Oh, for the languid days of the No-Drama Obama era, where Fox News was so desperate for meat that they were forced to resort to discussions of Obama’s ill advised sartorial choices (the infamous tan suit) or his elitist attitudes as expressed by his choice of condiments. (The day he had a burger with Joe Biden and asked for Dijon mustard.) Sean Hannity made a banner story, “President Poupon” out of that one. We’ve gone from that dull-as-a-door-knob calm, to a surreal mad roller coaster ride, where lightning-bolt-driven cars threaten to derail, as they spew unsteadily through the tortured landscape of a theme park out of Dante’s inferno; all the while the pounding pulses and sweaty brows of its riders are reminiscent more of victims of a cocaine overdose moments before cardiac arrest, than of people having a good time. Welcome to Trumpworld, Hellraiser Pinhead will validate your parking. Today was yet another Big News Day in Trumpworld, given that both the indictment of Roger Stone broke in the morning, and then the end of the longest government shutdown in history was finally settled this afternoon — ironically with the exact same compromise measure that Trump refused to sign into law a month ago, preferring, naturally, to plunge everybody into chaos. So it stands to reason that there was no room anywhere for a story that would have, in any remotely normal administration, been headline news all over the country: to wit, Paul Manafort went to court today to discuss the possibility that he may be required to serve an additional ten years in prison for allegedly lying to Mueller’s team. Ten years is no small amount of time in anyone’s life and at Manafort’s age and with his health problems, this is no small news squib, this is the sitting president’s former campaign manager possibly spending the rest of his life in prison. Don’t look for it on the front page of the New York Times or Washington Post, but Rachel Maddow did post on it, using the story to establish the context of what is the new normal in the Trump administration. Paul Manafort is in a bad way and doing everything he can to keep his situation from worsening. His hair is white now and he leans heavily on a cane. His age and health make it literally a matter of life and death that he not spend an additional ten years in prison, on top of the sentence already contemplated of 7 to 10 years. A final adjudication of this issue is set to take place in a closed door hearing February 4. Point being, Maddow makes it clear that when she went to sleep last night, this was the story with all the drama. Manafort’s hearing will generate a transcript, albeit a redacted one, due to the sensitivity of the subject matter which Manafort discussed with Mueller in his 9 hours of hearings. Yet despite the obvious high profile of the Manafort case in adjudicating the Trump Russia matter as whole, it was eclipsed today by another development in that case, the indictment of Roger Stone. And both issues took a back seat to the government shutdown, yet another destructive issue to which the tag “unprecedented” has been attached. This adminstration is so out of […]
Political columnist Charles P. Pierce recently opined that somebody should get Donald Trump a Civics coloring book so that he can learn the basics of government. Trump was huffing and puffing about doing the State of the Union address “on location” until Wednesday night, when he finally folded. What most probably happened is that he didn’t understand that there are three branches of government, and that Nancy Pelosi is a co-equal in one of the branches, and as Speaker she has the say about who speaks in the House. I’m quite sure that fact came as complete revelation to Trump. As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative – I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an…. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2019 ….alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the near future! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2019 The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel said that despite tradition, delivering the State of the Union as an address didn’t begin until Woodrow Wilson, but even so the decision rested with the House Speaker. “Undergirding all of this is that it’s up to the Speaker of the House and up to both chambers to pass a resolution inviting the other branch of government to come into Congress,” Weigel said. “The president can’t just walk in. You have to kinda wonder how much the White House understands this.” He added that Trump “often assumes he has power which he does not constitutionally have.” It must have been some night in the White House before Trump capitulated to Pelosi on Twitter, and the blow back began. Folding like the cheapest of suits. https://t.co/oYuImojjwG — Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) January 24, 2019 Donald Trump basically just cried Uncle!https://t.co/4u0MVkZ3kn — Ryan Hill (@RyanHillMI) January 24, 2019 Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio told CNN’s Don Lemon, “It’s shocking. This [Trump’s tweet] sounds like something that maybe Ivanka wrote or Jared Kushner. It really doesn’t sound like Donald Trump’s language. This is a fellow who has troubles stringing three words together in the right order.” Plus, prerogative is spelled correctly. That’s the dead giveaway that it wasn’t authored by Trump. The base isn’t going to like this. Not one bit. They think Trump is some muscle man who’s going to do an end run around the professional politicians. Wrong.
