nope

Trump: I won the election!
GOP: Okay.
American People: Nope.

Trump: I won ALL the Red States and, really, the Blue States too so I won the election!
GOP: Sure.
Voters: Yeah, no.

Trump: I won the election but the fake news won’t report it!
GOP: I believe it.
FOX News: Trump says he won the election.
Legit News Agencies: Nope.

Trump: Fake polling tried to steal the election, but I won!
GOP: Probably, sure, okay.
FOX News: President says he won’t allow the election to be stolen. I mean, from him.
Pollsters: Nope.

Trump: I won the election but massive election computer fraud stole it from me!
GOP: Well, I don’t know, maybe?
FOX News: President alleges computers switched votes.
CyberSecurity: Nope.

Trump: I won the election but voter fraud stole it from me!
GOP: I guess it might be possible.
FOX News: President claims widespread voter fraud.
Courts: Nope.

“I won the election! I won! I did, I won! The election is mine! I won the election!

Trump: I got more votes that any Republican in history, so I won the election!
GOP: Well, you know…
FOX News: President makes unusual claim in bid to retain presidency.
Constitution of the US: Nope.

Trump: I’m the president and I’m telling you ‘I won the election’ so I need you Republicans to come across for me and tell everybody that I won the election!
GOP: Goddamnit.
FOX News: Goddamnit.
Democracy: Nope.

Trump: Hugo Chavez, George Soros, Cuban Marxists, Democrats, Antifa, BLM, Rachel Maddow, House Lannister, the Daleks, and Sauron the Corrupter of the Hearts of Men all conspired steal an election that I totally won!
GOP: Uh, listen, I’m late for a meeting.
FOX News: Well, that was certainly colorful.
Rationality: Still nope.

insult politics

At some point today or tomorrow Amy Coney Barrett will be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Has she earned that seat? I don’t know, probably not–or at least not yet–but it doesn’t matter; it’ll be given to her anyway. Is she qualified? I don’t know, maybe, but it doesn’t matter; it’ll be given to her anyway. Do the American people support her? Some do, some don’t, and it doesn’t matter; it’ll be given to her anyway. At some point today or tomorrow Amy Coney Barrett will be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

It will be given to her in the same way SCOTUS seats were given to Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. It will be given to her as a display of raw political power. It will be given to her as an expression of the modern Republican Party’s sneering disregard to representative democracy. It will be given to her as a demonstration that Republicans in the Senate can do whatever they want and Democrats are helpless to stop them. It’s the legislative equivalent of the Trumpist slogan Fuck your feelings.

It’s hateful aggressive bullying, plain and simple. It’s the same thing Trump supporters are doing all across the nation. It’s deliberately coughing in the face of a person wearing a mask. It’s driving trucks decked with Trump flags and signs through a BLM demonstration, honking horns and shooting people with paint guns. It’s purposely mispronouncing Kamala’s name. It’s openly carrying semi-auto rifles into the coffee shop, into the supermarket, into the state capitol building. It’s a flag saying ‘Make Liberals Cry’. It’s blocking access to ballot boxes and harassing voters. It’s calling the police to report a black person for being a black person doing what a white person can do. It’s a t-shirt that says ‘Free Michigan, Fuck Whitmer’.

Modern Republicans didn’t invent insult politics. They’ve been around for centuries. It’s been written that the Roman emperor Caligula planned to appoint his favorite horse, Incitatus, a consul of Rome–the highest elected or appointed office in the Roman Republic. It didn’t happen, but it’s a classic example of insult politics.

I’m not comparing Amy Coney Barrett to a horse. Unlike Incitatus, Barrett may, in fact, be qualified to sit on a high court bench. Even the Supreme Court. It doesn’t matter, because she’s not being given the seat because she’s the best candidate to fill it. Republicans could have chosen any of dozens of interchangeable, reliably conservative judges who’d vote the way they expect her to vote. They chose her because she’s a Catholic woman, and would give them a chance to accuse Democrats of being against religion and women. They chose her because it’s easier to bully somebody when you think they can’t or won’t fight back.

