[orders beer]

— I mean, this Chinese massage parlor sex thing?
— What about it?
— I mean, well, it’s an actual thing. It sounds like a bad movie, but there’s an actual Chinese massage parlor sex thing. Young Chinese women living in the US as sex slaves, what the hell, you know?
— I know.
— I mean, we’ve got President But Her Emails nattering like a nutjob about South American gangs bringing bound and gagged women over the border five or six at a time in the backs of vans, and ten miles north you’ve got actual real no-shit sex trafficking going on.
— Yep.
— I mean, it’s not just rub-and-tug wink-and-nod stuff, it’s actual sexual slavery. Also money laundering. On, like, a massive scale.
— Sure looks that way.
— I mean, the woman who started the massage parlor sex thing? She’s, like, an Asian MAGA queen or something. Donates money to President Witch Hoax, joins his golf club, takes selfies with every Republican big hat she can stand next to.
— I know.
— I mean, she actually runs a business that promises to sell access to President No Collusion to Chinese businessmen, some of whom may not actually be businessmen at all, if you know what I mean.
— I know what you mean.
— I mean, you know, Chinese intelligence agents. Operatives. Whatever they’re called.
— Yes, I already said I know what you mean.
— I mean, this is, like, a national fucking security issue. It’s not just your basic influence peddling, introducing businessmen to President I Never Paid Hush Money to a Porn Star, stuff like that. This could be some serious national security problems.
— It could.
— I mean, like, let’s say there’s an owner of a popular sports team who’s a buddy of President Did You See the Size of My Inauguration Crowd, and has been getting handjobs at a strip mall. Chinese agent, operative, whatever, says “Sure would be nice if IBM was allowed to share some tech secrets with China, maybe you should mention that to your buddy the president.”
— Does IBM still exist?
— NOT THE FUCKING POINT.
— Okay.
— I mean, that could happen. We know President I Won 380 Electoral Votes is easily manipulated by flattery, right? So it’s possible Chinese agents…
— Operatives…
— Whatever. I mean, it’s actually possible they could shape foreign policy just by leaning on some influential jamoke whose been getting his chicken choked down at the Flowers of Szechuan Spa, right?
— That’s what I’d do if I was a Chinese agent. Operative. Whatever.
— I mean, c’mon, shape foreign policy, peddle influence, AND make some serious coin all at the same time?
— It’s the Chinese version of the Russian model of the criminal American Dream.
— I mean, all it would take to work is somebody like President I Hire the Best People sitting in the Oval Office.
— And then there’s Russia.
— I mean, Russia, fuck me with a chainsaw. Russia. Let’s not even talk about Russia right now.
— [sigh]
— [deep sigh]
— [orders beer]

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manafort, the torturer’s lobby, & an otherwise blameless life

Paul Manafort has spent his career–his entire adult life, really–serving the very worst people in the world. I’m not being hyperbolic here; I’m being literal. He has literally served the literally worst people in the world.

In 1992 the Center for Public Integrity released a report detailing how nations having long, verifiable records of serious human rights abuses paid Washington lobbyists to press Congress for financial aid. By ‘serious human rights abuses’ I mean everything from intimidation of political opponents, to political imprisonment, to physical and mental torture, to systematic rape as a strategy, to extrajudicial murder. The CPI report was titled The Torturer’s Lobby. The firm of Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly (BMSK) features heavily in that report.

BMSK’s client list has included:

Jonas Savimbi — whose guerrilla army forcibly ‘recruited’ child soldiers, forced women and girls into sexual slavery, killed and mutilated tens of thousands, and whose indiscriminate use of landmines created “one of the largest amputee populations in the world.”

Mobutu Sese Seko — whose brutal authoritarian rule “became notorious for corruption, nepotism, and the embezzlement of between US$4 billion and $15 billion during his reign.” Before executing one of his rivals, Sese Seko had his eyes gouged out, his genitals torn off, and his limbs cut off one by one.

Ferdinand Marcos — who in addition to illegally amassing a fortune of between five and ten billion dollars, abducted and imprisoned somewhere between 70,000 to 120,000 people, tortured at least 35,000 people, and murdered more than 3500. One report listed 19 different types of physical torture used by Marcos’ forces, four types of sexual torture, and five types of emotional torture (one of which was described as “government units mutilating, cooking and eating the flesh of victims in front of their family and friends to sow terror”).

Sani Abacha — whose security forces, according to the US State Department, routinely “tortured prisoners with whippings, suspension by the limbs from the ceiling, burning with candles, and extraction of teeth.”

