there will be a blood price to pay for this

I’m not at all sad that Qasem Soleimani is dead. As the leader of the Quds Force, he’s been responsible for a LOT of deaths, including those of US troops. But I’m outraged and alarmed by how and why he was assassinated.

First, this act seems a clear violation of Executive Order 12036, which includes a prohibition against assassination. “No person employed by or acting on behalf
of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in,
assassination.” You can call it a ‘targeted killing’ but that’s just a polite way of saying assassination.

Second, even if you’re willing to violate that Executive Order, openly assassinating the leader of the Quds Force is deliberately provocative. We’re talking 10-20 thousand special ops troops who specialize in unconventional warfare and intelligence activities. These guys are extremely loyal to Soleimani, and they know how to conduct terror operations. The Quds Force is capable of striking targets in the US mainland, but are FAR more likely to take vengeance on more convenient targets. That means every member of the US armed services located in the Middle East. And every person who works for any US agency in the region. And any US non-governmental organization. And any US businessperson working in the area. And their families. I don’t know who the most likely targets would be — but if I were considering retaliation, I’d set up coordinated attacks on US special forces commanders.

Third, even if you’re willing to violate an Executive Order prohibiting assassination AND you’re willing to put a massive number of US citizens at risk from experts at terror operations, it’s exceedingly stupid to commit the assassination in the capital city of a third nation. That necessarily embroils that nation in the conflict, which is especially stupid when your embassy in that third nation has been mobbed by protesters for days. Iran and Iraq aren’t natural allies, but this assassination will make them both more hostile toward the US. What makes this even worse is that the US no longer has any real allies in the region — and it’s made doubly worse by the fact that Comrade Trump recently betrayed the only allies the US could count on (the Kurds). Nobody in the region has any reason to trust the US. Sadly, nobody on the globe has any reason to trust the US to keep its word about anything.

Fourth, even if you’re willing to violate an Executive Order prohibiting assassination AND you’re willing to put a massive number of US citizens at risk from experts at terror operations, AND you’re willing to do this in a third nation in a region in which you have no allies, it’s wildly irresponsible and risky to do it after you’ve spent three years gutting your diplomatic corps and undermining your intelligence agencies. Even if other nations COULD trust the US, we’ve replaced most of our professional diplomats and intelligence analysts with political hacks and amateurs.

Finally, even if you’re willing to violate an Executive Order prohibiting assassination AND you’re willing to put a massive number of US citizens at risk, AND you’re willing to do this in a region in which you have no allies, AND you’ve spent three years trashing your diplomatic corps and intelligence agencies, you should NOT have two different US agencies giving two different reasons for committing that assassination. Did we assassinate Soleimani to A) deter future Iranian aggression (as the Pentagon says) or B) prevent an imminent attack by Iranian terrorists (as the State Department says)? Pick a fucking story and stick with it.

It’s all so very sad and so unnecessary. The sad and terrifying truth is this: there will almost certainly be a blood price to pay for this recklessness. It won’t be paid by Trump’s family, it won’t be paid by the children of members of Congress or the children of the wealthiest clans in the US. That blood price will most likely be paid by poor and working class kids who enlisted in the military after graduating from high school.

That’s the ugly truth haunts me more than anything. I’m not at all sad that Qasem Soleimani was killed. But I’m sick at heart that his assassination in this manner will almost certainly end up killing kids in uniform.

bringing starbucks to a poo fight

The problem with Democrats…one of the problems with Democrats…damn it, one of the whole galaxy of problems with Democrats is the entirely wrong-headed notion that they have to act as if Republicans still have integrity. Democrats know the Republicans are an ideologically hollow party now. They know it with mathematical certitude. And yet they continue to pretend Republicans retain some tattered shreds of decency, honesty, and the virtues of rectitude.

That’s not the modern Republican Party. THIS is the modern Republican Party:

Kevin McCarthy is the House Minority Leader. There’s literally nothing in his tweet that’s true. The FBI did NOT break into Trump’s campaign, they did NOT spy on him, and since there was nothing to cover up they did NOT try to cover it up. This has all been firmly and openly established. This tweet is a series of blatant lies.