Giving a SCOTUS seat to Amy Coney Barrett is a deliberate insult. It’s a general insult to democracy, and a very specific, intentional slap in the face to Democrats. Giving her a seat is an insult to the Supreme Court. It could be said it’s an insult to Amy Coney Barrett herself, because it’s entirely possible she could have earned a spot on the Supreme Court. (The same is true of Gorsuch, who might have earned a seat; it’s not true of Kavanaugh, who lacked the temperament and probity to occupy a SCOTUS seat.)

The fact that Barrett is willing to accept a seat on the Supreme Court as a gift is, sadly, telling. It meant she didn’t have to answer any tough, important questions during her confirmation hearing. Does a president have the power to delay an election? The US Constitution offers a clear answer: no. Elections are held “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.” But Barrett declined to give an answer, because it didn’t matter; she was to be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Should a president commit to the peaceful transfer of power? The answer is obvious: yes. But Barrett declined to give an answer, because it didn’t matter; she was to be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

My objection to Amy Coney Barrett isn’t grounded in her politics. Well, not entirely. My objection is the rank hypocrisy of Senate Republicans and their disregard for the process of democracy. They could have waited to give her the seat until after the election. They could have waited for the American people to speak their minds through their votes. They could have chosen NOT to just giver her a seat on the Supreme Court. But no. They could have acted decently and honorably. But no. They did what they wanted because they knew nobody could stop them, because they had the power to impose their will on American society.

That’s all there is to it. At some point today or tomorrow Amy Coney Barrett will be given a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States as a testament to the conservative commitment of pissing off Democrats.

not even a dog

Yesterday on Facebook I responded to a post by one of my senators (Charles Grassley, who at one time was a principled conservative but has devolved into a hypocritical party hack) who chastized “Democrats & liberals in the press” for not giving enough attention to the Hunter Biden Laptop Lunatic Conspiracy Theory. I said this in response:

Generally, advancing a Russian disinformation operation is considered unAmerican. Sad to see you taking such a position.

Several Trump/Grassley supporters took me to task for suggesting the laptop fuss followed the pattern of a classic Russian dezinformatsiya scheme (which it totally does).

— “Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Monday said that Hunter Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign”.”
— our TDS Delusion is blinding you!! Hunter’s ATTORNEY contacted the computer shop, wanting to retrieve his client’s laptop!!! If this laptop has been in FBI custody since Nov. or Dec., 2019, HOW DID RUSSIA GET AHOLD OF IT, OR HAVE ACCESS TO IT??
— YOUR TDS IS IN THE WAY!! THIS LAPTOP, NOW CORROBORATED BY HUNTER’S ATTORNEY, IS LEGIT AND HUNTER HAS A PEDO PROBLEM AS WELL AS LOTS OF MONEY THAT HE AND “POP” HAVEN’T PAID ANY TAXES ON!!
— oh here we go again, everytime a Democrat gets caught dirty the ” Russians” did it, learn a new tune numbskull
— So you think just because the MSM isn’t covering this that it doesn’t exist?? WOW – and you call me stupid and gullible?? It is NOT a LIE, and when Joe-Joe and Hunter go to prison, maybe you’ll believe it then!! The laptop was corroboated by Hunter’s own attorney, plus Hunter’s buddies, Bevan Cooney and Devin Archer, who are both facing prison time for all of these crazy financial deals; they have now turned over 26,000+ e-mails which are also on Hunter’s laptop!! They were in on this; flipped on their buddy as they go to prison, and Hunter gets to be free FOR NOW!! Since Joe-Joe got half of all of the money, just think of all the taxes that Joe-Joe did NOT PAY on all those millions!! Hope the IRS pays him a visit!!
— has nothing to do with the Russians. It is left wing bias by Twitter and Facebook.
— FOX Tucker Carlson verified it today.

