Consciousness of Guilt – He did it.

Consciousness of Guilt

He did it.

Spetember 26th 2019

Robert Harrington, in a piece titled the same as this one, was kind enough to pull the legal definition of “Consciousness of Guilt” from RationalWiki. It reads:

Consciousness of guilt is a legal concept and a type of circumstantial evidence of guilt. It is based on a criminal suspect who demonstrates a guilty conscience by their actions or speech. Some examples of consciousness of guilt are:

Fleeing from the crime scene or jurisdiction
False statements and lies
False alibi
Changing one’s name or personal appearance
Concealing or destroying evidence
Witness intimidation or bribery
Generally, any attempts to cover up a crime
Simply put, consciousness of guilt is an action or statement that a person accused of a crime makes that an innocent person would not make.

We’re in a very peculiar situation where no honest person can look at the evidence, mostly provided by Trump’s own words and actions, and have any reasonable doubt that he is guilty of obstruction of justice, a cover-up, misuse of office, and efforts to impede legal investigations into his actions through working corruption of office [cough, Barr and Kavanaugh, /cough].

During Watergate, even those of us willing to believe the worst of Nixon had, if not a frisson of doubt, at least the frustrated knowledge that the available evidence might not be enough to get an honest verdict of guilty. At least, not until the 8-0 Supreme Court ruling that forced Nixon to release the unredacted tapes. Then, finally, there was no longer any doubt. Nixon plunged in public opinion polls, Republicans stopped putting up any real resistance to the impeachment hearings, and a head count in the House made it clear Nixon would be impeached on at least four counts.

Two weeks later, he was gone.

In 48 hours, we covered the same amount of ground that the Watergate scandal covered between July 13, 1973 and July 24, 1974. Why those two dates, slightly over a year apart? The first was the day Alexander Butterfield revealed to Congress that Nixon taped all his Oval Office discussions, and the world suddenly realized that here was evidence that could impeach or exculpate Nixon. The second date was when the SC said, “Turn ‘em over.”

The tapes were released to the public on August 5th, and included the famous ‘smoking gun’ tape in which Nixon was advised of the break-in. He resigned on the 9th.

Unfortunately on this zeitgeist-y anniversary of August 5th, 1974, I don’t expect to see Trump gone in three days. Oh, it could happen, but Trump is not Nixon. Nixon was corrupt and vicious, if by an order of magnitude less so than Trump, but he was also intelligent, self-aware, and mostly sane. Trump is clearly none of those things and in a nation that had a healthier attitude toward the rich and famous, he would have been gone a year ago. If his candidacy was ever taken seriously in the first place. Hopefully America has learned wealth and power isn’t the same thing as wit and wisdom.

It’s going to get really ugly, and nobody can really say in what ways it will happen. We do know that he’s trying to implicate and possibly destroy vice President Mike Pence. Aside from the usual Trumpian strategy of trying to shift blame to the nearest available target, there is the possibility that he’s hoping the prospect of Nancy Pelosi moving into the first-in-line slot might dissuade Congress from kicking him out of the White House.

The Republicans are probably concluding that Trump has reached the end of his shelf life, and they are doing their own calculations. If I know my Republicans, they are thinking that if Trump abruptly resigns, there’s a good chance there will be scattered violence among what David Brin memorably called “legions of McVeighs” and a possible recession. If general conditions did go south, wouldn’t it be ever so much better if they could play their usual game of gleefully and visciously blaming the nearest Democratic president for all the unrest and bad conditions that they themselves caused? Additionally, Mike Pence at best would be an underwhelming president, and carry with him the stench of Trump’s criminality and cruelty. Indeed, given his complicity in many of Trump’s scandals—yes the same complicity Trump is trying to bring to our attention now—it’s quite likely that the Democrats will be having impeachment hearings for Pence, and an aroused electorate would be preparing another blue tidal wave. A year of Pelosi, they think, could work to their advantage, especially since they still have the Senate and so can keep her hands tied whilst portraying her as a do-nothing ‘caretaker’ President.