Better late than never. John Kelly was still Chief of Staff when the government shutdown began on December 22 and his last day of work was January 3, so your guess is as good as mine whether he tried to talk reason with Donald Trump about the shutdown. In any event, Kelly and all previous Department of Homeland Security secretaries signed a letter today, advocating an end to it. Inbox: 5 former Homeland Security secretaries, including ex Trump chief of staff John Kelly, ex Pa Gov Tom Ridge and NJs Michael Chertoff write joint letter urging Trump, Congress to fund the Dept. pic.twitter.com/spmsGoQeFb — Jonathan Tamari (@JonathanTamari) January 23, 2019 Trump has received correspondence from other groups advocating an end to the shutdown. The Air Lines Pilots Association wrote an extensive letter outlining how the safety and security of the industry was being severely compromised, and this was a few weeks before a woman got past a TSA checkpoint with a revolver and ammunition in her carry-on bag on an international flight. It’s noteworthy that the letter calls upon “elected leaders.” Trump is in no way a leader, and it’s debatable whether the word elected applies either. However, in the plus column, this is a bi-partisan effort. John Kelly trashed his reputation in the service of Trump, with his classless “empty barrels” crack about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, when Wilson defended her friend and constituent Myeshia Johnson, the pregnant widow of slain Green Beret LaDavid Johnson. Trump made grossly insensitive remarks to Mrs. Johnson, saying that Sgt. Johnson, “knew what he signed up for…but when it happens it hurts anyway,” like he would know. Trump denied the remarks and when Rep. Wilson called him a liar, Kelly and Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down with the empty barrels remark, and “all hat, no cattle,” respectively, in an effort to bolster Trump by disparaging the congresswoman. John Kelly isn’t likely to ever live down that particular disgrace, but perhaps this is an effort to do so.
Michael Cohen cancelled his February 7 congressional testimony, citing threats as recent as this week from Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani as the reason. Stormy Daniels isn’t having any of it. Are you fucking serious, Mikey?! What about MY family? You gave zero shits about my baby. In all serious though, this is WHY you shouldn't back down! This is your chance to be a hero! I'll loan you some of my balls, hold your hand, or whatever else you need to do the right thing. https://t.co/RC3yPswxdc — Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) January 23, 2019 Now, it has been opined that maybe this is a tactical decision made by Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, to sweeten the charges of obstruction of justice and witness tampering, against Donald Trump. Could be. Another theory is that Cohen is being paid off. Could be. The irony to bear in mind is that Daniels wasn’t afraid to testify in the face of threats, and Cohen was instrumental in putting her in that position. Political theater is always entertaining, but in the Age of Trump, it’s political three ring circus. In the center ring is the government shutdown, State of the Union drama, with Trump Russia to one side, and impeachment on the other — and all the characters overlap. Never a dull moment.
This is beyond poor taste, this is depraved. Watch the beginning of this clip, where for 3 seconds a photo of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the years of her life (presumably ending this year) are displayed. Fox News just slipped in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s obituary segment opener pic.twitter.com/PfN6ICltYb — Chip Douglas (@AreaMan_) January 21, 2019 Steve Doocy eventually jumped in and admitted error, but how, pray tell, does one make an error like this? The Hill: The hosts of “Fox & Friends” on Monday apologized for showing a graphic saying Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead, blaming a control room error. “We need to apologize. … A technical error in the control room triggered a graphic of RBG with a date on it,” co-host Steve Doocy said later in the program. “We don’t want to make it seem anything other than that was a mistake. That was an accident.” “We apologize, big mistake,” co-host Ainsley Earhardt added. A Fox News spokesperson told The Hill: “This was a technical error that emanated from the graphics team.” Kinda makes you wonder if the graphics team is so used to putting up lies, that they simply failed to notice that Justice Ginsburg was still on this side of the grass. Fox News is scary. Really scary.
