The good news is that, finally, the president and I agree: The release of the Nunes memo represents a national disgrace and shows that the investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russian intelligence remains a troubling and possibly illegal action that necessitates Robert Mueller’s continued action. Further, the president and I agree that the memo does vindicate the actions of the Special Prosecutor because it clearly demonstrates that members of the campaign, the president’s family and possibly the president himself might have broken United States law and obstructed justice.
Well, OK, maybe we don’t agree on all the facts, but this does represent a national disgrace and a vindication of the investigation’s existence. It also clearly shows that the president is in a panic as the investigation swirls closer to the Oval Office and his reasons for firing FBI Director James B. Comey.
And as a public relations event, this couldn’t be more of a disaster for the president. After weeks of puffing up this Potemkin memo… the House released it on Friday night… which is a dead zone for news… and there’s no, well, smoking gun. The argument that this whole investigation is rotten because the Democrats paid for a dossier of information that purportedly has damaging information about Donald Trump is not convincing. It doesn’t tell the whole story. The real issue is that the investigation of Trump’s campaign actions began before the dossier’s release and the request to follow Carter Page because of his interactions with the Russian, which were, in fact, rather extensive. And then there’s the information we already know about Micheal Flynn, Jared Kushner and others who have lied about their contact with the Russians. So the whole argument that this is a Democratic Kampaign Kaper falls off the bone like a good barbecued rib.
As with most scandals, the missing piece is the most important. The GOP memo leaves out a great deal of other information that would provide counterpoint, context and nuance, things that the GOP doesn’t seem to care about. It also leaves out the possibility that the salacious material contained in the Steele Dossier might be…gasp…accurate. Or accurate enough to show what we already know: That the president is an immoral womanizer, a suspect businessperson, a liar and susceptible to flattery and blackmail.
That’s why there’s clearly panic underneath the talk of exoneration. The president knows that this doesn’t exonerate him. It’s an attempt to shut down the investigation and to win the public’s support in anticipation of his desire to fire Robert Mueller. That’s not going to happen. If the president clearly knows that he and his campaign are innocent, then his best approach would be to praise the search for truth, support the FBI and condemn all Russian interference in any campaigns. I know, I know, you can stop laughing now.
As this investigation gets closer to the president, there will be more and more forceful actions that attempt to sully Mueller’s reputation and blame the Clintons. That’s how we know we’re getting close to the truth.
“I can stand in the middle of Fifth Ave and shoot somebody, and not lose any voters!” That was ‘amnesty Don’ back when he was campaigning for president. With all the foolish things he said and all the love he received from Republicans for saying those things, Donald Trump felt invincible.
What changed? If you listened to the followers he has left, talking
— Nathan Simms (@ClevelandSimms) September 15, 2017
I go back and forth about whether there is such a thing as fate. This is one of those weeks where I believe.
The shooting of the Republican congressional baseball team in Alexandria is terrible enough, and predictably, the right wing scream machine is in full blather blaming the Democrats and their anti-Trump rhetoric for setting a nasty tone. Of course, the conservative media treated Obama with kid gloves and honey for eight years and were really only kidding about his being a Muslim or not a citizen or being in league with his Arab buddies whenever oil prices shot higher. Or plunged lower.
Same reason, different day.
What was arguably worse than Alexandria was the Greek Chorus made up of cabinet members expressing their undying love and personal fortunes for the honor of serving the least qualified president we’ve ever had in the White House. This display undermined every philosophical and practical underpinning of our democracy. These people don’t work personally for the president; they work for the American people. You know, the ones who pay their salaries and upon whose behalf they serve. Remember serve? This is a government based on service. By turning their fealty over to one man, they have greased the slippery slope that the president (shudder) sits atop.
But wait, there’s more.
The Fickle Finger of Fate also pointed north of DC, aiming its digit squarely at Central Park, where the Public Theater is presenting “Julius Caesar” with a Caesar who looks remarkably like the president. Of course, this has caused controversy when Caesar is sliced and diced at the play’s ides, and has led Delta Airlines – you know, the airline that kicks families off of flights, and Bank of America, you know, the bank that never learned from a financial crisis – to cancel their support for the theater. Reason enough to abandon Delta and BOA.
