wetting the beak

It’s like this. Remember when young Vito Corleone is driving his delivery truck down the street in Little Italy, just trying to make semi-honest living, and suddenly Don Fanucci of the Black Hand swings aboard? And Vito looks at him like “Dude, what the actual fuck are you doing, swinging aboard my goddamn truck? I’m working here.”

Newbie gangster can’t even drive a damn truck without some Black Hand mobster in a white suit slotting in and giving him a ration of shit.

Then Don Fanucci explains. He says:

“Young man, I hear you and your friends are stealing goods. But you don’t even send a dress to my house. No respect! You know I’ve got three daughters. This is my neighborhood. You and your friends should show me some respect. You should let me wet my beak a little… Tell your friends I don’t want a lot. Just enough to wet my beak.”

That’s basically what Comrade Trump did during his phone call with the newly-elected president of Ukraine. But he wasn’t looking for dresses for Ivanka. He was looking for dirt on Joe Biden. And, like Don Fanucci, he didn’t care how President Zelensky came by the dirt — or even if the dirt was true. He just wanted the dirt. According to the ‘transcript’ the White House released to the public, Trump says:

“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot… I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation… I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.”

If anything, Comrade Trump was nastier than Don Fanucci. Imagine if Fanucci had said, “Vito, paisan, you got a new baby, you got a nice apartment with a toilet you don’t have to share with neighbors. You want to keep those things, you should wet my beak, capiche?” That’s basically what Trump said in his chat with Zelensky.

Zelensky needed some Javelin missiles — these are portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missiles — to keep the Russian Army from seizing more Ukrainian territory. Trump basically told him, “Look, you guys got Russians at your gate. You need missiles. I got missiles. You can have those missiles. I’d love to give you those missiles. But first you got to wet my beak.”

Comrade Trump is not your daddy’s mafia don. He’s a cheap imitation, made in China, shoddy construction.

But here’s the thing. In the old mafia movies, they play up the concept of omertà. The Sicilian Mafia code of silence. You don’t rat. Ever. You get caught, you stay quiet. It’s a matter of honor, of discipline, of loyalty. You don’t rat.

Comrade Trump is no mafia don. He has no honor, he has no discipline, he doesn’t inspire loyalty. The Trump administration is comprised entirely of rats-in-waiting. His people aren’t soldati. They’re not made men. They’re sycophants. They’ll turn on Trump in a New York minute to save their own asses.

And like Don Fanucci, Trump will eventually get what’s coming to him. Okay, I admit the analogy breaks down here. Nobody is going to drop Trump the way Vito did Fanucci, and nobody would really want that. But right now the House Judiciary Committee is wrapping a metaphorical towel around a metaphorical revolver and is waiting for a metaphorical Feast of Saint Rocco.

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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.

okay, impeachment then

Okay, impeachment then.

I’ve been advocating this step for quite some time, but I’m NOT happy about it. Well, that’s sort of not true. I’m not happy that the US is in a situation where impeachment is a necessary task. Impeachment is an ugly business, and it’s a shame that we’ve come to that point. But we ARE at that point, so while I’m sad for us as a nation, I’m also happy that enough Democrats have finally agreed that it’s necessary.

A lot of folks who oppose Comrade Trump and his ‘policies’ (and yeah, I put irony quote around the term because Trumps doesn’t really have policies; he has impulses) are really reluctant about impeachment. They keep warning us that impeachment will ‘fire up his base’ and ‘make them even worse’.

EVERYTHING fires up his base. And they’ll ALWAYS find a reason to make things worse. The Trump base exists in a constant state of rage and fear; cruelty is their response to almost every situation. For four years, starting before the election, Trump’s base have been wearing t-shirts that say ‘Fuck your feelings.’ That’s their starting position. We shouldn’t be concerned with ‘firing up’ his base. What are they going to do? Wear t-shirts that say ‘Fuck your feelings MORE’? (Spoiler — yes, it appears that’s exactly what they’ll do.)

I think it’s time to fire up OUR base. The Democratic leadership have spent far too much time making threats without backing them up, far too much time talking about what we’re GOING to do. It’s time we actually DO something. Fuck THEIR feelings.

You tell me the Senate will never vote to convict Trump? Maybe so. Probably. Then we force them to openly and publicly vote to support the most corrupt president in US history. We force them to say on the record, for the judgment of history, that it’s okay for a president to pay off porn stars, to lie to the public, to hide his taxes, to use the Oval Office to enrich himself and his family, to separate immigrant toddlers from their parents, to deliberately harm the environment, to encourage hostile foreign nations to interfere in US elections, to make it harder for citizens to vote. We may not win, but the very least we can do is force his supporters to acknowledge their own corruption. 

