Kavanaugh and His Accuser: Add Another Ring to the Circus

Permit me to use that tired saw:  You can’t make these things up.   I’d say that fits the whole Trump presidency, but there’s something extra juicy about this.   Two people of sterling reputations (well, at least until they are totally slimed by the opposite side this week), on course to call each other liars face to face under oath in a Senate hearing next Monday.

At stake is whether Judge Kavanaugh will be named to the Supreme Court or not, since only a handful of senators who would otherwise back him, may not now, depending on who they believe once the gun smoke settles.

As you probably know, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor and research psychologist, has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when both were in high school decades ago.  She raised this issue in letters to Senators which she hoped would remain confidential, but once leaked, she decided to go all in and here we are.

I believe Ford’s recollection over Kavanaugh’s, first because she is inviting hell into her life by stepping forward, so she must believe deeply in the righteousness of her stand.   And second because Kavanaugh was quite a drinker in high school and college as well, something that has failed to draw attention until now.

To whatever extent he was an eagle scout, he was also a party guy.  According to a friend with him that night, Mark Judge, such drunken escapades were not rare for him and his friends.

When hearing of the accusations against his friend, Judge called them “absolutely nuts”.   But this is from a pal who wrote a book titled:  Wasted:  Tales of a Gen X Drunk, in which he talks about being “wild drunk” with girls along with his friends.  (Go here to read more.)

Judge has confessed to “bouts of dehumanizing lust.”  I imagine Kavanaugh has some confessing to do as well.  I’ll be curious to see if he tries to maintain his complete innocence as a youth or come clean.

Blasey Ford’s lawyer went too far in indicating in a TV interview that her client would probably have been raped had the boys not been too drunk to pull it off.  How about the possibility that the boys would not have acted quite so badly had they not been so drunk?  Still, acting like asses, still guilty of molestation, but that is not rape even if Blasey Ford feared that would happen.

Whatever happened that night, Blasey Ford clearly feels she was assaulted and Kavenaugh would do well to deal with that in a humane way instead of insisting “it” never happened and acting as if he were some kind of choir boy back then.

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We Must Hammer Away at Trump’s Alternate Reality

Trump and his minions shoot blobs of B. S. (distortions of truth in various ways) up in the air like a string of clay ducks in never ending rapid fashion.  The main stream press does a good job of shooting many down, but does not handle well the problem of how they keep popping up like zombies.

Trump’s plan is based on continually lying until voters get totally bamboozled and don’t bother to listen to anyone, except for those fanatics who think of Trump as the lone purveyor of the truth.

How ironic, one of history’s great snake oil salesmen as the one guy to be trusted.

The press can’t keep shooting the same ducks down as more and more keep popping up and there is only so much time for them to report.   In short we are facing a unique problem:   A strategy  based on an overwhelming effusion of B. S. repeated until reified as an alternative reality can overpower the truth when a society ceases to believe there is such a thing in the realm of politics.

This is scary.

What I think is needed is a concentration on which of Trump’s multitude of falsehoods need to be smashed again and again, because they form the key pillars of Trump’s false reality. To allow them to stand is to allow him to keep building upon them.   A good example is the notion that despite his obsequiousness before Putin in that press conference at Helsinki, Trump’s policies have actually been tough on Putin’s Russia.

Few Republicans defend that mealy mouthed performance in Helsinki, but they often are quick to point out that his policies have been tough even if his words have not.

Most often cited are the sanctions on Russia…… as if they prove Trump’s toughness in terms of policies.   This is a great example of how something can seem on the surface to be true, but is not.  Many of these sanctions have been applied, not because of Trump but despite him.   He deserves no credit for them.

Here is a thumbnail sketch that links sources that can give you a more complete picture if you want one.

Back in June of 2017  the Chicago Tribune reported the Senate ” voted overwhelmingly on sanctions  including restricting Trump administrations from altering them”, in other words weaken them.  Obviously, almost the entire Senate did not trust Trump to be tough on Russia.  Then that August the entire Congress passed a bill mandating sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

The Trump administration dragged their heels at enacting these sanctions until January of this year.  They finally enacted some of the sanctions, but not others as reported in Politico.

Finally in May the Washington Post reported:   “The top Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence and Banking committees asked the inspectors general of three federal agencies Friday to launch formal probes into why President Trump has not fully implemented congressionally mandated sanctions against Russia.”  Yes, still the ones passed last August in Congress and some since then.