But first things first. They have an avowed criminal and seditionist in the Oval Office, and they need to figure out a way to get him out before he takes into his head to drop a nuke on San Francisco or something.

The Dems are not going to rush to an impeachment vote. Yes, they have the evidence, the most solid evidence a Congress has had in an impeachment process since Nixon released the tapes. But they want to implicate the whole rotten gang—Pence, Barr, the family whelps, all of them. They are truly a cancer on America, and if some of the Democrats are using a political calculus of their own about the advantages of full, lengthy hearings, it’s a rare situation where such calculation and serving the national interest are actually congruent.

Yes, I would like to see Trump gone tomorrow. But I think it’s important that they identify, indict, and convict their entire rats’ nest of corruption that has poisoned the county.

Otherwise we will remain enveloped in the miasmic stench of Trumpism. And that cannot be good.

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Times We Live In – We all lead interesting lives now

September 25th 2019

My, but we live in interesting times, don’t we?

Following US politics right now is a bit like Kremlin-watching from aboard an out-of-control train. A whole lot of mysterious goings-on, happening far too fast to make any real sense of it. Here’s a caveat that any forecast I make is likely to be invalid ten minutes later because Developing News. So I won’t embarrass myself by trying.

Let’s see: 48 hours ago, 135 Democrats favored a formal start to the impeachment process. As of this evening, 219 do—a House majority.

The DNI office formally turned the whistle-blower report over to the House this afternoon, amidst swirling reports that the Trump appointee threatened to resign if Trump interfered with either the turning over of the report, or the Director’s plans to testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week. Trump denied the reports, but then, he would, wouldn’t he?

There was an astonishing report that he told President Zelenskiy today at their meeting that Nancy Pelosi was no longer Speaker of the House. Nobody is quite sure what the hell he meant by that, but if he fired her, she apparently didn’t get the memo. The poor dear still thinks she’s Speaker of the House.

Trump went out of his way to implicate Mike Pence in the mushrooming scandal. He told the media not once but several times to get transcripts of Pence’s calls to the Ukraine. He may have decided to throw his veep to the wolves in hopes it will take the heat off of him, an action that for Democrats would be Christmas and Mardi Gras and New Years’ Eve all rolled into one. The would love to go straight from President Trump to President Pelosi and avoid having to deal with the psuedo-religious freak.

The edited transcript the White House released of the phone call, which included 11 minutes of conversation in a 30 minute call, reminded everyone that Trump and Bob Barr are both liars who don’t mind altering evidence in order to obstruct justice. Mueller report “summary,” anyone? Barr will be in the same prison wing as Trump, Pence and McConnell before this is all over.

However, it also highlighted their utter incompetence. Not only did the transcript make it clear that Trump did withhold funds and press for the Ukraine to try and find dirt on Hunter Biden, but by the use of a single word, “though,” Trump make it clear that the aid was to be conditional on them finding something Trump could use against the man Trump feels most likely will be running for President against him next year.

Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed a demand that the Whistle-blower report be released to the House Committee. Yes, it’s required by law, and there’s no wriggle room on the issue, but respect for the law never stopped McConnell’s pack before, did it?

This afternoon, a GOP flak named Mike Murphy, with close ties to the Senate, told MSNBC that a discreet poll of GOP senators found 30 of them that might support impeachment at this time. It was already fairly clear that the GOP at large, while perfectly happy to work Trump’s corruption and viciousness to their advantage, were heartily fed up with the thankless task of protecting his ass.

Trump has the remarkable ability to demand loyalty of ‘his’ people, and then piss on their heads. And most Republicans have wet heads right now. Republican solidity is about to vanish, I think. Should be fun to watch!

Once the Ukrainian president was safely away from Trump this afternoon, a spokesman in the Ukraine, Serhiy Leshchenko told ABC News, “It was clear that [President Donald] Trump will only have communications if they will discuss the Biden case. This issue was raised many times. I know that Ukrainian officials understood.”

