classic trump

Comrade Trump’s latest tantrum/threat is quintessential Trump. It’s the distillation of all things Trump times five. He’s decided to ‘explore’ avenues for removing the security clearances of half a dozen senior national security and intelligence officials who’d served in the Obama administration. We’re talking about John Brennan (former CIA director), Michael Hayden (former CIA director), Susan Rice (former national security adviser), James Clapper (former director of national intelligence), James Comey (former FBI director), and Andrew McCabe (former FBI deputy director).

What makes this classic Trump? I’m a tell you.

  1. It’s petty, malicious, and vindictive. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, with a straight face, claimed these folks have (and I’m not making this up) have “politicize(d) and in some cases monetize(d) their public service and security clearances” by “making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president.” Basically, they’ve criticized Comrade Trump and his handling of…well, just about everything in regard to national security. So they must be punished.
  2. It’s mostly pointless. None of these folks currently attend national security briefings. Revoking their security clearances will have absolutely no impact on the daily lives of most of them. As far as I can tell, only Hayden holds a position on the board of a private sector company that technically require a security clearance, which means he’ll likely lose some income. But in general, this move is like taking away their access to lockers in a gym they no longer attend.
  3. It’s incompetent. At least two of the people Trump wants to deny a security clearance have already lost their security clearances. When Comey and McCabe were fired (by Trump) from the FBI they automatically lost their clearances. The only reason they’re included on the list is because a) they’ve criticized Trump and b) nobody in the Trump administration could be bothered to check a few basic facts before announcing a plan of action.
  4. It’s inconsistent. Trump claims these folks have politicized and monetized their clearances, so they should have those clearances revoked. Yet his own former national security adviser (Gen. Michael Flynn, remember him?) retained his security clearance despite the fact that he stood on stage during the Republican National Convention and led the crowd in cheering “Lock her up!” He even kept his clearance after Trump learned he was under investigation for his dealings with Russia — the same dealings which led to his firing. Now that is some serious politicizing and monetizing of a security clearance. And lawdy, the Flynn scandal is small beans compared to that of Jared Kushner, who was given access to highly classified intel despite having to ‘correct’ his clearance application four times because he ‘forgot’ to include dealings with foreign officials, including…yeah, that’s right, Russians.
  5. It’s actually harmful to national security. Among the many detrimental aspects of the Trump administration, one of the most deleterious is its casual destruction of institutional knowledge by removing experienced people from positions of authority for political or ideological reasons. It’s bad enough in agencies that handle domestic concerns (like education and health care), but it’s a catastrophic loss in agencies that are concerned with international affairs. Past administrations have always relied on the expertise and experience of the administrations they replaced. Trump only relies on people loyal to Trump.
  6. It’s being implemented in a swarm of lies. This is no surprise. Comrade Trump seems unable to do anything without lying about something.

Top contender for Most Blackmailable Public Figure.

So, classic Trump. A mean-spirited, amateurish, contradictory move that not only won’t accomplish what he hopes it will, but will actually damage the nation — all accompanied by lies.

What’s most ironic about this is the fact that Comrade Trump, with his dodgy financial deals and a very long string of extramarital affairs, almost certainly wouldn’t be able to obtain any sort of security clearance at all if he weren’t POTUS. If there was a contest for Most Blackmailable Public Figure, Trump would be considered a front-runner.

This is the world turned upside down. And backwards. While drunk. And in heels. With one heel missing.

 

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putin’s got something on trump

I really don’t know how else to explain Comrade Trump’s contemptible display in Helsinki. I lack the conspiracy theory gene, but what happened yesterday is most easily explained by the conspiracy theory model (nothing happens by accident, nothing is quite what it seems to be on the surface, everything is connected). Even if we take the most skeptical approach, it’s hard NOT to arrive at this conclusion: Putin’s got something on Trump.

We’ve got Comrade Trump, a president whose licentious personal life and shady business practices make him singularly vulnerable to blackmail. We’ve got Vlad Putin, a former professional intelligence officer running the nation that basically invented the notion of kompromat. We’ve got the former insisting on a private one-on-one meeting with the latter — a meeting without the normal complement of aides and advisors, a meeting in which there is nobody taking formal notes, a meeting that lasted over two hours. And we’ve got Trump appearing with Putin immediately after that unprecedented meeting, and essentially denigrating and dismissing his own intelligence and law enforcement communities while praising Putin and Russia. And all this takes place AFTER Trump spent a few days shredding NATO, which is the sort of thing that would give Putin wet dreams.

