This is exactly what Donald Trump needs right now, is a former Democrat who has realized the error of his ways and is now ready to embrace the genius of Trump’s leadership and go forth and preach it from the mount. That is what pardoned felon Rod Blagojevich did in his press conference Wednesday as he signed autographs and declared “I’m a Trumpocrat. I don’t know if they’ll let me vote, but if I can vote, I’ll vote for Trump.” “President Trump is not a typical politician. He’s tough, he’s outspoken, he gets things done. He’s a problem solver in a business where too many politicians don’t want to solve problems. All they want to do is play politics. and get nothing done for the people.” “I’m a Trumpcrat, that’s right. If I have the ability to vote, I’m going to vote for him…our president is tough and outspoken and he has the courage to challenge the old way. He’s the one that’s actually fighting to bring real change, that’s why he gets so much pushback. But not withstanding being tough, he’s also a man with a kind heart.” Then he went on to talk about Donald Trump, righter of wrongs, pardoner of the innocent, the persecuted and prosecuted. Listening is believing. And bear in mind, that while this tribute was going on, Trump was tweeting this: Rod Blagojevich did not sell the Senate seat. He served 8 years in prison, with many remaining. He paid a big price. Another Comey and gang deal! Thank you to @LisaMarieBoothe who really “gets” what’s going on! @FoxNews — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2020 Yesterday Trump said that Blago’s sentence was “unfair and too long.” Today he’s saying that he’s innocent altogether. Conspiracy theory, much? Now what is absolutely fascinating about this tweet, is that Blago was convicted in 2011 and James Comey didn’t begin serving as Director of the FBI until September, 2013. So Comey must have zapped him from the private sector. No, if Trump wants to get this particular conspiracy theory going right, he’s going to have to lay it at Robert Mueller’s feet, because he was head of the FBI during the time frame in question. Not that it matters.The idea is to generate a talking point, and the two bad guys are Mueller and Comey, so either one will do just fine. If you need to induce vomiting for any reason, keep this clip of Blago handy. Or, just kick back and have a good laugh. Blago should volunteer to teach Post Pardon Propaganda 101, because the class is filling up fast and new acolytes to the Cult of Trump need guidance.
If there is one thing that Rod Blagojevich is not known for, it is subtlety. He famously incriminated himself on a wire-tapped phone call, when he was conspiring to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat in Illinois, when Blago was governor of that state. He is hardly a sympathetic character and even Illinois Republicans are not too crazy about what Trump just did. Rick Wilson, Daily Beast: “I’ve got this thing, and it’s fucking golden. I’m just not giving it up for fucking nothing,” Blago famously said while the FBI was listening in. He was heavy-handed even by Cook County standards, and his career was littered with other examples of the same kind of mercenary zeal. This is not going over well, even with Republicans in Illinois. Representatives Darin LaHood, John Shimkus, Adam Kinzinger, Rodney Davis and Mike Bost—none of them members of the ragged edge of the Never Trump movement, to put it mildly—said today in a joint statement, “As our state continues to grapple with political corruption, we shouldn’t let those who breached the public trust off the hook. History will not judge Rod Blagojevich well.” And make no mistake about why he did it. Let’s get the biggest reason out of the way first: These pardons and clemency decisions are part of a long march by Trump through anything with the fingerprints of Jim Comey or Robert Mueller present. His consciousness of guilt pumping out of every pore means he’s always obsessing over Mueller and the pre-Barr DOJ. Trump knows without Barr to choke out the Mueller Report and defend the Office of Legal Counsel memo he’d be staring at a much different world right now. By the time this is over, Trump will order Betsy DeVos to defund Comey’s high school. It’s all about Trump sending a message flare to the world that if you play ball with him, you’re bulletproof, even as he is bulletproof. This is his post-acquittal mentality. He is drunk on a power high. No, Trump was trying to tell Stone (and Manafort, Gates, Flynn, et al.), and the inevitable chain of aspirational pre-indicted scumbags dragging behind his garbage-barge presidency that if you keep quiet, you’ll be OK. Keep your vow of Orangemerta and he’ll either pardon you or commute your sentence. This was also a message to future campaign staffers, Cabinet members, and everyone else in his orbit that as long as they’re kicking their piece of the vig up to the boss and keeping their mouth shut, they’re good. It’s good to be the king. The next Trump fascination isn’t simply with executive power; it’s with regal power, and the pardon and clemency power itself seems to have a particular fascination and utility for him. It’s because pardons make him feel royal. This is Rick Wilson’s bottom line and it says it perfectly. Finally, and saddest of all, is that Trump sees Blagojevich as a fellow traveler from his real homeland: the world of reality television. He sees Blago as a resident—albeit vastly below his own lordly stature—of what the late Clive James once called “The Fame Planet.” The only thing that matters to Trump is image, and the source of his image is television. If you’re a current Trump staffer looking for that pardon down the line—and odds are, you’ll need one—get […]