The US may yet turn into a fascist nation. It’s entirely possible. But damn it, if that’s going to happen, we need to at least make them work for it.

endorsements

A couple of days ago, Robert Kabel and Jill Homan (chairman and vice chairwoman of Log Cabin Republicans) published an editorial in the Washington Post with this headline:

Trump met his commitments to LGBTQ Americans. He has our endorsement.

I swear, I am not making that up. I mean, sure, they’re Log Cabin Republicans, but Jesus suffering fuck, c’mon. Comrade Trump has met his commitments to LGBTQ Americans? Maybe Trump isn’t as homophobic as he is racist and misogynistic, but that’s a pretty low bar. I mean, the guy has spent nearly three years undermining every LGBTQ protection that somebody on his staff has pointed out to him.

Kabel and Homan argue that Comrade Trump has “mov[ed] past the culture wars that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s…by removing gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook.” That sentence would be more accurate if they’d put a period after ‘rights’.

Cancer patients endorse RoundUp. “Our weed-free lawns are the envy of our neighbors!”

They say Trump “has committed to end the spread of HIV/AIDS in 10 years.” And that’s true. He has committed to that. He’s also committed to making Mexico pay for a border wall and to starting a Space Force. Trump’s commitments are as phony as his promises. The reality is that in June of 2017, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned in protest of Trump’s health policies, saying he “has no strategy to address the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV.” After they resigned, Trump shit-canned all the remaining members of the Council. The new Chair of the Council is an advocate of abstinence-only sex education programs, who rejects the use of condoms as a method to prevent the spread of HIV and other STDs. Seriously.

Environmentalists endorse napalm. “Really, it’s a chance to start over!”

Kabel and Homan claim Trump has pushed “an initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality”. Somehow they overlook his affection for Saudi Arabia, which publicly beheaded five men accused of homosexuality in April. One of them apparently had his head pinned to a pole in a public square. How’s that initiative working out?

Bears endorse forest fires. “They keep our forests clear of those pesky campers!”

They refer to Richard Grenell, the openly gay US ambassador to Germany, describing him as “one of many LGBTQ appointees whom Trump has tapped to…serve America’s people and the government with honor and distinction.” But they ignore the fact that Comrade Trump also initiated a policy of denying visas to the unmarried, same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations officials.

Hitchhikers endorse serial killers. “Those guys really know how to keep us on our toes!”

Kabel and Homen conclude by saying, “To be treated equally, fairly and justly under the law is our goal, and we know that ‘Inclusion Wins’ is a mantra we share with the president.” Inclusion? By the most divisive president in US history? To be treated equally, fairly, and justly by an administration that just proposed a change to federal rules that would make it easier for private employers who do business with the federal government to fire employees for their sexual orientation or gender identity?

Let’s not forget that a year or so after his election, Comrade Trump found himself discussing gay rights with a legal scholar. According to The New Yorker, Trump nodded to his vice president and said, as a joke, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!” Even as a joke, it tells you everything you need to know about the Trump administration’s views of LGBTQ issues.

Librarians endorse dog-earing. “Bookmarks are for pussies!”

I shouldn’t be surprised that Log Cabin Republicans endorse Trump. They’re more Republican than Log Cabin. And, sadly, the Republican party under Trump leadership is barely recognizable as a political party. It’s become more of a cult, abandoning most of its principles in the hope of retaining power.

Of course, they endorsed Comrade Trump for re-election.

elections have consequences, sort of

Ordinary Dude: Why aren’t we impeaching Comrade Trump?
Moderate Democratic Member of Congress: I don’t think we have quite enough information to begin impeachment proceedings.
OD: Is there credible evidence that he obstructed an investigation into possible wrongdoing by him and his staff?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he lies every day to the American people? That he lies so consistently and shamelessly that nobody can trust or rely on anything he says?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he was elected with the aid of a hostile foreign power? That he welcomed that aid in 2016 and might do so again in 2020?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he’s abusing his office to increase his personal wealth?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that Comrade Trump has cozied up to Mohammed bin Salman, who had a critic tortured, murdered and dismembered? And that he’s repeatedly bypassed Congress in order to sell weapons to him?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: And that’s he’s playing footsie with other leaders of hostile nations, while insulting and demeaning the leaders of friendly nations?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he’s abused the office of the president to settle personal grievances?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he’s used his office to consistently undermine federal law enforcement agencies and the US intelligence community?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: And doesn’t that make the US less safe?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that Trump violated campaign finance laws by paying hush money to women with whom he’s had affairs while married to his third wife?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: What about neo-Nazis and white supremicists? Is there credible evidence that he’s encouraged these groups, either openly or through example?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he’s attacked the freedom of the press and called the news media ‘the enemy of the people’?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that he’s created policies that separate children from their asylum-seeking parents? That he’s housed both the children and their parents in appalling circumstances? That he failed to insure there’s a method for re-uniting those children with their parents? Is there credible evidence that some of those children will likely never see their parents again?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that the Trump administration is the most corrupt, most inept, most conflicted, most incompetent administration ever?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: Is there credible evidence that Trump is a racist?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…

Democrats fleeing the swarm of Republican accusations of partisanship.