As a part of that story, ABC has a good recap of what happened with Hunter Biden and the Kyiv government, and shows how utterly futile Republican efforts to try to rebrand events as “The Biden Ukraine Scandal” are both futile and sad. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/ukrainians-understood-biden-probe-condition-trump-zelenskiy-phone/story?id=65863043

It was a part of GOP talking points the party released to the faithful (including, of course, Faux News) this morning. We know this because the charming incompetents of the GOP accidentally sent the same memo to all the Congressional Democrats, who gleefully showed it to the press. Ooops.

The pace, already torrid, may actually accelerate tomorrow. Keep an eye on the news. These are historic times.

And as the old Chinese curse has it, these are also interesting times.

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Trump is Toast – He has created a prima facie case for impeachment

Trump is Toast

He has created a prima facie case for impeachment

September 24th, 2019

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just announced that a full-blown impeachment inquiry will proceed against Donald J. Trump. Clearly, she believes that the evidence supports it, and that the House will support it.

Republican resistance is beginning to crumble: The Senate voted unanimously to demand that the transcripts of the calls to the Ukraine be released. It’s a small concession in a way: the transcripts are of one phone call to one leader, and all reports are that the complaint itself involves at least a half-dozen calls to several world leaders, including Putin and Kim Jong Un. But given the utter solidity of GOP intransigence in the Senate, this relatively small accommodation to the law represents a massive surrender.

Trump himself reacted to this, characteristically, with a self pitying whine. “Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage. So bad for our Country!”

Thank you, Mister President. You may sit down now.

We’re going to hear a lot about how the transcript may not show anything really bad and how Hunter Biden is the one who should be investigated, along with lots of other apologist gaslighting. Trump just said that the transcript will show “no quid pro quo unlike Hunter Biden.” Hunter Biden isn’t the president, and even if he was as corrupt in the Ukraine as Paul Manafort, he didn’t violate the Constitution. Trump, however, did.

By his own public statements, he withheld $400 million in military and foreign aid to the Ukraine while pressing the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden. The office of the president, Volodymyr Zelensky, indirectly confirmed this, issuing a statement that they would respond favorably to ally legal request through intelligence channels regarding any activities involving Biden, but not in response to extortion.

There is absolutely no question that extorting a foreign power in order to dig up dirt on relatives of a possible political challenger qualifies as a “high crime or misdemeanor” and there’s no reasonable doubt that Trump did exactly that.

The transcript, even if damning, is small potatoes. The whistleblower complaint addresses a pattern of corruption and subversion, you can be absolutely certain of that. I have my own suspicions as to who the whistleblower is, and when his identity is revealed, he will prove to be someone who did directly witness Trump acting in a feckless and even treasonous manner in his interactions with other world leaders. Voters will recognize treason when they see it.

The complaint is part of a far larger pattern of corruption. Not just Trump, but his adult children, his vice president, and dozens of members of Congress. The fact that McConnell and others may be caught up in this mesh of villainy may result in them throwing Trump, his family, and Pence under the bus in an effort to save their own hides.

Don’t think it will happen? I call your attention to today’s unanimous resolution in the Senate. McConnell has finally realized he cannot stonewall his way out of this, and the known evidence suggests that he, too, is involved in corruption involving favoritism toward Ukraine gangsters. He isn’t going to let himself go down with Trump.

The GOP is disintegrating before our very eyes. Dozens of Congressmen are quitting, and dozens more will quit between now and the start of primary season. They know that the party will be utterly destroyed if they do not rid themselves of this cancer on America.

The impeachment inquiries will produce a huge barrage of evidence showing duplicity and treason by a large segment of the leadership of the GOP, and it will be out there with the public watching, in in a form where Faux News can’t pretend it isn’t there, or that it can deflect the overwhelming evidence with whattaboutery.