As any high schooler can tell you, though, the killing of Caesar doesn’t solve Rome’s problems and leads to wars starring Mark Antony, Cassius and Brutus. The killing is the essence of the tragedy for all involved, but the Republican scream machine sees it as a death wish for Democrats and a scurrilous depiction of gratuitous violence.
It’s art, and art sometimes has to challenge and outrage us because it shows us a side of humanity that we don’t think about. Or want to see. Or recognize in us, but is too painful to say out loud. Worse is that Trump’s budget cuts spending on the arts and humanities so we can all get dumber and singularly praise him for being more effective than anyone except FDR.
But these are the lies that Trump thinks he can continue to tell and get away with. Praise he believes he’s earned for…700 jobs in Indiana? A health care plan he said was both “great” and “mean?” And now, an investigation into whether he obstructed justice.
As usual, though, it’s the Bard who gives us the fitting end, the speech that Caesar gives extolling his own virtue as the only one who can save Rome:
I could be well moved, if I were as you.
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me.
But I am constant as the Northern Star,
Of whose true fixed and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumbered sparks;
They are all fire and every one doth shine.
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place.
So in the world: ’tis furnished well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive.
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion; and that I am he
Let me a little show it, even in this:
That I was constant Cimber should be banished,
And constant do remain to keep him so. (3.1.64-79)
He is murdered soon after.
From repealing Obamacare to Trump’s desire to lower taxes for the rich, Republicans and Trump are in a bubble when it comes go gauging what Americans really want.
Only 36 percent of American voters say Republicans in Congress should try again to repeal and replace Obamacare, the 2010 Affordable Care Act, while 60 percent say the Republicans should “move on.”
Voters disapprove 65 – 29 percent of the way President Donald Trump is handling health care and say 54 – 22 percent that he is handling health care worse than former President Barack Obama. Another 19 percent say he is handling it about the same as President Obama.
American voters are opposed to several proposals supported by President Trump and
Republicans in Congress:
- Oppose 75 – 21 percent lowering taxes on the wealthy;
- Oppose 66 – 25 percent removing regulations intended to combat climate change;
- Oppose 64 – 33 percent building a wall on the border with Mexico;
- Oppose 66 – 30 percent cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, rising to 85 – 10 percent when respondents are told federal funding for Planned Parenthood does not pay for abortions.
American voters now support 57 – 38 percent allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S., reversing opposition of 51 – 43 percent in a December 23, 2015, Quinnipiac University national poll. Republicans are the only listed group opposed. White men and white voters with no college degree each are tied.
Trump spends too much time at properties owned by his company, voters say 55 – 34 percent. He does not spend enough time at the White House, 50 percent of voters say, while 2 percent say he spends too much time and 38 percent say he spends the right amount of time.
A total of 35 percent of American voters are “very comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” with the amount spent on security so President Trump and his family can stay in places other than the White House, while 60 percent are “not so comfortable” or “not comfortable at all.”
Are you ready for World War III?
A statement released by “the joint command operation center of Syrian allies,” a group that includes Russia and Iran, warned the U.S. against further military actions in the war-torn country, following a missile strike on a Syrian air base last week.
Referring to its defense of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s regime, the group warned that they would support Syria and its people “with all means that we have.”
“The United States crossed red lines by attacking Syria, from now on we will respond to anyone, including America if it attacks Syria and crosses the red lines,” the statement read. “America knows very well our ability and capabilities to respond well to them, [and] we will respond without taking into consideration any reaction and consequences.”
The statement did not include critical details like what kind of military operation would cross such a red line, or what kind of response would be made on the part of Syria and its allies, but noted that they would work to “liberate” Syria from occupation.
“Rest assured that we will liberate Syria from all kinds of occupying forces, it does not matter from where they came to the occupied part of Syria,” the statement warned. “Russia and Iran will not allow the United States to be the only superpower in world.”