OD: Don’t all these facts taken together amount to the biggest betrayal of the United States by a president in our history? And isn’t that betrayal still taking place?
MDMoC: Well, yes, but…
OD: So why aren’t we impeaching the motherfucker already?
MDMoC: Because we’re not sure impeachment is a politically wise position to take.
OD:
MDMoC: If we try to impeach, Republicans will accuse us of being partisan.
OD:
MDMoC: And even if we do impeach him, the Senate probably wouldn’t vote to convict.
OD: Jesus suffering fuck.
MDMoC: Hey, don’t blame us. You elected us, after all.

my plan to deal with dog ass republicans

I have a plan. Well, not a ‘plan’ plan, since I’m in no position to implement it. It’s more of a suggestion for a plan. Would you like to hear it? If not, then stop reading, on account of I intend to reveal my suggestion for a plan in the next paragraph.

Ready? Okay. Here it is: impeach the motherfucker already.

I know, it’s not original. And I know, you’re going to say “Greg, old sock, even if the House impeaches the motherfucker already, the dog ass Republicans in the Senate will never convict the motherfucker, so what’s the point?”

I’m glad you asked. First, stop calling me ‘old sock’. Second, the fact that the dog ass Republicans in the Senate will never vote to convict the motherfucker is actually part of the plan. Or the suggestion for the plan.

My plan suggestion for a plan, in slightly more detail, is as follows: announce right up front that we know the dog ass Republicans in the Senate are already in the bag (by ‘in the bag’ I mean ‘so devoid of patriotism and so unconcerned about democracy and governance that they’ll do whatever Comrade Trump wants’) but that it’s SO GODDAMNED IMPORTANT to publicly hold Trump accountable for his many crimes that we’re going to impeach the motherfucker already anyway. Announce right up front that we fully expect the dog ass Republicans to continue to support Trump’s criminality and enable him to fuck up representative democracy, but we still hold some truths to be self-evident, and among those truths is that the United States should NOT be run by a cruel, ignorant, narcissistic bully who is completely lacking in morals and lies as frequently — and with as much forethought — as he blinks.

If we announce right up front that we’re doing what we believe is the right thing to do even though we fully expect it to fail — not because the effort isn’t worthwhile, but because we know the game is rigged — then we have absolutely nothing to lose. And if/when the dog ass Republicans refuse to convict Trump, we can say “This is why we call them dog ass Republicans.”

So, that’s my plan. My suggestion for a plan. Whatever. What do you think? Cool, huh?

why i’m done with bernie

A friend recently asked me why I dislike Bernie Sanders now. I said I didn’t dislike him; I just wish he hadn’t decided to run for POTUS again. I supported Bernie for most of his 2016 campaign, so of course I like Bernie. I mean, the guy has devoted his entire life to social justice. Plus he’s managed to demystify democratic socialism to a LOT of Americans. Also plus, he doesn’t smile of laugh a lot — but when he does, it’s a very genuine smile or laugh. How can you NOT like him?

But then I thought about it…and I realized that yeah, I kinda do dislike him now. Which is sad and disappointing because I really like Bernie Sanders a lot.

The problem isn’t Bernie himself. The problem is there’s a small but very loud segment of his base — folks I think of as OBAs. Only Bernie Assholes. As in ‘Only Bernie can save us!’ As in ‘Only Bernie has the right ideas!’ As in ‘Only Bernie, and if Not Bernie then America deserves Trump!’ As in ‘Only Bernie or let the whole world burn!’

I respect their passion (no, I really do), but I have no tolerance for that sort of political purity. Political purity is just a nice way of saying ‘extremism’. OBAs are extremists who won’t accept a nuanced opinion about Bernie. They think you must either be totally and completely FOR him and everything he says or else you’re absolutely AGAINST him. If your support isn’t pure, undiluted, and unqualified, then you’re compromised in some fundamental way. They see the notion of ‘Vote Blue No Matter Who’ as a betrayal of All Things Bernie.

