petty, cruel, selfish

In the world of espionage, there are spies — and then there are spies. The majority of spies operate under an official cover. They may actually be agents of an intelligence service — the CIA, for example — but they’re usually placed in legitimate positions in an ordinary government department or agency. A CIA agent might be placed as an admin clerk in an embassy in Turkey, or a courier in a consular station in Poland.

Agents with an official cover may engage in covert work, their espionage activity may be dangerous, but they’re protected. They have diplomatic immunity. If they’re caught engaging in espionage, the agent may get roughed up during interrogation, but the most severe punishment will likely be expulsion from the host nation.

There are also agents operating under non-official cover. These are NOC agents. They have no official association with any government agency — and, in fact, are trained to deny any connection in the event they’re caught. They’re not protected by diplomatic immunity. If they get caught, they’re fucked. Deeply fucked. The nation they work for isn’t going to come to their aid, and they know that. They’re subject to long periods of incarceration, possibly torture, possibly execution. Hell, if their cover is blown, they may even be assassinated on the street.

NOC agents are serious spies.

I’m nattering on about this because it’s being reported that Comrade Trump is planning to pardon Scooter Libby.

Cheney and Libby

You may be asking yourself, “Who the hell is Scooter Libby?” It’s a good question. He was a disciple of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served in the Bush 2 administration. President George W. Bush was, by almost all accounts, looking for a reason to invade Iraq. He and his staff settled on the claim that Iraq illegally possessed weapons of mass destruction, and was attempting to obtain more such weapons. As part of that claim, the Bush administration accused Iraq of attempting to buy a form of processed uranium from the country of Niger.

Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador to Gabon who had served in diplomatic posts in five different African nations and was very familiar with African intrigue, was sent to Niger to investigate the issue. He found there was absolutely no merit to the Bush administration’s claim.

Shortly thereafter, a conservative columnist with the Washington Post wrote an editorial casting doubt on Wilson’s findings. In that editorial, he stated that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame — an energy analyst for Brewster Jennings & Associates — was actually a CIA operative. That was accurate, but incomplete. Plame was, in fact, a covert NOC agent working on issues of nuclear proliferation. Not only that, Brewster Jennings was a front company created for, and operated by, the CIA. By divulging Plame’s CIA affiliation, her life was put in jeopardy, as were the lives of everybody working for Brewster Jennings (most of whom were unaware it was a CIA front). Every covert espionage operation being conducted by agents at Brewster Jennings had to be scrapped.

NOC operative Valerie Plame testifying

Who told that columnist that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative? Nobody was ever charged with that crime, but it was accepted knowledge that Scooter Libby leaked the information. Why? As political payback for Joseph Wilson’s undermining of the weapons of mass destruction claim.

Libby was charged, tried, and convicted of four felony counts related to the crime. He was sentenced to thirty months in prison. President Bush commuted that sentence, so Libby escaped most of his punishment. Bush, however, refused to pardon Libby for the crime.

Comrade Trump is now, apparently, planning to do what Bush didn’t. Why? Who the hell knows for sure why Trump does anything? But it’s probably no coincidence that one of Libby’s most vocal supporters was John Bolton, who Trump has just nominated as his national security adviser.

Oh, and there’s this: guess who made the decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Valerie Plame case? James Comey.

Would anybody be at all surprised that Trump, purely as political payback, would pardon a man who, also purely as political payback, outed a NOC CIA operative and destroyed an entire CIA front company as well as an untold number of covert operations? Nope.

That’s classic Trump. Petty, cruel, selfish, and willing to place his own wants above the needs and safety of the nation.

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about that witch hunt

There’s something really interesting about the raid on the office of Michael Cohen, Comrade Trump’s attorney — something that’s not getting the attention it deserves. Most of the attention is focused on the raid itself.

I suppose I should spend a moment on the very obvious things about the raid that are interesting. Like the fact that it’s not a raid. It’s raids. Multiple. The FBI raided his office, his home, and a hotel room.

Then there’s this: it’s really uncommon for the State to seize client material from an attorney. The attorney-client privilege is pretty sacrosanct; it doesn’t get cast aside easily. But there are a few exceptions to that privilege, one of which is that discussions between an attorney and a client involve committing or covering up a crime are NOT privileged. They’re not protected.

So for the FBI to conduct those raids, they first had to convince a prosecutor that they knew with a high degree of certainty that 1) the material they were seeking was evidence of a probable crime or cover-up being discussed by Cohen and Comrade Trump, and that 2) they’d find the material in the locations they were searching.

