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General Interest, Politics

WEEK #147 OF THE TRUMP ERA IN REVIEW, FRIDAY, 11/1/19 TO THURSDAY, 11/7/19

Quote of The Week: “Vindman was told to keep quiet.”

Results of the Quote of The Week: Vindman didn’t keep quiet.

We begin Week #147 of the Trump Era began on Friday when Trump held a rally in Tupelo, Mississippi to promote the candidacy of the State’s Lieutenant Governor, Tate Reeves, as part of his last-ditch attempt to get Republicans elected in this off-year election to take some of the sting out of last year’s Blue Wave in the Midterm Elections that cost him and the Republicans control of the House. 

Seriously trailing the top 4 Democratic candidates in every poll, Trump has been running for President in 2020 since an hour after he was inaugurated President in January of 2017. Campaigning is the one thing at which Trump excels, even if the job for which he is campaigning is far beyond his skill set. 

After almost 3 years on the job, the dichotomy between his available skills and the demands of the Presidency have exposed a vast chasm of ignorance and incompetence over which no showmanship skills can leap. Between that and the crimes he and his henchmen keep committing, his chances at reelection are looking dimmer and dimmer, while his chances of being impeached by the House of Representatives increase with every jittery aide that testifies before Congress, afraid for their careers, their clean criminal records and, in at least one case, their lives.

And speaking of ignorance and incompetence, Trump’s Emotional Support Senator Lindsey Graham is using the Trump Administration’s gross incompetence as his defense for voting against Trump’s conviction by the Senate once he is impeached by the House, reasoning that Trump’s and his entire Administration’s idiocy lets the President off the hook, “They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo” and “their entire Syrian policy is completely incoherent.” 

Interesting premise, to keep a man in the most intellectually demanding job on Earth because he lacks the mental capacity to know right from wrong, or his ass from a hole in the ground. If that seems a mite counterintuitive to  you, well, that’s just the (sur)reality of the Trump Era.

On Saturday, the field for the Democratic Presidential Nomination narrowed by one when former Representative Beto O’Rourke dropped out of the race, prompting a nasty Tweet from Trump saying “Beto quit like a dog!” Then a moment later he complained how unfair it was for people to boo him at a World Series game, the irony of those dueling thoughts wasted on Trump’s scattershot stream of conscious.

We were treated to transcripts of Robert Mueller’s investigation notes that day as well, notes that detailed recordings of Trump trying to get his lunch hooks on Hillary’s emails from Russia several times, during a time frame when he is on record as saying he had no idea who had her stolen emails and did need seek them. Then a judge threw out his latest brainstorm when he declared Trump’s policy of barring immigrants who could not prove they can pay for health insurance to be not only illegal, but as patently ridiculous as the man himself.

Then Trump offered to read the entire Ukraine phone call out loud (okay a favorably abridged summary of it) on “a televised Fireside Chat,” to prove his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was as “perfect” as he keeps claiming, even though innumerable people have already read the full transcript, and their reading of that transcript has resulted in criminal impeachment charges brought against the President after it set off alarm bells at every level of the government. So, needless to say, the networks are not lining up to offer him airspace for his Fairy Tale reading.

Then to prove that getting booed at a World Series Game in Washington was a fluke, Trump traveled to his hometown and got booed at a UFC fight in Madison Square Garden, only his second trip outside his MAGA Rally cocoon, and a second message sent that no, it was no fluke at all, and everyone else hates his guts.

On Sunday we heard from the attorney of the Whistleblower whose patriotic alarm started this whole mess, when he said his client was willing to take questions from Republican legislators under oath and in writing to put an end to any speculation that the Whistleblower was politically partisan, a put-up or shut-up deal for the Republicans who have been denouncing him or her as a Democratic party hack seeking to destroy the President. Naturally, Republicans jumped at the chance to ignore this offer, what with it being so much easier and more fun to viciously slander the character and patriotism of an anonymous person than to confront reality.

Seemingly just to make himself famous, a previously anonymous someone named Robert Blair, an advisor to Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, refused to testify before Congress in the Impeachment Inquiry unless ordered to do also by a court, even though no one had as yet subpoenaed him. And speaking of Acting Directors, the Department of Homeland Security announced on Sunday that it has a brand new one in that very hot seat, Chad Wolf, the former Acting Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy and Plans, a mouthful of a title that obscures his role in creating America’s own Gulag Archipelago of For-Profit Concentration Camps. So he’s familiar with acting roles, since he’s been acting like a monster for quite some time.

