’til the stars all burn away

It was June when they met. The lovers month, when days are long and lazy, nights are short and sweet and full of fireflies. June when, as the poets say, ‘each mocking day doth fleece / A blossom, and lay bare her poverty.’ The twelfth day of June, an ordinary day, a day like any other,  part of Bicycle Week in Ireland.

But they weren’t in Ireland, these star-crossed lovers; they were in Singapore, a city of romance and intrigue, a city where love blooms like lilacs — if lilacs bloomed in June, a sultry city where secrets are shared in silent rooms, a city of tender desires, where there is no sin in sinning, a city like no other, with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government that would make any heart sing. Ah, Singapore.

We could have danced all night and still have begged for more. We could have spread our wings, and done a thousand things we’ve never done before.

Their’s was a love that never should have been. But how could it not? Two men, born leaders, masculine physiques, both capable of making bold hair decisions. How could they not fall in love? It was fate, it was kismet, it was inevitable.

Yes, it was Fate, which steals along with silent tread / Found oftenest in what least we dread. Did they dread their meeting? Did they dread their parting? Who can say? And does it matter? In the end, does it matter if they could have known what would come of their meeting? There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known. Nothing you can see that isn’t shown. There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. It’s easy. All you need is Love.

Ah love. In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities. No nuclear obstacle is too radioactive to overcome. Ain’t no mountain high enough. Or as the poet Bieber said, “Swag, swag, swag on you. Chillin’ by the fire while we eatin’ fondue.”

Fate brought them together. Can Fate keep them apart? Fate does what it does. But even if the stars prevent these two from sharing pomade in the morning, surely they don’t regret their love. Are they sorry. Yes, perhaps…but if there’s one thing we know about love, it’s this: love means never having to say you’re sorry.

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o manafort, manafort! wherefore art thou?

Well, there you go. Mueller got Manafort. Major victory for the Russia investigation. The fifth and most important member of the Trump presidential campaign to plead guilty to criminal activity. This has GOT to be making heads explode in FreeRepublicLand, right? I mean, c’mon — Trump’s campaign manager? Surely FreeRepublic will be discussing Manafort’s decision to cooperate with the Special Counsel. Right?

So, first page of ‘Latest Articles’ and what’ve we got? There’s a post about Comrade Trump holding an event in Las Vegas — okay, so what. One about women getting tattoos of Ruth Bader Ginsburg — that’s cool. Two posts about something Trump tweeted about Obama saying he’d visited 57 states — sure, that clearly needs discussing. Something about the Dallas Cowboys having low ratings — probably because of Kaepernick. A post called ‘Hot Mic Catches Tender Moment Between Trump and Melania’ — I don’t even want to know what constitutes a ‘tender moment’ for Trump. But no Manafort. Maybe on the next page.

A tender moment.

Okay, page two. Something about Pakistan banning foreign cheese — who knew radical conservatives were fromage fanciers? A post about Ronald Reagan’s letter to his dying father-in-law — probably something inspirational; I hate inspirational shit. One about Trump ‘pushing back’ against his divorce lawyer, who is apparently writing a book about being Trump’s divorce lawyer — and Trump responds: “I’ve had nothing but victories, so it’s sad that somebody you can’t take to Washington for obvious reasons wants to write a book.” Not sure what counts as a ‘victory’ in divorce settlements, but okay. A couple of posts on the opponents to the Kavanaugh nomination — it appears they were loud and disruptive and not at all respectful. Maybe they should have just taken a knee? Still nothing on Manafort.

Imran Saleh and a 22 pound havarti in his artisanal cheese shop in Lahore.

Page three. Post about the Texas Board of Education removing Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller from history books — apparently a good thing because Keller was “a raving left-wing, flagburning Socialist”. Something about Trump adding still more tariffs on Chinese goods — yay America. An angry post about the Women’s National Basketball Association champions not being interested in an invitation to the White House — this is evidence that “leftists ruin everything: politics, sports, journalism, academia, the workplace, sex.” One about a guy in Little Rock who waved a ‘blue line’ flag outside a Nike shop — the ‘blue line’ flag is a ‘pro-police’ flag which I guess is a response to Kaepernick, because all politics are now about a quarterback who hasn’t played a game since New Year’s Day 2017. There’s a post about looting after the hurricane, and another declaring Kamala Harris will never be president, and still nothing about Manafort.

Some guy in Arkansas waving a blue line flag in front of a Nike shop for America.

Nothing on page four, nothing on page five, nothing on page six. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. It’s beginning to look like nobody named Paul Manafort actually exists in FreeRepublicLand.

