the dignity of the office

President Obama appears in a BuzzFeed video promoting the Affordable Care Act.

FOXNews: “I yearn for my president looking presidential and serious right now.”

George Will: “Some people think this diminishes the presidency.”

President Obama in a radio interview with Marc Maron speaking about racism: “It’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say the word ‘nigger’ in public.”

FOXNews: “It’s outrageous, David. I think he has absolutely lowered the standard in terms of being president of the United States.”

“I’ll tell you this, [people are] probably wondering why Barack Obama still has a job.”

President Obama appears on Funny or Die and other web/YouTube channels.

Washington Times: “Mr. Obama is the Rodney Dangerfield of presidents, showing the office no respect.”

Rush Limbaugh: “You talk about beneath the dignity of the office, maybe setting a new low. President Obama with YouTube interviews.”

President Obama orders a hamburger with Dijon mustard.

Sean Hannity: “As you know President Obama is a real man of the people and yesterday he dropped by a popular Virginia restaurant to grab a burger with his pal Joe. Now the Gateway Pundit blog pointed out that plain old ketchup, well it didn’t quite cut it for the president. Now take a look at him ordering his burger with a very special condiment.”

Laura Ingraham: “What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup but Dijon mustard?”

President Obama criticizes FOXNews in a speech.

FOXNews: ” It’d be nice if Obama respected the office. When he does things like this, it diminishes not just him but the office itself.”

President Obama mocks climate change deniers.

Freedom Foundation: “Barack Obama demeaned the dignity of the presidency by ridiculing tens of thousands of scientists for simply disagreeing with his lay opinions on global warming.”

President Obama wore casual clothing into the Oval Office on a weekend.

Andrew Card (in a right-wing radio interview): “I’m disappointed to see the casual, laissez faire, short sleeves, no shirt and tie, no jacket, kind of locker room experience that seems to be taking place in this White House and the Oval Office.”

President Obama mentions the death of Osama bin Laden in a campaign speech.

Pat Buchanan: “And the great asset the President has is the Oval Office, the presidency of the United States. He is diminishing that by using events which are national events as partisan events.”

President Obama is photographed with his feet on his desk in the Oval Office.

FOXNews: “Obama is disrespecting the Oval Office.”

President Obama talks about birth control.

Andrea Tantaros / FOXNews: “Don’t you think it diminishes the office of the president, talking about condoms?”

President Obama states Congressional Republicans are deliberately blocking his agenda.

John Boehner: “[His] flippant dismissal of the Constitution is utterly beneath the dignity of the office,”

Obama criticizes Republicans while campaigning for Harry Reid.

Dana Perino (FOXNews / former Bush press secretary): “The divisive rhetoric that he’s used seems to me beneath the office.”

Marco Rubio: “I think he unnecessarily demonizes his opponents. It’s not that there’s a disagreement on policies. He actually wants to convince people that you are a bad person. He has not conducted himself with the dignity that is worthy of that office.”

President Obama criticizes FOXNews.

Karl Rove: “The president of United States should not be afraid of coming on Fox News, nor should the president of the United States diminish his office by seeming to engage in a petty fight with the — with the — with a network himself.”

I miss the days when conservatives cared so deeply about the dignity of the office of President of These United States.

Editorial Note: Conservatives did NOT actually claim ordering a cheeseburger with Dijon mustard diminished the office of the president; they merely implied ordering a cheeseburger with any mustard other than yellow mustard was unAmerican. And probably gay. Possibly a wink at ISIS.

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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.

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.

the dicknoggin conspiracy

Imagine a foreign country — oh, let’s call it the Republic of Dicknoggin. Imagine the government of Dicknoggin has decided to implement a covert campaign against These United States.

Imagine that deep cover Dicknoggin agents manage to get  themselves installed as administrators of federal agencies. Once in place, they create conditions that will make the air dirtier, the water less potable, food less safe, energy production less clean, working environments more dangerous, gun violence more likely, civil liberties more at risk, poverty more cruel, international crises more probable and more deadly, health care less available and more expensive, and schools less effective.

Imagine Dicknoggin agents using social media to undermine public belief and trust in US systems of justice. Imagine them claiming the FBI and the Department of Justice are actually controlled by a shadowy group of conspirators whose mission is to destroy the very government they work for. Imagine them hinting that those few federal law enforcement agents who weren’t actually criminal were nonetheless incompetent or possibly corrupt.

Imagine covert Dicknoggin agents being nominated and confirmed to lifetime terms as judges, who’ll decide how US laws should be interpreted and applied. Imagine Dicknoggin agents working at the state level to determine who should be able to vote and when voting can take place and how those votes are counted. Imagine Dicknoggin agents seducing and subverting religious leaders with promises of policies that favor their specific religious beliefs.

Imagine if the Republic of Dicknoggin actually existed and instituted those sorts of measures against These United States. It would be seen as a belligerent act by a hostile nation. It would be seen as a type of warfare.