This is Jeebus Level James Bond villain stuff. Seriously, if you submitted this in a novel manuscript or a screenplay, it would be laughed at as too implausible.

“Not a puppet. Not a puppet. Okay, puppet.”

I don’t know what Putin has on Trump. It could, I suppose, be the infamous alleged pee tape, but that just seems…no, okay, that does actually seem possible. Improbable, but certainly within the realm of possibility. It’s more likely, though, that what Putin has on Trump is something criminal rather than merely salacious.

I’m inclined to go with evidence of money laundering and criminal conspiracy. It’s not as personally humiliating as a pee tape, but it’s got the advantage of being solidly criminal. And prosecutable (my spellchecker insists that’s not a word, but my spellchecker can go fuck itself). Happily, money laundering and criminal conspiracy are exactly the sort of things Special Counsel Mueller’s team is designed to investigate.

Again, I can’t think of any other reasonable way to explain what happened in Helsinki. I think we’re sort of forced into the conspiracy theory mode in which the conspiracy isn’t only possible but probable. None of this is happening by accident, none of it is quite what it seems to be on the surface, and absolutely everything — all of it — is connected.

a much different president

Okay, let me get this straight. Comrade Trump (noted author of How to inherit Millions from Your Daddy and Still Go Bankrupt Like Half a Dozen Times and POTUS) met with Kim Jong Un (noted evil dictator, fratricidal rocket fetishist, and open friend of Dennis Rodman) in what journalists called a ‘summit’ and Trump called ‘another great historic deal which many people say is what I do better than anybody else ever, I can tell you that, believe me.’

Here’s what Kim got by meeting with the former leader of the free world:

  • Legitimacy as a world leader.
  • A weaker relationship between the U.S. and South Korea and Japan .
  • A cessation of U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
  • A rift between the U.S. and NATO.
  • A free ride on human rights violations.

Here’s what Trump got by meeting with a brutal dictator who has starved his people in order to afford more rockets:

  • A one page document re-affirming the same vague commitment to denuclearization that DPRK has made seventeen times since 1985.
  • A promise to return military remains from the Korean War.

It’s not exactly bupkis. Let’s call it it bupkis-lite. I mean, it’s nice that DPRK has agreed in principle to return the dead bodies of U.S. troops killed half a century ago. But we probably could have got them to agree to that in exchange for, say, letting them buy a bit more grain to feed their people (which would also allow U.S. farmers to earn a little extra coin).

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle I Don’t Know What the Fuck.

Still, we’ve got that one page document. Does it include, say, a timetable for denuclearization? Nope, nothing like that. What about a system of verification? Nope, not even hinted at. Maybe a shared definition of what  denuclearization is? No fucking way. But Trump apparently thinks if we show KJU and DPRK a little trust, it’ll all work out.

Here’s a telling example from the post-summit news conference:

Q: Mr. President, the joint statement does not talk about verifiable or irreversible denuclearization. Is that a concession on the part of the United States?

A: No, not at all. If you look at it, it said we are — let’s see here. It will be gone. I don’t think you can be any more plain.

I don’t think you can be any more fucking stupid. It will be gone. A few months ago Comrade told his supporters that ‘Little Rocket Man’ was unstable, a madman who murdered his own people and a serial liar who couldn’t be trusted, so there wasn’t any point in even talking with him. And they agreed. Now, after a couple of hours of photo ops, Trumps says he totally trusts KJU to keep his vague promises. And they agree.

Comrade Trump engaging in the Pull-My-Finger mode of international diplomacy.

If Trump says it, it must be true. Which leads me to another exchange in the news conference:

Q: What do you, President Trump, expect Kim Jong Un to do about the human rights record regarding the North Korean people?

A: They will be doing things. I think he wants to do things. You would be surprised. Very smart. Very good negotiator. Wants to do the right thing. He brought up the fact that in the past they took dialogue or never were like we are which has never been like what has taken place now. They went down the line. Billions of dollars were given and the following day the nuclear program continued. This is a much different time. This is a much different president in all fairness. This is very important to me. This is one of the, perhaps one of the reasons I won.

