Truth and Lies: Stormy Daniels vs. Donald Trump

I’m writing about Stephanie Clifford (a. k. a. Stormy) because, foremost, she is the only topic in Trumptopia that makes me smile.   Secondly, every other topic I can think of is too complex and/or given to too much speculation.  The speculation is more contained with Stephanie’s issue.   It boils down to who is telling the truth, and it looks like Trump won’t get away with this lie as he has with so many others.  Ironically, Stephanie is a real person known by a fake name, while Trump is a fraud known by his real name.   But not always, as we soon shall see.

As you probably know, Stephanie had an affair with Trump a few years before the election and was paid $130 grand shortly before the voting to hush up about it.  Of course, as with any of his sexual indiscretions (big and small) he denies it ever happened and denies he knew anything about the hush money paid by a long time personal lawyer Michael Cohen.  The fly in the ointment is their account of the story is impossible to believe, unless you have stopped thinking altogether, reminding me of an old Scottish aphorism:  “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

True, Trump has been a Houdini in escaping a multitude of previous webs, but I’m betting Stephanie can be the one to nail him.   Way before Mueller gets around to it.  If the affair never happened, why did Cohen pay Stephanie all that money?   All I’ve heard from Cohen is, yes, he paid the money, but no Trump didn’t know and the affair never happened to begin with.   Ah……could you run that explanation by me again?

Also, why would Trump’s organization and Cohen now be threatening to sue Clifford for $20 million for things they fear she might expose on 60 Minutes this Sunday and who knows when and where afterwards?

As Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti has described the whacky scenario in a tweet:   “How can President Trump seek $20 million in damages against my client based on an agreement that he (Trump) and Mr. Cohen claim he never was a party to and knew nothing about?”

Avenatti says they aren’t afraid of Trump’s threats, as they argue the non-disclosure agreement was invalid because Trump never signed it, not even signing in the blank space over his alias in the suit, David Dennison.  My guess is they thought if Trumped signed it (bring in the hand writing experts), he couldn’t completely deny knowing about it, even if he signed Santa Clause.

I’m smiling thinking of this, as Clifford and Avenatti appear to have Cohen and Trump caught in their own twisted web, beating them at their own manipulative game.  Avenatti  has been making the political talk show circuit implying all sorts of goodies Stephanie has to share with us Sunday, offering up a lie detector test she passed in 2011 as an appetizer.

You may have noticed, I have avoided the terms “porn star” or the somewhat less derogative “adult film star” in reference to Ms. Clifford because the more I’ve read about her the more respect I feel.  She seems smart and tough and brave.  Sure she welcomes the money and attention but, unlike Trump, if she wins this game it is because her claims are based on facts and honesty, in contrast with Trump’s success formula, a web of deceit spun over years.

If she triumphs, it will help the legal cases against Trump of  a former Apprentice contestant and a former playboy model, not to mention those dozen plus women who accused Trump of molesting them prior to the election, tossed aside because Trump denied the claims of all of them.   And the press let them fall by the wayside, too busy combating Trump’s latest lies after he became president.

It all fits so well in the upside down world of Trumptopia whereby the porn star is actually the one who can be trusted while the president can not be.

P. S. –  Want to know a little more about Ms. Daniels?  Go here.


North Korea, Stormy Daniels and this and that….

So many, so many possible topics, so let’s just take a glance at a few ongoing sagas…

Since it touches upon the prospect of nuclear war, let’s begin with North Korea, which is acting like it wants to develop its relationship with South Korea (you know, their athletes marching together at the Olympics, etc.).  NO KO and SO KO are setting up a hot line between their two nation heads and will have talks in upcoming weeks which may lead to talks including the U. S.

It sounds good, but NO KO has made peaceful overtures over the years, which wound up stalling periods while they continued to develop nuclear weapons. Perhaps the Trump crazy persona has prompted Jong UN to reconsider…………but more likely it is a clever ploy by UN, buying time and perhaps splitting our relationship with SO KO.

Stormy Daniels is a picayune topic, but much more fun, unless you are Donald J. Trump. The porn star/adult film actress (depending on how much you want to go “tisk, tisk”) refuses to go away.  It looks like she will become a bigger pain to the president as she is suing for the right to tell her story arguing the non-disclosure agreement is invalid as Trump never signed it.

Even if she must give the $130,000 back, she will undoubtedly make much more in appearance fees and likely some sort of book deal.  It should be fun to watch her buzzing around nipping at Trump like a clever mosquito.  Rumors say she has some photos she’d like to share.