Paul Manafort, Trump Campaign Manager & Felon

Until, at long last, on page seven of ‘Latest Articles’ we see this:

Manafort Implicates Tony Podesta — the Clinton-Connected Super Lobbyist

And this:

Now that Manafort has pleaded guilty, Mueller HAS to indict the Podesta Brothers

So nailing Manafort is only important because it possibly maybe inculpates the brother of the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign whose email account was hacked by the Russians?

Reading the comments in both posts, it’s clear that in the eyes of FreeRepublic the Podesta brothers, evil though they are, aren’t the real criminals. The REAL criminals who colluded with Russia are two noted communists, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

It’s been suggested Hillary and Barack also colluded with Sauron. And slept with orcs. Pre-teen orcs. In the cellar of a lembas pizza parlor in Rivendell. I mean, isn’t it obvious? But the Fake News will never report this.

 

life just be that way, i guess

Every so often, on a regular goddamn basis, I am reminded that The Wire wasn’t just the best cop show ever made, but a modern oracle for understanding These United States. The opening scene of the very first episode is the most concise, most hard-boiled, most accurate summation of how the world works in this nation.

Here is a True Thing, a thing The Wire gets right: Snot Boogie is always going to steal the money. Always, every time. But here is another True Thing, something that reminds you that The Wire is fiction: in real life, Snot Boogie often gets away with the money. Not every time, but often enough that snatching the pot and running is considered a business practice.

Maybe you should watch this before we go any further. Little over two-and-a-half minutes. It’s all there.

Delaware North. A privately owned global food service and hospitality company, owned by the Jacobs family, named for the location of its headquarters building on the corner of Delaware Avenue and North Street in Buffalo. Over fifty thousand employees, annual revenues of over three billion dollars. Three billion dollars. That’s serious coin.

In 1993, Delaware North won the contract to provide concession services for Yosemite National Park. We’re talking food, beverage, souvenirs — a sweet deal. But they lost that sweet deal to another company in 2015. That’s how the game of craps works, right? You make your point, you keep the dice; you don’t, the dice get passed to the next player. Delaware North is out, Aramark has the dice.

Well, that’s how it works in a fair game, even in a Baltimore back alley. Now imagine if Delaware North passed the dice, but said that in order to keep playing you had to pay them if you used the words ‘dice’ or ‘craps’ or ‘roll’ or any numeral from two to twelve. If somebody pulled that shit in Baltimore, his ass would get whupped.

But that’s basically what Delaware North did with Yosemite National Park. During the twenty-two years they had the concession contract, they began to trademark the names and images of the iconic landmarks inside Yosemite. They trademarked the name of ‘Curry Village’ and ‘Ahwahnee Hotel’ and even ‘Yosemite National Park.’ Hell, they trademarked the likeness of Half Dome. These greedy motherfuckers trademarked the phrase ‘Go climb a rock.’

Sorry, dude, can’t say that no more.

And when they lost the contract, Delaware North sued the National Park Service for trademark infringement, demanding US$50 million in compensation. That suit is still unresolved, but in the meantime the park decided to rename the hotel, the village, and some other sites. You can’t stay in the Ahwahnee Hotel anymore. Now you have to stay in the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. I mean, it’s just a name…but damn.

But wait…it gets worse. Of course it does. Everything gets worse in the Comrade Trump administration. About a year ago, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke created (and I am NOT making this up) the ‘Made in America’ Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee “to tackle some of our biggest public lands infrastructure and access challenges.” That’s ZinkeSpeak for ‘How to make rich motherfuckers even richer by letting them fuck with public lands.’

“Life just be that way, I guess.”

Guess who’s on that advisory committee? If you guessed Jerry Jacobs, the billionaire CEO of Delaware North, you’d be right. Only in the Trump administration would you find a greedhead like Jacobs, who is suing an agency of the Department of the Interior, formally named an advisor to that department.

Why is Jacobs on the committee? According to Zinke, he offers “unique insight that is often lost in the federal government.” That’s ZinkeSpeak for “Life just be that way, I guess.” Jerry Jacobs is what you get if you let Snot Boogie keep stealing the pot. So why do we even let him in the game?

“Got to. This America, man.”

sputtering bastards

It didn’t take long, did it. For the Republican sputtering to begin, I mean.

Yesterday we witnessed an Olympic caliber exhibition of synchronized justice. Comrade Trump’s former campaign manager AND his personal attorney simultaneously became felons. It was certainly the most news-intensive 20 minutes of my long and semi-wicked life. It put me right on the cusp of news overload.