There you have it. DPRK will be doing things. And let me repeat Trump’s most salient argument. In the past they took dialogue or never were like we are which has never been like what has taken place now.

Nobody could be any more clear than that. Only Comrade Donald J. Trump could have negotiated this deal. This is a much different time, and in all fairness, he’s a much different president.

 

okay, we still have to do something about syria, again

“We HAVE to do something about Syria!”
“Okay. Why?”
“Because the Syrian government used chemical weapons against their own people!”
“Okay. But hasn’t the Syrian government been killing their own people for…wait. Wait a minute. Wait just one goddamn minute. Didn’t we already have this conversation? This exact conversation? Five years ago, didn’t we have this same conversation?”
“Yes. But this time I’m serious!”
“Okay. Has anything changed in the last five years?”
“Yes! We have a new president!”
“Okay. And is he better equipped to handle delicate, highly nuanced, incredibly volatile international situations?”
“Are you fucking crazy? It’s Donald Trump!”
“Okay. So we’re still fucked, then?”
“Yes, that’s correct! Massively fucked! Fucked all around!”
“Okay. And knowing all that, your position is…?”
“We HAVE to do something about Syria!”

in which i confess i was wrong about trump’s cabinet

I was mistaken. In the past I’ve referred to Comrade Trump’s appointments as the Cabinet of Nazgûl. I was wrong.

I mean, it seemed appropriate initially. After all, the Nazgûl were nine men (men, what a surprise) who had “obtained glory and great wealth” in life before succumbing to the dark, corrupt attraction of Sauron’s power. And like the characters in Tolkien’s novel, these men “one by one, sooner or later, according to their native strength and to the good or evil of their wills in the beginning, they fell under the thraldom” of Comrade Trump.

But here’s the thing about the Nazgûl: the reason they were Sauron’s “most terrible servants” was that they were competent. They were good at their jobs. They understood their role, and they fulfilled it professionally. That can’t be said of Trump’s current crop of advisers. These guys would be best described as cartoon villains — except that they have actual power.

I was wrong; this is NOT Comrade Trump’s cabinet.

John Bolton, a certified conspiracy crank who makes Yosemite Sam look like a damned diplomat, is going to be the new national security adviser. This is a guy George W. Bush couldn’t get confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations despite having a Republican-controlled Senate. This fucking guy has advocated the preemptive bombing of both North Korea AND Iran, because that worked so well in Iraq. This beef-headed motherfucker has publicly suggested the Russian hack of the DNC might have been a false flag operation by the Obama Administration. Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee revealed that this deceitful sonofabitch bullied intelligence analysts into saying Cuba — Cuba, an island nation whose claim to fame is its ability to keep a 1944 Dodge in running order — had developed a sophisticated bio-weapons program. And Comrade Trump thinks it’s a good idea to make this canker-brained bullshit artist his national security adviser — his third in fourteen months.

John Bolton, National Security Adviser in waiting

This is clearly a disastrous decision. Which means it’s perfectly in keeping with Trump’s decision-making process. It’s the same process that resulted in putting Kellyanne Conway in charge of the opioid crisis because…well, who the hell knows why she was put in charge. She was probably in the room at the time.

Is there any good news in Bolton’s appointment? Yeah, sorta kinda. Bolton probably won’t last very long in his position. He draws too much attention, and Trump wants all the attention focused on himself. Also, Bolton criticized Comrade Trump’s handling of Russia, saying, “Trump got to experience Putin looking him in the eyes and lying to him, denying Russian interference in the election.” I can’t imagine Comrade Trump putting up with that sort of talk for any length of time. I suspect Trump will kick him into the canyon in the not too distant future.

The only saving grace of the Trump administration to this point is that Trump is too fucking incompetent, too fucking stupid, too fucking ignorant, and way too fucking uninterested in anything other than himself to do Sauronesque level damage to the nation. We don’t have a Dark Lord; what we have instead is a cheap-ass, shallow gilt tinplate, jumped up Grima Wormtongue — a lying coward who abuses women, steals from others, and kisses Vladimir Saruman’s ass.

Jeebus on toast — you know, this used to be a halfway decent country.

the galaxies are full of very stupid people

The fans of Doctor Who are, on the whole, a pretty intelligent group with a fairly elastic capacity for the willing suspension of disbelief. Most of them (and by ‘them’ I mean ‘us’ because I’m also a fan of the Doctor) have a Disbelief Suspension Toggle that triggers immediately on hearing the first electronic notes of the harmonic waveforms that comprise the show’s theme song.