The modern Republican Party is a party of lies. Kevin McCarthy was elected as Minority Leader by his fellow Republicans in the House. This is a guy who received campaign donations from Lev Parnas, one of Rudy Giuiliani’s Ukrainian stooges who was trying to flee the US when he was arrested at the airport. This a guy who was actually caught on tape saying, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: [former GOP Congressman Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump.” This guy is now openly lying to support the president he claimed was owned by Russia.

This is what the Republican Party has become. Treating Republican Party officials as if they have any integrity at all is like bringing Starbucks to a poo fight. The Republicans will take the Starbucks, drink it, claim it’s been poisoned, and continue to throw shit. The Democrats will frantically search for a receipt (which the Republicans will claim is forged) to prove they actually bought Starbucks to bring to a poo fight — not even recognizing that you have to be massively fucking stupid to bring Starbucks to a poo fight. Republicans know it’s stupid. They know they can lie all they want and get away with it. And they’re laughing their asses off.

There it is, right there — confused, gullible Democrats contending with vicious, venal Republicans. That’s why a shrinking population of Republicans can continue to hold power over a larger Democratic populace. This has to stop if we want to stay a democratic Republic.

I’m not saying Democrats need to throw poo like Republicans. I’m saying Democrats need to stop pretending that the Republicans are doing anything other than throwing poo. Democrats have to stop pretending that Republicans aren’t deliberately and knowingly throwing poo. Democrats need to say, openly and often, that throwing poo is immoral, that throwing poo is criminal, that it’s unAmerican, that throwing poo serves Putin. The DNC needs to start making political adverts linking GOP poo-flinging with Putin; they need to make adverts with former Republicans (especially those who used to hold political office) stating the only way to put an end to Republican poo-flinging is to remove the poo-flingers from office.

Democrats need to destroy the illusion that Republicans are still the ‘loyal opposition.’ There’s nothing loyal about the modern Republican Party. They’re not loyal to conservative principles, they’re not loyal to the US Constitution, they’re not loyal to the United States, they’re not loyal to anything other than a desperate need and desire to hold on to power.

you never know, do you.

It’s official. I’m not saying that wearing a ball cap with ITMFA made any measurable difference, but hey, you never know, right? The thing is, it’s official. We’re actually going to impeach the motherfucker already.

I wish I could be happy about this. But I can’t. I’m not happy for two reasons. First, impeachment is an awful thing. It’s an awful thing even if the president deserves it (and Comrade Trump truly deserves it). Impeaching the president is like agreeing to have a gangrenous foot amputated. You don’t really want to do it, but you know it’s necessary in order to survive.

The other reason I’m not happy is because it looks like there’ll only be two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They’ll focus entirely on the Ukraine mess. I understand this as a strategic decision; I get why Congressional Democrats have chosen this approach. I know it makes sense to streamline the process in order to limit the ways Republicans can fuck with it — because they will. The fewer the moving parts, the less that can go wrong. I get it.

But I’m not happy with it. I’d like to see more public hearings in the House — hearings on topics like criminal obstruction of justice, emoluments violations, or campaign fraud. I’d like to see some focus on Trump’s domestic crimes, which are just as troubling as his foreign fuck-ups. I think there’s also strategic value in that. I suspect there are a lot of voters who don’t much care what happens in Ukraine; it’s a long way off, in a place they’re never going to visit, and where they don’t know anybody. They may be sorry Ukrainians are fighting a war, but they don’t feel it’s got anything to do with them. On the other hand, a lot of those same voters would likely be pissed off if they felt Trump was using his office to pad his own pockets like a cheap crook.

I’d like to see an impeachment process built around the massive scope of Comrade Trump’s corrupt practices, but I’ll take what I can get. I’ll take it because I know how highly improbable it is that the Senate will fulfill their constitutional duties and convict. Still, impeachment is the right thing to do.

TMF who is going to be IA

And you never know, do you. I’m certain there are Republican senators who would like to see Trump gone, but have been too cowardly to do anything about it. Maybe one or two of them will find some courage. Maybe if one or two of them decide to vote to convict, others will take heart and step up. Maybe it’s actually possible that Trump will be tossed out of office.