The really big topic of gun control can wait, as Congress is slowly muddling through various proposals, never knowing what Trump would actually sign.  Meanwhile, some interesting reactions from business, in that two big sellers of guns, Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, have established more restrictions on their own gun sales.  Also, numerous large corporations have stopped giving NRA members special discounts.

Of course, the drivers for ongoing work on this issue are the high school students organizing a big March in Washington later this month, and various walkouts at schools throughout the country.  And undoubtedly other events I don’t know about.  Of course Congress will do as little as possible, most thinking of how it will affect voting in the fall elections.  A hefty dose of determined idealism from the young adults gives me some hope the NRA won’t completely tip the balance as usual.

Speaking of changes, the White House just lost its 16th high level administrator when Gary Cohn, White House chief economic adviser, resigned.  Some kind of record exodus I think.   Cohn resigned after Trump refused to take back his suddenly announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a move that has lots of critics besides Cohn, and few defenders.

For one, it could ignite a trade war, especially with Canada and Mexico, the two biggest exporters of those goods to us.  For another, there are a lot more people working in industries here that use those metals as opposed to those that mine them.  Tariffs will prompt price hikes that make their products less competitive.  Any employment gains in steel production seem likely overshadowed by losses in the steel using industries.

No matter to Trump as it is a great distraction from other issues and makes him look good when he goes to Pennsylvania soon to give a campaign speech in a steel producing area.  It is a complex matter, but no reason to say more yet, as Trump could completely rework this as it suits him.

And of course there is the Mueller investigation, which keeps coming up with more indictments and/or agreements for witness testimony.   Trump must be having some nightmares of looking around and seeing the terminator steadily moving towards him.

What else?  Remember the week the was supposed to be infrastructure week?  Well, forget it.  Nothing has happened there and doesn’t seem likely to before the election.   It looked like a bad idea at the time and has lost its impetus for now.

Speaking of delay, DACA comes to mind.  Since it will be tied up in the courts for months, my bet is Congress will do little or nothing for months.  Also being delayed are major steps to combat Russian interference in our election this fall.  Trump pretends otherwise with talk of a comprehensive study of the matter under way, but no specific actions and fall not far away.

Criminal, I say.  Criminal.

Feb 28, 2018: A Particularly Bizarre Day in Trumptopia

I was not going to post for a few days to let a number of issues develop, but there were so many odd political occurrences yesterday I wanted to give it a little attention, so I’m sharing a tweet from Sam Stein, politics editor for the Daily Beast, just to give you a taste of the day (I added a few words in blue for clarity).

Stein captured Trump’s day thus:   Between calling his AG Jeff Sessions “DISGRACEFUL;”  Agreeing to a liberal fantasy of gun reform in a televised bi-partisan meeting in the White House; losing his comms director Hope Hicks; watching his son-in-law Jared Kushner chewed up by devastating news reports; and seeing Special Counsel Mueller hone in on his attempts to fire Sessions;  it’s just your average day in Trumpland.”

I’d say Stein is employing understatement. Even for Trump this was a bit much.  All of these occurrences will give rise to more and more stories which  undoubtedly will compete for attention with new or renewed “breaking news” to the point of our bewilderment and/or just tuning out altogether with our excuse being you can’t believe anybody.  For me the worst thing Trump has done is to turn the already murky world of political reality into a blinding sleet storm.

Amidst the mental muck I will try to focus on what happens with the gun reform issue.  Most likely not much.  Recall how Trump had a similar meeting about DACA on a Tuesday in January wherein he appeared open and even eager to make a deal, but by Thursday he reversed his position, obviously influenced by his base and advisers.  The “Tuesday Trump” or the “Thursday Trump”  has become a byword for a Trump-about-face, I think coined by Republican Senator Lindsay Graham.

So we’ve seen the “Tuesday Trump” on gun reform and now we have to wait and see what the “Thursday Trump” has to say.  Most likely he will pull back from every positive thing he said about gun reform that the NRA doesn’t like.  It might boil down to bump  stocks being passed, as the NRA doesn’t seem to mind that.

I’ll get back to you.

P. S. – Trump says or does so many odd things that we tire of pointing them out, but that only makes his craziness our reality.  Trump must fundamentally be a coward, as he is always indicating how brave he is, like the other day when he asserted that unlike that “cowardly” security guard he would have run into that school even if he didn’t have a gun.  Who else would pat himself on the back for something he has only fantasized?

That is the sort of thing that truly the brave, like a Medal of Honor recipient, would never, ever say about himself, the kind of thing only someone with a lot of self-doubt would say.  And then what does he do?   Yesterday he puffs himself up more by teasing some of the Congress people about being afraid of the NRA, when he has been completely cowed by them until his “brave” words yesterday which he has plenty of time to take back.