Attorney Michael Cohen

But here’s what’s getting overlooked: the name of the prosecutor who got a judge to issue that search warrant. Geoffrey Berman.

Who the hell is Geoffrey Berman? At present, he’s the interim United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Why ‘interim’? That’s an interesting story. The office had been held by Preet Bharara, who the NY Times described as “the nation’s most aggressive and outspoken prosecutor of public corruption and Wall Street crime.” When Trump was elected, all 46 U.S. Attorneys were asked to submit letters of resignation. Trump, however, apparently met personally with Bharara and asked him to stay on.

This was a potential problem for Comrade Trump since his financial empire is based in New York City, which is part of the Southern District of New York. That meant any financial investigation into Trump would be conducted by Bharara. Marc Kasowitz, another of Trump’s personal attorneys, publicly stated he warned Trump that Bharara would ‘get him’ on corruption issues. Trump then attempted to call Bharara, who refused to accept his phone call, saying it would be inappropriate for him to discuss legal matters involving the president with the president. He was fired 22 hours later.

Comrade Trump then met with a number of attorneys to decide who would be the next United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. It’s wildly inappropriate for the president — or any government official — to interview attorneys who might be responsible for investigating his business dealings. But wildly inappropriate is Trump’s calling card. And who did Trump select for that office? A Republican who’d been a partner in the law firm Rudy Giuiliani worked for. A Republican who’d contributed US$5400 to Trump’s presidential campaign.

Geoffrey Berman, interim United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

That’s right: Geoffrey Berman.

Think about that for a moment. It means 1) a U.S. Attorney who was essentially hand-picked by Comrade Trump was 2) presented with evidence convincing enough for him to believe there was sufficient probable cause that 3) Trump and his attorney had engaged in communications involving either a criminal act or covering up a criminal act that he felt 4) compelled to ask for and convince a judge to 5) issue a warrant to search three locations where evidence of that crime or cover-up would be found.

That is astonishing. And I mean astonishing in the earliest sense of the term (okay, for word geeks: astonish, from the Latin ex, meaning ‘out’ plus tonare, meaning ‘thunder’; in other words, thunderstruck — staggered and dazed by the auditory shock wave created by lightning).

Comrade Trump keeps calling this a “total witch hunt.” If so, that would mean Michael Cohen is a witch’s familiar and Trump is a fucking witch. But c’mon, it’s not a witch hunt. Witches deserve more respect than that. After all, the Wiccan Rede says ‘An it harm none, do what ye will.’ That certainly excludes Trump. No decent coven would accept him as a member. Even if he was a witch. Which he’s not.

UPDATE: It appears I got ahead of myself…and ahead of the facts. It appears Berman DID NOT initiate the search warrants for Cohens office and elsewhere. Although the search was executed by the Southern District of New York, it’s being reported that Berman was recused from the process. It’s not clear at the moment whether he recused himself or was recused by his superiors. In any event, the warrant application came from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The problem with these fast-moving events is that…well, they’re fast-moving.

in which i confess i was wrong about trump’s cabinet

I was mistaken. In the past I’ve referred to Comrade Trump’s appointments as the Cabinet of Nazgûl. I was wrong.

I mean, it seemed appropriate initially. After all, the Nazgûl were nine men (men, what a surprise) who had “obtained glory and great wealth” in life before succumbing to the dark, corrupt attraction of Sauron’s power. And like the characters in Tolkien’s novel, these men “one by one, sooner or later, according to their native strength and to the good or evil of their wills in the beginning, they fell under the thraldom” of Comrade Trump.

But here’s the thing about the Nazgûl: the reason they were Sauron’s “most terrible servants” was that they were competent. They were good at their jobs. They understood their role, and they fulfilled it professionally. That can’t be said of Trump’s current crop of advisers. These guys would be best described as cartoon villains — except that they have actual power.

I was wrong; this is NOT Comrade Trump’s cabinet.