It could happen. I wouldn’t bet my paycheck on it, but it could happen. So I’ll continue to wear my ITMFA cap, even if it doesn’t have any measurable effect. I mean, you never really know, do you.

comrade trump has thoughts about a dog

This is the actual transcript of Comrade Trump presenting Conan the dog to members of the news media. For the sake of brevity and my own sanity, I’ve edited out most of Vice-Comrade Pence’s lickspittle remarks. Okay, here we go.

“Good morning. So this is Conan — right now, probably the world’s most famous dog. I don’t think — I have to use the word ‘probably.’ And Conan is an incredible — it’s an incredible story. I learned a lot about this particular type of dog. And it’s trained that, if you open your mouths, you will be attacked. You want to be very, very careful. But Conan came over from the Middle East — just arrived — with some of the great people from the Special Forces that did the incredible fl- — it was a flawless attack. And al-Baghdadi is gone. But that was a flawless attack. And I just met quite a few of them. And we just gave Conan a medal and a plaque. And it’s really — and I actually think Conan knew exactly what was going on. But a dog that is very, very special and we could maybe say — Mike, come on over. Maybe you want to say something about the type of dog and — They were going to put a muzzle on the dog and I thought that was a good idea, but then it gets even more violent, John. So I had a choice. But, no, the dog is incredible. Actually incredible. We spent some good time with it. And so brilliant, so smart — the way it was with the Special Forces people that it worked with. And for obvious reasons, they can’t be out in front of the media. But they did a fantastic job. Conan did a fantastic job. And we’re very honored to have Conan here and to have given Conan a certificate and an award that we’re going to put up in the White House.

Mike, would you have something to say?

Vice-Comrade Pence spent the next couple of minutes licking Comrade Trump’s butt. He reminded Trump that it was his decision to launch the mission that “took down the leader of ISIS” and that “having this extraordinary dog here today is all a reflection of our armed forces” and also that “it’s a real joy to be able to help welcome him here to the White House with you.” He gave the president a look that might have been an approximation of an expression he thought of as ‘joy’. Then it was back to Trump.

“It’s true. And Conan was very badly hurt, as you know. And they thought maybe was not going to recover. Recovered, actually very quickly and has since gone on very important raids. As you know, we captured 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate. When I took office, we had almost nothing. It was as though they were just forming again, and now it’s 100 percent. And we have done a lot of work since then. We have done a lot of work since the raid. Certain things have happened that are very important. So we’re in very good shape. We’re in very good shape. We’ve had a lot of help, too, from other countries. We’ve had a — we’ve really done a job. I just want to thank you all. So, this is a special time for Conan. And we really appreciate it. And I was told about the breed. I was told about Conan himself. And Conan is a tough cookie. And nobody is going to mess with Conan. I asked one question. I said, ‘So, what chance, with Conan…’ I got to see how fast Conan can move. I said, ‘What chance would a strong man have — really strong, tough, a fighter — what chance would this person have against Conan, without the guns? What chance? And I guess the answer, pretty much, was ‘none.’ He would have no chance. So, it’s amazing. And yet, you see how beautiful and how calm, during a situation like this, is. And you’re very lucky he doesn’t — he’s not in a bad mood today, Jeff. [Laughter] Not in a bad mood. You’re safe. Anyway. So I want to thank you all. Thank you very much. And this is a great honor to have Conan here. A great honor to have the Special Forces here. They’re in the Oval Office.”

Two members of the press asked Trump 1) are you going to adopt the dog, and 2) is the dog retiring. Seriously, those were the questions.

“I love this dog. No, Conan is not retiring yet. Conan is primetime, age-wise. Primetime. I asked that question. They go for about six years — like an athlete. Six years. They start — they like to get them at one and a half or two years old, and they’ll go for about six years from that time. After that, it happens where maybe the reflexes aren’t quite as good. You know, things like that happen. It would never happen to us. But the dog, primetime, is those six years after two. And they’re very special dogs. They’re very hard to get. This particular dog is — this is the ultimate fighter, ultimate everything. Ultimate in terms of sniffing drugs. We have a — we’ve spent a tremendous amount of money on drug equipment at the border. And I was talking to the people, and I say, ‘Well, is there anything better than this equipment?’ ‘No, sir. The only thing better is a dog.’ A dog — this type of dog, exactly, because it’s a certain type of dog. And it’s pretty amazing. But they are really better. We had a case where we had drugs in a — the cylinder of a car. And it was undetectable by this very expensive machinery, which is really amazing machinery. But still, it was undetectable. The dog came in — wah, jumped on the hood, pointing — you know. Opened the hood and knew exactly. It’s incredible, the sense of smell or whatever it may be — probably sense of smell. So they’re incredible animals. And thank you all very much.”