Manafort’s foreign client list gradually became more sophisticated, but no less corrupt, cruel, and malevolent. He found work with Putin-friendly clients in former Soviet nations who were less bloodthirsty, but equally cold-blooded. At the same time, BMSK worked for US entities (like the Tobacco Institute) and were deeply involved in Republican politics. The BMSK business model was based on the notion that anyone seeking to get and keep power ought to have a lobbyist. Corporations, African warlords, special-interest groups, regional strongmen — if they had a LOT of money, Manafort would work for them.

By 2005, Manafort had winnowed his client list down to essentially one client: Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine. There was none of that ugly mutilation or gross torture with Yanukovych; if he needed an opponent dead, a little dioxin would do the job without all the fuss. Manafort was able to construct a shadow government within the Yanukovych regime; he had intelligence assets in just about every governmental agency. Unfortunately for Manafort, the citizens of Ukraine grew weary with the scale of the corruption; in 2014 Yanukovych had to flee for his life. The money soon dried up.

Manafort desperately needed a new client — preferably who was open to the idea of shady business transactions. Comrade Trump, who had his own Russian connections, needed a campaign manager. Bingo. It’s no coincidence that once Manafort joined the Trump campaign, the GOP platform on support for Ukraine changed.

(Photo by Alex Wong)

Let me say it again. Paul Manafort has spent his life working for the worst people in the world, and he got rich doing it. He may not have personally tortured anybody or raped anybody or mutilated anybody or kidnapped anybody or murdered anybody, but he willingly, knowingly, and effectively worked for people who did.

Judge T.S. Ellis had to know this about Manafort when he sentenced him to 47 months (with credit for time served). He had to know this about Manafort when he claimed Manafort “has lived an otherwise blameless life.” Ellis had to know all this. But let’s face it — Ellis belongs to the same culture as Manafort. He was appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan, who was also one of Manafort’s early clients. But before his judicial appointment, Ellis worked for the firm of Hunton and Williams, who made billions of dollars facilitating the corporate practice of outsourcing and offshoring. Ellis, I’m sure, feels he himself has lived an otherwise blameless life.

There’s a lot of blamelessness going on in the world. It just isn’t evenly distributed.

Addendum: The same applies to Roger Stone, by the way. The Stone in Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly is Roger.

pants on fire

For a decade Michael Cohen was Comrade Trump’s fixer — the guy he went to in order to get ugly shit done. Pay off a porn star, bully a business partner, threaten a reporter, kill an unflattering story. If ugly shit needed to be done, Cohen was willing to do it. He was actually proud of his ability to ‘protect’ Trump from the consequences of whatever ugly shit Trump had done. By any moral or ethical standard, Michael Cohen is a flaming asshole.

But yesterday, through the magic of hypocrisy fueled by stupidity, the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee actually managed to make Michael Cohen look like a sympathetic figure. The Republicans, like Cohen for the last ten years, were hoping to ‘protect’ Trump from ugly shit. Unlike Cohen, they weren’t very good at it.

Their approach was flawed. It depended almost exclusively on 1) attacking Cohen’s credibility, 2) yelling at him, and 3) arguing the hearing itself was a waste of time. Here’s why that didn’t work. First, Cohen entered the hearing room and set his own pants on fire. He baldly stated Comrade Trump was a racist, a con man, and a cheater. Then he said, “And yet I continued to work for him.” Boom. The most effective line of the hearing. It was effective because it was in the past tense, because it implied “I’m done working for him.” You can’t damage a person’s credibility when that person openly shreds it himself and says, “Lies got me into this mess, lies can’t get me out of it, believe me or don’t believe me, all I have left is the truth as I see it, and here it is.” It was a raw admission by Cohen. But I don’t think it would have been as effective if the Republicans hadn’t been such dicks.

Second, yelling at Cohen was pointless and massively stupid. You yell at people to rattle them, to make them so upset they can’t think straight, to keep them off-balance. But c’mon, Cohen worked for Trump for a decade. He’s been yelled at by the best. The yelling only served to make the Republicans look more dickish.

Third, a number of Republicans used their allotted five minutes to claim the hearing itself was taking them away from more important matters. Instead of wasting valuable Congressional time talking to a known liar about the possible criminality of the President of the United States, they claimed the committee should focus on the gang members of MS13 who are storming the Southern border bringing in drugs and disease in an effort to weaken Americans by giving free late-term abortions to people who believe in climate change. Or something like that. Seriously, some of those people are off their meds.