Dicknoggin policy roundtable

Folks, the modern Republican party are Dicknoggins. It’s easy — and, for that matter, it’s sort of comforting — to think these Dicknoggins are acting out of ignorance. Or greed, or a lust for power and authority. It would be nice to believe they’re fucking up the country because they don’t know any better, because they simply fail to understand the very real consequences or the long-term implications of their actions.

I’d like to believe that, I really would. I’d like to believe the Dicknoggins are just fuckwits. But when you consider how widespread their actions are, how every facet of the government has been turned on its head, it suggests that this isn’t an accident. It suggests it’s deliberate.

So if you sometimes feel like the modern Republican party has declared war on These United States, that they’re intentionally destroying the things you love about this nation, then your feelings might actually be justified.

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.

devin nunes serves at the pleasure of the president

Devin Nunes: Hi, I’m Devin Nunes, a very serious and totally scrupulous Republican Congressman from California and the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and boy do I have a four-page classified memo for you.

The American Public: Oh? What’s it about?

DN: I can’t tell you. It’s classified. All I can say is that it refers to a massive conspiracy by high-ranking members of the FBI colluding with Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration to create a false narrative accusing Donald Trump of working with the Russians to get him elected. Also? An equally false narrative that Trump is impulsive. And ignorant. And a racist. And stupid. Plus some other stuff. Like, you know, sex stuff.

TAP: Wow. That’s awful. Why would FBI agents do that?

DN: To prevent Trump from being elected. Which he did anyway. You should really see what’s in the classified memo. It’s horrible what they’re doing to the president.

TAP: Show it to us.

DN: I can’t. It’s classified!

TAP: If it’s classified, I guess it must be serious.

DN: It is! It’s SO serious. Everybody who’s seen the classified memo says it’s the biggest scandal since Watergate. Bigger even! It’s, like, the best scandal ever. The worst, I mean. Everybody says so. It’s all in the memo that you can’t see.

Steve King: Hi, I’m Steve King, also a totally scrupulous Republican, but I’m from Iowa which is like three or four times more scrupulous than California. I’ve seen the classified four-page memo and it shows our very democracy is under attack by a secret society of Trump-hating FBI agents who hate Trump and are secretive about it. Except when they talk about it to each other. Which they mostly do in secret. Also, I’m not a racist. People say I’m a racist because I make racist remarks, but that doesn’t make me a racist. It makes me seem authentic, which is something my base likes. Also too, that memo is shocking.

TAP: Maybe you should give it to the Director of the FBI, so he can investigate his agents.

DN: Can’t! The FBI are the bad guys. We can’t trust them.

TAP: Maybe you should give it to the Department of Justice.

DN: Can’t! They might try to cover it up so the public never gets to see it.

TAP: What about the New York Times or the Washington Post? Could you give it to them? Let them publish it?

DN: Give a classified memo to the liberal media? That would be wrong. But if the American People were to see it, there’d be hell to pay in the traitorous anti-Trump FBI cabal conspiracy. It’s SO BAD!

TAP: What do the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee say about the memo?

DN: Nothing! They’ve been completely and totally and suspiciously silent about it.

TAP: Have they seen it?

DN: Are you crazy? Let Democrats see a classified memo? They’d leak it.

TAP: Okay, then maybe this memo should be declassified. Who can declassify it?

DN: You mean besides me? And besides every Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee who’s seen it? And besides every Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who’s seen it?

TAP: Yes, besides you and all those other people, who can declassify it?

DN: President Trump.

TAP: Then why don’t you or your colleagues or the president declassify the memo, so it can be released to the American People?

DN: We totally want the memo to be released. Totally. And so do our supporters.

Russian Social Media Bot: #releasethememo #releasethememo #releasethememo

DN: See? Popular support to release the memo. Fox News is all over this too, demanding the memo be released. It really needs to be released if we want to save the presid…our democracy.

TAP: But you won’t release it because…?

DN: We can’t! It’s classified!

TAP: (long silent pause)

Russian Social Media Bot: #releasethememo #releasethememo #releasethememo

DN: Release the memo!

TAP: (long silent pause)

DN: Benghazi!

TAP: You’d totally suck Donald Trump’s dick if he asked you to, wouldn’t you.

DN: I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States.

three things that happened

First Thing:

Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat representing Missouri, made a motion to insure the salaries and death benefits of members of the military would still get paid through the shutdown. She said,

“I want to make sure that tonight we send a very clear signal that we don’t want one moment to pass with there being any uncertainty of any soldier anywhere in the world that they will be paid for the valiant work they do for our national security.”

She asked the motion be approved without objection.

Second Thing:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, responded to her motion. He said,

“I object. My hope is that we can restore funding for the entire government before this becomes necessary.”

The motion to approve pay and military death benefits was tabled.

Third Thing:

It became necessary.

A U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter crashed early Saturday morning in California, killing two soldiers.

In case you were wondering why we shouldn’t base congressional decisions on Mitch McConnell’s hopes.

By the way, members of Congress will continue to receive their full pay during the shutdown.