But there are some fans whose Disbelief Suspension Toggles appear to be seriously malfunctioning.

Consider the Adipose. Cheeky little semi-sentient marshmallows of fat, from the planet Adipose 3. They could, in a crisis, completely absorb humans, thereby turning those unfortunate humans into…well, more fat. To Whovians with a properly functioning DST, this is believable.

Totally believable, this.

Consider the Slitheen. They’re a Raxacoricofallapatorian crime family who plotted to turn the Earth into a huge nuclear reactor pile and sell the planet’s remains off as starship fuel. The Slitheen are able to pass themselves off as human by ‘wearing’ the skin of large, dead people. Because the Slitheen are larger than most humans, they have to compress themselves to fit inside the skin. One effect of this compression is the periodic necessity to expel gas in the form of resounding farts. This is believable.

Absolutely believable.

Consider Chula nanogenes. This was a microscopic form of gene therapy used to repair wounds and injuries suffered by soldiers from the planet Chula. The nanogenes were accidentally released on Earth in 1941 by an immortal, time-traveling human con man who’d stolen a Chula space ambulance. The escaped nanogenes attempted to heal a young British boy who was the victim of a Nazi bombing raid. Assuming the boy’s gas mask was actually part of his face, the nanogenes ‘healed’ the mask. Using the boy as a template, the Chula nanogenes ‘healed’ other injured humans based on the boy’s characteristics and injuries at death — thereby creating gas-mask-faced zombies. This is believable.

Who wouldn’t believe this?

Consider the Doctor — an alien being from the planet Gallifrey who possesses a binary vascular system, maintains an internal body temperature of around 60F (15-16C), and has a respiratory bypass system that allows the Doctor to occasionally go without oxygen for an indeterminate period of time. The Doctor primarily resides in a stolen dimensionally transcendental time-spacecraft called the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) which, due to a faulty chameleon circuit, looks like a 1960s-era British police box. When near death (usually due to injury, age, or disease), the Doctor can regenerate — a process by which the body restructures its triple helix DNA. This restructuring generally allows the Doctor to retain most of the previous Doctor’s memories. However, it also includes the genetic equivalent of ‘bit errors’ in the DNA. This has the effect of altering the Doctor’s appearance, height, mass, and apparent age. This is believable.

So completely believable.

To some Doctor Who fans, however, there is one immutable characteristic of the Doctor. One physical facet of the Doctor’s being than is indispensable, regardless of the regeneration process. One supreme, conclusive physical attribute that defines the Doctor. An extendable intromittent organ that acts as a sperm delivery system. To these fans, the Doctor’s physical body is apparently nothing more than an extension of the Doctor’s dick. Absent that organ, the Doctor is a sham.

In other words — no dick, no Doctor.

What? No. Are you kidding me? Unbelievable.

These particular Doctor Who fans are what I like to call ‘fuckwits’. Why? Because there’s no evidence that the Doctor even has a dick. The Doctor has always appeared to be male, so many fans have fallen into the Operative Assumption of Dick. It is an implied dick; nobody has ever actually seen the Doctor’s dick.

I’m confident, though, that there are David Tennant/10th Doctor fans who’ve made an exhaustive visual inspection of the Doctor’s tailored striped trousers; if a dick had been noticeable, I’m pretty sure it would have been…well, noticed. Even if the Doctor has a dick, it’s possible he’s hung like a horsefly.

The thing is, we just don’t know. No, wait…the thing actually is, it just doesn’t matter. Whether the Doctor is fully dicked, partially dicked, variantly dicked, or utterly dick-free, it just doesn’t matter.

What matters is whether the Doctor connects with the audience — and that’s a personal issue. Jodie Whittaker will either be convincing as the Doctor or she won’t. If you’re only able to relate to Doctors who possess an implied dick, then — well, I don’t want to say you’re a sexist idiot, but… No, wait. That’s actually exactly what I want to say. If you can’t connect to the 13th Doctor because she hasn’t a dick, then you’re a sexist idiot.

I don’t know if Jodie Whittaker will be convincing as the Doctor. I very much hope she will. But it won’t depend on what’s hidden beneath her clothing.