Trump decided that evening to wax loquacious with the press, regaling us with winsome denials of reality such as refuting the aforementioned polls which project him losing to anyone with a pulse, calling them “fake news, fake polls,” then claiming “but I have the real polls, I have the real polls,” while failing to show them or even name one. And speaking of names, Trump demanded that the name of the Whistleblower be revealed “because that person had given false information.” Spoken like every defendant convicted by a Whistleblower’s revelations ever.

Her also announced his new mantra to prove his innocence of any crime in the Ukraine call, and an unfortunate choice of words: “Read the Transcript,” referring to his own redacted transcript of the call, not the entire transcript, the one that is readily available and very damaging to Trump. Before a day was out, “Read the Transcript” became the mantra for the opposition as well.

He also took credit for (!) wives respecting their husbands more because Trump enabled them to have more money in their 401K accounts, audibly imagining their wives gushing over “what financial geniuses they were,” which all at once creeped us out and gave us a sad insight into the transactional basis of his relationships with women.

Trump closed out his Sunday evening with a warm Tweet for our most populous, progressive and prosperous State, California, in their hour of need and tribulation as wildfires rage out of control (ungrammatical typos his own): “Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing — and and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more.”

He would later expand on his “rake the forests” theme from last year when he demanded that California (!) “clean up the floor of the forests,“ illustrating as profound an ignorance of forests as is imaginable, to say nothing about the fact that he remains blissfully unaware that 90% of those burning forests are Federally-owned land, leaving the responsibility to scrub those cluttered forest floors at his own doorstep, and the FEMA funds he threatened to withhold for fighting these fires would be working against his own interests, as well as those of the 40 million Americans living in California.

Showing that 2 can play the Twitter game, on Monday Representative Adam Schiff, the face of the impeachment process, Tweeted plans to release verbatim transcripts of closed door witness testimony regarding the infamous Ukraine phone call as long as they did not compromise National Security (and they did not). Trump of course responded by inferring that Schiff would alter those transcripts and tweeted out these marching orders to Republican lawmakers: “House Republicans must have nothing to do with with Shifty’s rendition of those interviews. He is a proven liar, leaker & freak who is really the one who should be impeached!” 

The fact that these transcripts are public documents formally entered into the Congressional Record and impossible for Schiff to successfully forge or alter in any way mattered little to President Pinocchio, or the fact that altering such official documents would be a crime. To underscore his contempt for legalities and Congress itself, there were 4 White House staff no-shows for Congressional depositions on Monday morning.

One person that did show up to testify was former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, pushed out by Rudy Giuliani and President Trump for refusing to abet their crimes, repeatedly warned by Ukrainians “to watch your back,” referring to Giuliani’s two scary thugs he has been hauling all over Europe and Washington DC, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Transcripts of her damning testimony included being warned by EU Ambassador Sondland to put out a Tweet complimenting the president or suffer the consequences, and threatened by the President himself on the Phone Call Heard ‘Round The World when Trump told President Zelenskiy “the woman is bad news,” and (!) “she’s going to go through some things.”

Continuing in the Abuse of Power vein, we also learned on Sunday that the Justice Department is demanding the personal details about an auther called “Anonymous” from the person’s publisher, the same Anonymous claiming to be “a Senior White House Advisor and part of the Trump Resistance” that published a scathing inside look at Trump’s chaotic and dysfunctional White House in Vanity Fair magazine last Spring and who has now released a tell-all book about Trump called “Fear.”

Then on Monday we heard that the Republican National Committee was aware beforehand of the release dates of Wikileak’s “data dumps” of Hilary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 election campaign, inferring any number of crimes by the involved parties in the RNC and the Trump campaign, from lying to Congress, lying to the FBI, criminal solicitation and dealing in stolen property.

Trump drowned out the bad news in his favorite Safe Space, at the podium of a political rally, this time in Lexington Kentucky to help troubled and unpopular Republican Governor Matthew Bevin, urging supporters to “defy those crazy Democrats” and “Keep Kentucky Red,” before laying down the gauntlet not to allow Bevin to lose or the “fake news enemies of the people” would say what a terrible political defeat it would be for Trump if Bevin lost.

Then on Tuesday, in case anyone thought the Mueller Report went away quietly with Trump’s endless claims of total exoneration for the crimes of 2016 that led to his presidency, we find out that no, that didn’t go away, as Trump’s former advisor and possibly the most bizarre in this large cast of characters (the tattoo of Nixon on his back for starters), Roger Stone went on trial in Washington D.C. for obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to the House intelligence Committee in its investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election.  

Later on we learned that Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, were involved in White House policy toward Ukraine and aware of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is central to the impeachment inquiry, and that President Trump was on the phone with Giuliani and (!) Yurio Lutsenko on a conference call.