Where to start? Maybe with the claim that Hunter Biden’s attorney ‘corroboated’ the idea that the laptop belong to his client. George Mesires, the attorney in question, told the Washington Post, “We have no idea where this came from, and certainly cannot credit anything that Rudy Giuliani provided to the NY Post.” So no, that dog don’t hunt.

What about the suggestion that since the laptop has been in FBI custody since late 2019, there was no way for Russia to “GET AHOLD OF IT“? It would indeed be difficult for Russians (or anybody else) to get access to a hard drive stored in an FBI evidence facility. It would, though, be relatively easy for Russians (or anybody else) to load disinformation onto the drives of three laptops and deliver them to a strip mall computer repair shop in Delaware run by a legally blind Trump supporter and claim they were the property of Hunter Biden (who, by the way, lived in California at the time, which makes it improbable that he’d fly to his daddy’s home state to get his computers repaired). So no, that dog don’t hunt either.

Well, how about the claim that Hunter Biden “HAS A PEDO PROBLEM“? This nasty bit of bullshit was launched by a photo printed in the NY Post article. It shows the front of a subpoena form that doesn’t list a recipient or identify anything the recipient is required to produce. However, there appears to be writing on the back of the form which has bled through to the front (in reverse, of course), and includes a signature that could be that of FBI Special Agent Joshua Wilson, who has worked on child pornography cases. There’s literally nothing on the form to indicate the subpoena was for Hunter Biden, or that it involved a laptop, or that child porn is involved. So no, that dog don’t hunt and is probably asleep on the porch.

One of many dogs that just don’t hunt.

So what about the fact that Tucker Carlson “verified it”? Let’s just remind folks that a federal judge just dismissed a slander lawsuit against Carlson after agreeing with Carlson’s own lawyers that “given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statement he makes.” In other words, Carlson’s employer, FOX News, admits that he is full of shit and can’t be relied on as a fact witness. In fact, the Biden laptop ‘scandal’ was so thin that FOX News refused to report it as news. That didn’t stop FOX commentators (like Tucker Carlson) from talking about it incessantly, of course. But it’s worth noting that even Breitbart, a normally reliable engine for lunatic right-wing conspiracy theories, was skeptical about the story. So no, that dog don’t hunt and it may not even be a dog.

DNI John Ratcliffe momentarily not kissing Trump’s pale plump ass.

But hey, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe…what about his claim that the laptop in question “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign“? If you can’t trust the DNI, then who can you trust? Sadly, you really can’t trust the DNI IF the DNI is John Ratcliffe.

Let’s first acknowledge that Ratcliffe, a notorious Trump ass-kisser, is Trump’s fourth DNI in just under four years. Let’s also acknowledge that the first time Trump nominated Ratcliffe to be DNI (after Trump forced DNI Dan Coats to resign after Coats agreed that Russia implemented a disinformation op to help elect Donald Trump in 2016), the nomination had to be withdrawn because even Trump supporters in the Senate felt Ratcliffe wasn’t qualified and couldn’t be trusted not to politicize intelligence issues. In the interim, there were two other DNIs; Joseph Maguire, who was fired for briefing the House Intelligence Committee that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump and was planning on doing it again in 2020, and Richard Grenell, a Trump supporter without any intelligence experience who also couldn’t be confirmed by the Senate. After Grenell, the Senate confirmed Ratcliffe as DNI on a party line vote (because at that point the GOP had basically given up any hope of checking Trump). Although he’s only been DNI for five months, Ratcliffe has routinely violated norms by mining and declassifying material (mostly dealing with Hunter Biden and Ukraine) that might help Trump’s re-election campaign.

The CIA’s assessment of the laptop ‘scandal’ is that it’s likely a dezinformatsiya operation “probably directed” by Putin and his top aides, implemented by Russian asset Andrii Derkach in Ukraine, with the presumably unwitting assistance of Rudy Giuliani (is Rudy really that stupid? Maybe.). More than fifty former senior intelligence officials–including former Trump administration officials–have signed a letter stating the laptop ‘scandal’ “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” The FBI, which has custody of the laptop hard drive, has reportedly opened an investigation to determine if this is a Russian disinformation operation.

