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.

a discussion about the impeachment process

Democrats: You know, we think Comrade Trump maybe probably did some crimes, so we’re going to investigate.

Republicans: YOU LOST THE ELECTION GET OVER IT!!!

Ds: It appears Trump has possibly violated the Emoluments Clause. And also maybe committed a bit of tax fraud. Plus probably illegally diverted monies from the military by declaring a fake emergency at the border. Also too, maybe illegally dangled pardons to accused criminals in an effort to shape their testimony.

Rs: FAKE NEWS!!!

Ds: Oh, and then there’s that extortion of foreign governments to hurt a possible political rival. That’s on top of the obstruction of justice stuff.

R: YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO OVERTURN THE ELECTION!!!

Democrats discussing the impeachment process with Republicans.

Ds: There’s a whistleblower, you know.

R: A DEEP STATE LIAR!!! THIRD HAND HEARSAY!!!

Ds: Seems pretty credible, really.

Rs: TRUMP’S PHONE CALL WAS PERFECT!!! HERE’S A COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT!!!

Ds: Well, it’s not really complete, is it. Or even a transcript.

Rs: FAKE NEWS!!! BIDEN’S A CROOK!!!

Ds: We have several career diplomats and foreign service officers who corroborate the whistleblower.

Rs: DEEP STATE TRAITORS!!! NEVER TRUMPERS!!! NO FIRST HAND WITNESSES!!!

Ds: Oh. Okay, here’s a first hand witness.

Rs: HE WAS BORN IN UKRAINE!!! HE SPEAKS UKRANIAN!!! CAN’T BE TRUSTED!!!

Ds: His parents fled Ukraine when he was three to seek freedom. He’s a career military man, a combat veteran who awarded a Purple Heart for his wounds.

Rs: THE HEARINGS ARE HELD IN SECRET!!! WHAT ARE YOU HIDING???!!!

Ds: Republican committee members can attend the hearings and ask questions.

Rs: THERE’S NO FORMAL IMPEACHMENT VOTE!!!

Ds: We don’t need one. But hey, okay, we’ll have a formal vote.

Rs: TOO LATE!!! DEEPSTATETRAITORS!!! WHERE’S THE SERVER???!!! BENGHAZI!!!

Ds: Benghazi?

Rs: WE NEVER SAID BENGHAZI!!! THE TYPEFACE ON THE IMPEACHMENT HEARING RULES IS WRONG!!! STOP THE WITCH HUNT!!! NO MORE SECRET HEARINGS!!!

Ds: We’re going to start holding public hearings.

Rs: !!!???

Ds: I know, right?

Rs: BOOING PRESIDENTS IS RUDE!!! TRUMP KILLED THAT ISIS GUY!!!

Ds: Well, that was the Army, but yeah, we’re glad al-Baghdadi is no longer a…

Rs: STRANGLED HIM WITH HIS BARE HANDS!!! RIPPED OUT HIS LARYNX WITH HIS TEETH!!!

Ds: Uh…

Rs: WITH HIS TEETH!!!

Ds: Uh, I don’t…

Rs: SHUT UP!!! THERE WAS A DOG!!! A DOG!!!

Ds: …

Rs: WE WIN!!! PRAISE JEEBUS!!! MORE GUNS!!! MAGA!!!

senate might do the right thing maybe

An interesting thing happened in the Senate recently. Senator Lindsay Graham, who has the moral courage of a blancmange, said he would ask the Senate for a resolution condemning the House impeachment inquiry. That wasn’t the interesting thing, of course. Since the death of his friend John McCain, Graham has morphed into Comrade Trump’s attack poodle — alternately snarling at Trump’s critics and wagging his tail in the hope that Trump will give him a treat.

The interesting thing is what happened after Graham made that announcement. He didn’t get universal Republican support. Let me just say that one more time; Graham DID NOT get total support from Senate Republicans for a resolution condemning the impeachment inquiry by the House of Representatives. A month ago, that wouldn’t have happened.