And Trump supporters want to give him credit for these sanctions?   Yes, these sanctions were enacted while he was president, but he deserves no credit for them.  Just the reverse.  They are more evidence of Trump’s tendency to go soft on Russia.  One Trump supporter, obviously grasping at straws in a TV interview, gave Trump credit because he did not veto the sanctions.

The interviewer should have pointed out to that nebbish that vetoing the measure would make Trump look silly as Congress was almost totally united on the issue.  It took Trump to unite them for once…. against him.

My hope here is to make the case that the political media must refuse to allow fabrications like Trump’s toughness with Russia to remain standing while they move on to other topics in their interviews.   And we can help by pointing out such things to the media we attend to.

Some key untruths must not be allowed to stand as we approach the fall elections and this is one of them.

The Essence of the Helsinki Summit: Trump Looked Small and Putin Won Big

Mr. Trump’s performance before the press after meeting Vladimir Putin privately for over two hours (only the two presidents and their interpreters) is being called “disgraceful,” “disastrous” and “shameful”, not only by Democrats but by many Republicans.  This seems likely to linger longer than most of Trump’s gaffs, so let’s take a look at it.

Much of the criticism of Trump stems from his answers to two questions by AP reporter Jonathan Lamire.   Below are the questions and Trump’s response.  On the world stage he looked the part of a buffoon.  Still defending his election win, unable to think beyond what impacts him, rambling, dodging, distracting, fabricating and in the end failing to answer the first question and ignoring the second, leaving the sense that he trusts Putin at least as much as our own intelligence services.   Let me add one more adjective:  Deranged.  You decide…

“Question ….. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did.   … who do you believe?……My second question is, would you now, with the whole world watching…….warn him to never do it again?

TRUMP: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months, and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server? And what is the server saying?

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me — Dan Coats came to me and some others — they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.

I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.

So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer. Okay? Thank you.”


P. S.  –  Putin’s “incredible offer” was that that his intelligence services would work with ours to, it seems, get to the bottom of all these accusations.  As if the recent indictment of several Russians giving details of their culpability was just a puff piece in a local gossip column.

If you want to look at the entire transcript of that press conference you can find it here.

The Great Pretender and the Fall Elections

From my posts of the last couple of months or so you might have sensed that I am getting done in by the murkiness exuded hour by hour in Trumptopia.   I have a mind boggling chain of thoughts that get twisted up and fogged over so quickly they are beyond my capacity to deal with them.

I think of those boys trapped in a cave in Thailand.   Metaphorically like them I feel stuck amidst forces I can’t control. Unlike them I am not facing possible death as a result, but I do have the feeling of being swept away.   Like their fates, the mid-terms seem up for grabs.   As with their fates, I don’t have a handle on whether or not the American voters will endorse or reject the nature of Trumpism.

Trump has polluted the collective mind sphere so thoroughly with his alternative facts, distortions and just plain lies I can’t tell who will be persuaded by what.  Especially the “who” who are the tipping pointers, that significant bunch of late deciders that prompted Trump’s election victory.   If the economy remains good that might be all it takes to push the meter towards Trump.  The axiom holds true from the first Clinton presidential run.  “It’s the economy stupid.”

Here is where ultra liberals are myopically clueless.   They think that because they are ultra sensitive to issues like race or the separation of mothers from babies of those entering the U. S. illegally, that most of the country is.   Worse, they think everyone should be.   As a conservative political commentator (who doesn’t like Trump) put it recently, Trump is not conservative:  He is anti-liberal.  And a lot of Americans obviously respond to that.

I’m thinking about Trump’s daily splurge of lies, distortions and showman distractions – like which super conservative he will pick for the Supreme Court Monday night.  Should he pick tweedle dee or tweedle dum? Or maybe tweedle tweedle?  A political commentator whom I respect referred today to Monday night’s announcement as “must see TV.”

No it’s not.  He has fallen into the Trump vortex, the same swirl that drew commentators to talk about the Trump/Kim “historic meeting” in Singapore.  Have you noticed in recent days that the North Koreans now charge us with trying to deal with them mafia style, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refers to the same meetings in NOKO as making substantial progress?  (The last thing his boss wants is for his promises of our no longer having to fear NOKO to become a laughing stock.)

