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Thoughts on Events the Week of April 16

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 24, 2018

Russian Sanctions: Contrary to the announcement over the weekend by U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that more, and more significant, sanctions against Russia would be announced on Monday by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, instead came the news that President Trump had killed the sanctions. The news shocked Trump’s aides, but not anyone paying attention to Trump’s relationship with Russia.

This change of mind, if there ever really was one on the part of Trump, left Haley’s cheese in the wind at the U.N. Larry Kudlow, the latest of Trump’s appointments whose primary qualification is having been on TV at Fox News, suggested Haley’s having “gotten ahead of the curve” with her announcement. Haley immediately slapped Kudlow around in public like an ugly stepchild. Kudlow, being a Fox News alum, where mistreatment of women is part of its misogynistic culture, reflexively took the Fox female putdown approach with a serious, grown up woman who wasn’t going to put up with that crap for a minute. Big mistake, Larry. It was delicious.

Don’t interpret my delight at Kudlow’s well-deserved putdown by Haley as an endorsement of her broader record. She is doing a credible job as U.N. Ambassador, which makes her stand out in the Trump administration, but overall, she is a hidebound, mean-spirited far right wingnut. As legislator and then governor of South Carolina, she contributed heavily to making it onto the Worst State list.

But the bottom line result of this fiasco is that many are still wondering why in the hell Trump treats Russian President with such deference. Pundits are reluctant to speculate too directly, but this week, I will post the explanations.  Spoiler Alert: Putin has Trump by the financial and criminal short and curlies.

James Comey’s Book: Comey’s kick and tell book came out Tuesday, but it was a partisan political football long before the official publication date, based on advance copies and Comey’s promotion tour.

I don’t read this books of  this genre – quick buck, tell all exploitation of current political events. I know exactly what they are going to say by who wrote it, and if there is anything new in one of them, it will be all over the news anyway. (I did start to read Al Franken’s memoir, AL FRANKEN: GIANT of the SENATE, because I knew it would be funny, which it is, but when he was sunk early by the sea change of the #MeToo Movement, I put it down, because what’s the point?

Comey’s book, and Comey himself, are being praised by many Democrats. Republicans, however, are universally smearing him to discredit Comey’s accounts of his conversations with Trump.

Much, but certainly not all, of what is in Comey’s  book holds together well, corresponding tightly and consistently with the contemporaneous notes he took about his meetings with Trump (which are now also released by the DOJ and leaked at the speed of light, as the FBI predicted would happen;  they were being given to politicians after all). I think Comey was being honest and accurate about Trump, and that most people sense it, which is why Republicans are trying to smear his reputation, since they can’t refute the compelling evidence.

But Comey destroyed his credibility with me long before Trump has tried by his handling of Hillary Clinton’s email “investigation.” Comey broke FBI and DOJ rules, protocols and guidelines, and I believe he did it deliberately, by his own choice, and/or under pressure from the FBI culture that surrounded him.

It was Comey, not the Russians, who cost Clinton the election. Americans don’t care a fig what Russia thinks or wants when we are voting. But we have (or had) a high regard for the word of the FBI, and Comey’s denouncements of Hillary, even as he was ostensibly absolving her, and releasing of a damning, and forged, it turned out, letter damaging to Clinton just before the election doomed her. Loretta Lynch should have fired Comey on the spot.

Some will say Lynch’s firing Comey would have made things worse. That Trump would have appointed someone worse than Comey and been able to do even more damage than he has done. I think not. If Comey had been fired and the reasons explained publicly, Clinton would have won the election, and we would have been spared all of this chaos. And even if Trump still had won, at least the DOJ would have done the right and honorable thing by maintaining its standards, protocols and integrity. As it is, we lost both ways.

Sean Hannity: What can I say? The man is a smarmy, lying, ultra-partisan pig part, whose journalism evokes Soviet era propaganda, and whose  behavior personifies conflict of interest. But let’s not dwell on his good qualities too much.

Hannity has defended Trump’s fixer-lawyer Michael Cohen viciously and incessantly on his TV show, about his (Cohen’s, not Hannity’s) arranging hush money payoffs to two women about sexual fun and games they had with Trump.

Cohen’s client list is very small – only three clients over the last year – and his practice seems to be very specialized, i.e., negotiating payoffs to clients’ sexual partners for their silence. To date, Cohen is known to have arranged such payoffs to strange for two of his three clients – Trump and Republican National Committee fundraiser Elliott Broidy. Here’s the good part.  Hannity, during all his public rants and smears and defense of Trump and Cohen, neglected to mention that he is Cohen’s third client!

I had hoped, in vain as it turns out, that when Rupert Murdock’s sons began taking over more of their dad’s business responsibilities, they would move Fox toward more traditional journalistic standards, or at least exhibit some shame. But not so far, and they are standing strong by Hannity.

It will be interesting to see how Fox will respond when we learn what Hannity’s business with Cohen was, and it will be learned. The current newspaper war will insure we find out. Journalists are on the trail as not seen since Nixon. Look at all the Pulitzers just handed out for their superb coverage of this bizarre administration. Bravo to the Fourth Estate.