Lutsenko is the corrupt former Prosecutor General of Ukraine that the entire European Union, Canada, Australia and the USA campaigned to have removed, and it was then-Vice President Biden who was selected by President Obama to deliver their collective wishes to the then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Prosecutor General Lutsenko wound up serving time in prison for Embezzlement and Abuse of Office, so the international accusations of corruption turned out to be well founded and the international statecraft sound, and Ukraine is a better, stabler country and a sounder trading partner for his removal.

Somehow Giuliani and Trump took the raw material of this international diplomatic success and dreamed up an alternative universe of the Biden family as James Bond Villains aligned with the powerful Ukrainian Warlords who were the real culprits of the 2016 Election Heist and clandestine guardians of Hillary Clinton’s Maltese Server, a set of fabrications so over-the-top crazy that world leaders were looking at Giuliani and William Barr like Bigfoot hunters as they pursued international support for their unicorn story in a series of clandestine cloak and dagger meetings in world capitals with dumbfounded foreign officials.

One can only picture Rudy and Donald staying up all night taking rips of strong weed from a bong while they came up with this outlandish tale: “Wait! What if we accuse Hunter Biden of siphoning a billion dollars out of China too? Way cool, man…”

Making it even harder to maintain this fiction is the parade of witnesses telling the real story to Congress, with even Trump appointee and big Campaign donor Gordon Sondland suddenly remembering that, oh yeah, he was the one who told told Ukrainian officials, at Trump’s direction, that their Congressionally-approved military aid (illegal to hold up) was tied to their commitment to the fairytale investigations that President Trump requested. 

Later that day Trump’s new Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham distinguished herself in that job when she put out a statement saying that Sondland did not say what he said today, and this really isn’t the quiddest pro quo in the history of quid pro quos. Darned if those enemy of the people reporters didn’t misinterpret someone’s exact words again, when they know he meant to say something far more reasonable!

Being that Tuesday was the Election Day Trump had crisscrossed the country to promote as the day the GOP came roaring back, it had to be a disappointment seeing Bevin lose in Kentucky and the Democrats take control of all three branches of Virginia’s government, with only Mississippi retaining the Governorship for Republicans, leaving Trump to lick his wounds and declare “a big victory” in a few smaller races, and support Bevin for refusing to concede defeat.

Then he went on one of his patented disjointed rants, demonizing Democrats, calling patriots criminals, then saying he wants to stay in power for (!!) 21 more years “if I have the strength,” then immediately saying that people who call him a wannabe dictator are “the real crazy ones.” Sure they are, Donnie, just like you have the “real polls” and know “the real story” about Ukraine.

Wednesday found Adam Schiff announcing that the House would begin holding formal impeachment hearings, televised and public, and preparing a list of witnesses. Naturally the House Republicans blew a gasket over “the arbitrary rules” Schiff plans to use, even after being reminded that these are the rules that were written by themselves only 4 years ago, the same rules that allow them full participation in the proceedings even as the Minority party in the House.

Meanwhile, the closed door depositions continued, as did the release of transcripts of same, enlightening us about Ukraine Charge D’ Affairs William Taylor fingering Rudy Giuliani for instigating the Ukraine pressure campaign in the first place, Fiona Hill saying that Ambassador Sondland fabricated entire conversations with her that she claims never took place, and we got to meet a new and perhaps unwitting player in this Grand Farce, one Charles Gucciardo of Long Island.

Charles Who of Where, you ask? Fair question, and the reply brings up more questions than it answers. Mr. Gucciardo is a lawyer and Trump supporter from Long Island who was just unfortunate enough to know Rudy Giuliani, who bilked him out of $500,000 to “invest” in a fledgeling company owned by Rudy’s 2 now-famous thugs, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and that money was the mysterious $500,000 that the cash-strapped Parnas “paid” Giuliani to represent their company. Mister Gucciardo apparently thought he was investing in some sort of cyber security company, a notion about which Giuliani did little to disabuse him.

“When you think of cybersecurity, you think of Rudolph Giuliani.” That was the statement by Randy Zelin, attorney for Gucciardo, who found that his client had invested in something called “Fraud Guarantee,” a company that supposedly insures corporations against fraud. How that is supposed to work we will never know since the company never had a single customer, and can only imagine their sales pitch: “Nice company ya got here, be a shame should someone commit fraud against you.”

These revelations were getting a little too crazy even for Trump, so he took action to right the ship (just kidding of course). In an Administration with thousands of crucial jobs unfilled to the point where (!) the meat industry is inspecting its own products, Trump hired 2 new top level Aides whose duties will be “impeachment messaging and other special projects,” beefing up the spin doctor operation to combat impeachment, while House Republicans have been expressing their frustration at the lack of direction from the White House on how to respond to the mounting evidence for impeachment. 