It’s unlikely, in my opinion, that we’ll see impeachment come to a formal vote in the House. The GOP cannot afford to let that happen. Indeed, they need to stop this before the lurid public testimony begins, and the real and irreversible political damage sets in.

The GOP cannot survive a full public inquiry into the multiple facets of Trump’s criminality, and their own complicity. They know this. They can no longer stop it by stonewalling.

So right now, behind the scenes, party leaders are debating how much of the Administration they have to destroy in hopes of cutting out the gangrenous parts of their party. They may already be considering forcing Trump to resign, or failing that, a 25th amendment move. They may have to sacrifice Pence (and thus the White House) if that’s what it takes to convince the public they aren’t really anti-American gangsters.

Except a lot of GOP bluster over the next few days. But it’s empty bluster meant to distract from the fact that Trump is finished, and threatens to take the entire party down with him.

Trump is toast. The GOP need to concentrate on trying to save themselves.

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Whistlestop – Trump’s crimes may have caught up

September 19th 2019

That big mushroom cloud over Washington, DC? Oh, that’s just the Whistleblower scandal. A still unidentified person with close access to the President overheard him making promises that were described as “disturbing and alarming” to parties on the phone unnamed but include a short list that includes Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and the President of the Ukraine. The informant went to the Inspector-General, who found the allegations “credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of urgent concern.” That finding mandated that within seven days, the Director of National Intelligence must turn the matter over to the intelligence committees of Congress. There is no latitude in the matter; the law is very specific about this. Further, under whistle blower laws, no other agency of government other than the DNI and Congress have any say on the matter, parties who may be the subjects of the whistleblower’s report may not discuss or take any action in the proceedings, and any attempt at retaliation against the whistleblower is a felony.

Only there is no Director of National Intelligence. Dan Coats quit about two months ago, and Trump promptly tried to circumvent the seniority of the organization by appointing a hack Congressman with no intelligence experience and whose only qualification seemed to be that he was an avid and staunch supporter of Trump. He was so unqualified even the Republicans in Congress couldn’t take it, and he had to withdraw from his nomination. Sue Gordon, a careerist in the organization and the second-in-command, became acting DNI. But several days after that, Dan Coats did something very peculiar; he approached his former number two and close professional associate at a meeting and told her she had to resign immediately. Chances are he didn’t even have to explain why he would make such a request so unimaginable under any other circumstance: their duties stood to cross paths with the vicious and corrupt Donald Trump, and his equally vicious and corrupt slug of an Attorney-General, Bob Barr. Trump then named some navy officer, a Joseph Maguire, to be acting DNI. Maguire has no qualifications, but due to either cowardice or corruption—or both—is steadfastly loyal to the criminal Trump.

And surprise surprise: Maguire is refusing to hand over the report to Congress, making the Kafkaesque argument that the whistleblower rules don’t pertain because the whistleblower isn’t actually a whistleblower. Bob Barr has inserted his flabby and spotted carcass into the struggle, quite illegally, making the same argument.

But the scandal itself continues to mushroom. It wasn’t a single incident, although the only one we know anything at all about is a claim that Trump promised the president of Ukraine unspecified favors if he would dig up dirt on the doings of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.

That rings true. Last May it came out that Guiliani was planning to go to the Ukraine to make the same offer. I wrote about it at the time: “Giuliani planned to go to the Ukraine in hopes the present Ukraine government could dig up some dirt on Joe Biden. It’s illegal to solicit campaign interference from a foreign government, but Giuliani probably looked at Trump and figured that if the President does it, it must be legal, and blabbed his intentions to the press.”

Guiliani went on to describe Barr as “independent, brilliant and honest,” a description so outlandishly false that I figured he had to be lying about a lot else besides.

