Conduct Unbecoming

It’s a low moment when one realizes that the term “conduct unbecoming” technically does not apply to the president of the United States.  But there it is: it does not.

Currently the qualifications for the office are lower than those for local school-board members, I believe.  This accounts for much of the GOP field in the last two elections.  Many were nothing more than vanity candidates.

What concerns me is that the most obvious vanity candidate of them all was able to steal the office.  (NO, HE WAS NOT ELECTED.)  Now securely there, he is being held to no particular standards of conduct and execution of duties, simply because there aren’t any.

Things have come to a new low point now; this morning he was revealed on national television to have blackmailed two popular talk-show hosts.  Don’t get excited; nothing will happen to him.  Remember what I wrote in the previous post.

However, this came directly on the heels of yesterday’s revelation that…let’s see if I can get this straight…a Republican operative contacted Russian hackers for Clinton’s emails, somehow for or through Flynn.  This is huge, folks.  This indicates collusion.  The only choking point is determining Flynn’s exact role in the scheme.  Someone might also like to take a look at just how it was that the Republican operative in question died just days after revealing this story.  Yes, he was 81 years old, but still — that’s a big coincidence.

Meantime, remember Carter Page?  It’s been revealed that he spent much of April — roughly the last time we heard anything about him — talking to the FBI without a lawyer, which indicates that either he’s stupid (but we already guessed that), or he has flipped.  This revelation seemed to make various satellites in the Trump orbit rather shaky.  One of them suddenly did what he’d been resisting doing: he registered retroactively as a foreign agent.

Left wing Pied Piper and right-wing operative Louise Mensch suddenly withdrew from Twitter this morning, claiming Trump is done (he is not) and because of that her work is done for the time being.  Those who have been following her for a long time claim that she has done this before.  I don’t know about that, but what I do know is that Mensch has been under pressure from various Twitterers for a few months now, one of them being Seth Abramson, about whom I still have serious questions — although I’d believe him before Mensch any day.  Another person she’s been tussling with is the highly credible Preet Bahara, with whom Mensch presumed to argue the legal point of whether a sealed indictment against a sitting president is possible.  I’d say she lost; at least, nothing has happened to prove her right and the attorney Bahara wrong.

It’s gotten particularly intense recently, with claims that she’s been doxxing people (doxxing basically means making private information very public; it’s not always illegal but it is always unethical).  Certainly she seems to spend more time lately issuing denials and threats of legal action than she does inventing conspiracy theories and making wild claims.  Her announced disappearance this morning comes just after the very latest charges of doxxing; there seems to be a new victim coming forward every few days.

So it seems stuff is going down, folks, in various arenas.  Unfortunately Trump is not one of the things tumbling down, and that brings me back to the point.

As I said, you probably need more qualifications to run for the local school board than you do for president, and once you obtain the office of president, you are under no particular obligation to your oath or to anything else (definitely not true of school-board members).  Trump has taken and is taking full advantage of that.

Because of that, I’m writing to my senators to ask them what they think of raising the standards for those who run for the office of president.  I know it’s the last thing we have to worry about right now, but think about it — it’s part of what got us here.  It’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

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Because I can’t say it any better than this

The Rude Pundit

The level of disgust I feel right now, not only for Trump but for his cabinet, the GOP in general, and all devotees…well, I cannot express it any better than The Rude Pundit.

But I can say this: there’s a lot of speculation that Trump tweeted this shit on purpose, to distract from a bunch of GOP nonsense going on in the background (think the healthkill bill, which has died another temporary death, and/or some of the shit going on overseas).

The fact is, Trump is incapable of doing anything on purpose.  He operates on 100% pure reaction; he’s a combination of a toddler and a parrot and no more.  It’s clear that he’s not even acting as chief executive at this point; speculation gives that title to everyone from Kushner to Bannon to Mattis, to…on the far end of reality…Hatch (Pence is nowhere in the equation).  Whoever it is, they are working outside the Constitution and in spite of it.  We have, after all, the 25th Amendment, but for some reason that’s being ignored.  And here’s the reason: they’ve installed a pretend president (“I’m not a president but I play one on TV!”) so that they can get away with shit while he distracts everyone with his bottomless vapidity, immaturity, and general unfitness for the job.