One might say he lacks the courage of his convictions, but then he has no convictions, only a fantasy of himself.

A Glance at the Russian Intervention Issues and DACA

The Russian issue and the DACA issue are unrelated, other than I’d rather say something about each topic now rather than so many others, like reducing gun mass violence.

First, the Russian intervention in the 2016 election and Special Council Mueller’s investigation of it.  As for the intervention, our four major intelligence agencies have agreed for months there is no doubt about interference and that it continues and will impact the 2018 election if we don’t make Russia pay a price and to take other steps to combat it.

As retiring NSA director Admiral Mike Rogers testified to a senate committee Monday, he has not received any direction from the president, echoing what he and other security chiefs testified earlier in February.  It is up to the Republican controlled Congress to press Trump on this, but their devil’s pact with him seems to preclude it.

They got tax and regulation cuts and numerous conservative judges through, so, hey, he’s their man under apparently any circumstances.  They see their interest as the nation’s interest (e.g. some Russian hacking helped them in the last election, so……).

Trump’s lack  of response and the failure of the Republican Congress to censure him for that indifference should be big news.  But not in Trumptopia where it dwindles to being just another dime a dozen issue.  His do nothing approach would be denounced as traitorous if a Democratic president did so little to protect the nation’s political structure.

As for the Mueller investigation, I’m struck that Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty today to more charges from Mueller concerning various illegal dealings or lies.  Unless the press are totally off on this, the once-upon-a-time manager of the Trump campaign has brazenly  broken laws all over the world, so I’m drawn to believe he will be convicted of a few things.  Especially because his close long time work associate Rick Gates has entered a plea deal with Mueller, and his knowledge could be enough to sink the man by itself.

So, why plead guilty instead of making a deal himself?   I’d bet Manafort believes that Trump will pardon him.  It’s Manafort’s only way out.  His trial is scheduled for Sept 17 and trials often have their dates moved back, so the mess that is Manafort may stay under wraps (except for leaks) until after the November elections, which might help the Retrumplicans.  Certainly his trial is not likely to help them.

Yes, I said Retrumplicans, meaning what was called “the grand old party” is the party of Trump pure and simple.  As mentioned above, some old Republican values are held on to while others have been dropped as a matter of convenience, like balancing the budget (how old fashioned)  and espousing  some sort of moral code (how quaint).

Moving on, DACA prolonged.  A judge struck down Trump’s order to do away with DACA.  That temporarily saves those in the program but will likely keep them nerve wracked for months to come.  Depends on how long the appellate court’s docket will be too full to handle the case (sometime in the fall?) and then whatever their decision, the case seems likely to go to the Supreme Court ( Trump’s team tried to leap frog the appellate court, but the Supremes would not allow it.)

Upon reflection, this DACA issue being postponed, like with Manafort, until after the election might work to Trump’s advantage as he will continue to blame the Democrats for not settling the issue while acting as if he hadn’t attached other restrictions to his immigration proposal that the Dems see as a poison pill.

Manafort a victim of the witch hunt and the Dems not caring about the Dreamers is how Trump’s narrative will read come election time.

Don’t Arm Teachers. Ban Assault Weapons.

I’m a liberal leaning fellow who has never owned a gun because I most likely would misuse it in some way.   So, my assertion above doesn’t count much unless you are already a part of the choir.

But Ralph Peters agrees with me and he is a gun lover, retired lieutenant colonel who often appears on Fox, sometimes espousing conspiracy theories I dislike.   Peters made the most compelling case I’ve seen for banning assault weapons in yesterday’s New York Post, and I want you to read it, so I’ll keep this short.

Simply put he argues these are military weapons whose sole  “purpose is to kill human beings.” In response to the notion that  that “Guns don’t kill people, people do”  he says “But people with rapid-fire weapons kill a lot more folks a whole lot faster.”  

As for the idea of arming teachers he writes: “When the shooting starts, even the best-trained, most disciplined soldiers and cops — US Army Rangers or NYPD SWAT members — don’t put every round on target. The notion that a guard or teacher who goes to the range once a quarter would keep kids safe is profoundly divorced from reality. ‘Friendly fire’ would simply add to the danger.”

I’m one who feels sorry for Scot Peterson, the police officer stationed at the school since 2009, apparently well liked, even garnering an award one year.  One doesn’t maintain an edge for battle hanging around most schools.  My guess is that he lost the cop’s instinct for danger and ability to respond to it.  He’d become more a staff member than a cop, so  even with that past training and a gun he froze.  Are we assuming teachers with guns are going to become super heroes?   Not to say someone won’t, but it is a dubious plan.