The entire episode was cringe-worthy. Trump never touched the dog. Melania looked slightly scared. Pence managed to resist the urge to hump Trump’s leg. Even the dog seemed to understand there was nothing normal about this — which maybe proved Comrade Trump said at least one thing that wasn’t a lie: Conan knew exactly what was going on.

it’s worse than that

The Republicans are lying. But it’s not just lying; it’s worse than that. The Republicans are also spreading disinformation. Disinformation is deliberate misinformation intended to distract and deceive. Disinformation is worse than a lie because it’s meant to cast the concept of truth itself into doubt.

Here’s a lie: Russia didn’t interfere with the 2016 presidential election with the intent to help Trump. It’s demonstrably not true. Ukraine was responsible for the meddling in the 2016 election — that’s a lie, but it’s worse than that. It’s disinformation. It’s designed to deliberately mislead people, to plant misinformation into the discussion. Disinformation forces truth-tellers to dispute both the lie and the false information as well.

Let me say it again. Republicans are lying, but worse than that they’re spreading disinformation. But it’s even worse than that, the disinformation is part of a Russian intelligence campaign. It’s designed both to aid Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and to sow dissent and discord in the domestic politics of the U.S.

The Russians are really very good at this. They didn’t invent disinformation, but they were the first nation to develop it as an cohesive intelligence strategy. Even the term ‘disinformation’ itself was created as disinformation. In the 1920s, a Russian black propaganda program began using the term dezinformatsiya, suggesting it was translated from a French word (désinformation), which didn’t exist. That allowed them to claim the concept had a Western origin. With the creation of mass media and the internet, disinformation in the post-Soviet era has become a critical facet of both the Russian military intelligence and the SVR — the Russian Federation’s foreign intelligence service.

And, again, Republicans are disseminating a disinformation campaign designed by an intelligence agency hostile to United States’ interests. It’s worse than that. At this point, they’re doing it knowingly. Fiona Hill told them under oath that the idea that Ukraine was behind the 2016 election ratfucking was “a fictional narrative” created by Russian intelligence. But even if they dismissed her sworn testimony, Congress was briefed by U.S. intelligence agencies that “Russia had engaged in a years-long campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow’s own hacking of the 2016 election.”

Treason for the tackiest of motives — partisan politics.

They know. They know it’s a lie, but they still tell it. They know it’s disinformation, but they still spread it. They know it’s a critical element of a Russian intelligence operation, but they continue to repeat it. They fucking know, and they don’t care. They are, in effect, providing aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. That’s treason.

It’s worse than that. It’s not treason for ideological reasons, or treason for money, or treason as an act of dissent, or even treason for personal power. It’s worse than that; it’s treason for the tackiest of motives — partisan politics.

craziest goddamn moment in U.S. history

Okay, a quick heads up. I’m going to write a really long sentence. Really long. The kind of sentence writing instructors warn students never to write because readers will either lose interest in the subject and decide to go see what’s on television, or get massively confused halfway through and have to start again at the beginning. It’s going to be longer than the sentence you just read. It’s a long sentence because the craziest goddamn moment in U.S. history demands long sentences. So you’ve been warned.

Yesterday, at the same time Congress was holding the first public impeachment hearing to determine if Comrade Donald J. Trump is fit to continue to occupy the office of the President of the United States, Trump was meeting with Turkish President Recep Erdoğan, who last month launched a military offensive that bore all the hallmarks of an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kurdish forces who had been the chief ally in the U.S. fight against ISIS for years until they were suddenly, unexpectedly betrayed by Trump’s inexplicable decision — which came immediately after a late-night phone call with the president of Turkey — to remove U.S. military forces from the Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria.