That said, I’ll be deeply disappointed if she wears heels.

this is not somebody that would have been prohibited from having a gun

So this guy walks into…wait, let me start over. This guy who has military experience walks into the FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska, and tells them…wait, let me start over again. This guy, who served in Iraq but received a general discharge from the military after having gone AWOL a few times, walks into the FBI office…wait. Let’s try that again. This guy who’d served in Iraq and was basically kicked out of the military, and who was facing domestic abuse charges for having hit and strangled his girlfriend, walks into the Anchorage office of the FBI and tells them he’s hearing voices. They send him…wait, damn it, let me start over again.

This guy, Esteban Santiago, who’d served in Iraq, who’d gone AWOL often enough that he’d been given a general discharge from the military for ‘unsatisfactory performance’, who was being prosecuted for punching and strangling his girlfriend AND who’d been arrested for violating the subsequent restraining order forbidding him to go near her home, walks into the Anchorage office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and tells them he’s suffering from auditory command hallucinations directed by the CIA requiring him to watch violent propaganda videos released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which sparks the FBI into contacting Anchorage law enforcement, who subsequently seize Santiago’s Walther 9mm pistol and transport him to an area psychiatric facility for four days of evaluation, which determined Santiago wasn’t mentally ill.

So the Anchorage police gave him back his handgun.

esteban-santiago1

I shit you not, they returned Esteban Santiago’s gun to him. Why? Because, according to U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler,

“As far as I know, this is not somebody that would have been prohibited (from having a gun) based on the information they had.”

What bits of information did they have? Let’s enumerate them, shall we?

  1. He was awaiting trial for assaulting his girlfriend. During an argument, she’d locked herself in the bathroom and called the police. Before the police arrived, Santiago (allegedly) kicked in the bathroom door, struck her, throttled her, then fled.
  2. He was also awaiting trial for violating the restraining order keeping him away from the woman who was now his ex-girlfriend.
  3. He presented himself to the FBI, confessed to having auditory hallucinations, and stated he’d been watching violent videos put out by militant Islamist terrorists.
  4. He was given an evaluation that determined he didn’t meet the criteria for being legally considered mentally ill.

Let’s look at that last issue first. Can a person who suffers from auditory command hallucinations NOT be mentally ill? Sure. In Alaska, mental illness is defined as having “an organic, mental, or emotional impairment that has substantial adverse effects on an individual’s ability to exercise conscious control of the individual’s actions or ability to perceive reality or to reason or understand.”

This sort of nonsense really happens. I once had a client who suffered from auditory command hallucinations. My client believed he had Go-Bots (these were transforming robot toys similar to Transformers) sitting on his shoulder. The Go-bots would identify gay men, then tell him to shoot those men the kneecap. (Spoiler: Go-Bots have shitty gaydar; none of the men he kneecapped were actually gay — not that it matters.) My client wasn’t considered medically ill because he knew shooting people in the kneecap was wrong and because he felt he could refuse to obey the Go-Bots if he’d really wanted to (he just didn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t trust the Go-Bots).

If Santiago was able to “exercise conscious control” of his actions, then legally he wasn’t mentally ill. By going to the FBI and informing them he was being controlled by the CIA, he was demonstrating that conscious control. Seriously — by reporting that he was hearing voices to the FBI he was proving that he wasn’t legally mentally ill.

estebansantiagomugshot

Now, you’re probably saying ‘Dude, the guy STILL assaulted his girlfriend! Shouldn’t that disqualify him from toting around a firearm? WTF? Allow me to respond. Dude, this is Alaska. In some other states, Santiago’s firearm would have been confiscated. But Alaska? They don’t even stop folks who are convicted of domestic abuse from buying and carrying firearms — and Santiago hadn’t even been tried yet.

So hey, let’s give him back his gun. And hey, while we’re at it, let’s let him transport that handgun from Alaska to the Gun Nut Mecca of Florida. Sure, we’ll make him transport it in checked luggage (not carry-on luggage, because that would be crazy), but let’s give him access to it once he lands. I mean, we don’t want to make it difficult for Esteban Santiago to protect himself once he lands in Fort Lauderdale, do we.

Because as T. Jefferson said, the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. And unsuspecting passengers idling around waiting for their baggage to arrive. Freedom isn’t free, right?