All sorts of tiddly $#*%

Nothing dramatic has happened this morning; just a steady drip, drip, drip.  No flood.

Trump is preparing to get on a plane to somewhere, not that anything he does or says really matters.  There is the odd report that he is paranoid that Pence will “take over” while he is gone, and certainly there has been a uptick in rumors of Pence funding his presidential campaign for 2020, etc.  But the fact is there has also been a sharp uptick in reports that Pence knew Flynn was crooked well before he allowed Flynn to become national security advisor to Trump.  So if I were Pence, maybe I wouldn’t be thinking about 2020, but surviving 2017 as a free man involved in politics instead.

As for Pence taking over, I doubt it.  Nothing dramatic will happen in Trump’s absence;  Washington is too scared right now.  Apparently Ryan is hiding under his desk after finding out that he had been recorded saying that the Russians were paying Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Trump.  It’s said he’s now wondering what else he uttered that was recorded, and in typical Republican fashion who did it.  Right.  Let’s never face our own crimes, let’s worry about who exposed them.

Anyway, the Rohrabacher situation reveals that Russian influence in Washington may go back further than previously thought, and that the Republicans in particular have been identified by the Russians as sitting ducks.  (For a scathing Wisconsin editorial about our darling Ryan, read hereThis is interesting too.)

So that’s one thing that’s scaring the Republicans.  The other is Robert Mueller, who has now requested Congressional investigations halt, or at least curtail their activities.  Social media reacted to this request with fear and outrage, particularly since a story was planted yesterday about how the law firm Mueller worked for was connected to the Trumps or those associated with them.  People, people…

At this point there probably aren’t too many major law firms that haven’t had dealings with the Trumps and/or their associates.  That doesn’t mean Mueller himself did.  Also, the timing of this story suggests that it came from either the Russians or Trump’s camp.  Put all of that together and I say that unless Mueller starts doing things obviously pro-Trump, don’t panic.

The request that the Congressional committees dial back their investigations is no big deal considering the amount of interference and obstruction various Republicans on those committees were subjecting them to.  Remember all those questions about Hillary Clinton’s emails in at least two of the public hearings that were supposed to be about the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia?  It could be that Mueller saw that too, and decided the committees were just trying to score political points and deflections.  And he’s right on that.  Enough, already.  Let’s not let the inmates run the asylum, as the old saying goes.

Anyway, the little explosion this morning is that Trump signed financial disclosures for 2016 against the advice of his attorneys.  Why was he advised against signing?  Because the disclosures were false.

The other little explosion is that Julian Assange is a free man (odd that this happened at the same moment a massive cyber-attack on social media was in progress); he can leave the embassy now because the Swiss no longer want to question him about the possible rape charge.  It’s said the FBI may have had something to do with this, which is interesting.  It does seem that Assange’s even more vulnerable to Putin now if he doesn’t toe the mark.  So really, he may be free, but he isn’t free, and he will never be free.

And so that’s where we are at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, May 19, 2017.  Trump’s about to be in the thin air, Pence is stranded on the ground, Ryan is hiding under his desk, Mueller’s sniffing around, Assange thinks he’s free, and nobody’s is going anywhere for a while.

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So far today…

These are all verified reports:

(1) Trump appears to have passed the contents of James Comey’s laptop to the Russians during that infamous Oval Office meeting.  This is in addition to sharing top-secret Israeli intelligence that really really REALLY shouldn’t have been shared.  Gee, we’re finding out more and more about why that meeting was supposed to be a secret, aren’t we?

(2) Well, I already told you about Paul Ryan a couple of times, but I do find it interesting that an actual audio recording of the conversation he tried to deny having surfaced yesterday, after having been rumored to exist for several months.

(3) It’s now absolutely clear that Pence could not have been ignorant of Flynn’s foreign entanglements — there’s just no way — yet he hired him anyway during the transition.  And then lied about it later.

(4) Flynn is now flirting with contempt of Congress charges by refusing to answer a subpoena to appear before…which committee was it?  I’m losing track.