This was an extraordinary conjunction of events, even by the loopy standards of the Trumpverse. As I said earlier, it’s the craziest goddamn moment in U.S. history. While two patriotic career civil servants (one of whom is actually a deputy assistant secretary of state specializing in anti-corruption efforts) were testifying under oath that Trump had betrayed his oath of office by engaging in corrupt activity, Trump was publicly celebrating a different corrupt betrayal — and doing it with the corrupt dictator who directly benefited from the betrayal. Not only that, Trump openly confessed to a war crime. Although he’d claimed he pulled U.S. forces out of Syria to bring them home, yesterday he said this:

“We are keeping the oil. We have the oil. The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil.”

This is a clear violation of Article 33 of the Geneva Conventions, which categorically states pillaging (taking something of value from a location seized in a time of war) is prohibited. It’s also perfectly on-brand for Trump, who argues that corruption committed in the open doesn’t count.

This is the craziest goddamn moment in U.S. history. Democrats and civil servants are systematically and methodically demonstrating the corrupt practices of the Trump administration while Republicans are spouting insane conspiracy theories and mocking Congressional witnesses for drinking water (I am NOT making this up) and POTUS is calling himself a ‘big fan’ of a foreign dictator who a few weeks ago had openly insulted him by saying he’d thrown Trump’s threatening letter in the trash. What the actual fuck is happening here?

How can all this crazy shit be happening at the same time? It almost makes you want to believe in astrology, because it would be nice if we could explain it all away by pointing to some lunatic arrangement of planets. That would actually make it less crazy; that’s how goddamn crazy this moment is.

And don’t even think about pulling me aside and whispering, “Forget it, Jake…it’s Chinatown” because it’s NOT CHINATOWN. This is NOT a Chinatown situation. Sure, Kurdistan is as dead as Hollis Mulwray, and Trump is treating the Constitution the way Noah Cross treated his daughter, but this isn’t policing in Los Angeles in the 1930s. It’s actually possible for us to know whether our foreign interventions are helping victims or exploiting them.

Okay. Okay, I got a tad carried away and veered off into a tangent that probably won’t even make sense to folks who’ve seen the movie. Sorry. That’s what living in the craziest goddamn moment in U.S. history will do to you.

There’s another public hearing schedule for tomorrow. Maybe it’ll be less crazy. Or maybe Comrade Trump will hold a press conference with Ming the Merciless. I’m not going to rule it out.

Somewhat Related Editorial Note: If you haven’t seen Chinatown, WTF is wrong with you? Go watch it. It’s brilliant. Cynical, yeah, but one of the best films ever made, even if it was made by Roman Polanski — and there’s a tangent I’m going to avoid while I still retain some semblance of self-control.

faith, hope, and tax exempt charity

You guys, I’m a tad confused about this latest — well, one of the latest — scandal involving Comrade Trump and some really trashy shit. I’m talking about Trump being forced to cough up a couple million US dollars in damages for “misusing funds from a tax-exempt charity.” Here’s what confuses me: I’m not sure which particular charity scam is involved.

Is this the ‘charity’ Trump founded with the millions of dollars given to him by the guy who runs (or ran…does he still run it…did he ever really run it…does it still exist? I have no idea) the Global Fake Wrestling Event of the World (or whatever it’s called) and whose wife was appointed by Trump to run the Small Business Administration? Or is it the ‘charity’ that held events at various Trump golf resorts to raise money to help kids with cancer, while it was actually pouring the cash into the resorts themselves or was redirecting the cash to other ‘charities’ connected to Trump’s family or business interests?

“Look, I’m trying to be nice here. But get your sticky fuckin’ hands off my desk, okay?”

Maybe it doesn’t matter which charity scam Comrade Trump is being punished for. The important thing is he won’t be able to do it again. Well, not in the State of New York. In addition to fining Trump, the judge also forced him to “submit to extra monitoring of any future charitable activities in New York” in order to prevent future “persistent violations of the law.”

You guys, how bad is it that the President of These United States can’t even be trusted to run a charity to help kids with cancer? Pretty fucking bad, is how bad.

In the dimension of time and space we used to inhabit, something like this would signal the end of a president’s administration. But here in the Trumpverse, it’ll be replaced by another scandal in…oh, maybe about forty minutes. And then it’ll be forgotten.

All we can do is bow our heads and pray to the Sweet Bearded God of Goats to have mercy on us and burn this whole motherfucker down to the topsoil.

Or, you know, we could vote.