Comey testifies tomorrow; Trump’s sons are a couple of dicks

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“Heh, yeah. We’re dicks.”

Opening statements were released ahead of tomorrow’s testimony by James Comey. I’ve decided not to analyze it too much since the main deal is happening tomorrow, but even without thinking about it too much it’s a striking read. Almost unbelievably, Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said that the president “feels completely and totally vindicated,” referring to the portion of the statement in which Comey says that Trump himself is not under investigation. But, oh, there are so many other damning ethical problems brought to light in the statement. If Trump wasn’t under investigation, he may well be soon. Tomorrow is going to be a big daytime TV day. I’m going to keep my expectations low, in that I never expect “smoking guns” in big deals like this. But I am willing to bet Comey’s testimony will be significant.

In the meantime, let’s not forget that other newly created branch of the government: the Trump Organization branch, headed by Patrick Bateman School of Economics graduates and Trump offspring Donald Jr. and Eric Trump. There have been several news items of interest lately that reaffirm my general opinion that the Trumps and their businesses are morally bankrupt.

How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business, in which Eric Trump’s annual charity golf tournament doubles as a revenue stream for Trump family businesses. This article will appear in the June 29, 2017 issue of Forbes.

Trump Failing to Track Foreign Cash at His Hotels
Donald Trump pledged to donate hotel profits from foreign sources back to the government, but it’s hard to do that when his organization can’t be bothered to keep track of those profits. Interestingly, we now know that President Trump’s hotel received $270,000 from Saudi Arabia. Will the US Government ever see that donation? Who the fuck knows.

Eric Trump: Democrats in Washington are ‘not even people’
Oh, that’s nice. Jews weren’t people to the Nazis, nor were enemies to the Imperial Japanese during World War II. Dehumanizing ain’t cool, asshole. That’s even worse than Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” statement.

Okay, that’s enough. I can only handle so much Trump family news before I get physically ill. I’d like to kick Junior and Eric in the nuts, but I don’t think they have any.

Hotline to the Kremlin: first Erik Prince, now Jared Kushner

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Look like someone you can trust?

It came out last week that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House jack-of-all-trades, discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring.

Some have tried to make this seem like no big deal, as if it were business-as-usual. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster made the regrettable statement that he was “not concerned” about Kushner setting up back channel communications with the Russians, elaborating, “We have backchannel communications with a number of countries.” This is unfortunate because McMaster is seen by many as one of the few sane minds in Trump’s administration. Looks like he might be jumping the shark. I think it’s obvious that seeking secret communications with Russia should be extremely concerning.

If it was true that Kushner was trying to establish such communications with Russia, then one must ask, from whom is he trying to keep the communications secret? He must have known that communications with Russian officials in the United States are closely monitored by the FBI, and the NSA is watching overseas communications. It seems obvious to me that Kushner is trying to hide communications from the US goverment and its intelligence agencies and I cannot fathom any above-board reason for this.

Also, we should not forget that this attempt to create a secret hotline to Russia is not new: it was reported in April by the Washington Post that Erik Prince attempted to create a backchannel to Russia in a secret meeting with a close friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles earlier this year. Prince is known for founding the now-defunct private military company Blackwater and is the brother of Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. He is also an avid supporter of Donald Trump, contributing $250,000 to Trump’s election campaign.

Trump’s ties to Russia seem to become more damning every day. Sure, some point out that there is no evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russians during the 2016 election, but it sure looks like we are getting closer to finding some. I think it’s too much to expect any sort of “smoking gun,” but I can’t think of any way for Trump’s people to make this look even halfway good.

covfefe: /kŏv-fĕ-fĕ, -fēf/, n., a FUBAR presidency

Donald-Trump-Covfefe.jpgAround midnight last night Donald Trump sent out a weird, stupid tweet:

Despite the constant negative press covfefe
–@realDonaldTrump, 12:06 am, 31 May 2017

And that was it. Just that, for hours, until the morning when it was found out by someone, presumably Trump, to be nonsense and was deleted. The internet had a lot of fun with the newly coined word “covfefe” for a while with jokes and such, but in the morning Trump tweeted:

Who can figure out the true meaning of “covfefe” ??? Enjoy!
–@realDonaldTrump, 6:09 am, 31 May 2017

trying to laugh off the goof. “Enjoy,” he wrote, as if he were gifting us some comedic relief.

Whatever the case, covfefe raises some serious questions. The late night tweet gave the impression that Trump maybe fell asleep mid-tweet. I understand that this could happen to anybody, but this is the POTUS we’re talking about. Maybe he shouldn’t be falling asleep while making public statements, hm? This also raises concerns about Trump’s health and fitness for duty. Trump will be 71 years old soon and claims to only sleep four hours a night. I understand sleep deprivation. His brain’s gotta be like oatmeal.

Secondly, why isn’t anyone keeping an eye on Trump’s Twitter account? Trump is a 70 year old going on 12. He needs a babysitter. Seems like he would have an aide or something specifically tasked to edit his Twitter feed. The tweet was visible for hours, which tells me that no one on his staff who could do anything about it was paying attention.