(5) The twit (Chaffetz) will leave Congress and join Fox sometime around June 30.  That is, of course, unless he freaks out again and decides to do something else, like hang around and continue to give us all a goddamned headache.  Word has it that his departure is not unrelated to Russian kompromat.  Certainly he’s not going to try to tell us it’s because he has a sore tootsie or that the tumbling Fox gave him such a great deal that he couldn’t refuse.  Or will he?

It’s not noon yet as I write, so this may not be all for today.  Stay tuned.

P.S.  there’s one guy on Twitter who wrote an entire thread last night about some dark figure (not Putin?) who is supposedly blackmailing Trump.  Nothing in the thread made sense; it was all about this person forcing Trump to fire McMaster and keep Sean Spicer(?), and create a special counsel to investigate Russiagate (???!!??) and dark mutterings about snuff movies and slavery involving the entire GOP, and etc, etc.  Be aware that we’re going to be seeing more and more of this shit as things intensify in the coming days/weeks.  Don’t fall for it.  These people are wasting our time for the thrill of 5 minutes of fame.  If you doubt this, I have to add that this same guy wrote a thread last week about how “they” were shutting down his Twitter account.  Kind of ironic, since he was writing an entire thread by himself at the time with no interference.

Mr. Benghazi Bails

It’s not confirmed yet, but several sources (including at least one radio station in Utah) are reporting that not only will Jason Chaffetz not run for re-election, but he also may leave office prior to the end of his term.  (3:00 p.m. update: now the rumors seems to indicate that Chaffetz will resign by tomorrow; reasons range from a lucrative job offer to him running for governor of Utah to him having an affair to him accepting “dark money” for his campaign…and of course there’s the Russia thing.)  So I guess at this point we can rule out mere homesickness.

Just a few months ago this same guy was totally arrogant and self-assured, completely determined to ignore the Trump-Russia scandal (“I don’t see anything to investigate,” he shrugged) and instead re-investigate Hillary Clinton over and over and over again until he found something she did wrong regarding Benghazi.  He promised years of investigations, and as the link shows, he said so out loud and in public.  And now he’s turning tail and running.  Interesting.

While I’m delighted at this turn of events, I’d almost rather see shoes drop on Mr. Logan Act (Tom Cotton), or Trey Gowdy, Devin Nunes, or any of a half dozen or more in Congress just like Gowdy, Cotton and Nunes.  Even better than any of them would be the tag team of Ryan and McConnell.   There have been serious mutterings about those two, but I’ll be honest: I want more than that.  Handcuffs on both of them would be nice.  And soon.

One can dream, and so far it all seems to be just a faraway dream.  After all, it’s now Thursday and no one in Washington D.C. has been arrested.

Of Putin, Assad, and Trump

In attacking Syria, Trump may be trying to deflect attention from the Trump-Russia investigations and/or make it appear that he and Putin are not hand in hand and because of that, the investigations are “fake.”  He also may be trying to get his abysmal approval rating up.  However, while it may work for about 48 hours, the truth will come out.  It’s already bubbling under the surface:

Palmer Report

Let’s just hope the mainstream media doesn’t elect to play cheerleader for Trump.

Meantime, McConnell has ruined the Supreme Court for at least 30 years by having the “nuclear option” approved by a lapdog Senate tonight.  What Merrick Garland, who McConnell blocked by not even holding hearings on his nomination, must be feeling is anyone’s guess.  It’s robbery.  And it’s anything but ethical.

I hinted earlier this evening that it may be time for ethics complaints to be filed against McConnell and Ryan.  Now I think it’s past time.  McConnell has allowed a treasonous president to select (and have approved) a poisonous candidate for the Supreme Court, while he refused to even allow a hearing for Obama’s choice because “Obama was in the last year of his presidency.”  Well, Hoss, Trump is in the last year of his presidency too, and he’s a traitor to boot.  What’s the difference?  Oh, Trump is white and he’s Republican.  And because McConnell blocked release of information about the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation, his wife got a post in Trump’s cabinet.  I get it.  Ethics complaint, anyone?

As for Ryan…well I posted about him earlier.  Enough already.