Congressional Republicans want the President’s team to at least make up a story they can all stick to instead the various “dog-ate-my-homework” brainstorms we keep hearing, before they are quickly discarded for “my grandmother died” excuses. It hasn’t occurred to any of them to examine the evidence, interrogate the witnesses and make up their own minds, even though dozens of them are members of the 3 Committees conducting the impeachment inquiry and are entitled to do exactly that. That’s just the sort of brain-busting and character-revealing activities they do their best to avoid.

Then we heard that Trump asked Attorney General William Barr, when the defecation first began hitting the ventilation device in September, to hold a press conference stating unequivocally that no laws were broken in his call with Ukraine’s president, but Barr equivocated and declined to do so, so Trump consoled himself with saying “The Justice Department already ruled that the call was good (they said no such thing).”

So it was time to malign a star witness, and who better a star witness to slander than an immigrant! So the attacks on the decorated combat veteran Colonel Alexander Vindman began, denigrating him for speaking Russian and Ukranian to Russians and Ukrainians (his job assignment at the time required exactly that) and claiming he had been overheard years before “bashing America” by unnamed people citing second-hand sources, none of which could be independently verified. Colonel Vindman remains a superb officer and still considered a valuable asset to his superiors.

To top off Wednesday, Trump attended yet another political rally, this one in Louisiana to support the GOP candidate in the State’s runoff election for the Governorship on November 16th, Eddie Rispone. He began by complaining about the lack of air conditioning in the sweltering arena, then made it hotter still with insults of incumbent Democratic governor John Bel Edwards, “You’re going out to replace a radical, liberal Democrat as your governor,” before warning up to his real targets with this: “The American people are fed up with Democrat lies, hoaxes, smears, slanders and scams. The Democrats’ shameful conduct has created an angry majority.”

Except that his disastrous forays outside his MAGA bubble in Washington and New York City have put a big crimp in that “majority” claim, and the Democrats’ “conduct” in instigating an impeachment inquiry is proving to be wildly popular.

Then on Thursday came a headache for Trump completely separate from the Ukrainegate and the Mueller Report headaches when William Roebuck, the top American diplomat in northern Syria, criticized Trump for screwing up Syria beyond redemption, and not trying harder to prevent Turkey’s military offensive there last month, adding that Turkish-backed militia fighters have already committed “war crimes and ethnic cleansing.” Which was pretty much the sum of everyone’s worst fears regarding Trump’s seat-of-his-pant foreign policy decisions.

Perhaps Roebuck’s biggest mistake was submitting a 3,200-word memo detailing his views and explaining the situation on the ground perfectly, or about 3,175 words more than Trump can read in a row without losing focus. If only he could have formulated something catchy and slogan-length, perhaps he’d have a shot at getting Trump’s attention, maybe “Make America Trustworthy Again!” or perhaps “All We Are Saying, Is Give Kurds a Chance.”

Prosecutors in the Roger Stone trial on Thursday unveiled threatening text messages by Trump’s former advisor Roger Stone to radio host Randy Credico in which Stone urged Credico not to testify about their communications over Stone’s efforts in 2016 to learn when WikiLeaks might release more damaging emails about Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton.

When Mister Credico warned Stone that his intimidation tactics were flirting with a perjury charge, Stone answered him with “I guarantee you, you are the one who gets indicted for perjury if you are stupid enough to testify.” He said this on a permanent record easily discovered by law enforcement. Truly his swaggering arrogance and idiotic blundering of leaving a broad paper trail to his crimes make Stone the most Trumpian of Trump associates, and the one most likely to join Paul Manafort in a long Federal Prison stretch.

While Trump was busy denying he asked the Justice Department to clear him, a court in New York ordered him to personally pay $2 million to various charity organizations as part of his settlement for running the fraudulent Trump Foundation charity, which was a criminal enterprise ripping off taxpayers and donors alike for decades. Then Adam Schiff skipped over small fish Robert Blair and subpoenaed Trump’s Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney for the formal impeachment hearings, a Big Fish caught smack dab in the middle of every one Trump of Trump’s bumbling antics.

Then a guy who can afford to spend $2 million every day and never go broke, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, jumped into the Democratic Presidential Nomination race, threatening to upend the 2020 election by outspending everyone, including Trump and his hundreds of millions in his campaign treasury.

Finally, we heard credible reports of Vice President Mike Pence being hip-deep in Ukrainegate, first accused by Trump himself in September, then confirmed by Congressional investigators, with revelations that Pence acted as Trump’s envoy to deliver his blackmail demands in person to Zelenskiy. So much for our chance to sing “All We are Saying… is Give Pence a Chance.” At this rate, by this time next year we could very well be living under President Nancy Pelsosi.

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