That’s annoying, but everybody has the right to vote the way thay want. The thing that really cements the ‘asshole’ in OBA is that so many OBAs are as conspiracy-minded as the Q-Anon folks. They seem to be truly convinced that if Bernie isn’t winning, it can only be because shadowy corporate forces (usually in the form of the DNC) are actively conspiring and working against him. Other Democratic candidates are frauds who are stealing Bernie’s ideas only in order to get elected, at which point they’ll revert back to corporate whores. They are totally convinced Bernie was cheated out of the nomination in 2016 by the Democratic National Committee, and are equally convinced the DNC is doing it again in 2020.

(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

At the beginning of this campaign season I joined a pro-Bernie Facebook group (I also joined a pro-Cory Booker and a pro-Mayor Pete group because I wanted a better sense of who they were). The pro-Bernie group initially seemed pretty reasonable and I felt better about Bernie joining the race. Then it slowly became dominated by OBAs, who either drove less pure Bernie supporters out of the group or effectively silenced them. Here are some of the posts and comments that appeared in that group over the last day or so:

— Anyone who was in the trenches from the beginning knows this. It didn’t take Russians to talk us out of voting for Hillary. It took looking into her record. Her scandal. The theft of the 2016 primaries. her online army of trolls. Shutting down Bernie Sanders Web pages with child porn.

— If the dnc rigs the election against sanders and gave us Harris or Biden, then I’m going full Bernie or bust. If we don’t have standards, then the corporate dems are just going to shaft us.

— When the establishment prop up Warren, it’s only to try to hurt Bernie. They are focused on trying to take him out in any way they can because he is an existential threat to their excessive amounts of wealth and corporate bribes.

— If the democratic party really wanted to beat trump they would pick Sanders if that truly was their main concern. It is not. They would rather lose to trump then have a Bernie presidency and that is a fact not some outlandish conspiracy.

—  I used to like [Meryl Streep], and watched most of her movies. But she is a hypocrite, a big supporter of HRC among other Hollywood elites and out of touch. She has blindly supported HRC who is also as corrupt as Trump. Because of this reason, I do not watch the  Oscars any more.

— Biden sucks. Everyone knows it. Even the DNC. That’s why they are now artificially inflating Warren. Not cause they like/want her. But they’d rather have her, than Bernie. And it’s becoming clear to everyone.

— I voted for Bernie in the primary I voted for trump in the general reason I never trusted Clinton I am back behind Bernie now like him he is the original deal a true socialist the one that will enact everything he is saying BERNIE 2020

— I wonder why Obama is mute about Bernie but openly support HRC in 2016??

— Bernie or GTFO!

— [T]he 1% run the D.N.C. They want to run another “Hillary” candidate that no one likes to make it look like a real win for Trump again.

— Polls are same as gerrymandering, or even worse totally biased!

— Bernie in did win CA in 2016, his hundreds boxes of ballots were not counted. On the day of HRC declared her so-called landslide won in CA. The Staffs posted hundreds of unopened box of his ballots.

Okay, that doesn’t quite approach the lunacy of the Q-anon theory that 1) JFK Jr. is alive and 2) is actually Q, and 3) is working secretly with Trump and Mueller to build a case against Obama and Hillary. But still.

Let me just say that the OBA’s dislike of the Democratic National Committee has some basis in reality. Some members of the DNC openly disliked Bernie — although, to be fair, Bernie had spent years denouncing the DNC. But the DNC didn’t ‘steal’ the nomination from Bernie. He lost it. He lost it in part because his followers didn’t bother to learn how the primary and caucus systems worked. A lot of Bernie supporters who hadn’t registered as Democrats turned up at closed Democratic primary sites expecting to vote and were turned away. Instead of acknowledging their error, they claimed they’d been disenfranchised — that they were refused because they were Bernie supporters. Which is nonsense.

Bernie wasn’t cheated out of the nomination; he just lost. I say that as a person who caucused for him. He just flat out lost. There’s no shame in that. There’s no need to concoct conspiracy theories to explain his loss.

I really like Bernie Sanders. I won’t support him in the primaries, but I’d happily vote for him if he’s the eventual candidate. Because I believe ‘Vote Blue No Matter Who’ is a valid strategy to rid ourselves of the Trump administration. In my opinion, Bernie has always been more of an inspirational leader than a policy wonk, but that’s okay. One of the most important jobs of POTUS is to inspire the populace to be better citizens. Bernie would be good at that.

I like Bernie. I really do. But I don’t think he can win the nomination. And I cannot abide OBAs. And that’s why I’m done with him.