So no, the Ratcliffe dog don’t hunt, and isn’t a dog, or even a mammal. It’s more of a slime mold–a eukaryotic organism not known for hunting.

But I’ve got a shiny new nickle that says during tomorrow night’s debate, Comrade Trump will repeatedly accuse Joe Biden’s son of being corrupt and possibly a pedophile on national television. That in itself is reason enough to vote him out of office.

trump and socrates

Somebody at the White House needs to remind Comrade Trump that he’s still the President of These United States — and that a big chunk of his job is to pay attention to what’s going on in the nation. Anybody who has spent any time at all on social media or watching any actual news show on television has heard of the QAnon conspiracy theory. I mean, back in 2019 the FBI designated QAnon as a “domestic terror threat” because of the group’s potential to incite extremist violence. That’s the sort of thing that ought to grab a president’s attention.

But somehow QAnon and the national security threat it poses seems to have largely slipped right by Donald Trump’s keen eye. During his town hall last night, he said this:

“I know nothing about QAnon…I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard, but I know nothing about it.”

Trump, who is a narcissist of the first water (okay, quick but pointless digression…’of the first water’ refers to the way they used to grade the clarity and translucence of diamonds…c’mon, you know you wondered about that), wants us to believe he knows nothing about a group that has him at the heroic center of their belief system. He may not be aware of exactly how loopy the QAnon community is, and he may not think they’re a terrorist threat, but it surpasses belief that he’s unaware of their love for him.

But then again, Trump has displayed an uncanny ability to NOT know things. Here are a few of the things he’s admitted not knowing anything at all about.

— QAnon
— Russia paying bounties on Coalition troops in Afghanistan
— Steve Bannon’s involvement in a fundraising campaign to support the building Trump’s wall
— WikiLeaks
— the Proud Boys
— a recent bungled incursion into Venezuela
— Dr. Stella Immanuel, the woman who says masks don’t work and insists there’s a cure for Covid-19
— the Air Force refueling at Prestwick airport in Scotland and staying overnight at Trump’s expensive Turnberry golf resort a 40 minute drive from the airport instead the many hotels within a few minutes of the airport
— Rudy Giuliani’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who are currently awaiting trial for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, campaign finance fraud, and lying to the Federal Election Commission
— David Duke and the KKK

That’s a LOT of important stuff NOT to know about, especially given the fact that knowing about important stuff like this is a critically important part of the POTUS job description. I’m not even mentioning the stuff Trump obviously knows about, but hasn’t really bothered to deal with. Stuff like Saudi Arabia murdering and dismembering a Washington Post reporter. But we can safely say the scope of his ignorance is matched only by his amazing expertise in an astonishingly wide array of fields of knowledge.

Here are a few things Trump has said he knows more about than…well, anybody.

— drones
— ISIS
— tax law
— the horror of nuclear
— campaign finance
— social media
— forestry
— courts
— immigration system
— trade
— negotiating
— infrastructure
— tariffs
— renewables
— Cory Booker
— the Federal Reserve
— the military
— windmills and wind energy
— banking

Socrates, the Greek philosopher and minor character in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, said this: “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.” It sounds a lot more impressive in Greek. But basically, he was saying an individual can only know a limited amount of stuff, and what that person knows isn’t much at all compared to what the individual doesn’t know.

But Trump is no Greek philosopher. When he says he doesn’t know something, there’s a decent chance he knows enough to lie about knowing it. And when he says he knows more about something than anybody else, he’s absolutely lying.

I suspect Trump isn’t as knowledgeable as he claims. I suspect he’s not as ignorant as he claims. In fact, I suspect D.J. Trump is what those of us in the justice biz call ‘a lying sack of shit’ (DISCLAIMER: I am no longer in the justice biz, and haven’t been for quite a while, but I can still recognize a lying sack of shit when I see one).