Again, we don’t need more teachers armed, we need less assault weapons easily attainable to attack their schools with.

That Post piece here

A School Slaughter and the Normal Abnormal in Trumptopia Last Week

(I want to give the political gist of some of last week.  To give more would be way too much for a post.  As is this may be my longest post ever.  It was a big news week.) 

School slaughters have become part of our new normal but one thing different here is how a number of the teenage victims seem new born activists determined to not let the rest of us forget this time.  To begin with, several have tweeted to Trump to forget his hopes and prayers. They want actions.  Maybe just maybe…. 

The other points are the more normal incidents of Trump’s governance by chaos.  The scandal of the week grew out of his WH staff.   His staff secretary, Rob Porter, resigned after allegations he abused his two former wives.  The bigger issue was the poor vetting process that allowed him to handle top security papers, which raised questions about WH chief of staff General Kelly’s handling of that, which Kelly appears to have lied about.  Most interesting to me is Representative Trey Gowdy opened an investigation of the matter.  I only hope he is half as tenacious as he was in grilling Hillary Clinton about Benghazi over several years.

The issue of Russian interference in our elections figured prominently last week in various ways, most misinterpreted by Trump to suit his narrative that any efforts Russia made were negligible and, most importantly, his campaign had not colluded with them.

In stark contrast to Trump’s assertions, the heads of the major intelligence branches testified to Congress Monday and all of them believe Russia interfered with the last election and will continue to do so as long as we let them.  Also, upon questioning, it became clear that the WH had not given them specific instructions on how to deal with it.  I might add  Trump has refused to enact stricter sanctions on Russia voted by Congress almost unanimously last summer.

Then later in the week Special Prosecutor Mueller’s team announced indictments of 13 Russians for their interference in 2016, removing all doubt.  As he always has done, Trump ignored the interference, stressing that “no collusion was proven.”  Well, not yet, but the investigation seems far from over.  And, collusion or no, what about the interference, Donald?  What about that?   It’s OK with you as long as it helps you?

I’m continuously stunned by how Trump ignores Russian interference while never criticizing Putin, and most Republicans say nothing.  If the situation was reversed they would never stop yelling traitor.  I can imagine only two reasons for Trump’s behavior, one being his supreme narcissism that makes any admission of interference diminish his win.  And/or Putin has information that could sink him.

As he said he would, Senate Republican leader McConnell took up the immigration issue Monday. Four bills were brought up but none received more than 54 votes while it takes 60 to pass under Senate guidelines.  The one reflective of Trump’s proposal got the fewest votes, 39.

The Dreamers remain in limbo while Trump blames the Democrats, of course, even though he showed no willingness to make a deal, I. E. show some give and take in the process.  Trump doesn’t make deals.  He gives fiats and when the other side isn’t willing to accept his position in total, he blames them for not wanting a deal.

By the way, remember how Trump said he would rewrite our trade deals and make much better ones.  Can anyone come up with a single new trade deal he has actually made this past year?  He has broken deals and threatened to break others, but give me an example of one new deal he has made.  If he had he would have tweeted up a storm.

The Infrastructure Week that Wasn’t:   The Porter scandal dominated the headlines in the first half of the week and then the Florida massacre took over from then on.  No matter,  Trump’s infrastructure plan is just more of his B. S.  He talks about $1.5 trillion investment, but the federal government will only pay 200 billion of that, the rest is to come from states and public/private investments.

State budgets have been creaking for years so forget that and the other part is guesswork at this point.  Also, Trump’s new budget plan shows infrastructure cuts, not hikes, so some of the that 200 billion will be needed to get back to previous spending levels.

By the way, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates it will take $3.6 trillion invested by 2020 just to raise the country’s support systems to acceptable levels, so under the most optimistic vision Trump’s Great America will still be undergirded by crumbling roads, bridges and airports.

Trump Sexcapades – Trump has given so many signs of being a sexual sleaze bag, that recent stories about big hush money payments to two mistresses prior to the election are hardly a surprise and not worth going into unless they turn into something prosecutable.

The Weekend Tweet Storm: Trump reportedly spent the weekend largely watching TV news and commentary while growing more and more furious about the ongoing Russia investigation, spewing out a dozen or so emails blaming or criticizing others, mischaracterizing situations and continuously emphasizing “no collusion” while now arguing he has always meant the “hoax’ was the collusion part, not Russia’s meddling itself.  No, he continually conflated the two until Mueller’s Russian indictments this week.  He is an expert at saying things imprecisely, so later he can always say he didn’t mean what had seemed obvious.