ENOUGH!

Basically we are all waiting to see what happens in the fall mid-terms, so until October I will try to spare you my jumbled thoughts.   If something really grabs me, something that might actually seem important regarding the fall elections or can illuminate this ongoing public psychic mess, I’ll write about it, but otherwise no.

That’s all I can do at this point.

 

Trump declares North Korea ‘no longer a nuclear threat’….Really??

When it comes to creating illusions, my first thought would normally be David Copperfield, but the “historic event” in Singapore that Trump ginned up takes the cake.  Like most I would agree with Churchill’s statement that “jaw, jaw is better than war, war.”  But if the continued jawing creates a false fantasy of progress, that is a danger in itself.  Pleasant dreams our nice, but at some point we must wake up.

“No longer a nuclear threat,” Trump tweets.  Why?  Because he got a long famously with the former little rocket man who Trump now views (or says he does, who knows?) as “talented… funny… smart… a man who loves his people”.

Loves his people?  This is a guy blamed for the murder of his half-brother, not to mention many others in his regime who he viewed as threats.  And this is also a guy who has continued the family tradition of imprisoning hundreds of thousands of possible detractors earning his nation the reputation of being the most oppressive on earth.

All Kim Jong Un offered was a promise to “work toward the complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula”…… No specifics whatsoever (including what complete denuclearization means) and Trump treats this as a huge victory for peace from a nation that has broken every arms agreement it has made with us.  Trump was so grateful to appear to have made peace that he offered to stop joint military exercises with South Korea (like the ones this August), or at least suspend them until further notice.

(This must have come off the cuff as South Korea and other allies along with our military seemed startled at the announcement).

In exchange for this fantasy the American president acted like he just found his long lost brother while the world watched Trump embrace the most oppressive dictator on the globe as if we Americans had no history of being the beacon of freedom in the world.

This is where Trump’s lack of knowledge and concern about history comes into play.   His sense of history goes back about two weeks, the time he and Kim have been being nice to each other.  As he has indicated, all he knows is that with him Kim has been a fun guy, a guy who Trump believes he can do business with.

Gag me with a spoon.   Trump has pulled out of the Iran agreement for being too weak.  It has over 100 specific, verifiable demands that Iran has been meeting, while all he has from Kim is a promise to try to work things out.  It is that belief alone that separates us from NOKO being a nuclear threat.  All the threats and tough talk and this empty document is what Trump got out of it.  It is only about two to four pages depending how you space it…… Hey, you can read it in 10 minutes (includes a break to get coffee).

What I find particularly irritating is the tendency for commentators to call this meeting a “historic event,”  even those quite critical of it.   Such a term tends to carry positive connotations, implying – as Trump claims – that only he could bring about such a meeting.

WRONG, VERY WRONG………..  the Kim family line has always craved such a meeting, but previous presidents did not want to legitimize this string of dictators in the world’s eye.  Dictators who, to remind you again, have broken every arms agreement we have made with them.

Now, with the president saying “there is no longer a nuclear threat,” how can we hold together the nations that have been sanctioning North Korea?   Those who call this a historic event should occasionally note that such events are not always good, such as the Munich agreement between Hitler and English prime minister Chamberlain, who believed Hitler could be bargained with and when returning home announced to his nation that he had “saved peace in our time.”  A premature judgement if there ever was one.

When it comes to being a historic event, I’ll borrow Trump’s frequent answer to any question that touches upon the future “We’ll have to wait and see.”

I’ll wait to see if this mutual expression of good will between two of the biggest liars on the planet actually leads to a North Korean denuclearization plan with  a series of verifiable steps.   Until then,  I’ll just mark this summit down as one more self-congratulatory publicity stunt by the man I affectionately think of as Trumpenstein.

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P. S. – I did not cover all of the wacky elements of the Singapore meeting.   Trump also presented Kim with a four minute movie apparently designed to dazzle him with the economic possibilities of playing ball with us.  This film was labelled “sensational idiocy” by the folks at the New Yorker, a term that pretty much sums up my sense of the entire summit.  Take a glance at the video and the magazine’s response here.

The Houston Area: Yet Another High School Massacre

It is just past noon and I am already into the wine.   Trying to figure out a post this morning among the near infinite possibilities was difficult enough and then I heard about the latest school shooting, this time in Texas with 10 killed and 10 injured.  That pretty much shut the door on my thinking.