The department of scaredy-cat

I am writing this in the midst of a Trump Tweetstorm.  I don’t follow Trump on Twitter, but everyone’s saying that he’s trying to deflect attention from Russiagate by claiming that Hillary Clinton, (of COURSE) had her own Russia thing.  Why he isn’t also demanding an investigation of Nixon on the China story is anyone’s guess.

He did get away with this once before, almost.  That was the time he claimed Obama had personally “wiretapped” him.  And yes, his lapdogs in Congress jumped at that and wasted a lot of hearing time asking questions about it.   You know, because it’s not about the actual story, it’s about who leaked it.

That, however, was then.  This is now, after Rep. Nunes disgraced himself by running to the White House for instructions on what to say, then said it, then admitted it, then denied it.  He’s now facing this:
Complaint

And that ain’t all.  The media are after him; his fellow Congressmen/women are after him.  It doesn’t sound like it’s just going to go away.

Nunes has lost his credibility.  Whether or not he recuses himself from the investigation is no matter.  The work of his committee is now lost because of him.  Rep. Schiff or no Rep. Schiff, it’s gone.  That may be no big deal, though, because the Republicans on that committee were more fascinated with who leaked the stories about Trump than the actual stories about Trump.  It’s kind of like casually watching your house burn down, and then your one of your neighbors calls the fire department, and then when the house is in ruins you try to find out which neighbor had the nerve to call the fire department.

Of course that’s only one lapdog down; there are many more in Congress.  It’s just that Nunes was a big one.  Plus, the always-obtuse Paul Ryan expressed his support of Nunes today.  Ryan…you know, the guy who the White House just tried to throw under the bus when the Republican anti-healthcare bill died.  Ryan, the guy everyone hates.  I guess because both he and Nunes are said to be at least peripherally involved in Russiagate, Ryan’s thought is that if he stays quiet about Nunes, the nervous, hiccuping Nunes won’t burp up any secrets about him.

That’s the problem: when the Trump administration finally falls, it’s set to take several ranking members of Congress and possibly the entire Republican party with it.  So who among them is really going to investigate anything?

This brings me to another, slightly unrelated point.  Keep in mind always that just about everyone in the Trump administration has been implicated in Russiagate.  This includes Mike Pence.  If Pence manages to weasel his way into the Oval Office, his stay there won’t be comfortable and he’ll spend whatever time is left to him in office fighting off scandal rather than passing every anti-gay bill he can possibly lay his hands on.  The guy’s a walking scandal-bomb.  He’s certainly no better than Trump, but the point is, he’s no worse.

Also keep in mind what I said earlier: many Republican Congressional members are also possibly involved.  This includes number 2 in the line of succession to the president’s seat once Trump is gone.  That, my friends, is Paul Ryan.

I bring this up because even now I keep hearing and reading whiny articles and posts and comments saying, “if Trump is gone we get Pence, and he’s worse!”  And then when you rule Pence out, they jump to, “but then we get Ryan!”

Uh…people…do you really want to keep Trump for four years because you’re afraid of Pence and Ryan?  That’s assinine.

Even if Trump is deposed somehow (and I don’t believe it will be via impeachment, but I’m still having a hard time believing he will resign, so I don’t know how this will happen), and Pence takes the office, remember that Pence is compromised.  If Pence is removed, the chance of the embattled Ryan still being there to take his place looks like a shaky premise right now.  After all, the Trump administration is trying very, very hard to throw him under the bus and even had the gall to demand he resign as Speaker of the House.  Also, he’s implicated in the Russiagate thing.

But what if he becomes President?  This: nothing.  He’s about as popular as anthrax, even among his own party, and is ineffective to boot.  The only guarantee with Ryan as president is a landslide for the Democrats in the Congressional elections of 2018.  And after that he’ll be paralyzed and unable to do anything, not that he does much anyway.

All that said, let’s get back back to Trump’s Tweetstorm going on tonight.  It’s earlier than usual (it’s only halfway through the evening as I write), and on a Monday (somehow I tend to believe that most of his Tweetstorms happen later in the week).  What’s this about?  Nunes canceled the House Intelligence Committee’s meeting, which was supposed to have been this afternoon.  Can’t be that.  Might be the Senate Intelligence Committee’s meeting on Thursday.  That could mean a long week of Tweetstorms ahead.