Some in the media are hailing this past week as Trump’s best as president, so let’s take a look at the highlights:
- The chair of the House committee looking into the Russia scandal had to recuse himself.
- The Republicans had to alter Senate rules to get their Supreme Court nominee into a seat that was wrongfully denied to President Obama.
- The number of new jobs dipped substantially in what could be considered the first real Labor Department report of the Trump Administration.
- The president and House negotiators tried to revive their failed health care bill by adding provisions for states to deny people insurance who have pre-existing conditions and raising rates for the elderly.
- The president threw some missiles into Syria after a dastardly and cowardly attack by President Assad. The endgame? Like much of Trump policy, it depends on what’s on FOX News tonight.
Compared to the utter helplessness of the first few weeks of the Trump presidency, last week was fairly orderly. And yet…
To be fair, I thought that President Obama should have backed up his red line comment with a military response in 2013, because that’s when it could have had more of an impact on the Syrian Civil War, and Trump was justified in responding last week. The issue is what will happen now? Will it take more attacks on children for Trump to respond? If only adults are hit, will we stay silent? And what about the Russians, who I believe are responding disingenuously to something they should have seen coming.
Is Donald Trump having his George W. “No Nation-Building” Bush moment?
As for the other events of the best week of Trump’s presidency, it’s really par for the overused course. Representative Devon Nunes used information given to him by executive branch sources and then ran and told the president rather than sharing said information with his House colleagues. So now we are in the unique position where only the Senate has the moral authority to investigate the Russia allegations.
On the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation won’t mean too much for the balance of the court as it replaces one conservative with another, but that seat should have belonged to President Obama’s nominee. Changing the filibuster rules will eventually favor Democrats, but by that time the real damage could be more conservatives replacing more liberal voices on the Court. Somehow I think the republic will survive, but Congress will need to step in and pass laws to mitigate some of the legal damage.
And the health care bill? Right now it’s pretty dead, but you know how much the GOP loves science. They will try to revive it and make it worse, even though the data suggests that the ACA is healthy enough to keep the insurance companies in green for the foreseeable future. The simple fact is that the GOP needs the money from a health care repeal to pay for their tax cuts, otherwise, it won’t have the splash they’re looking for, but it’s looking more and more like they won’t get it. I guess they’ll have to soak the middle class even worse than they thought they might.
The Trump presidency is fast approaching its 100th day, the usual, if outdated, benchmark of presidential accomplishment, and it hasn’t done much in the way of legislation. Most of the action has been done via formerly-hated-by-conservatives executive orders, and there don’t seem to be any grand laws in the sausage grinder at the moment. The believable media has made a great deal about Trump’s unpredictability and his penchant for reacting when personally affronted or moved, as evidenced by the Syria gambit. It’s really only a matter of time before this manifests itself in something far more dangerous, and darker.
If you can fathom it.
Donald Trump, the self praised “great negotiator” walked away from negotiations today demanding a vote on his TrumpDontCare healthcare bill.
Abandoning negotiations, President Donald Trump on Thursday demanded a make-or-break vote on health care legislation in the House, threatening to leave “Obamacare” in place and move on to other issues if Friday’s vote fails.
The risky move, part gamble and part threat, was presented to GOP lawmakers behind closed doors Thursday night after a long and intense day that saw a planned vote on the health care bill scrapped as the legislation remained short of votes amid cascading negotiations among conservative lawmakers, moderates and others.
At the end of it the president had had enough and was ready to vote and move on, whatever the result, Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney told lawmakers.
“‘Negotiations are over, we’d like to vote tomorrow and let’s get this done for the American people.’ That was it,” Rep. Duncan Hunter of California said as he left the meeting, summarizing Mulvaney’s message to lawmakers.
And if the vote fails, Obamacare “stays for now,” Hunter said.
“Let’s vote,” White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said as he left the meeting.
The outcome of Friday’s vote was uncertain. Both conservative and moderate lawmakers claimed the bill lacked votes after a long day of talks.