I repeat: It doesn’t suit their needs or aims to get rid of him.  And so they won’t.

And so we are destined to keep having to put up with this massive charade that is ruining our reputation abroad and our stability at home.  It is said that Putin is through with Trump and is waiting for an opportunity to destroy him (I don’t believe it).  Trump, on the other hand, has convinced the Cabinet that it’s a good idea for him to meet with Putin.

If that doesn’t show you his true function, nothing will.  A smart man would stay a planet away from the toxic Putin if he could, but Trump doesn’t care how it looks.  To him it’s just business as usual; this whole president thing was nothing but a grifting scheme to start with.  He wants what he wants and he takes it.  That’s his entire grasp of the job right there: he’s got all the toys and a little shiny crown and he’s not sharing any of it; nyah, nyah, nyah.

He has a solid wall of protection while he refuses to do his job and tweets like an imbecile, fleeces his followers for “campaign funds” and meets with the asshole who underwrote all this, as if that were normal.  The GOP doesn’t care that somebody else is actually running the country — or rather, attempting to destroy it.  Why are they attempting to destroy it?  Remember the old slogan “carve up the Chinese melon?”  Yeah, that.

Trump is just there for show.  Whether or not he realizes this is another story; I don’t think he does; I think he is allowed follies like tweeting and incoherent speeches just to keep him thinking he has actual power.

The only thing that’s completely clear is that the rest of us have been thrown to the wolves.  At this point I have no idea who or what will save us.

Read the Health-kill Bill (this is not normal)

Here it is in all its secretive glory, written by a handful of white men in a locked room:

Republican Heathkill Bill

And oh, you may be hearing a lot about Trump not actually being able to produce tapes of his conversations with Comey.  This is because there are none — or at least, if there were, they were deleted long ago.

Trump’s threat of “tapes” was just that — a threat, a distraction.  He’s a schoolyard bully who never grew up; he just doesn’t grasp that as president, people take what he says seriously and demand proof.  And if the proof isn’t there, Trump can’t get it through his head that he could be in far more serious trouble than merely a trip to the principal’s office; witness tampering/intimidation is a BIG deal and obstruction of justice is even bigger.  When you’re the president, people have notoriously long memories about what you have said and they tend to want to make you live with it.  It is not enough to tweet “never mind,” as Trump did today.  To put it simply, if he were Hillary Clinton, he’d be impeached and in leg irons right now.  But he’s Trump, so he is held to a much lower standard.

Meantime the White House just held a blacked-out press briefing, or whatever it was (I wonder if they brought any shrubbery into the room?).  And Jared Kushner is in Israel, talking to someone about something, and refusing to be photographed (is he Amish now?).  This puts me in mind of the rumors that Rex Tillerson won’t make eye contact with anyone and won’t let anyone sit in a room with him, or something like that.  Or that Pence has issues with the presence of women that are severe enough to suggest he may be more comfortable working in certain portions of the Middle East.

As the saying goes, folks, This.Is.Not.Normal.  These people are seriously weird, and they are, as the late Alan Rickman’s Snape enunciated so carefully, Up.To.Something.

If I can find it, I have an article somewhere from a few years back, about the inner workings of the Bolshoi Ballet.  It will shock you how similar it is to so much that is going on in the U.S. government now.  This is what the Russian government looks like when it’s transplanted in the U.S., folks (yes, the Bolshoi and the Russian government are interconnected).  Not very pretty.  Let’s not only hope it dies, but work to kill it.

P.S. Mensch chimed in and claimed that Comey’s telephone was some sort of super-duper auto-recorder, like a black box in an airplane, and that COMEY has tapes and so does Trump.  Right.  Then why did Comey write memos, dear?  Enough with the distractions, it’s getting old and in this case in particular, you’re adding nothing to the conversation.  And oh yeah…you lost me at Cheney.