Thirdly, the White House’s response to the tweet was equally troubling. When White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was questioned by the press, he responded with, “The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant,” apparently without any irony. Probably the worst way possible to explain the tweet. But no one ever claimed that Spicer was a smart guy.

Maybe Spicer was trying to make a joke and he’s just not good at being funny. Very possible. I could buy that. Maybe he’s just an idiot and managed to blurt out the worst possible explanation. I could buy that, too. But what if…what if…it actually was a “secret” message? Well, that would be dumb, too. Let’s tweet a secret message in public and then tell everybody about it.

Quite possibly, as some suggest, the tweet was meant to distract the media from the Russia thing, but they gotta know that can’t last. No, the simplest explanation is the most likely: Trump fell asleep tweeting and the White House came up with the most idiotic way possible to explain it. Believe me, the Trump administration would make a great sitcom.

Trump’s address on Memorial Day is cheap lip service

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Today is Memorial Day, the day in which we remember and honor those US service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to country. It is one of the most, if not the most, meaningful of the American holidays.

As expected, Trump made a visit to Arlington National Cemetery to recognize Memorial day, his first as president. Eli Watkins of CNN writes, “President Donald Trump honored the US service members who made the ultimate sacrifice by visiting Arlington National Cemetery in recognition of Memorial Day Monday morning,” but I feel Watkins was perhaps a bit too generous with his words. In my opinion, Trump did no such thing as “honor” our service members. In fact, in light of Trump’s history of disparaging and belittling our military, Trump’s very presence at Arlington, to me, is cheap theater.

Let us on this day also remember all the ways our “president” has insulted our service members:

  • While in college, Trump received four student deferments from the draft, avoiding service in Vietnam. After he was briefly deemed medically fit for service, he then received a medical deferment claiming “heel spurs,” which don’t seemed to prevent him from walking around on the golf course, by the way.
  • Trump had the audacity to say of Senator John McCain, a former Navy pilot and POW: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” He never apologized.
  • Trump made the ultimate display of disrespect by attacking the family of a fallen American soldier. Army Captain Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan
    made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation when on June 8, 2004 CPT Khan was killed by an IED-packed vehicle. He was 27 years old. Again, Donald Trump has never apologized. He even had the temerity to compare his own so-called “sacrifices” to CPT Khan’s sacrifice.
  • Trump disrespected the military Purple Heart award by accepting one as a gift, despite never having earned it. “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier,” he said.
  • Trump compared his escapades of sleeping around with loose women to the Vietnam War: “It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
  • Trump thinks that by attending a New York military-style prep school he had “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military,” which is, of course, bullshit.
  • And, finally (but probably not finally), Trump rips off vets. To quote at length the New York Daily News:

    Trump has put his money where his mouth is when it comes to show how much he respects vets.

    Which is to say: Very little.

    In lieu of any service on his own, Trump has sometimes bought his way into veteran affairs by making donations that earned him a spot in, say, a parade or a memorial service.

    But there’s little evidence Trump has handed over the war chest of donations he has claimed.

    Trump spent the first few months of 2016 claiming he sent nearly $6 million to veterans groups nationwide, but Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold couldn’t find any evidence of any donations.

    After Fahrenthold asked and asked about the money, Trump held a news conference in May assuring he had sent out his donations.

    It turned out he sent most of them within a week of the press conference or, in some cases, on the same day Fahrenthold interviewed him about the mystery money.

    One of his biggest donations, of $1 million, went to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a foundation that gave Trump an award the year before.

    Trump promised in the campaign that he would “take care” of America’s veterans, which, so far, has proven to be about as half-true as his donations were.

    His proposed federal budget gives the Department of Veteran Affairs an extra $4.3 billion, but it also cuts back on the cost-of-living adjustments for veteran benefit payouts, and it slashes funds for the Limb Loss Resource Center and Paralysis Resource Center, two organizations that help the VA with veterans suffering those ailments.

Trump’s history of insulting the men and women of our armed services make his words this Memorial Day seem very cheap indeed. Donald Trump, who has lived nearly his entire life in a self-centered bubble, has repeatedly disparaged, exploited and pissed on those very people who have sacrificed for his freedoms and the freedoms of all Americans. Memorial Day is something he could never understand. Being president doesn’t change that.

More evidence that Trump is a dick: Trump manhandles foreign leader at NATO photo op

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Donald Trump shoves Dusko Markovic aside because that’s what bullies do.

Turns out Trump is not just a dick at home, but also when visiting foreign countries, as evident by him shoving Dusko Markovic,  the leader of Montenegro, out of the way to get at the front of the crowd of NATO leaders during a group photo opportunity at he NATO summit. You can watch a video of the shove here

Markovic, to his credit, did not appear upset about it, but if it were me I probably would have shoved back. Watching the video, Trump has a “get the hell outta my way” expression on his face as he shoves Markovic out of the way, fixes his suit coat (which is perpetually unbuttoned, it seems, even when standing), and does his best Mussolini impression, looking down his nose at the scene before him. Markovic, likely thinking, “What the fuck,” simply smiles and give Trump a pat on the back. So what does that say when a leader of a small Balkan nation with a population of 600,000 has the grace to excuse the boorish behavior of the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth?