His last tweet  target was Oprah who was on 60 Minutes last night with a panel of voters talking about Trump and the election.  His tweet began calling Oprah “insecure” and went on to state:  “The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect.”

Leaving aside that last accusation from the King of Falsehoods, let’s take a vote as to who is more insecure:  Oprah, who rose from poverty to become hugely successful and gets along with most people while loved by many, or Donald, who began rich and though he’s had his own share of success is always puffing himself up while battling with others, usually tearing them down?

And Oprah is the insecure one?

Kaleidoscopic Topsy Turvy: Trying to Make Sense of Trumptopia

A series of changing phases or events viewed upside down creating a state of utter confusion.  That’s what a cobbled together kaleidoscopic-topsy-turvy means.  How’s that for grasping the surreal everyday “reality” of life in Trumptopia?   Let’s try some recent news events on for size, so to speak.

For starters could you find anything more topsy turvy than watching Amarosa, a longtime Trump stalwart, who is now on Celebrity Big Brother, a few nights ago tearfully confess to a housemate that she would never ever vote for Trump again, her supposed super hero for months….before she got booted out of the White House, a “bad place.”

Speaking of what Trump used to call his WH well oiled machine,  there have been about 40 administration officials who have either been fired or resigned  (details here),  It can’t be too well oiled, especially when it comes to the vetting process.

A speech writer accused of sexual abuse just resigned and shortly before that it was Rob Porter, WH staff secretary, also for sexual abuse.  Of course, in the latter case at least, Trump emphasized how Porter “says he’s innocent.”  Hey, two accusations to his one defense, maybe he is – but not likely given that one photo.  The point is Trump always emphasizes claims of innocence by abusers….


How topsy turvy is that?   With powerful sexual abusers falling down like cheap shacks as the “me, too” movement has developed into a kind of social hurricane, somehow the charges by all those women against Trump, which of course he denies, just seem to hang there like a fart no one will cop to.  I guess Trump gets away with it because he churns out so many distractions per day that his own abusing nature is taken for granted, becomes normalized like so many other things upside down.

His various truth twisters keep to talking points that make it all seem normal despite it being just the opposite.  WH Spokesman Sara Sanders is Exhibit A.  When asked months ago how the president could demand Democratic Senator Al Franken resign over alleged harassment charges by several women while Trump supported that awful Alabama judge for a vacated Senate seat, Sanders pointed out that the judge denied the charges while Franken admitted guilt (at least in one case).

So, boys and girls, whatever your parents said about the importance of fessing up, no, not in Trumptopia.  Deny, deny, deny…..and eventually they’ll get tired of asking.

According to Sara, if you never admit guilt you get the presumption of innocence despite all evidence to the contrary a la el presidente.  The accusations of several women against the judge and even more against Trump the president lose their impact when Sanders’s twisted thinking is allowed to reign.  More upside down.

My jumping about on this theme reflects the kaleidoscopic aspect of my point of view, but as for the topsy turvy angle, what about this recent budget deal?   Hey, I have such low expectations of Congress that I’m basically in favor of it.  But my topsy turvy point is the agreement shows, in case there was still any doubt, that Republican fiscal conservatism and the hopes of the tea party have been turned on their heads.

Senator Rand Paul reminded me of Custer at the Little Big Horn, keeping Congress up all night by his refusal to shut up until, like Martin Luther at the church door, he hammered this point home.   How could the Republicans who skewered Obama about anything that would add to the deficit just add another 300 or 400 billion or so over the next two years? 

At least the tax cut plan could be defended with the rationale that the trillion plus to be lost in taxes over the next 10 years would be made up for by the revenue’s from a finally unfettered booming economy.   Seems mostly based on a hope and a prayer, but at least they pretend the added deficit will be paid for through an economy that gets huger and huger….

Of course, this club still called Republicans has really become the party of Trump which can no longer complain about tax and spend liberals when their answer to our financial issues is to not tax but still spend and, like a Hollywood movie, there will be a happy ending.  Funny that the Dems are now the one’s talking about overspending, or at least were before they got a huge junk of change in this budget for domestic programs they want, essentially in exchange for giving the hawks billions of dollars the military insist we need.

And, of course, Trump’s tweets imply it was he who got Congress to give the military what it says it needs, which when translated topsy turvy means he mostly got in the way with statements like the government should be shut down if an immigration deal wasn’t included.  An impossibility in right side up reality.  Unfortunately, as time goes by Trump’s propaganda machine will make it seem Trump made this deal happen.  Some will even want to throw him a parade.

Upsidedownism prevails and it keeps changing kaleidoscopically .