Ignore that leak behind the curtain

Twitter seems to have gotten ahead of itself today.  Everyone’s acting like something big has happened, but they are talking only about the aftermath and not mentioning what actually happened.  I’m guessing this is because nothing much has happened.

Yes, Rosenstein is probably going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation (probably to avoid a run-in with Trump when Trump orders the DOJ to fire Mueller?), and it’s said he’ll be replaced by someone who was actively supporting the deplorable Ted Cruz during the presidential campaign.  Whether this means she is Russia-free or not remains to be seen.  But is that the big event they’re all aftermath-tweeting about?  Doesn’t seem like it.

UPDATE: Seth Abramson just tweeted that Trump had tweeted an implicit threat to fire Rosenstein, and that this is felony witness tampering.  But Abramson also tweeted that no one but himself picked up on this, which leaves us back at square one.  (BTW, I have Trump blocked so I saw none of this.)

Since no one but Abramson picked up on this, we’re still wondering why Twitter is all excited, so…

The White House staff is reportedly lawyering up, and it’s been confirmed that even Trump’s lawyer has hired a lawyer for himself.   Is this starting to sound like a skit from Monty Python yet?  Yes, but it’s not big news.  The White House staff has sounded like a  skit from Monty Python since well before they were actually in the White House.

Steve Bannon is now said to be under investigation for obstruction of justice, as he’s been physically threatening White House staffers (??? how is this connected?).  Bannon can never be counted on to keep it classy, so no, this is not big news.  (Interesting tweet on this subject that has nothing to do with obstruction of justice, but a lot to do with plain old thuggery: Bannon physically threatening people)

One person called Trump “mobbed up” in a comment.  This dovetails with what someone else posted yesterday (or the day before), something to the effect that if Trump’s mob connections had been revealed before the election, perhaps we would not be in the crisis we’re in.  True.  But still…old news.

Someone else tweeted jokingly that Pence is writing a draft of his first speech as president, although Pence seems destined to get no nearer the big chair in the oval office than he is right now.  Too many lies have spewed from his mouth, you see, and sometimes lies have consequences even if you claim to be all Christian and stuff.

So what’s going on?  I still don’t know, but the current excitement seems to have started late yesterday when the DOJ sent out a mysterious statement advising that U.S. citizens not believe any reports sourced to foreigners or unnamed foreigners.  Or something like that.  Um…okay.

Twitter erupted instantly, setting off an avalanche of jokes, but there were also many guesses as to what the cryptic statement meant.  Some guessed that Pence (see above) had leaked false information to WaPo, and this was the DOJ’s attempt to counteract it.  But WaPo is not foreign and neither, at last check, is Pence.

Lots of other guesses focused on the possibility that a foreign government has a “pee pee tape” and is about to…ahem…leak it.  That seems more likely.  But it’s now more than 12 hours since that weird communication from the DOJ, and nothing has happened.

Certainly Trump seems even more discombobulated than usual; apparently he spent the entire night tweeting (see Seth Abramson paragraph above).  In response to what Trump had tweeted, the often-hilarious pundit Tea Pain posted this:

Only believe Putin

Nice summary.  But I still don’t know why this is such a “fun Friday,” as one person called it.  No one has been arrested yet but a few dozen New York mobsters, and while Trump definitely has mob connections, no one has said anything about those arrests being associated with him.

Now when the arrests of Trump staffers and other politicians start, that will be fun.

 

 

Clueless in the Kremlin; Dumbass in D.C.

I actually thought this article was from The Onion when I first saw the headline. But no, it’s from NPR, an organization not noted for its sense of humor:

Putin Offers Political Asylum to Comey

Sorry if you just spit your coffee out all over your screen.  Yes, it’s true — Putin does not understand what he got himself into when he hooked up with the GOP and Trump.  In fact, it’s apparent that he has no knowledge of the U.S. at all.

I say this because Putin apparently does not realize that every time he opens his yap about a U.S. domestic matter, in jest or not, he incriminates himself (and Trump).  After all, why the hell should he care unless he has skin in the game?

