installment of Trump in the White House--and the subsequent inability of Republicans to remove him now that we can all see, with our own two eyes, how terrible of a president he is--has become a crystallizing event. Democrats and sane Republicans are in agreement all over the country--we have to stop this. It is causing tremendous stress in this country. You would think that these so-called professional politicians would catch on. It is much easier to run the country into the ground if no one is paying attention. Think the first four years of the George W. Bush administration. No one was paying attention, everyone was assured that the wars were being won and the terrorists were being chased all over Kingdom Come. Victory was right around the corner.

    And then, after Katrina, people started paying attention to the government again.

    We are all paying pretty close attention to the government right now. Nobody is supposed to know who the Deputy Attorney General is, who is on the National Security Council, what the Secretary of the Interior is doing with helicopters and all that. But we are all now acutely aware of things that the vast majority of Americans have never really given a fig about. Trump changed all of that. Trump made collusion a household word.

    Everyone opposed to Trump is in pain; the people who still support him exhibit the symptoms found in people who double down when caught lying about stealing a cookie from the cookie jar. They are divorced from reality and enjoying themselves. Who knows what they think anymore? Will anyone ever reach them? I suppose some will never come to their senses.

    It's as if the country is trying to ride a tiger by holding onto its tail while keeping one foot in its mouth and the other in its ass. This is not going to work, of course, but no one knows how to extricate themselves from such a horrible situation without being eaten by the tiger after losing one good shoe.