Rush Limbaugh is one self satisfied fat cat these days, after Melania draped the Medal of Freedom around his neck at the SOTU. If he was a Trumpkin before, he’s now the High Priest of the Cult. Monday the topic turned to Pete Buttigieg and got ugly — but the good ole boy is making light of it all, just being cool and basking in the glow of self importance. Daily Beast: “A gay guy, 37 years old, loves kissing his husband on debate stages,” Limbaugh exclaimed. “Can you see Trump have fun with that?” Limbaugh went on in this vein, talking about “Mr. Man” Donald Trump, claiming to be oblivious to the reaction he caused until his BFF in the White House called in. “Hell, the president even called me about this,” he said in a segment first flagged by Media Matters. “The president checks in every now and then to see how I’m doing. He’s such a nice guy. And he called.” […] I told the White House, ‘Look, I’ve got a medical procedure in 10 minutes. Can you have the president call me back in 35 [minutes]?’” Limbaugh added. “And they did.” […] “So, he called back, and he said ‘Rush, I just got to tell you something. Never apologize, don’t ever—’ and I said, ‘For what?’” Limbaugh noted. “Well, I had no idea this thing had even bubbled up, you know? I’m doing the medical thing that I have to do here. And I wasn’t even aware of this.” Limbaugh has a history of homophobic commentary and he’s playing us if he expects us to believe that he had no idea there would be any notice of his mockery of Buttigieg or any blow back there from. Get used to it, it’s a long way until November and this is what’s going to be pouring out of right-wing radio, ignorance, intolerance and malice. But Buttigieg’s retort was perfect, quadruple-married Limbaugh is hardly the paragon of family values and he’s “not going to be lectured on family values” by him.
If you’re a white collar criminal, step right up and get in line. This is your lucky day. Donald Trump is giving away mass clemency to one and all, starting with the very worst, because Trump identifies with them. They are men after his own heart. Commuting the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, for trying to sell Barack Obama’s open senate seat, leads the parade. Blagojevich was convicted of:-fraud and conspiracy charges from trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat-extorting a children’s hospital CEO and racetrack exec for campaign $-lying to the FBI *But* he was a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice and really that's all that matters here. https://t.co/Kv5QgaAQjz — Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) February 18, 2020 Blagojevich was literally impeached and removed from office (in a unanimous vote), and barred from ever holding state office again. This is Trump's way of saying f-you to the very idea of impeachment https://t.co/oClAxmTEem — David Nir (@DavidNir) February 18, 2020 Parse through these two tweets and you have the entire picture. Not one more word need be said. Fraud and conspiracy, extortion, and lying to the FBI in connection with malfeasance in government is perfect. And the appearance on Celebrity Apprentice is the icing on the cake. Blagojevich is the quintessentially corrupt public servant, it can’t get any lower. So of course Trump loves him and wants to pardon him. And Blagojevich got off his plane and signed autographs and talked about what a “strong” “kind hearted” man Trump is, to pardon him, a former Democratic governor. It’s great P.R. and soundbite fodder, too, how could anything be more perfect? And then look at the others: Bernard Kerik, convicted of tax fraud and lying to investigators. Another man after Trump’s heart. Of course one cheats on taxes and lies to investigators. What, this should be a crime? And why should Michael Milken have gotten in trouble for selling junk bonds? Trump probably wishes he had established a B.A. in Junk Bond Sales at Trump University — and he could have had Milken as guest lecturer. I’m sure he must regret not thinking of this sooner. He’s got to be kicking himself. And what, gambling fraud is illegal? And that’s what San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo, Jr. was convicted of? So what if he illegally obtained a gambling license and failed to report he was extorted for $400,000? That’s just business as usual in Trumpworld. No crime committed there. This is some PC nonsense. And then he had a sexual assault case that was thrown out of court — something wrong with that? Donald Trump is telegraphing to the world, in no uncertain terms, his contempt for the rule of law. He wants to remake the law. He said Tuesday that he was the “nation’s top law enforcement officer” and by God he’s going to pardon a whole slew of people so that we know who’s boss. Welcome to the pardon abuse episode of Celebrity Apprentice: White House Edition, because that is all that this is.