Mike Huckabee and Ann Coulter don’t like one another. They’ve been at odds for years, since when Huckabee suggested that he didn’t believe it was right to “punish the children of an illegal because the parents did something when the kid was three or four years-old.” Coulter replied by saying Huckabee was a“liberal Christian,” an innocuous phrase to most of us, but a vicious dig in conservative wingnut circles. That being the case, it’s not surprising that Huckabee attempted to ride to Donald Trump’s rescue, over Coulter’s recent accusation of Trump offering amnesty and being a clone of Jeb Bush. Daily Beast: “Well first of all, Ann Coulter, if she’s got the way to get it done then let her run for office,” Huckabee replied. “She’s never done that. So she’s never had to be in the position of having to sit down and work through something to a solution. I have and the president’s in that position. And you’re not going to get everything you want.” He then misquoted “those great political scientists of all time, The Rolling Stones” by telling Coulter and Trump, “You don’t always get what you want” and urging the president to make some “concessions” on those undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents. Asked by Kilmeade why Trump “cares so much what Ann Coulter thinks,” Huckabee replied, “Well, I know he doesn’t want people to go out and try to stir up his base against him. And I’m not sure why she would, because she’s got to deep down know that he can’t just be arbitrary.” Ann Coulter is “stirring up the base” and that’s just not cool, not according to Mike Huckabee. It will be interesting to see what else Huckabee comes up with if Coulter, Drudge and Limbaugh continue to defect from the ranks of the Trump illuminati. Both Drudge and Limbaugh have been on the political scene quite a while, and they intend to still be standing when Donald Trump is relegated to the non-fiction shelves and the history books. As for Coulter, she’ll probably find a new wingnut champion, because she’s clearly disillusioned with Trump. He’s no longer “E Pluribus Awesome.”
Mike Pence really went over the line this time. He would have done much better to have spoken in general terms about the holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and not made any ludicrous efforts to equate Dr. King’s greatness with Donald Trump’s ineptitude — but no. Pence actually tried to gaslight everybody into thinking that there was a similarity. Beyond the fact that King and Trump put their pants on one leg at a time, there is none. King’s son, Martin Luther King III wasted no time straightening Pence out. .@OfficialMLK3 in DC blasts Pence for invoking his father:"The vice president attempted to compare the president to Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr was a bridge builder, not a wall builder. Martin Luther King Jr. would say, ‘Love, not hate,will make America great.'" — Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) January 21, 2019 If you missed it, Pence said on Sunday, “But one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.’You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union.” “That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do. Come to the table in a spirit of good faith. We’ll secure our border, we’ll reopen the government, and we’ll move our nation forward as the president said yesterday to even a broader discussion about immigration reform in the months ahead.” Pence and Trump literally spent two minutes at the MLK memorial, laying a wreath. But that’s not the problem. The problem is Pence needs to STFU and let others observe the solemnity of the occasion, rather than walking through it with phony platitudes and false equivalencies. If anybody should get a prize for putting the proverbial turd in the punchbowl, it would be Mike Pence.
Well, this is encouraging. A new poll indicates that Trump’s popularity is falling and his supporters are having second thoughts about their hero, as the government shutdown drags on. Washington Post: Recent polling indicates that the government shutdown has caused skittishness among parts of Trump’s base, which has been one of the most enduring strengths of his presidency. A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, conducted Jan. 10 to Jan. 13, found his net approval rating had dropped 7 points since December. One of the biggest drops came from suburban men, whose approval rating of Trump fell a net change of 18 percentage points, while evangelicals and Republicans also dipped by smaller margins. Among men without a college degree, the downward change was 7 points. “As a community it affects us because other people are being affected,” said Jasmin Cromwell, who runs Bodhi Seed Yoga & Wellness Studio, “whether we know them or not. Maybe I’m getting too yoga-like but we are all connected. It affects everyone. It affects us as a nation.” Another man, a Navy reservist, in 2016 wanted to shake up the status quo. He didn’t mind sending a message to the establishment — and, frankly, he liked the idea of a disruptive president. Now? “What the [expletive] were we thinking?” https://t.co/s3ggjvesfm — Matt Viser (@mviser) January 21, 2019 We can only hope that these disillusioned voters will undo this mess in 2020 — assuming Trump lasts that long, or isn’t primaried by somebody from the saner ranks of the GOP, assuming that exists. This is a good sign, certainly.