I’m not say I know more about lying sacks of shit that anybody else, but spotting lying sacks of shit is like riding a bike — you never really forget how to do it.

october surprise

Originally, a ‘surprise’ was an unexpected attack. It comes from the Latin sur meaning ‘over’ or ‘above’ and prendre meaning ‘to grasp or seize’. A surprise party, originally, was a stealth military detachment that ambushed the enemy.

The political phrase ‘October Surprise’ has a vaguely weird history. It grew out of the 1980 election between President Jimmy Carter and his challenger, Ronald Reagan. It appears to have been coined by William Casey, Reagan’s campaign manager (and a former OSS officer who, after Reagan was elected, became the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency). Casey was concerned that Carter was secretly arranging the release of 52 American hostages held by Iranian revolutionaries, and would announce the deal just before the November election. ‘October Surprise’ has also been used to describe an alleged secret deal between Iran and Reagan operatives to prevent the release of those hostages until after Reagan won the election and was inaugurated (and, in fact, Iran announced the release of the hostages literally minutes after Reagan’s inaugural speech).

Almost every election since 1980 has included some sort of October Surprise —  an event designed to irreparably damage one candidate’s chances and boost the other’s. Few of them work; fewer still are actual surprises. That includes yesterday’s ham-fisted absurdist political theater. We’ve all been expecting a ‘surprise’, of course. But even given Team Trump’s reputation for bungling political schemes, this ‘surprise’ was badly managed. Comically bad.

Here’s the basic accusation as reported by the New York Post. Somebody (Hunter Biden) brought three damaged laptop computers to a Delaware computer store for repair in April of 2019. The owner of the store (unidentified in the original report) claimed to have found an email on one computer’s hard drive — an email from Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, thanking Hunter for the opportunity to meet Joe Biden, who was then Vice President. Scandal! Hunter Biden and his daddy are corrupt! Biden must be defeated in the coming election! Scandal!

John Paul Mac Isaac (This should not be taken as an indictment of men wearing kilts).

Right. Now let’s ask a few questions — the sort of questions a 14-year-old fan of cop shows on television would ask.

Who is this unidentified store owner?
— He turns out to be kilt-wearing Trump supporter John Paul Mac Isaac.

Who brought the three laptops to Mac Isaac’s shop?
— Uh…we don’t know. Mac Isaac says he has a ‘medical’ condition that prevented him from recognizing the person who brought in the laptops. Also, nobody signed any sort of repair authorization form or receipt for them. But the person allegedly said his name was Hunter Biden.

What evidence does he have to prove the laptops were brought in by Hunter Biden?
— At least one laptop had a ‘Beau Biden Foundation’ sticker on it, plus there was an email addressed to Hunter Biden on that laptop, plus there were sexually explicit images featuring Hunter Biden.

Did Hunter or anybody return to the shop to retrieve the laptops? Or called to inquire about them?
— Uh…no. After ninety days Mac Isaac said he made repeated attempts to contact Hunter Biden without success.

What did Mac Isaac do when he discovered the email?
— He contacted the FBI. No, wait…first he made a copy of the email (and apparently the sexual images) which he gave to Rudy Giuliani. No, wait…he gave the copy of the material to Rudy’s attorney, then he turned it over to the FBI. No, wait…the FBI got in touch with him about the material, then he gave it to them. Or maybe he gave it to the FBI, who later sought his help in accessing the material.

Is this the same Rudy Giuliani who has been working for a couple of years with known Russian intelligence operatives to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden to hurt Joe Biden’s election chances?
— Uh…yes, it is.

Why did Mac Isaac give the material to Rudy’s attorney before giving it to the FBI?
— Because he doesn’t trust the FBI. He seems to think maybe the FBI (possibly in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee) murdered Seth Rich (who worked for the DNC) because Rich knew ‘the truth’ about the DNC emails stolen by Russian intelligence operatives sources and provided to Roger Stone, WikiLeaks, and the Trump campaign. He also thought maybe the FBI might kill him too. So he made a copy of the material and gave it to Rudy’s attorney as insurance. He said he didn’t tell the FBI he’d made an ‘insurance’ copy, but that they would have assumed he would make such a copy to protect himself.