So Graham sort of tempered the resolution. Instead of a savage condemnation of the impeachment itself, Graham presented a request for a more transparent process. And even that watered down version failed to get total support from his Republican colleagues. Only 44 of them signed on.

Lindsey Graham, Republican Attack Poodle, South Carolina.

Granted, that means only nine Republicans refused to go along with the weakened version of Graham’s resolution — but hey, that’s how erosion works. And remember, he offered this resolution AFTER Trump called on Republicans to get tougher against the impeachment process, and AFTER the Republicans in the House staged their Charge of the Lightweight Brigade into the SCIF for pizza. Despite those stunts, nine Senate Republicans still couldn’t bring themselves to support a weak resolution against the impeachment process.

And remember this: we haven’t yet had any public testimony from the most damaging witnesses against Trump.

At this point, it’s almost a certainty that the House will vote to ITMFA. We’ve always assumed Senate Republicans would refuse to vote to convict if Comrade Trump was impeached. That’s still the safe bet. But Graham’s resolution shows some weakening in his support. The thing is, we can be fairly confident that few, if any, of them support Trump because they like him. Or trust him. Or believe in his ability to lead the nation. They support him out of fear and their own self-interest. They know Trump is bleeding support from every sector except evangelical Christians. They also know the only way Trump can win re-election is through a combination of foreign interference, voter suppression, and gerrymandered precincts. They’ve got to be asking themselves if that’ll be enough to save them. Or if they’d be better off to drown him before the election drags them down with him.

Nobody really likes or trusts this loudmouth asshole.

So it’s possible…it’s actually within the realm of possibility…that a combination of public testimony, a corresponding shift in public sentiment, Trump’s own continued erratic and destructive behavior, along with a politician’s cockroach-like sense of self-preservation MIGHT be sufficient to sway enough of those hateful Nazgûl motherfuckers to vote to convict him and remove him from office.

It would be a LOT better if we could count on Senate Republicans to simply do what’s best for the country, but c’mon…that ain’t gonna happen. But maybe we can hope they’ll manage to do the right thing even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

the trash party

There used to be Republicans I disagreed with, but still respected. I could list names, but it doesn’t really matter because that Republican Party no longer exists. It’s gone, it’s history. Republicans with integrity are now creatures of myth.

The Republican Party as it exists today is…well, trash.

I kinda hate saying that. To call someone ‘trash’ has been insulting since the 16th century; even Shakespeare used trash to refer to worthless, contemptible people. But if the adjective fits…well.

It’s not just that the GOP has abandoned an internally consistent conservative ideology (or anything resembling an internally consistent ideology), or that they’ve completely abdicated any interest in governance, or even that they have no respect at all for truth, decency, law, compassion, science, or the U.S. Constitution. I mean, all that is horrible, but that’s not what makes them trash.

What makes them trash is the joy they seem to take in pissing all over the traditions and norms they claim to represent. Wednesday’s stunt was a perfect example. Matt Gaetz pulled together a squad of knuckleheads and decided to interrupt a deposition being held in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility used for sessions involving issues of national security. Why would they do such a boneheaded thing? There are their stated reasons (all of which are the most rancid types of bullshit) and there are the real reasons.

You can put them in suits, but they’re still trash.

Here’s how Gaetz introduce the event to the media (because of course they alerted the media):

“I’m gathered here with dozens of my congressional colleagues underground in the basement of the Capitol, because if behind those doors they intend to overturn the results of an American presidential election, we want to know what’s going on.”

Gaetz got a couple of things right. The basement is underground and the doors to the SCIF were closed. It was underground because that’s where basements are, and the doors were closed because 1) you always close the doors to keep out the noise made by fuckwits in the hallway, and 2) when you’re deposing a witness about issues of national security, the operative term is security. The entire point of holding it the SCIF was because it’s right there in the goddamn name. The information is sensitive.