Two schools of thought on Tuesday night’s banner headline about Bill Barr being so disgruntled with Donald Trump’s ongoing tweets about the Justice Department that he’s considering resigning: He’s setting himself up to have an out, if the pressure from people who are demanding his resignation gets too intense. This way he can make it seem like his idea; He’s just doubling down on his initial P.R. ploy a few days ago, to see if it will fly this time. Or maybe a third option, which is both. Washington Post: Attorney General William P. Barr has told people close to President Trump — both inside and outside the White House — that he is considering quitting over Trump’s tweets about Justice Department investigations, three administration officials said, foreshadowing a possible confrontation between the president and his attorney general over the independence of the Justice Department. […] The standoff between Trump and Barr intensified Tuesday, when Trump declared in a string of early morning tweets that he might sue those involved in the special counsel’s investigation into his 2016 campaign and suggested that Roger Stone, his friend convicted of lying to Congress in that probe, deserved a new trial. Just hours later, a Justice Department official revealed that prosecutors had filed a sealed motion in court arguing the opposite, and they had Barr’s personal approval to do so. Barr had a previously scheduled lunch with the White House counsel Tuesday and was still the attorney general by day’s end — indicating the president’s moves that day were not enough to push him to resign. But he and his Justice Department seemed to remain mired in a political crisis, with an uncertain future. Everything I have seen and read about Bill Barr tells me that he is the gaslighter’s gaslighter. I don’t doubt for a moment that he’s talking this talk, and letting these thoughts leak out to the press, for some tactical purpose. But as to him walking the walk and moving on from Trump because he’s had a come to Jesus moment and he realizes the error of his ways? Puh-leeeze. I’ll believe that when the pigs start appearing on the upstairs window sill and asking me if I want to jump on and take a ride to Oz and play with the monkeys.
Religion may have been the opioid of the masses at one time, but since the 1950’s it has been subsumed by television, a dimension of sight, a dimension of sound, a dimension of mind. Our thoughts and feelings are shaped by the images that we see on television and television is more compelling to many of us than “real life.” Harlan Ellison wrote a two-volume book, “The Glass Teat” wherein he described how a young boy of nine stayed in his room watching television while his mother was begin raped in the next room. The boy had been trained to ignore what was going on around him and go to the glass teat to care for him, and so he did. In 1984 NYU professor Neil Postman was asked to give a lecture on George Orwell’s book, “1984” and opine whether life had moved towards that dystopian society. Postman opined, no, in fact, America was much closer to Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” where the masses give up all identity and individualism so that they could remain lulled into a stupor on a drug called “soma.” It’s bread and circus taken to the nth degree and the death of democracy, because democracy is based upon an involved citizenry engaging in civil discourse and civil discourse is made possible only through information. We now live in an age where the bulk of what the average person ingests as information is coming off of television and as we have seen in the past three years — and before, since Fox News has been in the picture — a great deal of that is disinformation. This is how we have come to this perilous point. Huxley arguably did predict this time in history better than Orwell, although shades of totalitarianism certainly are present as well. Will Bunch Philadelphia Inquirer via Raw Story: “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.” We are a trivial culture indeed, and we do not take politics seriously and that’s been the case for quite some time now. We don’t want the man with the best ideas — and we’re so misogynistic we don’t want a woman at all — in power. We want to trust our feelings, like lobotomized Luke Skywalkers and pull a lever for the celebrity candidate we feel is the most cool and who confirms our bias. And what’s why we are where we are right now today with Donald Trump in the White House. He is confirmation bias on legs, telling his supporters that they were right all along to be racist, homophobic, sexist, and most of all — stupid. Even as he is. No wonder they love him so […]