There are a ton of other things to write about, but this shove by Trump can’t go unnoted because this is something everyone can relate to. Would you stand for this while standing in line at the bank or the supermarket? There is no “excuse me” from Trump; not even a little self-effacing smile or even a friendly acknowledgment of Markovic. Trump doesn’t have the charm for that. Worse, Trump doesn’t have the consideration of others for that.  Trump is a boor. Trump is a bully. Let’s face it: our president is a dick. It’s no wonder his wife is sick of him.

Trump’s away at fantasy camp, but the world still turns

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“This is The Donald, calling Cthulhu. Come in, Cthulhu.”

Donald Trump has been away on his fantasy camp foreign tour, during which he has danced with swords, laid hands on a mysterious glowing orb and managed to make a visit to Israel’s Holocaust Memorial as memorable as a high school reunion (“IT IS A GREAT HONOR TO BE HERE WITH ALL OF MY FRIENDS — SO AMAZING & WILL NEVER FORGET!”).

But while Trump is away the world doesn’t stop and neither do the controversies concerning Trump and Russia. Michael Flynn refuses to submit subpoenaed documents and pleads the fifth. It came out that Trump referred to James Comey as a “nut job” to his Russian guests. Former CIA Director John Brennan testified that he was concerned over Trump’s connections with Russia. And if that weren’t enough, Trump reportedly asked DNI Dan Coats and NSA Chief Admiral Mike Rogers to deny evidence of Russian collusion.

SO, it’s no surpise that some people are talking impeachment, but I think we are quite a long way from that. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has a nice article about this subject. Trump may be a shitty human being and he and his administration, with a few exceptions, may be shady as hell, but there is not yet enough against him to convince a Republican-led House and Senate to turn against one of their own. If there will be any impeaching going on, I’m thinking that it’s going to be in the latter part of Trump’s term, after the Republicans have decided that they’ve had enough of Trump and decide to dump him before the 2020 elections.

Also, the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, is going to take a while. These things are never quick, and I have the feeling that there may be no “smoking gun.” But there may be enough embarrassing stuff revealed to make Trump want to resign a la Nixon to avoid impeachment. And then guess what: I would bet that then-President Pence will grant Trump a pardon, a la Gerald Ford.

I might be a tad cynical, but I have the feeling that Trump, however crooked he is, or however much he screws things up, will emerge from this without too much personal damage. You gotta hand it to him, I guess. He’s done and said everything a candidate is not supposed to do or say, but he still won the election. Of course, that may have been with Russia’s help.

I think it’s too early to talk impeachment. But realistically, here are some things that I think we can experience:

  • A number of Trump’s inner-circle (like Michael Flynn) may be prosecuted.
  • The Trump administration’s crazier proposals with be met with resistance and, ultimately, fail to be realized.
  • Republicans will realize that Trump is toxic and begin to distance themselves from him.
  • Trump’s term will end, not with a bang, but a whimper.

I think those are realistic outcomes. But then what do I know? I didn’t really think we were going to invade Iraq in 2004 and I never thought that Trump would win in 2016.

It’s all about me: the essence of Donald Trump

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Yesterday, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate any links between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. This comes after a memo written by fired FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of the investigation, was brought to attention alleging that Trump asked Comey to end the investigation into Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Trump reacted to the appointment of Mueller by calling it the “single greatest witch hunt” in political history.

Of course, it’s not. You don’t have to be a historian to look back and find many other figures in history treated far more unfairly than Donald Trump has been treated. And, really, all the treatment Trump is enduring is not entirely unfair. Certainly, he and his administration have earned whatever suspicions people have about them. It’s not unfair to investigate this. Also, Trump’s poor character and boorishness are matters of public record and worthy of ridicule. But even when failing, Trump just has to fail “bigly.” It’s always got to be about him.

Even when speaking to the 2017 graduates of the US Coast Guard Academy Trump managed to make it all about him saying, “Look at the way I have been treated lately, especially by the media…No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.” So these young graduates are about to embark on the next great adventure of their lives and they have to listen to a 70-year old man complain that people are mean to him.

Trump’s self-centeredness may not be the biggest thing wrong in American politics, but it is one of the many things that are. We have elected not a leader to be the President of the United States, but an entertainer who thrives on personal attention at the expense of anything and everything else. If we are to consider the perspective of Tony Schwartz, who co-wrote The Art of the Deal with Trump, we have elected not a man, but a boy in a man’s body.

Trump’s not being treated unfairly. Only a spoiled brat would think so. Trump is being treated as he should be in a free and democratic society. I’ll be the first to admit that our republic is far from perfect, but in this case we are doing something right, and if we weren’t on Trump’s ass every day in the media, in public protest and with official investigation then I’d be scared and disappointed.