To put it more succinctly: Putin, you’re an idiot — and not a very useful one at that — a greenhorn, and a joke.  You’ve been had.

Now on to some actual news: in celebration of Trump’s birthday yesterday (June 14).  Mueller let it slip that Trump himself is under investigation for obstruction of justice, something we had suspected for a while and that was kinda-sorta confirmed by Comey at the Senate hearing last week.

Happy Birthday, asshole!  But seriously, this is huge.

Trump, of course, is now blubbering all over Twitter about all these nasty people who are leaking lies (uh huh), and claiming that the fact that he’s being investigated for obstruction means that the Russia collusion stories are false, or at least not very important.  I know you are thinking you just entered the Twilight Zone; welcome to Trump’s brain.  No it does not appear to be working very well.

An ongoing thread of discussion over the past several days has been whether Trump would try to fire Mueller.  This leak or announcement, or whatever it was yesterday, makes it all but certain that he will.  But not so fast…

(1) There is some gray area here, but the basic fact seems to be that Mueller doesn’t really work for Trump; he works for the DOJ and Congress.  Congress has already indicated that if Trump fires Mueller, they’ll just re-hire him — and at that point there’ll be really nothing Trump can do about Mueller.  (Note to Trump’s puppet-master: Congress does not work for Trump.  Really.)

(2) Nixon also tried something like this, and it didn’t work out very well for him.

(3) And here’s the biggie: the rumors about Trump considering saying “you’re fired” to Mueller (just like on TV!) probably prompted Mueller to leak or announce (or whatever the hell it was) that Trump is being personally investigated.  Why?  Because Trump cannot fire someone who is known to be investigating him for a crime.  That is to say that even if Trump had the authority to fire Mueller to start with, he lost that option when it got out that Mueller is investigating him.

Doesn’t mean he won’t try anyway — he’s that stupid — but he can’t.  No, he does not and cannot recognize that fact, but let’s just say this: try it, Trump, and see where it gets you.

And with that, I leave Trump and Putin with this thought: welcome to reality.  Sucks, doesn’t it.

 

McCain Strikes Out

You can’t say you didn’t guess this:

Cindy McCain to get post in Trump State Department

And this was posted by The Hill — the publication that posted the news about Cindy McCain — on the same day as the Cindy story:

McCain Strikes Back

This is what is called planting a story to try to minimize the facts.  And the facts can be boiled down to this: McCain, who has been alternating between putting on a show of being anti-Trump, and doing things like going incoherent at a Senate (was it Intelligence or Judiciary?) Committee hearing into Trump’s Russia ties, has been bought off by Trump and is trying to hide it.  Either that or he has Russian ties of his own (almost definitely true; see link below) and is trying to deflect attention from them.

What this means is that when he says anti-Trump stuff, folks, it’s all for show and this is why Trump doesn’t tweet insults about him.  (As mentioned above, it’s also rumored that McCain has Russia ties — surprised?)

Next up is Lindsey Graham, who has displayed a similar behavior pattern to McCain; in fact, he joined up with McCain right after Trump was elected to project a “tough” front of resistance.  He’s been alternating between trash-talking and sweet-talking Trump ever since.

Can’t wait to see what Trump’s got on him.

The Reality Gap

A video is circulating today of Trump’s…is it the first?…full cabinet meeting, during which he boasts of all his achievements (ahem), and then demands oaths of loyalty from his cabinet members (or at least, effusive praise).

Actually he has no achievements.  Yes he’s signed approximately 50 million executive orders, many without bothering to read them, but no — those don’t count.  Executive orders are not legislation; he is not a king, he cannot do things unilaterally — not many things, anyway — and all of his major legislative initiatives to date have failed.  That’s not to say they will continue to fail forever, because the Senate is currently working on a super-secret healthcare-destroying bill that they are going to try to push through without any of us mere citizens being able to read it (which means the Koch brothers probably paid for it, which means we’re screwed).  Trump, however, will probably add pizza to his beer party in the Rose Garden once it’s passed…which is to say that he has no idea what’s in it or how many people it will imperil or kill, and he doesn’t care.  He’ll be destroying Obama’s signature achievement and that makes him happy.