It also could mean some major shit is going to hit the fan before Thursday, and Trump knows about it and is nervously trying to deflect.  Never mind that one of his lapdogs has been disgraced, and he’s publicly shamed Ryan, so that’s two down among his sworn secret-keepers.  He probably hasn’t factored that in, anyway; he’s too dumb.  And you’d think it would occur to him at some point that the reaction of an innocent man would be to swear to get to the bottom of this supposed hoax (Russiagate), or to carry on quietly and with dignity (knowing the truth will come out), rather than Tweet like mad to try to deflect interest elsewhere, but no…again, he’s too dumb.

No, something caused this Tweetstorm that hit too close to the truth for him to stay quiet.  I can’t wait to find out what it is.

Something about Rod

Sorry, I haven’t gotten to my global warming article yet because I’m too busy shoveling snow.

In the meantime, savor this: the Illinois House actually did something today. They impeached Rod Blagojevich.

It will take the state Senate approximately one month to catch up and complete a trial of the governor. If he’s convicted, he’ll be gone. He can pretend to be governor, but he won’t be. Of course, that won’t be much of a change from the way things have been going in Illinois for the past 6 to 8 years.

But on one month’s time, who knows. It gives Blags the opportunity to spend more time pretending to be governor. Enough voices in the media and elsewhere could find more dandy excuses for Blags’ behavior and repeat them often enough that they start sounding somewhat reasonable, reversing the near-universal public disapproval of this jerk (it’s damn near 100% as of this writing), and the resulting demand that he disappear, now. That, of course, would give the Illinois Senate carte blanche to do nothing, which they are very good at.

Or they could run into reality: while Blags’ behavior has been morally and ethically reprehensible, he hasn’t legally been proven to have done anything wrong. Then again, it doesn’t seem that the Illinois constitution requires such niceties. It just seems to state that all Blags has to be is unable to govern for some reason. He certainly fits that description; certainly nobody seems to be sure of what he is doing in his office all day. But then again, people tend to make excuses for the behavior of bullies, which is what he is.

I remember a red flag that popped up years ago, when Blags was first running for governor. One of the first things a politician learns is never to diss babies (dissing moms is okay) or veterans (unless the politician is George W. Bush). And so Blags, who at the time was riding a white horse on his way to rescue Illinois from the clutches of the evil George Ryan (the Republican then-governor who now resides in an Indiana prison), was scheduled to speak to a veterans’ group. Some relatives of mine were going to go; everyone was excited at the prospect of meeting the Democratic wonder boy who was destined to make a fabulous, yet brief stop in the Illinois governor’s mansion (which, in fact, he has never really moved into, opting instead to fly a private jet — at taxpayers’ expense — between Springfield and his home in Chicago), before moving on the White House.

Instead Barack Obama appeared, and barely had time to wave as he rocketed past the Illinois governor’s mansion on his way to the White House. This has irked Blagojevich to no end. But I digress…

Something funny happened on the way to the veterans’ lodge: Blags got a better offer from a group that was more politically well-connected than this bunch of wheezy, creaky WWII vets. And so he canceled the engagement. As I remember, he very frankly told the vets that he’d had a better offer. It was the first inkling we had that under his starchy button-down dress shirt, Blags had an tatoo that read “I’m an Asshole.”

At the time it was just a nondescript shadow on an x-ray. But as it has turned out, it was something intrinsic about Rod — a major symptom that we should have paid attention to, and probably would have except that the only alternative was Jim Ryan, who is not related to George Ryan, but of course his last name and the fact that he was a Republican probably confused a lot of people.

And so, six years and Judy Twinkletoes later, we have yet another lame-duck governor who is trying very hard to fly anyway. But this time the Springfield House must be out of breath after actually doing something about it.

Are we turning a corner here? Probably not; this is Illinois. But it’s nice to play pretend sometimes. After all, Blags and the Illinois Legislature have been doing that for years.