There’s another reason the Republicans failed yesterday. They didn’t even try to claim Comrade Trump was innocent of any wrongdoing. They didn’t even try. Seven hours of testimony and questioning, and not once did the House Republicans attempt to defend their president. Not once.

Were the Democrats any better? Surprisingly, yes. I mean, sure, there were a few mooks trying to score political points or get in a soundbite they thought would play well on their local news station, but most of the Democrats were actually prepared and focused. Most of them asked at least one intelligent question.

Here’s something else to think about. Yesterday we only heard testimony about the stuff Cohen could talk about in a public hearing. There’s more stuff he can only discuss with members of Congress in closed sessions. Stuff he’s only allowed to discuss with the folks building a criminal case against Trump.

And in other news, Comrade Trump, the current President of These United States, is returning to the US after the failure of his second summit with Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean dictator who has been starving his own people, and who had his own brother assassinated using a nerve agent in a busy airport, and who ordered his uncle Jang Song Thaek (and his uncle’s aides) to be executed with a damned anti-aircraft gun (after which they were reportedly dismembered and fed to dogs), and who had his uncle’s children AND grandchildren executed (though not, apparently, fed to dogs), and who executed at least one of Jang’s supporters (O Sang-hon) with a fucking flamethrower. That’s how Kim does pants on fire.

Comrade Trump, who repeatedly says the free press is the enemy of the people, calls Kim Jong-Un ‘my friend’.

wish i was making this up

Seriously, just what in the fuck was that?

Let’s try that with inflection. Just WHAT in the fuck was that? Just what in the FUCK was that? What in the fuck was THAT? SERIOUSLY, JUST WHAT IN THE FUCK WAS THAT?

I watched…and I completely fucking gobsmacked that this is real…the President of These Semi-United States speak like an addled 12-year-old for 50 minutes, during which he claimed there was a national emergency because the US is being invaded.

“We’re declaring it for virtual invasion purposes.”

“We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”

Virtual invasion purposes. I don’t even know what that means. I tried for a moment to figure out what it means, but it was like whacking myself in the forehead with a ball peen hammer. It was just pointless pain. If any other president in history had decided to declare a national emergency they’d 1) make sure they had an actual emergency, and 2) would get somebody to write them a coherent speech and not just stand in front of a podium and wing it.

Jesus suffering fuck. Okay, okay, deep breath. Right. Just to state the completely obvious, there IS no emergency. The number of immigrants showing up at the southern border (legally or otherwise) has been declining for nearly two decades. That fact is supported by data gathered and published by US agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, When asked by a reporter if he believed the data, Comrade Trump said:

“I get my numbers from a lot of sources, like Homeland Security, primary. And the numbers I have from Homeland Security are a disaster.”

Dude, the fact that you don’t like the data doesn’t make it an emergency. That DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE. None of this makes any sense. Aargh! And then…and I swear I am NOT MAKING THIS UP…then Trump says this:

“I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster … I just want to get it done faster.”

What sort of cretinous fuckwit says, “Guys, we got us an emergency! We got to build us a wall! We got to build it RIGHT NOW! Well, we don’t really have to build it right now, but I want to which makes this an EMERGENCY cofeve hamberder!!!” Aargh!

And guys, that’s NOT the craziest or stupidest thing Trump said. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. He also claimed President Obama (the Last Sane President of the United States) told him, while sitting in beautiful chairs, that he (Obama, the LSPotUS) was thinking about starting a war with North Korea. And he claimed the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize — which he’d earned because Obama got one after he’d only been in office for about fifteen minutes and he didn’t even stop rocket ships from flying over Japan like Trump did.

Trump abruptly left the podium and returned to the Oval Office, but I think we were only about seven minutes away from the moment when he would declare himself the Sun God, which would allow him to have sex with his daughter Ivanka Antoinette on a golden throne in a room scented with peaches.

Anyway, this morning Comrade Trump declared a national emergency. This afternoon he flies to Mar-a-Loco to play golf. I am not making this up.

ag-gh! help!

Tomorrow evening Comrade Donald Trump will stand up on his hind legs and bark at the American people. Afterwards, he’ll probably call it ‘maybe the greatest State of the Union speech ever given in history.’ I’m pretty confident it’ll mostly be bullshit.