Why would Mac Isaac give the material to the FBI if he thought they might kill him if they knew he had the material?
— Uh…because of reasons?

What meta-data could we obtain from the email?
— Uh…none. The New York Post only had a pdf file of the email, not that actual email. So there’s no header information, no metadata. Just a picture of the alleged email.

How did the New York Post get this material?
— It was provided to the Post’s Deputy Politics Editor, Emma-Jo Morris, by Rudy’s attorney. Ms. Morris apparently became the Post’s Deputy Politics Editor yesterday, when she wrote the story. She has written three other political stories for the Post. All three were written yesterday. All three are about Hunter Biden.

What did Emma-Jo Morris do before becoming the Post’s Deputy Politics Editor yesterday?
— She booked guests for Fox News personality Sean Hannity.

Is this the ‘smoking gun’ October Surprise Republicans claim it to be?
— Nope. It’s not smoking. It’s not even a gun. It’s not a surprise. But it IS October.

This is perhaps the stupidest, worst prepared, least convincing, most desperate October Surprise ever. It’s the most embarrassingly bad disinformation op imaginable. It’s like Laurel and Hardy teamed up with the Keystone Kops to create a conspiracy theory. If the person responsible for this is in Russian intelligence, I’m going to guess he’s looking at a long drop from a high window, an acute case of cement poisoning following an incident of deceleration trauma.

‘i just didn’t want to’

He has speech writers. We’ve all seen The West Wing, we know there’s a department in the White House for people who carefully craft the president’s speeches — who take the president’s thoughts and ideas, and use them as a framework for a speech. But, as in everything else, Comrade Trump thinks he knows better.

So instead of giving a speech reassuring the American public that he’s doing everything the doctors tell him in order to return to the White House, Trump presents a rambling, unfocused, semi-dishonest, off-the-cuff monologue. In it, he says”

“I had no choice, because I just didn’t want to stay in the White House. I was given that alternative. Stay in the White House, lock yourself in. Don’t ever leave…I can’t do that. I had to be out front.”

This is maybe the most honest thing Trump has ever said to the American public. “I just didn’t want to. I had to be out front.” He just didn’t want to wear a mask or follow the medical protocols that could keep him and his supporters safe. He had to be out in front of an audience of admiring supporters.

That attitude not only led us to a body count of over two hundred and ten thousand American citizens, it not only led us to economic disaster, it not only led us to a housing crisis and an education system in turmoil, it also led us to the craziest goddamn moment to date in administration filled to the brim with crazy goddamn moments. I’m talking about that appalling scene at the White House when Trump returned from Walter Reed in Bethesda.

They planned this. Some deranged group of people in the White House — probably the same group that thought it would be good optics for Trump to stand in front of a church and hold up a Bible for 45 seconds — thought it would be dramatic for Trump to leave Marine One, climb the steps to the Truman Balcony, present himself to the American people, and take off his mask.

And hey, they were right. It was dramatic. It was dramatically stupid. It was dramatically offensive. It was dramatically arrogant and dramatically undermined any notion that Trump had learned a damned thing from his time at Walter Reed. Or that he’d learned a damned thing during his three and a half years as POTUS. In fact, it dramatically undermined the notion that Trump had ‘beaten’ Covid; he was clearly struggling to breathe as he stood on the balcony.

He took off his mask, people. He has Covid — an infectious disease spread primarily through airborne particles emitted through the mouth and nose — and he took off his mask to show the world…what? That he was tough? That he was courageous? That he was manly?

What Comrade Trump showed the world was that he was still the same arrogant, ignorant, feckless yobbo he’s always been. It showed the world he still doesn’t give a rat’s ass for anybody other that himself.

The butcher’s bill at this moment stands at 213,462 dead in the United States. Last night 421 Americans died from Covid. Four hundred people died from Covid last night. We’re seven months into the pandemic. It’s not going to get better until we can get people to stop spreading the virus. And that actively contagious fucker stood on the Truman Balcony and took off his mask.

russian ratfucking

It never stops, does it. Last week yet another whistleblower filed a complaint with yet another Inspector General accusing the Trump White House and Trump-appointed agency officials of yet another abuse of authority by censoring yet another report outlining ongoing attempts to interfere with the 2020 election by Russian intelligence agencies.