John Bolton, a certified conspiracy crank who makes Yosemite Sam look like a damned diplomat, is going to be the new national security adviser. This is a guy George W. Bush couldn’t get confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations despite having a Republican-controlled Senate. This fucking guy has advocated the preemptive bombing of both North Korea AND Iran, because that worked so well in Iraq. This beef-headed motherfucker has publicly suggested the Russian hack of the DNC might have been a false flag operation by the Obama Administration. Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee revealed that this deceitful sonofabitch bullied intelligence analysts into saying Cuba — Cuba, an island nation whose claim to fame is its ability to keep a 1944 Dodge in running order — had developed a sophisticated bio-weapons program. And Comrade Trump thinks it’s a good idea to make this canker-brained bullshit artist his national security adviser — his third in fourteen months.

John Bolton, National Security Adviser in waiting

This is clearly a disastrous decision. Which means it’s perfectly in keeping with Trump’s decision-making process. It’s the same process that resulted in putting Kellyanne Conway in charge of the opioid crisis because…well, who the hell knows why she was put in charge. She was probably in the room at the time.

Is there any good news in Bolton’s appointment? Yeah, sorta kinda. Bolton probably won’t last very long in his position. He draws too much attention, and Trump wants all the attention focused on himself. Also, Bolton criticized Comrade Trump’s handling of Russia, saying, “Trump got to experience Putin looking him in the eyes and lying to him, denying Russian interference in the election.” I can’t imagine Comrade Trump putting up with that sort of talk for any length of time. I suspect Trump will kick him into the canyon in the not too distant future.

The only saving grace of the Trump administration to this point is that Trump is too fucking incompetent, too fucking stupid, too fucking ignorant, and way too fucking uninterested in anything other than himself to do Sauronesque level damage to the nation. We don’t have a Dark Lord; what we have instead is a cheap-ass, shallow gilt tinplate, jumped up Grima Wormtongue — a lying coward who abuses women, steals from others, and kisses Vladimir Saruman’s ass.

Jeebus on toast — you know, this used to be a halfway decent country.

all caps

In a startling revelation yesterday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence / Russia Investigation (HPSCI) reached the very same conclusion they’d reached before the investigation began. Comrade Trump, who had independently reached that very same conclusion before, during, and after the investigation into his collusion with Russian operatives, quietly celebrated his victory with a tweet.

THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

So, there you go. Nobody could have predicted this. So many people were under the false impression that the guilty pleas of three Trump campaign officials for lying to the FBI about Russian involvement, plus the guilty plea of the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch for the same crime, plus the guilty plea of a guy who helped Russian operatives set up false identities and bank accounts in order to create websites supporting Trump, plus the indictment of Trump’s former campaign manager on a host of conspiracy charges for his involvement with the Russian government, plus the indictments of 13 Russians who provided pro-Trump content to the illegally obtained websites, plus the indictments of three Russian corporations that funded the criminal operations suggested there MIGHT have been a wee bit of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But I guess not.

TIDES UNAFFECTED BY MOON, ACCORDING TO HPSCI REPORT.

Despite directly contradicting the conclusion drawn by all 17 of the federal agencies that comprise the U.S. Intelligence Community, the HPSCI is confident Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election was fair and even-handed and totally didn’t favor one candidate (like, say, Comrade Trump) over another. It was bipartisan election meddling. Except for the sources in Russia who provided anti-Trump information to the former MI6 anti-Trump operative who was being paid by anti-Trump/pro-Hillary Democrats, who really ought to be investigated. Also, Benghazi.

HPSCI DETERMINES SPIDERS NOT AT ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THOSE DEAD MOTHS.

Democrats on the HPSCI whined that the investigation ended prematurely, claiming many witnesses weren’t called to testify and their requests for subpoenas for witnesses and evidence were denied by the Republican majority. Republican heroes responded to that partisan vicious attack by observing there was no point in issuing subpoenas to witnesses who weren’t going to testify voluntarily, and besides they probably didn’t have any real evidence anyway, so there.

ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTION BETWEEN ZOMBIES AND CHEWED UP CORPSES, SAYS HPSCI.

Clearly, there’s no point in the Democrats on HPSCI issuing their own report, now that HPSCI has released their findings. And it’s obviously a waste of time for the Senate Intelligence Committee to continue its own investigation, as if they’d reach a different conclusion. And why hasn’t Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of Trump Haters been arrested yet?

HPSCI REPORT: STORMY DANIELS PROBABLY ACTUALLY A MAN (WHO TOTALLY DIDN’T HAVE SEX WITH AWESOME DONALD J. TRUMP, WHO REMAINS FAITHFUL TO HIS LOVING, ADORING DAUGHTER WIFE).

Now that we can put this whole Russia nonsense behind us, maybe we can get back to the business of making America great again by cutting taxes, deporting illegal brown people, and leveling mountaintops in search of beautiful clean coal.

No puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet.

MAGA. Build the wall. Lock her up. The president has complete confidence in Secretary of State Tillerson the new guy. More Norwegians, please. Somebody fetch me a taco bowl.

legged

Okay, I let myself get sidetracked a couple of days ago when I wrote about Stormy Daniels and her (totally true, c’mon) allegations of boinking Comrade Donald Trump. There was a thing I wanted to say — an important thing — but I lost track of it on account of there are SO MANY crazy aspects of this story.

The important thing isn’t that Trump boinked Stormy (well, that’s kind of important), and it’s not that he’s lied about it (well, that’s kind of important too), and it’s not even that he had his lawyer pay hush money to keep her from talking about it (well, okay, yeah, that’s pretty important too, but just wait). The important thing is this: Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997).

You can see why that slipped my mind, right? Here’s why that’s important: Clinton v. Jones established that a sitting POTUS has no immunity from civil law litigation against him for acts done before taking office and unrelated to the office. Like, say, boinking a porn star. Clinton v. Jones forced President Bill Clinton to answer questions under oath. The result was that Clinton wasn’t entirely honest in his testimony, which led to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, which led to the Republican impeaching his ass.

This is important because it means Comrade Trump can be deposed under oath, just like Horndog Bill was. Trump can get away with lying to the news media, he can get away with lying to the general public, he can get away with lying to other politicians, he can even get away with lying to his various wives. But he can’t get away with lying to the courts.

That’s the thing I forgot to talk about. If Stormy’s lawsuit goes through, Comrade Trump will likely be forced to either publicly admit to cheating on his wife with a porn star and paying hush money to keep her quiet about it OR he’ll lie under oath.

Either way, Trump gets legged.

Editorial Note: legged — an old gamer term describing the act of disabling or removing a creature’s leg, forcing it to become prone, thereby reducing its defensive strength, making it much easier to dispatch.

insert stormy metaphor here

I am beginning to like Stormy Daniels. Not as a person, because I’ve never met her and I don’t know anything about her as a person. She might be witty and charming and a great Scrabble player, she might be stupid and greedy and spider-hearted. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

I’m beginning to like Stormy Daniels because she’s refusing to shut up. It doesn’t matter to me why she’s refusing to shut up. Maybe because she’s looking for a bigger payday, maybe because she’s interested in Truth and Justice, maybe because she’s polarizing and won’t shut up because people keep telling her she should shut up. I’m beginning to like her because she’s basically telling the President of These United States “You’re not the boss of me.”

By now, everybody knows most of this basic set of facts about Stormy (I’m going to call her Stormy because it’s so much fun to write):

  1. Comrade Donald J. Trump cheated on his third wife (with whom he’d cheated on his second wife, with whom he’d cheated on his first wife) with a porn actress shortly after his wife gave birth to their unfortunately-named son. This was in 2006.
  2. Stormy claims to have continued to get horizontal with Trump for at least a year.
  3. In 2011, Stormy talked about the…should we call it an affair? I don’t know. That term came into practice for an ongoing sexual relationship back in the early 18th century, when English-speaking philanderers described what they were doing as affaires de coeur to distinguish it from just fucking around. But what the hell, let’s say it was an affair. Maybe these two crazy kids actually cared for each other in a deep, spiritual, meaningful…okay, no, not an affair. Anyway, our Stormy talked to In Touch magazine about fucking Trump in a variety of geographic locations. The article wasn’t published. Nobody seems to know why.
  4. In the fall of 2016, shortly before the election, Stormy began to speak to some news venues about having boinked candidate Comrade Trump.
  5. In October of that year, she signed a non-disclosure agreement in which she pledged NOT to discuss having boinked Trump. She was paid US$130,000 for signing the document.
  6. A couple of months ago that NDA became public knowledge thanks to the Wall Street Journal. After which In Touch published a transcript of their interview with Stormy, after which she began to make the talk show circuit but was very coy about her affair boinking Trump but hinted she was limited by the NDA, after which she did a strip club tour, after which Trump’s lawyer admitted he’d paid Stormy the US$130 thou while insisting Trump knew absolutely nothing whatsoever about anything at all, after which the entire world started laughing uproariously, after which the lawyer for Trump’s lawyer got a restraining order forbidding our poor Stormy from talking about boinking Comrade Trump because of the NDA, after which Stormy asked a court to declare the NDA was void because Comrade Trump didn’t sign it so she ought to be able to talk about boinking Trump, after which Stormy’s lawyer went on a morning talk show and basically said “Look, Stormy totally fucked the guy, okay?” and hinted there might be physical evidence of that. Like a dress with DNA maybe. Or photos. Which really doesn’t bear thinking about.