I don’t say that because I dislike Trump (though I do — I really do — Jesus suffering fuck do I dislike Trump). I say that because the speech will be meaningless. Why? Two very fundamental reasons. Reason One: the state of the Union is Ag-gh Help! Reason Two: nobody really trusts or believes anything Comrade Trump says anymore. Last I heard, WaPo had Trump at just over 8000 lies since he assumed office (and really, that’s the best use of ‘assumed’ ever).

The state of the union is Ag-gh Help! largely because Trump is really bad at being president. Why? Because he’s ignorant of the functions of government, he has no interest (and probably lacks the capacity) to learn the functions of government, he seems incapable of putting the nation’s interests before his own, he’s incapable of establishing a coherent policy and abiding by it, and none of the other nations of the world trust him or believe him when he makes a promise (on account of all that lying). All of that is in addition to the fact that Comrade Trump is effectively a Russian intelligence asset. In other words, ag-gh help!

Yes, he IS giving a State of the Union speech.

This is how bad Trump is at being president. Right now the Trump administration doesn’t have a chief of staff, it doesn’t have an Attorney General, it doesn’t have a Secretary of Defense, it doesn’t have a Secretary of the Interior, it doesn’t have a Director for the Environmental Protection Agency, it doesn’t have Director for the Office of Management and Budget. The people who held those positions have all either resigned or been fired. All of those positions are in the hands of ‘acting’ directors. We don’t even have nominees for many of those positions. Ag-gh help!

Again, why? Because competent people don’t want to work for Comrade Trump. Nobody trusts him (there’s that lying business again, plus the fact that Trump has no concept of loyalty to his staff). The fact is, Trump treats being POTUS like it was a part-time job. Seriously. A member of the White House staff recently leaked three months of Trump’s private daily schedules. The very fact that his own staff is actively undermining him is evidence of how badly he sucks at his job. Worse, the schedules show that for the past three months, Trump has spent about 60% of his day engaged in ‘executive time’. Which is basically watching FoxNews and tweeting. (If you’re interested, you can look at those schedules yourself.) Ag-gh help!

So it’s really no wonder the state of the union is Ag-gh Help! When Trump bothers to actually attempt to do his job, he’s bad at it. He can’t say that in his speech, of course. Which means he’s pretty much limited to having to lie a lot. Which is what everybody expects. Which is why the speech is meaningless.

That said, Comrade Trump can count on his fellow Republicans to give him several standing ovations. Why? Why why why? Because they’re as responsible for the state of the union as he is.

Ag-gh help!

he that soweth discord

I declare, it’s like Comrade Donald Trump is a complete stranger to himself. He can say (or tweet) stuff that’s so absolutely contradictory to who he is that you’d wonder if he was being ironic — if you didn’t already know he was incapable of deliberate irony. Yesterday he tweeted this gem:

Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!

Great! Here’s a little Bible literacy lesson for the preznet. (I’ma use the King James Version of the Bible on account of I like the way the language rumbles; it’s so much more rich than the anemic New International Version.) From Proverbs 6:16-19:

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

In Trump’s favor, I don’t think his feet runneth all that swift, even toward mischief. But those other things? The proud look, the lying tongue, all that discord sowing? Comrade Trump is solid there. And that heart that deviseth wicked imaginations? Dude, just wrap your head around his ‘bound and gagged women in the backs of vans’ fantasy.

I believe this is where liars and sinners are supposed to end up.

While we’re doing this Biblical bit, let’s take a look at that deadliest of chapters, Leviticus. Leviticus doesn’t mess around; it flat out tells a person what to do and what NOT to do. Some of which Comrade Trump has totally done. Leviticus 19:13, ya’ll:

Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

I’m not suggesting Trump defrauded his neighbors. I’m not sure he even has neighbors in his Trump Tower penthouse. But Lord knows (see what I did there?) he certainly defrauded lots of folks with a free hand. What I’m just focusing on, though, is that bit about wages. I think we can safely say ‘the wages of him that is hired’ abided with Trump for 35 nights and mornings during the government shutdown.

But here’s the kicker: Trump went all wage-abiding in pursuit of another violation of Leviticus. I’m talking Leviticus 19:33-34 here:

And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.
But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Comrade Trump was seriously vexing the holy shit out of strangers attempting to sojourn into the US with his wall. And all those strangers that dwelleth in the US under DACA? They are surely not as one born among Trump. He wants to toss their brown asses out, and he was willing to abide all night with federal employee wages to get that done.

I should note, if it wasn’t already apparent, that I’m not a Christian. Neither is Comrade Trump, for that matter. But only one of us is pretending.