Revisiting MLK’s 100th Anniversary: When Martin Luther King was murdered on April 4, 1968, I was 26 at the time, and it was the last straw for me, or so I thought. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. The obscene Vietnam War was raging, and the one person I thought would end it was killed, squelching that dream. Then King was killed, bringing the depth of the country’s racial bigotry into unmistakably sharp relief.

It couldn’t get any worse, I thought, but within just a few months, Robert Kennedy was assassinated, which lead to the anti-war riots at the 1968 at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago (viciously, quasi-militarily suppressed by Chicago Mayor Richard Daily, as if we were living in East Berlin, not a major American Midwestern city).

The public thuggery at the convention, the growing revulsion at the war and the refusal of Hubert Humphrey to denounce it – which everyone knew he opposed – out of loyalty to Johnson, doomed his candidacy.

This gave us more years of war under Nixon, though he ran on a platform of ending the war (more than 58,000 American dead all told). These deaths don’t include the four unarmed students killed in the Kent State Massacre in May, 1970 by the Ohio National Guard for protesting Nixon’s widening the Vietnam War by bombing Cambodia.

Finally, Nixon’s treasonous violation of his sworn Constitutional oath, his resignation in August, 1974 and his, to me, unconscionable pardon by his successor Gerald Ford immediately, in September, capped of an era of true American carnage.

So, all this began with JFK’s assassination (well, our Vietnam War experience began earlier, under President Eisenhower in the 50s, but that’s another story of leadership malfeasance), two months after my 21st birthday and ended on the month of my 30th with Ford’s pardon of Nixon. Pretty formative years for me.

This period explains, I think, why I hate war, despise bigotry, distrust government, am revolted by corruption, try to respect Nature and don’t believe in good as ludicrously conceived and hypocritically worshiped by man.

Status of the States: It’s like NCAA Basketball tournament around here. States are vying desperately for the worst state cup, as if it’s a win or go home event. Don’t worry this week’s losers. You’ll have another shot weekly.

Scott Pruitt keeps Oklahoma in the competition weekly with his smarmy ways. Note: The New York Times published a lengthy piece on Pruitt’s shenanigans in Oklahoma before he came to Washington and after he got there, which exposes Pruitt’s corruption there on a scale worthy of earning him a berth on the Trump ship of fools. I don’t see how Pruitt can last much longer, but hey, I’ve been wrong before.

Texas finally popped the zit that is former U.S. House Representative Blake Farenthold, who resigned effective immediately just before release of a report by the House Ethics Committee that would accuse him of committing acts of sexual harassment and more with his office staff, and then settled with an  accuser with public (read our tax money) funds.

Oklahoma scored another goal in its battle for worst state when another inconceivably unqualified U.S. House Representative Jim Bridenstein (R-OK) was confirmed on a 50-49 party line vote to be administrator of the National Aviation and Space Administration (NASA). Bridenstein is the first elected official to run NASA. Usually NASA is run by a, you know, scientist. Bridenstein is about as far away from science as you can get. He is a climate change denier with absolutely no scientific credentials. Oh, and he hates gays.

One Democratic Senator opposed Bridenstein’s nomination because he said NASA could not be successful working with Congress with a partisan politician at its head, and Bridenstein is about as partisan as you can get. Reading between the lines, I think the Senator thinks the new NASA administrator is a flaming asshole, but I’m speculating, based only on his wingnut record in the House.

To be fair, this appointment reflects worse on the Senate than the candidate. How in the living Hell could it consent to such a patently unqualified candidate? Talk about abrogation of responsibility.

Which brings Arizona’s champion into the competition – the aptly named Senator Flake. Jeff Flake denounced Trump and his administration so vociferously that he alienated Trump’s base to the point Flake would have lost his primary and decided not to run again. That freed him up to speak his mind even more forcefully. I had high hopes for his last political acts. Instead, Flake has caved on vote after vote after vote to advance the Trump agenda, including his vote to approve Bridenstein. I just don’t get it, but it is disgusting and disappointing from a man who spoke so tough and caved so fast.

Kris Kobach, former Kansas Secretary of State, debunked voter fraud activist and head of Trump’s disgraced and dismantled voter fraud investigation task force, was held in Contempt of Court for failing to obey a judicial order on a voter registration case in Kansas. What a sweet guy.

Alabama’s Beauregard Jefferson Sessions is still Attorney General, which is credential enough for his state’s qualification to his week’s competition.

South Carolina’s claim on the cup is due to the prison riot at the Lee Correctional Facility, in which seven inmates were killed in what was apparently a turf war. Lee is a maximum-security facility, and all those there are bad guys, including, apparently, the guards. This facility, like all such in South Carolina, is understaffed, underfunded, and unprofessionally managed.

It’s tempting to give all the worst states the cup in a tie, but I can’t do that with South Carolina, because Nikki Haley did her job correctly at the U.N., and it was fun to watch her spin Larry Kudlow around like a cat on a string (boy, that simile dates me).

 

 

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