But the claim that the point of the deposition (and the impeachment hearings) is to ‘overturn the results of an American presidential election‘ is stupid on a galactic scale. Overturning the election would mean Hillary would become president if/when Comrade Trump is impeached and convicted. That won’t happen. We’d end up with Mike Pence. So impeaching Trump is basically like curing Ebola and getting genital herpes. Nobody wants that, but with treatment it’s something we can live with.

Another thing — if Gaetz and his cadre of chucklewits wanted to know what was going on behind those closed doors, all they had to do is ask their Republican colleagues who are attending those sessions. About half of them could have actually attended the deposition if they’d wanted; they sit on committees that are cleared to attend. But there’s no drama in that.

Comrade Trump, Trash-in-Chief

Those are Gaetz’s stated reasons for crashing the SCIF. The real reasons? There are a couple of those. The first is because that’s all they’ve got. Lies and stunts and insults and scams. That’s all the Republican Party is now. A party of head-fakes.

They barely make any pretense at legitimate governance. Legitimate governance requires political parties to propose policies grounded in principle. Different parties have different principles, of course, but the policies would still be directed in good faith toward what the party sincerely believes is the common good of the public.

Principles, good faith, sincerity, common good of the public — that shit is gone from the Republican Party now. It’s been replaced with naked self interest. And even that self interest can be set aside for the perverse glee of publicly ‘owning the libs’. And that’s the second real reason Gaetz and the Chucklewits invaded the SCIF —  because they knew it would piss off Democrats, and because they knew they’d get away with it.

That’s what makes them trash.

curious things

Here’s a curious thing. Comrade Trump fired (by tweet, of course) Dan Coats, the Director of National Security, three days after Trump made his disastrous telephone call to newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. You know, the call in which Trump leaned on Zelensky to reopen a closed investigation into Joe Biden’s son. The call that’s sparked the current impeachment crisis.

Coats didn’t have much relevant experience in intelligence when Trump selected him to be the DNI, but he was a decent, mostly thoughtful, establishment Republican. He wasn’t a Trump loyalist, though, so he was often in conflict with the president. He was the last member of the Trump administration to publicly disagree with the president. Clearly, he had to go. Although the timing is a tad suspicious.

Former Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats

Here’s another curious thing. The law clearly stated that in case of a vacancy at the DNI position, the Principle Deputy Director of National Intelligence would assume the role of acting DNI until the Senate could confirm a new DNI. This was because lawmakers felt it was critical for the president to have continuity in regard to national intelligence, as well as reasoned, experienced, expert advice. But the PDDNI was Susan Gordon.

Susan Gordon was a career intelligence officer — a true intelligence professional. She’d risen through the ranks from a CIA analyst to become the CIA’s Director of the Office of Advanced Analytic Tools (the cyber nerds), then the Deputy Director of the CIA, then Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, before taking the second seat as Deputy Director of National Intelligence. She wasn’t just the legal option for acting DNI, she was the best choice to become the permanent DNI.

Former Principle Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Susan Gordon

But the Trump team felt Susan Gordon wasn’t “sufficiently loyal” to Trump. They let it be known there was no place in the Trump administration for her. So she did the decent thing; she resigned on the same day as Director Coats. Three days after Trump’s call to Zelensky. Gordon wrote one of the shortest and most honest resignation letters ever.

Mr. President — I offer this letter as an act of respect & patriotism, not preference. You should have your team. Godspeed, Sue.

Who did Comrade Trump want to replace Coats and Gordon? Trump loyalist and Texas Republican John Ratcliffe, a two-term Congressman. Ratcliffe was best known for (and I swear I’m not making this up) 1) asserting the existence of a “secret society” within the Obama Department of Justice and the FBI devoted to preventing Comrade Trump from being elected and 2) claiming the Mueller Report was written by “Hillary Clinton’s de facto legal team.” In other words, Ratcliffe is a classic Republican from Texas fuckwit.