Do these media types really expect us to watch the umpteenth repeat of the same old story?  The over speculations on causes and what we can do to make this “never happen again.”  Of course, it will happen again.

The assurances of our so-called president that these victims have “our support forever.”  Could words be any more empty?

And I can’t stand to listen to any more “how did you feel” interviews, or any of the other stuff that the cable stations wedge in to show they care.   And, though feeling some guilt, I don’t want to listen to another story of a child’s promising life that was so cruelly cut short.   I feel badly for those families, but when slaughtering school children becomes common place, I don’t want to know every detail.

Tell me something new.

What I want is more insights as to what sort of coordinated effort we might develop to reduce the chances of repetitions.  The bulk of coverage of these school shootings is so uniformly preliminary as to tell us nothing.  I’m still waiting for a detailed report of what happened in Parkland, which I hope can give us some solid clues as to how to better guard against future shootings.

Unfortunately, while the state of Florida has a commission working on this, the last I read in April they weren’t coming up with a full report until next January.  I hope they eventually do give us some useful insights, though the slow pace is maddening.  Given that the shooter was throwing up more red flags than a Moscow parade, I most want to know more about the failure among the various agencies involved – the police, schools, etc. –  to communicate with each other.

But that article points out other problems as well such as flaws in the school’s and the police’s response procedures.  One simple but huge problem source sticks out to me.  The classrooms could only be locked from the outside, so to lock up one’s room a teacher had to lock themselves out.

Mr. President, instead of being supportive forever, how about injecting some money into the Florida commission to help them finish the job sooner?  And then actually act on the conclusions the study draws.

For those interested in reading that April article, go here.

Trump is Betting Politics will Save him if the Law Won’t

Rudy Giuliani exploded on the Washington scene last week, supposedly coming on board the Trump legal team, but acting independently in what seemed like a loose cannon being shot at them.   He blabbed all sorts of contradictory statements and misstatements on various political talk shows, beginning with Hannity last Wednesday.

Giuliani seemed to be making Trump’s legal status worse off.  Turns out he hadn’t gone rogue, as he’d cleared much of what he would say with Trump, therefore surprising the legal team but not the president, who later seemed pleased with his work and kept him out there babbling.  I suspect the two bluster boys are working in tandem and let the legal team be damned.

I am guessing this reflects a decision by Trump that Mueller has the goods on him and he can’t escape this legally, so best to put all his money on winning the political game in the fall and afterwards.   Don’t agree to an interview or accept a subpoena and take it all the way to the Supreme Court next year.  Who knows?  There might be a new Trump friendly Supreme by then.

Meanwhile, just make the investigators look bad, so you have an excuse for not complying with their demands.  Trump has been driving his “witch hunt, no collusion” mantras into our brains for months in preparation for this shift in emphasis and the ongoing Giuliani show tells me Trump hopes his political narrative will save him where the law will not.

And part of that thinking is the Stormy Daniels case is a loss, but the kind of thing that Trump can use as an ongoing distraction because the media loves to cover it.  In the end, assuming Trump doesn’t perjure himself, what will the government do, fine him?  Convict him of some minor lie?   The guy that has rattled off about 3000 of them so far in office according to the Washington Post?

Big deal.

I think this kind of disproportionate coverage contributes to a sense of investigation fatigue as captured by this guy who tweeted to a cable host this Saturday:  “….. the length of the probe is making most of us numb to the issues that are lead stories in liberal media.  Wrap it up and let Potus do his job.”  

Of course, his base buys the whole witch hunt argument already, but even for non fanatics, if you are numb to the issues and want Trump free to do his job you just might be swayed by the great salesman’s relentless credit taking for everything deemed good in 2018, while ignoring the positive trends already well established during the Obama years.

I’m worried about numbed voters and I get nervous when I hear someone talking about an expectant “blue wave” in the fall elections.  Although I’d like to see one, so much seems a matter of how events smile or frown on the Trump presidency in the intervening months and how well Trump can sell his “witch hunt” narrative to those who feel numb to the issues and wonder why so much media time was being spent on such things as a porn star and her lawyer over a hush money payment that may have broken campaign financing laws.

What does that have to do with our major problems?  Hate to say it, but it seems kind of witch hunty to me.  Not the actions per se, but the way the liberal media dwells on them.