And the response from Republicans in Congress? Sputtering. “But but but neither of these cases has anything to do with Russia.” “But but but this has nothing to do with collusion.” “But but but but…”

These fucking guys, I declare. But hey, technically they’re right. They’re cowardly dissembling ethics-free sacks of horseshit, but technically they’re right. Manafort’s convictions aren’t directly related to Russia or Trump. And Cohen’s guilty plea has nothing whatsoever to do with illegal Russian meddling into the election.

Cohen’s plea is an altogether different sort of illegal meddling into the election. But hey, guess what. It’s still illegally meddling in the damned election. And Cohen, bless his criminal little heart, directly implicates Comrade Donald J. Trump as knowingly and willfully participating in that illegal election meddling.

There’s some shit Republicans can’t just sputter away.

Here’s the thing: Cohen’s guilty plea incriminates Trump in a conspiracy to influence the election that’s completely separate from the Russian conspiracy to influence the election. That’s TWO distinct criminal conspiracies to influence the election. Two. A Russian criminal conspiracy AND a domestic campaign criminal conspiracy. And since we already have a Special Counsel to investigate the Russian conspiracy, it only makes sense that we should appoint a completely separate Special Counsel to investigate the campaign conspiracy.

I doubt that will happen. Certainly not while Republicans control Congress. Certainly not while Republicans run the Department of Justice. They’re much too busy with all that sputtering.

ADDENDUM — As I was writing this, a friend asked me if I thought this might lead to articles of impeachment. And no, I don’t think it will. It should, but c’mon…we’re talking about Republicans in Congress, who have turned hypocrisy into pure performance art. Let’s consider some of the high crimes and misdemeanors Republicans considered impeachable when Barack Obama was POTUS.

— Republican Darrell Issa said it was an impeachable offense for Obama to offer an administration job to Joe Sestak to persuade Sestak to drop out of the PA Senate primary election.
— Republican Michael Burgess at a rally said Obama needed to be impeached in order to prevent him from “pushing his agenda”.
— Republican Jon Kyl said there might be ‘shenanigans’ involved in the Obama immigration policy that would be impeachable.
— Several Republicans suggested there was an impeachable cover-up in the Benghazi incident that somehow escaped discovery in the ten separate Republican investigations.
— Republican Tom Coburn said Obama was “perilously close” to committing high crimes and misdemeanors by allegedly ordering USCIS employees to “ignore background checks for immigrants” though there’s no indication Obama ever suggested such an order.
— Republican Blake Farenthold told a rally that Obama should be impeached over the conspiracy theories relating to his birth certificate.
— Republican Kerry Bentivolio said he’d like to write articles of impeachment based on the notion that the Obama administration had directed the IRS to target conservative groups.
— Republicans on the House Judiciary committee held a hearing on “The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws”, which they viewed as an attempt to begin justifying impeachment proceedings.
— Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature (and seriously, I’m not making this up) filed a measure asking Oklahoma members of Congress to impeach Obama (and also the Attorney General and the Secretary of Education) over the decision to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

I suppose we should be grateful they never accused Obama of collusion with Kenya to influence the 2008 election. Although we’re talking about Republicans in Congress, so there’s still time for that.

adding insult to the office

If you read or listen to the news in the morning, it’s always distressing to wake up to the reality that Comrade Trump is still POTUS. But lawdy, some days are just more difficult than others. This is one of them.

Trump is rage-tweet-vomiting again. He began with a three-tweet rant quoting Tom Fitton of the right-wing group Judicial Watch:

The Strzok firing is as much about the Mueller operation as anything else. There would be no Mueller Special Councel to investigate so called collusion but for the machinations of Strzok & his colleagues at the top levels of the FBI. We know this guy was corrupt and had anti-Trump animus. Strzok and others at the FBI should be criminally investigated for the way the conducted this investigation. Instead, Mueller is pretending nothing went wrong. He used Strzok, he used the Clinton DNC Dossier…the whole thing should be shut down. The Strzok firing shows that the fundamental underpinnings of the investigation were corrupt. It should be shut down by the courts or by honest prosecutors.

It’s hard to even know where to start with this wall of bullshit. You need an abacus to keep track of all the errors and outright lies. Was Strzok instrumental in creating the Special Counsel investigation? Nope. Is there any indication that Strzok is corrupt? Nope. In fact, the Inspector General report clearly stated there’s no evidence that Strzok’s dislike of Trump influenced any investigative decisions.