At the time, I wrote of Guiliani, “after about five minutes of speaking, Giuliani’s 32 kilobits of RAM is depleted, his buffer is empty, and the inadvertent truths start tumbling out. His eyes go blank, he starts sweating profusely, and Fauxnews suddenly has to go to commercial.” The only thing I got wrong there is that Guiliani’s meltdown occurred on CNN, rather than Faux. Chris Cuomo grilled the hapless halfwit of 9/11 thusly:

After CNN host Chris Cuomo questioned whether Giuliani had asked Ukraine to investigate Biden, Giuliani said, “No, actually I didn’t. I asked the Ukraine to investigate the allegations that there was interference in the election of 2016 by the Ukrainians for the benefit of Hillary Clinton.”

“You never asked anything about Hunter Biden? You never asked anything about Joe Biden?” Cuomo followed up.

“The only thing I asked about Joe Biden is to get to the bottom of how it was that Lutsenko … dismissed the case against AntAC,” Giuliani said, referring to former Ukrainian prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko and the Ukrainian-based Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC).

“So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden,” Cuomo said.

“Of course I did,” Giuliani replied.

“You just said you didn’t,” Cuomo responded.

If it was anyone other than Guiliani, I would have cringed in sympathetic embarrassment. But Rudy is about as likable as a Plantar wart, so to hell with him.

Trump tried to defend himself by Tweet, and didn’t do much better. “…anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem! …Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially “heavily populated” call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”

So let’s see: Donald is arguing that he would only be appropriate and loyal because people were listening, and if he wasn’t appropriate or loyal, they might file a report. He’s saying this in response to a report that he said something inappropriate and disloyal on the phone to foreign leaders on multiple occasions. I see, Mister President. Do go on.

The Ukraine is the only one we know anything about, mostly because of Rabid Rudy. But phone calls in that time frame did include Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, two of Donald’s favorite dictators.

The plot thickens, nay, sets.

Trump must be in a full-blown panic right now. This is the smoking gun, the scandal that will take him down, and we’re just learning about it; it’s been brewing since at least last spring, when Rudy thought enlisting foreign aid to smear a opposing candidate in the election was a good idea.

This is going to be massive. It may end Trump and his criminal regime. Pay attention, now.

 

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The Rise of the Codgers — or, Casey Kasem saves the universe

September 13th 2019

I didn’t bother watching the debate last night because I’m thoroughly fed up with the ‘loaves and fishes’ approach in which each candidate gets fifteen minutes to discuss eight or nine separate items in answer to questions the moderators pose, not to shed light, but to to show ‘impartiality’ by being the sort of assholes who put bugs in jars to ‘make them fight.’

But I’ve been hearing plenty about one incident; Joe Biden was hit with a gotcha question and fumbled the response. Perhaps not a ‘hold the presses!’ moment, but once the uproar died down, it lay bare a problem Joe, along with all the other major candidates for president this year, share.

One of the moderators asked Joe about an intemperate remark he made in 1975. Now, I’m sure you all remember 1975: disco, Whip Inflation Now buttons, endless rumors that the Beatles were getting back together, and Jaws. Cassette players were the hot new thing, and people speculated that it may cut into the popularity of vinyl LPs and turntables.

Joe’s remark, made a mere 44 years ago, was pretty vile. He was asked then about reparations, and said he would “be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.” The moderator, who apparently had never read a news story since then, wanted to know what Biden had to say about that now. Biden decided to deflect, admitting that “…there is institutional segregation in this country.”

So far, so-so. He wasn’t going to address reparations, but he was at least willing to admit that race remained a central problem in the country.

I sure wouldn’t want to be held to account for some of the stupid stuff I said in 1975. Or even stuff that wasn’t particularly stupid at the time, but was just the sort of crap people said back then. So I understand how Joe handled it, am even a bit sympathetic.

But then, Joe got more tangential, arguing that black kids should have better educational opportunities, and saying that parents needed to play a bigger role in home instruction. To that end, he said, “Play the radio, make sure the television… make sure you have the record player on at night.”

OK, some people are saying that the deflection and trivialization of the issue was racist, but I don’t think that’s the case here: it was just Joe running his mouth and being a numbnuts. The answer was facile, and would have been condescending if Joe were able to understand he was talking down to people.