This time it was Brian Murphy, the Principal Deputy Under Secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Before he went to work for DHS he was a Marine and an FBI agent. Not what you’d call a ‘liberal’. He was ordered “to cease any dissemination of an intelligence notification regarding Russian disinformation efforts…because it ‘made the President look bad’.” Murphy objected (because Russia was running a disinfo campaign) and complained to his superiors. He was subsequently demoted.

There are very few core principles in the Trump administration, but included in them are the need to protect Putin and to deny Russian ratfucking of the 2016 election and the upcoming 2020 election. You have to wonder why that’s so important.

Who appears to be in charge here?

In May of 2018 I suggested that Trump’s insistence that the FBI ‘infiltrated’ his 2016 president campaign in an effort to ‘spy’ on it and entrap his campaign staff into breaking the law was a matter of ignorance rather than complicity. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. I thought perhaps he simply didn’t understand that the FBI, by opening a counter-intelligence investigation into his campaign, was trying to protect him from some of his campaign staff who were in wildly inappropriate contact with Russian intelligence agents and/or Russian criminal elements. If the FBI hadn’t attempted to find out what the Russians were up to, they’d have been derelict in their duties.

What the FBI discovered was a series of attempts by Russian intelligence operatives to penetrate Trump’s campaign. Sadly, those attempts were actually welcomed by some campaign members. Not only were they eager to accept material that had clearly been stolen from Democrats by Russian intel agencies, they never considered reporting it to the FBI. Worse, when confronted by the evidence, those staffers lied about it. Lied repeatedly, and actively hampered the investigation. That’s a clear demonstration of guilt.

Who seems to be subordinate here?

By July of 2018, after the weird and horrifying Helsinki summit, I was far more willing to believe that Trump’s currying to Russia wasn’t just a matter of ignorance. I began to accept the probability that Putin had something on Trump himself — some sort of kompromat. I figured it was likely something to do with money laundering and/or criminal conspiracy rather than something personally embarrassing (like the alleged ‘pee tape’). In any event, it looked less like stupidity from inexperience and more like cooperation and complicity with Russian influence agents. I couldn’t think of any other probable explanation for his behavior at Helsinki.

By January of 2019, I was ready to accept that Trump was, in fact, a Russian intelligence asset. Not a ‘spy’; Trump lacks the emotional stability and the skill set required to be a spy. But he has a personality that makes him exceptionally vulnerable to Russian exploitation as an asset: he’s emotionally needy, he’s driven by greed and ego, he’s at least immoral if not amoral, he’s both shameless and easily insulted, he has no real sense of loyalty or patriotism, he has no qualms about cheating and assumes everybody cheats, and he’s willing and able to lie about anything. Trump is easy to manipulate.

Who is in control here?

The sad fact is, willing or not, since he took office Trump has furthered Russian interests and increased their international presence, and at the same time damaged US interests and surrendered US leadership on the world stage. He’s created a wedge between the US and NATO — to Russia’s benefit. He’s given Syria a free hand to commit war crimes — to Russia’s benefit. He’s withdrawn US influence in Iraq by abandoning the Kurds, allowing Russian troops to assume control of military bases and stations built by the US military. He’s essentially legitimized Russia’s illegal seizure of Crimea. He’s fought against and/or failed to impose sanctions against Russia despite bipartisan support in Congress. He’s refused to acknowledge, let alone act on, reports that Russia has paid the Taliban bounties to kill US troops serving in Afghanistan.

Domestically, he’s been willing to disregard the collective opinions of the US Intelligence Community on issues like Russian interference in the US election, and accepted Putin’s claim that Russia wasn’t involved. He’s not only undermined the efforts of the FBI and CIA to disrupt Russian interference, he’s appointed agency administrators who have leaned on their agencies to mute any criticism of Russia.