Monday is Presidents’ plural day, not singular as Trump initially tweeted it, sending a message that the day was to celebrate him and him alone — intended or Freudian slip, you decide. I opt for Hanlon’s law, which states, “Never ascribe to conspiracy that which can be explained by stupidity.” Here’s how Barack Obama commemorated the occasion, which is both Presidents’ Day and the eleventh anniversary of the signing of the Recovery Act, which saved us from going into the Second Great Depression. However, the tweet also had the effect of Obama going on record as being responsible for the ensuing decade of economic growth, which is the simple truth of the matter — and that drove Trump out on the ledge, and here is how he responded. ….ever. Had to rebuild our military, which was totally depleted. Fed Rate UP, taxes and regulations WAY DOWN. If Dems won in 2016, the USA would be in big economic (Depression?) & military trouble right now. THE BEST IS YET TO COME. KEEP AMERICA GREAT! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2020 Trump should be kissing Obama’s ass. Obama inherited recession. Took market from 7,000 to 20,000. Unemployment from 8.3% to 4.6%. Consumer confidence from 25.3 to 107.1. Ended IRAQ war. Crippled ISIS and MS-13. Trump’s trade wars, foreign policy and 1% tax cut threaten stability — ♻️🇺🇸 Christopher Zullo (@ChrisJZullo) February 17, 2020 Yes, indeed. And Trump can peacock around talking about the greatest economy in the history of the country, but the fact of the matter is that the economy has slowed the past three years. And would you like to know the unkindest cut of all today? Fox News agreed with Obama and contradicted Trump. Raw Story: “President Trump reversed every single failed Obama-era economic policy, and with it, reversed the floundering Obama/Biden economy,” Trump campaign national press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News. “Obama and Biden orchestrated the worst economic recovery in modern history.” But that narrative was undermined by none other than Fox News, which pointed out that Trump is riding on the coattails of Obama’s economic policies. “Under the Obama administration, the unemployment rate fell steadily after reaching a high of 10 percent early in his first term, but it has continued to fall under Trump,” Fox News Brooke Singman wrote. “The unemployment rate is currently at the lowest it’s been in the last 50 years.” So there you have it, the unemployment rate falling steadily under Obama, from it’s post-Bush high of 10% in October, 2009. So Trump didn’t walk into a burning house and put out the fire. He walked into a well functioning house and started pouring gasoline and tossing matches. But, oh how sharper than a serpent’s tooth that Fox News should tell the truth about unemployment steadily falling under Obama — and on *resident’s day, no less.
William Barr’s transgression in the Roger Stone sentencing matter constitutes a watershed moment in Department of Justice history. Prior to this time, the department enjoyed singular respect for it’s nonpartisan and apolitical efforts. Over the weekend, an open letter to former DOJ officials circulated, addressing the fact of how Barr doing Donald Trump’s bidding, and placing that above the integrity of the department constituted a breach of duty requiring Barr’s resignation. As of Sunday night 1,100 signatures had been collected and that doubled to over 2,000 by Monday night. Of equal importance, individual attorneys are coming forward and articulating in no uncertain terms what a blow was dealt to the department by Barr’s unconscionable action. Just Security: Whether or not the stunning Departmental reversal in the Roger Stone sentencing which has now resulted in the withdrawal of all four career prosecutors from the case, (and the Departmental resignation of one) was the result of specific political interference, if you understand the Justice Department, the damage has already been done. The reputation and credibility of the Justice Department has been dealt a significant blow. The job of prosecutors and DOJ attorneys is both to do fair and impartial justice and to appear to have done so. A prosecutor withdraws from a case if and only if she believes she cannot in good conscience proceed. This standard is not met by disagreement, or preference that a decision go a different way. This high threshold is met only when as an officer of the court you cannot stand up and say the words that every Assistant US Attorney beams with pride at saying, I am here on behalf of the United States Justice Department; I represent the United States in this matter. If you cannot stand up and in good conscience advance the position of the Department you have no choice but to withdraw and sometimes to resign altogether. That’s how serious this is. It is a fundamental question of who and whose interests you serve. The fact that four prosecutors have now withdrawn from a case after, at the very least, the appearance of political influence in the matter, has done incalculable harm to the credibility of the Justice Department. The line attorneys who resigned this week earned their name as public servants — because they stood on the front lines and honored their oath. But they shouldn’t stand alone as the conscience of the department. As someone who has served as a career federal prosecutor and in politically appointed posts — I believe