 

the lesson of history

I’ll bet you’re sitting there right now and asking yourself, “Hey, I wonder how the patriots at FreeRepublic reacted to Comrade Donald Trump being totally nutted yesterday in the Rose Garden by Nancy the Knife Pelosi?” Well, you can stop wondering, on account of I’m going to tell you how they reacted.

Not well, is how they reacted. Depending on how you define ‘not well’. Many of them were…well, let’s say they were somewhat disappointed.

He just caved on TV….what a PUSSY!! — sailor76

Stock up. The Republic is dead. — dware

First, he said Mexico would pay for the wall, then demanded $5 billion from US tax payers. Second, he said no to opening the government no matter what until the wall was funded. It is now opening today. NO wall. CAVED! — CodeToad

Some sought to understand–to explain how this Jedi Master of the Deal could have been out-maneuvered. Surely Trump must be playing multi-dimensional chess.

What is this 3 week delay accomplishing for the wall funding? Getting us by the Superbowl. Only thing that makes sense to me. — mewzilla

He will get a SOTU and the dems fear this. — Boardwalk

But most seemed to understand that Comrade Trump was overmatched. Not even Superman could have withstood the implacable and evil forces arrayed against him.

I don’t have energy to follow this shit on a day to day basis anymore. Democrats want to destroy this country, period and the Republican’s don’t seem to be doing a damn’ thing about it. They should’ve funded the wall within weeks of Trump taking office. That they didn’t tells me they don’t really want to do a damn’ thing about illegal immigration. Not even sure why I bother to vote anymore. — usconservative

DJT is facing never before seen attacks and pressure and is fighting back every way he can. Yet still, weenies on this site take every opportunity to so discord along with Ann coulter. She is a whore who would change her allegiance in a new york minute for an extra million dollars. — okkev68

He is a duly elected President who hasn’t been in charge since the election….he has been battling a coup since day one. The Feds (IRS, CIA, FBI, DOJ) have committed illegal crimes against him with impunity…and their protorian guards in the MSM have covered it up. Your ire is facing the wrong direction. — roses of sharon

A surprisingly large proportion, though, felt their ire was facing in the right direction (I’ll bet you didn’t know ire had a face). They suggested Comrade Trump just wasn’t up to the task. Not only was he taken down, he was taken down BY A GIRL.

It’s game over. Nancy and Chuck run the show. — Scott from the Left Coast

Dude, it ain’t happening. We’ve had two years. Nothing’s going to happen in 3 weeks. It’s over. — DownThe405

Trump folded, ceded to Pelosi. Now he’s just rambling in shame, all talk, no action. Pathetically, he’s just repeating worn speech talking points he’s given over and over. Doesn’t cover that there is no money, just an expectation to talk with people that said No Money and WON. Pelosi owns Trump. — Reno89519

But there were those who started to wonder if Comrade Trump really wanted the wall to begin with. Maybe…just maybe…he wasn’t all that serious.

Trump never fought very hard when the GOP was in control. If Paul Ryan was not going to fund the wall, what made him think Nancy Pelosi would? — David1292

If the problem is so serious, why wait? It’s going to lead many to believe now that the problem isn’t all that serious. — dfwgator

Of course, there were Freepers who focused on the future rather than dwell on the ignominy of the present or the expectations of the past. Where do they go now? What are they to do? How should they respond to the government re-opening without any money for a wall? Some will vote differently; some advocate more direct action.

I’ll write in Mickey mouse before I vote for someone who is rhetoric. 21 months remaining and counting and court up ahead. pelosi in the driver’s seat. The long the waits to declare the emergency, the less likely m amor work will be done. — morphing libertarian

All I can think of is the line: “Cut the cake!” – and there rolls out the Death Mobile. One way or the other the left will be defeated. If not through political action – then by violence … Because that is the lesson of history. — JME_FAN

The lesson of history. Maybe it would be wise to consider recent history — the two caravans that Trump claimed were ‘invasions’. Consider how those people swarmed over the southern border in Death Mobiles (the back seats of which were jammed with women bound and gagged with duct tape), turning right and/or left, pillaging whole communities, marauding the countryside, laying waste to crops and homes, plundering shops and warehouses, massacring innocent Americans in their beds, and…wait. What?

Oh yeah. That didn’t happen. Still, we should keep the words of ‘morphing libertarian’ in mind when the next three weeks pass and there’s still no money to build a beautiful wall: “The long the waits to declare the emergency, the less likely m amor work will be done.” Amen to that, sister.