In other words, this is a cheap, sordid, thoroughly despicable series of events — pretty much like everything that’s happened in the Trump administration. Or, for that matter, in Trump’s entire cheap, sordid, thoroughly despicable life.

Donny and Stormy, sitting in a tree…

Should we care about this? Is this any of our business? Does it really matter whether or not Trump is a serial philanderer (he totally is)? Isn’t this really a personal matter between Trump and his wife? Or his wives? Or his wives and various mistresses and casual sex partners? Did we care that Bill Clinton got a blowjob (is it ‘blowjob’ or ‘blow job’?) from an intern?

Well, yeah, actually we did care. We (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘me and a whole lot of other liberals’) surely did care. Not so much about Clinton’s sex life, but about the abuse of power. A lot of us acknowledged that Clinton was a pretty effective president, but a fairly loathsome reprobate.

I don’t think a lot of folks are surprised or very upset by the fact that Comrade Trump used his wealth and fame to get laid (nor is anybody all that shocked by the astonishing hypocrisy of the evangelical community’s response to it). But paying hush money? And being really incompetent at paying hush money? And after incompetently paying hush money, he didn’t even get the hush? I mean, c’mon. How are we supposed to trust and respect a president who can’t even get a porn actress to hush up about their affair intercontinental boinking? Keeping porn stars from talking, that’s basic Billionaire 101, right?

Look, nobody expects anything remotely like dignity from a guy who referred to the size of his dick in a presidential debate. And nobody really expects honesty from a guy who lies about…well, everything. But I should point out — you know, in the interest of fairness and all that — that Comrade Trump has denied having sex with Stormy.

So, this is what Comrade Trump wants you to believe: 1) Trump’s personal lawyer created a limited liability corporation 2) whose only purpose was to pay Stormy US$130,000 3) out of the lawyer’s own pocket, 4) without any discussion at all with Trump, 5) to prevent her from saying she’d been boinking Trump, 6) which isn’t true.

It’s okay. I’m laughing too.

shit is broke, folks

You guys! Remember when Comrade Trump was reading his State of the Union speech out loud and said, “I call upon on all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people.” Remember that? And remember when he said, “Let’s come together, set politics aside and finally get the job done.” C’mon, it was just a few days ago, you surely remember that, right?

Yeah, didn’t nobody believe him. Partly on account of he was just reading something somebody else wrote, but mostly on account of we knew it would only be a few days (or hours) before he was insulting and demeaning folks who disagreed with him. Or folks who just didn’t praise him enough. Or folks who were women. Or black. And sure enough, here’s Trump this morning:

Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!

You’re probably thinking something like “Yeah, well, Trump’s a dick.” Or “Yeah, well, it’s Monday and this is pretty much what Trump does on Mondays because he’s a dick.” Or “Why doesn’t some adult take the phone away from that mucilaginous motherfucker?”

This guy — notta dick.

But see, here’s the thing: Comrade Trump has just accused somebody — wait, not just your basic somebody, but an actual ranking member of Congress — of committing a felony. We’re talking about the unauthorized disclosure of classified information here. You guys, that’s a direct violation of 18 U.S.C. § 798. You pull shit like that, and the Feds can arrest your ass, prosecute your ass, and if your ass gets convicted, toss your ass in prison for ten years. This is what those of us who’ve done time in the criminal justice biz call a big fucking deal.

If any other president in the history of These United States had publicly accused a member of Congress of doing shit like this, there’d be…okay, I don’t know what there’d be, on account of no other president in the history of These United States has ever been that fucking stupid or that fucking reckless. But after a year in office, we’ve become so inured to shit like this that we think, “Yeah, well, Trump’s a dick” and we move on with our day.

This guy — total dick.

Shit is broke, people. Shit is broke and it’s going to take a whole lot of fixing up to unbroke it. And we can’t even start unbroking it until we kick Trump’s Kremlin-shaped ass out of office.

So organize, you guys. Organize and resist. Resist openly and often. And vote in November. Vote for the candidate who is least likely to be a dick. Let’s make politics as dick-free as possible.