Well, Joe is the safe and uninspiring candidate. If you want to be safe and uninspired next year, he’s your man.

But his answer, aside from being tone-deaf and simplistic, revealed a bigger problem that Joe shares with Trump, Warren, and Sanders: they’re all codgers.

They’re all older than Reagan was when he first ran for president, and Reagan’s age was an issue—as was the fact that he had pretty severe dementia going on in his second term. More and more people are arguing that in addition to being a narcissist and a sociopath, Trump is also suffering from dementia, an argument that get more persuasive every time the man opens his mouth (or taps his phone) and utter nonsense spews out. Bernie obviously had a bad case of laryngitis going on last night, leaving me to wonder what kind of voice he would have by the end of the primaries. Warren was the only one of the four who appeared vigorous and up-to-date.

Joe’s codgerhood really came to the fore with the ‘record player’ remark.

First off, how many households with young children even HAVE a record player? Could a typical five year old know how to operate a record player, or would he be trying to jam the disk in a slot in the side, because he remembers seeing an old movie where people did that with their “CD players”?

For those of you born after 1968 who bother reading a codger like me, you played a record by dragging a needle along grooves in the disk. This created vibrations in the needle, which were converted to electrical impulses. It was all very 19th century. The sound quality was actually pretty good, and you could tell the gender of “Bing”, “Doris” and “Frank” if the record wasn’t warped.

Even “radio” is dated. It’s what my grandfather used to call “the wireless” (nothing to do with the internet or computers) and your grandpappy called “the ray-dee-oh”. It’s still around, and you can buy radios that pick up signals right out of the air broadcast mostly by religious nuts, scammers and neo-nazis.

Well, at least Joe knows they play music on the television, but then, MTV has been around since the early 80s. I’m not sure what Joe would make of a Roku player; I have a vision of that one ancient Star Trek movie, the one with the whales, where Scotty is trying to talk to a computer mouse.

The incident is trivial. I’ll talk about “winding a clock” or “looking at the road map”. I’m a codger myself. ‘Course, I’m not running for president, and compared to any of the three Democrats running, I would be a shit choice. (Compared to the incumbent, well let’s just say I’ve dropped turds that would make a better president than him).

My own speech is peppered with anachronisms. Hell, I still wear a wrist watch. (I took Douglas Adams’ hint and got a digital watch. It’s pretty cool.) This doesn’t mean I’m ready for ‘assisted living.’

Nor does it mean any of the Democratic frontrunners are ready for what we used to call “the old folks’ home”. Joe might be a numbnuts, but he was a numbnuts in 1975, too, and if he isn’t showing much in the way of progression, at least he isn’t showing signs of mental decline.

So don’t read too much into the ‘record player’ thing. It isn’t a red alert; it’s just a reminder that all these guys are within hailing distance of their 80th birthdays, and it’s gonna catch up to them, sooner rather than later.

It’s time for us baby boomers to let loose of the reins (a dated reference to a type of self-driving device before Tesla) and pass the torch (which was not carbon-friendly or LED) to the next generation, who by now have to be feeling a bit like Prince Charles, late middle-aged with nothing to do except wait for us to kick off.

It’s not like we did such a wonderful job of running things.

There’s a lot of potentially great leaders in their 50s and even 40s out there. The Constitution thinks the right persons would be ready to be president by age 35.

A codger will probably win the presidency next year. But hopefully, he or she will be the last of the codgers, and we’ll then start considering candidates born after the rise of the cassette tape.

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Daft Times – Brexit and Trump. What Could Go Wrong?

Sept 9th 2019

It is time that the United Kingdom and the United States remerged into a single political entity. None of this master/colony business. This new Untied States of Clusterfuckistan would be all tail and no dog. No leaders, no followers; just large, mutually loathing loud packs of howling nuts.