In fact, the ONLY accurate information in all of that is this: Peter Strzok was fired from the FBI. And let’s face it, that was essentially a political act to punish a career law enforcement professional for the sin of thinking Comrade Trump is unfit to be the President of the United States.

Tom Fitton

But this is pretty much what you expect from Trump and Tom Fitton. Who IS this Fitton guy? He’s on the Board of Directors of Judicial Watch, which describes itself as a ‘watchdog’ group. You’d think, as a frequent FOX News analyst on judicial behavior and as a member of Judicial Watch, Fitton must be a lawyer. Or at least has a background in law. Or maybe some significant professional experience in law enforcement. Or a graduate degree in some area of criminal justice. Or even an undergrad degree in a related field. But no. Tom Fitton has a B.A. in English. Oh, and he was a talk radio host on a conservative station.

Fitton is probably best known for his ‘work’ on the Benghazi attack. He posited the theory that the attack was actually part of an Obama administration conspiracy. Obama, he claimed, wanted Libyan militants to kidnap Ambassador Stevens. That would allow Obama to do a prisoner swap — Stevens for terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman (the blind cleric convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing). It’s not clear why Obama would go to such elaborate lengths to free Abdel-Rahman, but it probably had something to do with him being a wily secret Muslim. Unfortunately, Stevens was accidentally killed during the assault, so the plot failed. In an interview, Fitton admitted there was no actual evidence to substantiate his claim — but he asserted that lack of evidence was, in itself, evidence of the Obama cover-up.

The sneering, volatile, cruel, self-centered, would-be tyrant who occupies the White House.

This is the sort of person Comrade Trump looks to for expertise and support. Every day Trump occupies the White House is an insult to the nation, every day he remains in office further degrades the presidency, every day he attacks the institutions of democracy is an offense against the men and women who work to protect it.

And every morning I wake up and read what new outrage Comrade Trump has committed is a gut-churning reminder that we can’t for a moment stop resisting.

putin’s pocket

Had a buddy tell me “I can’t get interested in the Manafort trial, since it’s not about Trump.” I told him, “Dude, of course it’s about Trump.”

I sorta kinda lied to him. I mean, it IS about Trump since it’s about the Russians, and you can’t throw a ruble without hitting Comrade Trump. But it’s not directly about Trump. At this point in the trial, it’s as much about Vladimir Putin’s pockets — and who Putin has tucked away in those pockets — as anything else. Allow me to ‘splain, since Rick Gates has finished testifying. Just follow the numbers.

Rick Gates, who 1) worked for Paul Manafort for several years before 2) becoming Trump’s deputy campaign director, and who has 3) already pleaded guilty to a handful of felonies, testified that he helped Manafort, 4) who was Trump’s actual campaign director, 5) commit a buttload of felonies by 6) covering up Manafort’s numerous overseas bank accounts in which Manafort 7) hid and laundered the millions of dollars he earned by 8) helping get Putin-supported Viktor Yanukovych elected as president of Ukraine before 9) Yanukovych was run out of his country for 10) stealing hundreds of millions of dollars, after which 11) Yanukovych found asylum in Russia, where 12) he bought a house for US$52 million. Okay, that bit about Yanukovych buying a house really isn’t relevant to the case, but it shows what sort of company Manafort keeps.

Putin and Yanukovych

Gates also 13) helped Manafort illegally obtain 14) more than US$20 million dollars in bank loans by 15) falsely inflating his income and 16) failing to disclose debts, including so-called ‘loans’ totaling around $60 million from 17) Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is usually described as 18) Putin’s favorite industrialist. Loans without a repayment date are 19) a common way of laundering money.

Putin and Deripaska

So what we have is Gates and Manafort siphoning off a lot of illicit coin from Russians. What does that have to do with Comrade Trump? Good question. Here’s the answer.

While Manafort was running the Trump campaign, some unidentified campaign aides pressured the Republican National Committee to make a change — the ONLY change the Trump campaign insisted on — to the official Republican Party platform. The change was to remove a call for the U.S. to provide arms to Ukraine in response to the Russia invasion, occupation, and annexation of the Crimea province. Why did the Trump folks want to make that change? The answer seems to be: because Putin wanted Crimea.

Gates and Manafort

So here’s the thing: Gates testified that he was in the pocket of Manafort, who was in the pockets of the Ukrainian Yanukovych and oligarch Deripaska, both of whom are in the pocket of Vladimir Putin. LOTS of evidence suggests that pocket is also occupied by Comrade Trump.

So, yeah. Dude, of course the Manafort trial is about Trump.