If you had to pick just one jester in the court of Donald Trump, the title would have to fall to Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has no problem contradicting himself, outing his client — the most famous incident being admitting to Fox News that Trump paid off Stormy Daniels — and just all around buffoonery as somehow he rides into combat each and every single week on the Sunday shows and makes a continuing hash out of the facts of life in Trump’s Washington. Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair: The shutdown and related chaos has pushed Donald Trump’s approval rating to new lows, with even Rasmussen, his polling happy place, pegging him at 43 percent. But the White House believes this is only the beginning of his troubles. In recent days, according to a source briefed on the conversation, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has told people privately that he expects Robert Mueller to deliver the first installment of his report, dealing with obstruction of justice, “within the month.” “Rudy thinks it will be soon,” said a person who’s spoken with Giuliani. “It’s only a matter of time.” Giuliani, of course, has been wrong before about Mueller’s timing. In May, Giuliani claimed that the special counsel could be wrapped up by September 1. (Giuliani’s prior claim was seen as a strategy to pressure Mueller into completing his report before the 2018 midterms.) This time, however, Giuliani’s forecast about Mueller’s next move seems to be driven by his fears that the report will be “horrific” for Trump. According to a source, Giuliani recently told a close associate that he’s “very worried about the report.” The mounting pressure has also strained Giuliani’s relationship with Trump. “Rudy hates the job,” a Republican briefed on Giuliani’s thinking told me. “Trump is very hard to deal with.” (Giuliani didn’t return a call seeking comment.) Sunday, Rudy was on State of the Union, and it was an epic episode. Giuliani accused the media of “hysteria” in its coverage of Trump. His characterization of Michael Cohen’s Trump Tower dealings were priceless. “He wrote a nonbinding letter of intent and sent it to a general post office.[In Russia.] He had a couple of discussions — Michael Cohen did, not the president. It was the last thing on his [Trump’s] mind because he was running for president. We’re talking about 2016. You’re not thinking about some proposal that, at best, it’s three years down the line.” Rudy’s bottom line on the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is that they were nothing more than a a vague inquiry. This is vintage b.s. and vintage Giuliani.
Trump spoke glowingly of a wall in San Antonio, Texas, which he used to prove up his salient point, that “walls work.” Well, they may work, but emphatically, they do not work in San Antonio, because this is the first the people of San Antonio have heard about it. That’s right. San Antonio is 157 miles north of the Mexican border and they have no wall. Glad we've protected the famously vulnerable border town of San Antonio… https://t.co/9RinfNHvSX — Morgan Ross (@MorganBRoss) January 19, 2019 I have been to San Antonio and I must have missed the wall there!! Saw the Alamo, where Mexico whipped our ass though!! 😳😳😳 pic.twitter.com/sS2zGLzCu0 — Alive Chapman (@AliveChapman) January 19, 2019 I live in San Antonio. I have no idea what he’s talking about. There’s a wall around the Alamo but it sure didn’t keep out the Mexican Army.😳 — Paul Cobaugh (@PLCNarrativeStr) January 19, 2019 Not only thinking of the Alamo, where "the wall" didn't work, but WTAF is he talking about cities becoming safe "immediately"???? We have no walled-off cities in the US. He really is the most ignorant person on this planet. — TheDolphin🐬✌💕 (@CetaceanFreedom) January 19, 2019 Of all the examples Trump could have come up with, to frame his “walls work” theory, the Alamo was dead last on the list. Once again, another entry into the files of “You can’t make this shit up.”