The main difference between the two nations right now is that in the UK, there is a single voice of sanity, Commons Speaker John Bercow. His cries for “Orrrrrddeeerrrrr!” comes as close to logic and reason as is to be found. There are, of course, sane people in both Parliament and Congress, but it’s about as hard to make them out of the general din as it is to identify individual snowflakes in a howling blizzard.

The British Conservative Party recently made Boris Johnson their Prime Minister. Blojo, as he is colorfully known, is a Brexit hardliner who has been pushing for a ‘no-deal’ exit from the European Union, a move that would be catastrophic for the English economy and would, in fairly short order, lead to Scotland and Wales leaving the UK in order to rejoin the EU. As a result, the Tories have been exploding at the seams. Fourteen members, including the grandson of Winston Churchill, were thrown out of the party for not supporting a no-deal exit, and dozens more are leaving, defecting, and just generally going. Blojo’s brother was one of them.

One of the big sticking points is Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland is in the EU, and as long as the UK was also in the EU, the hated border between Ireland and Northern Ireland became an empty formality. There’s a rumor that Blojo is going to go to Dublin and propose reunification, which is a bit like hearing that Korea wants to become a duchy of China. I can’t imagine Blojo coming up with anything that would attract support of 10% of the population on either side of the border.

The UK is petitioning for yet another delay in Brexit while they continue to try to get themselves off the meat hook they seem to have sat themselves upon, but the French are threatening to stick to the Halloween deadline because they are fed up with the games Parliament is playing.

Britain has a long history, but it’s never been longer than it is right now. Nor is it likely to be much longer after right now.

In the US, we have a mad president who is redrawing meteorological maps with a Sharpie to try to buttress a forecast that nobody other than he had made. Worse, he’s threatening the careers of any weatherman or other scientist who dares gainsay his patently incorrect weather pronouncements.

Sounds like something out of a Marx Brothers movie, doesn’t it?

The problem is that he has already effectively eviscerated the Department of Agriculture by ordering its scientific staff to move to Kansas within 30 days, no exceptions. It’s not clear that they have anything at all to move TO. He’s now threatening to do the same to the National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. Mostly because they do things like study the weather and the environment and other anti-American stuff like that.

As I said, a Marx Brothers movie. Only they aren’t trying to be funny.

And Trump is still working as President to turn the entire country into a cash cow for his own personal enrichment. The story broke this week that he has ordered flights from the US to the middle east to refuel at a small, mostly unsecured airport that just happens to be near, and vital to, one of his Scottish resorts. While stuck in Scotland, US military flight crews apparently have nothing but their per diems ($30 a day or so) to live on. Yes, Trump wants to charge the military full price for the crews to stay at his resort.

Then there’s the Taliban fiasco. Trump announced yesterday that slated Camp David talks with the Taliban had been called off. This surprised many people, including those in his own administration, who had no idea that talks with the Taliban at Camp David had been scheduled in the first place. Some reporters, familiar with Trump’s management style, wondered if any such planned talks had existed anywhere other than in Trump’s head, but the Taliban sorta backed him up on that, angrily saying that the talks had been canceled by them because of attacks on their people by American soldiers, and that many Americans would die as a result of such perfidy.

This in turn led to outrage among Republican right wingers, who haven’t forgiven the Taliban for flying planes into the twin towers. Never mind that the Taliban did no such thing, and only peripherally had any involvement at all with the terrorist attacks. Nonetheless, it probably wasn’t a great idea to schedule the talks for September 11th. All the cardboard patriots who were mute over Senate efforts to defray coverage to first responders who survived the attacks have a real huff fest going over that one.

Of course Donald remembers 9/11. It was the day he got the tallest building in New York City, and he has the Sharpie-enhanced image to prove it.

I imagine in a few centuries, historians will attempt to depict these days as high drama that led to either the Glorious Reign of First Citizen Vladimir Putin, or the Final War Against Fascism, but don’t be fooled: it’s not high drama. It’s low farce.

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