Current Nitwit and Conspiracy Theorist, John Ratcliffe (getting some serious side-eye from fellow Texas Republican Will Hurd)

Not surprisingly, Ratcliffe was so unqualified even Senate Republicans couldn’t support him. Five days after nominating him, Trump pulled the nomination.

The fact is, Comrade Trump doesn’t want intelligence experts. In fact, he doesn’t want any experts around him at all. He wants to be the expert. He wants others to defer to him and his judgment. He wants others to recognize his genius. Having people around him who are knowledgeable, who have expertise, makes him uncomfortable; they might correct him. And to a narcissist like Trump, that would be intolerable. That’s why the Department of National Intelligence lost both its director and deputy director on the same day. Three days after Trump made his call to Ukraine President Zelensky.

And that leads us to yet another curious thing. If you read the whistleblower’s complaint, it reads like it was written by an intelligence analyst. Or at least somebody familiar with intelligence memoranda. The format, the detail, the underlying evidence, the footnotes that support the narrative — it’s exactly how an analyst prepares a memorandum. Can we think of anybody with experience as an analyst, or who is familiar with such reports? Somebody who is a patriot and a professional, maybe even a career intelligence officer? Somebody who might be willing to be a whistleblower in order to throw light on a shady subject?

I’m just thinking out loud here.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I’m not saying either Coats or Gordon is the whistleblower. I’m just saying…you know…you never know. Is what I’m saying.

shrieking rage and frustration

Every morning it’s the same damned thing. Get up, check the perimeter, feed the cat, make coffee, read the news, try to decide if Comrade Trump is driven more by an undifferentiated infantile need to be the center of attention or by a massively corrupt desire to feed his own self interests. Or if he’s just completely fucking nuts.

It’s dark and cloudy out this morning. Looks like a storm is coming. I should leave soon and try to get a walk in before it hits.

The news this morning is largely about Comrade Trump being pissed off. He’s pissed off at U.S. Jews who didn’t/won’t vote for him, accusing them of being either stupid or traitorous (although it’s unclear whether he believe they’re betraying him, the U.S., or Israel). He’s also wildly pissed at Denmark, not just because they won’t/can’t sell him Greenland, but also because the Danish government mocked his desire to buy an autonomous state and its entire population.

On the other hand, Comrade Trump is pleased as punch (tangent — where the hell does that expression come from? Pleased as punch?) with a conspiracy theorist who said — and I swear I am NOT making this up — that he’s “the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world…and the Jewish people in Israel love him….like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.”

You guys, I actually don’t know how to respond to shit like this. I mean, sure, I’ll mock it and make fun of him, but Jesus suffering fuck, I just want to step out onto the deck and shriek my rage and frustration at…at I don’t know who or what. It’s almost enough to make me want to believe in god or gods so I’ve got something to shriek at.

I mean, how the FUCK did this guy ever get elected? (And yes, yes, yes, I know the answer to that, but how the FUCK did this guy ever get elected?) He’s an absolutely horrible human being. He’s corrupt, he’s cheap, he’s got no integrity, he lies about anything for no reason, he’s delusional, he’s gauche, he’d be amoral if he understood what morals are. He doesn’t read, he doesn’t listen to music, he knows nothing about art. He’s got no conscience, no respect for anything, no empathy, no patriotism, no compassion, no courage, no principles, no honor. He’s got no friends.

Let me say that again. HE’S GOT NO FRIENDS. Comrade Trump is arguably one of the most powerful people on the planet, but nobody cares enough about him as a person to tell him he’s got toilet paper stuck on his shoe.

Fuck. It’s raining now. It’s gone really dark outside. There’s thunder. I can see lightning in the distance. Fuck fuck fuck. I won’t be taking the walk I really need to take in order to calm the fuck down.

I don’t know…maybe this is the perfect time to step out onto the deck and shriek my rage and frustration. If you’ll just excuse me for a moment…