Who is most confident here?

I’m NOT saying Trump is run by Putin or Russian intelligence agencies. They don’t need to run him. On his own, he’s brought chaos and exacerbated existing divisions in US society. Russia helped him get elected (and are trying to help him stay in office), but after that all they had to do was stand back and let Trump be Trump. It was a low-cost, low risk, high reward black op — almost certainly the most successful and cost effective black op in modern history.

The idea that the President of the United States might be — and probably is — a Russian intelligence asset should be absurd. It should be laughable. Sadly, it’s not. The evidence keeps mounting up. It’s entirely possible — and, again, this is shocking for me to say — it’s entirely possible that if Trump is re-elected, representative democracy in the US may come to a crashing halt.

Lawdy, I hate saying that. I hate that it’s actually necessary to say it.

suckers, losers; it’s a mug’s game

Oh, come on, was anybody really shocked? Comrade Trump thinks people who join the military are suckers and losers — is that actually a surprise? Since the day he stepped into the Oval Office, Trump has shown his disregard for the military and military culture.

It’s not just that Trump dodged the draft during Vietnam; lots of rich white kids did that. I don’t hold that against him. Most draft dodgers didn’t brag about it like Trump, but that’s small beans.

No, Trump’s feelings about the military were apparent in the way he sneered at John McCain for getting ‘caught’. I mean, it doesn’t take any great skill for a fighter pilot to get shot down, but it takes character to deal with all those years as a POW. I’m okay with Trump disagreeing with McCain’s politics (I do too), and I’m okay with mocking him for being a showboat as a politician. But you don’t get to mock his suffering, especially if you’ve evaded military service yourself.

Trump’s feeling about the military was apparent in the way casually sneered at the family of Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed during a suicide attack in Iraq. In the way he forgot the name of Sgt. La David Johnson (who was killed in an insurgent attack in Niger, and whose body was left behind) in his condolence call to the widow, in the way he said this about her husband’s death: “It’s what he signed up for.” It was apparent when his Trump Foundation publicly raised money for a veterans group but failed to failed to actually give that money to the group until the New York Attorney General began an investigation into the misappropriation of the funds. It was apparent in the way he interfered (against all protocol) in the cases of at least two soldiers accused/convicted of war crimes.

Other world leaders braved the mist to honor the dead at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

And, of course, his feelings about the military were apparent in 2018 when he bailed on attending a ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, which holds the bodies of more than 1800 US Marines who died during the battle of Bellaeu Wood. Trump claimed the weather that day prohibited his helicopter from flying; he also said the Secret Service was reluctant to drive him the 40 miles to the cemetery for security reasons. And yet Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel were able to attend the ceremony despite the rain. So was Trump’s own Chief of Staff, John Kelly, who was driven there by his staff.

But not Trump.

Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly braved the mist to lay a wreath at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

A year earlier, on Memorial Day in 2017. Trump accompanied Kelly, to Arlington National Cemetery, where Kelly’s son is buried. According to reports, Trump looked at the long lines of white headstones and said to Kelly, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

And there it is. That comment is perfectly on-brand for Trump, and it explains his feelings about military service. Trump views the world in purely transactional terms; he sees every interaction (at least with those outside his family) as a negotiation, an exchange in which somebody gains and somebody loses. Every interaction — what’s in it for me, what’s in it for them, and what do I need to do to come out on top?

If that is, in fact, Trump’s worldview (and I see no reason to doubt it), then of course he’d see the troops as suckers, as losers. There’s no tangible profit in serving in the military. You can make a fortune selling stuff to the military, but putting on a uniform? Following orders that could get you killed, and for a ridiculously low salary? That’s a mug’s game.

Me, I’m a mug. So were both my brothers. So was my father and many of my uncles. I don’t like playing the patriot card, but we’ve paid our dues. Which is something nobody named Trump has ever done.

EDITORIAL NOTE: We’ve got less than 60 days to the election. Do your duty. Vote. Vote early. Vote, but just vote ONCE.