political appointees should have the backs of the career professionals and they have their very jobs because they are the ones who are politically accountable. So, while it is a sad day when the career assistant U.S. attorneys stand alone on the line, it is also a sign of the Department’s strength — under significant strain though it may be. Janet Reno hung a portrait of Edward Levi in the Attorney General’s conference room. It was her way of honoring the fact that she was a temporary custodian of a great institution, just as Levi was after Watergate when President Gerald Ford asked him to lead the Justice Department following Nixon’s resignation. Before appointing him, Ford reportedly asked Levi, what he thought the Department needed most in that troubled era. Levi replied: “A […]
Cue the Pink Panther music, and turn up the midnight oil, “Anonymous” — the White House staffer who penned the scorching editorial in the New York Times and the book, “A Warning” — may have finally been outed by the Trump administration. Now the lead detective on this case will make Inspector Clouseau seem like Hercule Poirot on steroids. Would you believe Peter Navarro, Trump’s painfully inept and embarrassing economic adviser — whom he calls “My Peter?” And Navarro is just one of a team of staffers that have taken it upon themselves to rout out this snake in their grass — and bear in mind, Trump says, he’s “surrounded by snakes” which is his pet name for Never Trumpers. Nobody is safe in Trumpworld, least of all Anonymous. Read this brief back story on the atmosphere in the White House these days and then we’ll get to today’s headline of the deputy national security adviser who’s head is rolling — at least as far as the Department of Energy. Daily Beast: Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018 That view has inspired the West Wing’s efforts this month to purge the White House of perceived subversives, such as Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified to Congress about Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president. Vindman is not suspected of being Anonymous, but was removed from his NSC post last week in retaliation for his (legally mandatory) testimony before a House panel investigating conduct that led to the president’s impeachment. It’s not clear whether Anonymous actually remains in an administration post, or has moved on. Reporting since his or her Times column has floated a variety of potential culprits. Every administration official who’s been asked has denied being Anonymous. But then that’s what Anonymous said he or she would do. “For now,” the person wrote in A Warning, “if asked, I will strenuously deny I am the author of this book, including when the president demands we each disavow it.” Ooooh, wicked. King Donald doesn’t like that attitude, I’ll warrant. This is what the rack and thumb screws are for. So today, either Anonymous was unmasked, or at least a scapegoat was found and in this political climate, that is the direction we’re going, make no mistake. Either way, deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates is set to be removed from the National Security Council and moved to the Department of Energy because word on the street is she might be Anonymous. Axios: Why it matters: Coates’ working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as “Anonymous” — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues. […] Driving the news: As Politico first reported, Coates has been the target of a whisper campaign in recent weeks making a circumstantial case that she was the identity behind an op-ed in the New York Times and later a bestselling book describing a resistance movement against President Trump in his own White House. One of the literary agents […]
Pete Buttigieg is quick on the uptake and has a good wit. If he does end up debating Donald Trump, those qualities could make for some killer moments. At a gathering in Reno on Tuesday, Buttigieg was asked: what would happen if he was elected and Trump declared it a hoax and refused to leave the White House? Raw Story: “I mean, if he won’t leave, I guess if he’s willing to do chores, we can work something out.” Trump came to drain the swamp, maybe he could drain the fish tank. And then put the fish in cages. Buttigieg went on to rally the troops. “I think we want to set a goal of winning big enough that this election is way beyond cheating distance and that Trumpism goes into the history books too,” he added. “It’s got to be a win so big that Senate Republicans are reunited with their consciences. Only a political shockwave can do that.” Shockwave, my foot. Shockwave and tsunami, maybe. Most Senate Republicans never had a conscience. They’ll only reunite with them after they search their souls — and discover they don’t have one of those, either. They mortgaged them to Satan in exchange for Trump and stacking the judiciary. Buttigieg can think on his feet and return quickly to message. This may become important in the days ahead in this anything goes Democratic primary.