Which brings us to the subject of these loyalty pledges.  Of course all his cabinet members pledged their troth to him — they’re all just as sullied by Russia as he is, and are probably viewing him as their protector.  This is because if he goes down, they all go with him, so they may as well make sure he takes a long time to tumble (the article linked above states that Trump is mentally ill and this meeting was designed to lift him out of a depression, which is even less reassuring).

In fact, my guess is that Trump has few or no political allies anywhere who do not have Russia hanging over their heads in some way, shape or form.  That is to say that he has no real friends on Capitol Hill.

But then there are Trump’s actual true believers, none of whom are politicians.  I know a few of them.  One is a very elderly shut-in who, whenever someone actually talks to him, starts shouting about “socialism” and swearing “Trump will fix it.”

This means that this geezer has no idea, none whatsoever, what “socialism” means.  And he thinks Russia is our friend, which means that he also has no idea what’s going on in the world.  And Trump?  The fact that this monumental idiot has absolutely no clue what a president is or does, let alone the fact he is so insular, vapid and greedy that he has no business being in anywhere near the White House — that’s all lost on the geezer.

It’s a reality gap that is supported by right-wing radio (this old geezer won’t subscribe to cable or satellite and spends his days listening to the likes of Rush Limbaugh), and of course Fox News and various internet outlets.  It’s already proven that the more right-wing media people wallow in, the more ignorant they become.  It’s a kind of brainwashing, because once they’re taken in by this shit it seems they would almost sooner die than stop believing every word of it.  The whole world is wrong and Trump is right, and that’s that.

Oh, by the way, the old geezer has stopped watching network television news (CBS, NBC, ABC) because “they lie all the time.”  I don’t watch either, but the fact that the geezer said this tells me that they are starting to hit on some very unpleasant truths for a change — at least, truths unpleasant to a Trumpsucker.  What truths are these?  Anything negative about Trump.

And the negatives are many.  Leaving aside the facts that he has no leadership qualities whatsoever and has embarrassed our country to no end, he got into this president thing for two reasons: he was intensely jealous of Obama and wanted to obliterate his legacy (same disease that afflicted Palin), and he thought it would be a good way to launder money for himself and his Russian cronies, not that he wasn’t already doing that.

And in his incredible ignorance, he thought being president was something like being a magical Henry VIII: he could just wave his scepter and all his problems’ heads would fly off.  Instead he keeps running into the Constitution and more mundane law, as well as people like Comey who just won’t play along.  And that reality frustrates him.

The only way he knows to deal with it is to create a reality of his own and try to force everyone to believe it with him.  The pols will play along; they have skin in this game too, and think he is their best hope of not ending up in prison — and so they are loyal.

The real victims are true believers like the geezer.  He is one of about a quarter of our population that we have lost to a fantasy-land created by Trump and right-wing media.

That loss is, in a sense, is the greatest crime of all.  And it makes one wonder if going forward we should concentrate on issues of accuracy and bias in media (or let’s just boil it down to generally-accepted truth being reported as news instead of fiction and fantasy being touted as news).

And since so many of us are unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy, perhaps the qualifications for the office of president also need some attention.  How about adding the following:

(1) No one without prior experience in a national political office (i.e. Congress) should be allowed to run for president.  At least one term should be spent in Congress; if less than that, there needs to be prior political experience at the state level.  Governors should be held to the same qualification, as they rarely seem to make outstanding presidents.

(2) More specifically, no entertainer, pundit, businessperson or other public figure without experience in political office can run for president (see rule #1).  Period.  Yes, this would wipe out 90% of the Republican field going forward, but we have to lay the law down somewhere.

P.S. — Sessions is being forced to testify in a public hearing tomorrow.  Be prepared for a lot of flying bullshit if he answers any questions at all.