Think rich people must be really, really smart, and poor people dumb as posts? Okay then, have you considered a job on the Supreme Court? You’d fit right in with the intellectual majority and you won’t even have to read up on the law. Ayn Rand is enough.
No, really. Just read this excerpt from the 2010 Citizens United decision, in which the conservative majority ruled that corporations are persons, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.
[W]e now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.
My 84th birthday was last Saturday, leading me to wonder what was going on all those years ago. And of course nowadays Google makes it easy, maybe too easy, to satisfy idle questions like this. Here’s the answer, for what little it’s worth, from the New York Times front page summary of July 15, 1933:
Saud gives oil concession to Standard Oil Company of California. Govt seeks to limit RR CEOs salaries, wage and hour standards set for cement industry, textiles, men’s clothing.
Recently I’ve seen a lot of references to the Lawfare blog, where Benjamin Wittes, a friend of James Comey, is a principal. There are many other interesting pieces besides his, which is kind of a problem because I don’t really have time to read all this stuff.
Today Wittes has a piece about a civil suit that he finds interesting. The suit alleges that the Trump campaign and Roger Stone conspired with Russians to release information about the plaintiffs, who are not public figures, that violates their privacy rights according to laws in D.C. and intimidates them with respect to future advocacy. One interesting aspect of the suit is that, at least in Wittes’s view, there’s no question of standing; the plaintiffs offer to show clear harm directly related to the alleged conspiracy. Also, the plaintiffs did not name Trump himself, so there’s no argument that the President is immune from lawsuits.
In short, the ramifications of the possible progress of this lawsuit are extensive.
I’m no expert on civil conspiracy or privacy suits, but the allegations in this one strike me as presenting a pretty clean legal theory that very likely states a claim. The case’s weakness is that a lot of its allegations are, at this stage anyway, speculative. The complaint alleges a level of coordination between the campaign and the Russians that the public record does not yet support — for example, when it alleges that “Defendants entered into an agreement with other parties, including agents of Russia and WikiLeaks, to have information stolen from the DNC publicly disseminated in a strategic way that would benefit the campaign to elect Mr. Trump as President.” But remember, on a motion to dismiss, the court will have to assume these allegations true. A plaintiff is allowed to plead things “on information and belief,” after all, and it’s more norm than exception at the complaint stage to use public facts to hypothesize larger allegations one believes to be true but cannot at this stage prove. I think, in short, that this case is very likely to survive that motion to dismiss.
And that means the plaintiffs will get discovery.
The pleading is rich — very rich and intentionally so, I suspect — with allegations that will provide for plausible discovery requests against all kinds of actors and on all kinds of subjects. It makes reference to the President’s tax returns, for example. It names a large number of individuals, whose depositions plaintiffs might plausibly seek. One of the defendants is the campaign itself, meaning that the campaign’s agents, actors, employees, and documents, are all potentially subject to discovery. So if I’m right that the suit eventually survives that initial motion to dismiss, it will immediately become a gold mine for journalists and investigators. And it will present an intense set of headaches for the Trump forces both inside and outside of government. Think Paula Jones, but not about a single act of alleged harassment. Think Paula Jones — only about everything.
Yeah, discovery would be bad news for the amoral Trump clan, who only follow the law when it suits them.
Hermann Goering was Hitler’s Dick Cheney and he knew a thing or two about how to play the suckers into marching themselves off to war. So did Truman and Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon and Reagan and George W. Bush and now, unless we’re luckier than we deserve, Trump.
Nothing to it, really. Here’s Hermann:
Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
From the New York Times:
Turning to immigration, Mr. Trump said he had not been joking when he said recently that a wall on the Mexican border would pay for itself if it had solar panels. He also said the wall would have to be transparent, using an offbeat example to explain why.On May 20, 1990, in Los Angeles, Randy Barnes set the world record for the shotput with a throw of 75 feet 10 inches, measured vertically. The shot is an iron ball weighing 16 pounds.
“When they throw large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over,” he said. “As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.”
This from Chauncey DeVega at Salon:
Thus a painful truth for those patriotic Americans who oppose Donald Trump: He will not be impeached. His son’s emails basically admitting collusion with Russia will ultimately mean little if anything.I hope that DeVega is wrong; I’m afraid, though, that he isn’t. A nation that could elect Hillary Clinton by only three million votes is capable of anything.
Why is this?
Because there is likely no amount of empirical evidence or facts that will turn the Republican Party and its supporters against President Trump. He is a tool for accomplishing the Republican Party’s goals of giving more money to the very richest Americans, punishing poor and working-class people, destroying the commons and the social safety net, creating a Christian theocracy, undermining the middle class, giving corporations full control over the country, destroying the environment, taking away women’s control over their own bodies, abusing Muslims, and denying the civil rights, freedom and equal citizenship of African-Americans and other people of color. In all, the Republican Party, its voters and the right-wing media have chosen political power over loyalty to country. In that context, Russia’s meddling in our presidential election to put Donald Trump in the White House is but a means to an end.
…but we can make a good guess. Lately I have been re-reading the history of my (relative) youth, and it turns out to be a depressing exercise. Even a frightening one. The excerpt below is from a 1968 essay by the great I.F. Stone. Substitute the “War on Terror” for Vietnam, switch the names of the politicians as appropriate, and the piece could run almost unchanged today. Stone had the 2016 election figured out half a century ago:
The average man approaches the problem of war with simple reactions of anxiety and threatened virility thousands of years old. There is a strong movement for peace, but there is also a strong contingent of cavemen among us, and it is hard to see which is the majority; the same people often belong to both categories. Reagan and Wallace speak for large constituencies, too. In Vietnam as in Korea the Democrats have kept the wars limited while Reagan, like MacArthur before him, speaks for a Republican right wing which thinks the whole business can be ended in no more time than it takes to go from the 17th to the 18th hole by dropping a bomb on Peking and another on Moscow.
The two urgent issues are the Vietnamese war and the black revolt. Both require solutions for which we are poorly conditioned. One is to give way in Vietnam to a communist, though also nationalist, tide. The other is to deal with the aspiration of the blacks, the other poor, which can only be met by fundamental changes, a real redistribution of income from haves to have-nots, and an intervention of the state deeper and more far-reaching than anything America has ever known before. The only party less prepared for this than the Democrats, though not much less so, is the Republican Party.
The issues, however, are beyond that unspoken ideological consensus within which the two-party system operates. The Democratic Party, unlike the Republican, has some legitimate claim to being the party of “the people.” But the people for whom it speaks turn out on closer examination to be middle-class owners of property, white-collar workers, or the organized working class…
“I would bring back waterboarding, and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” the so-called “president” said last year. You could tell what a really really tough guy he was, couldn't you? It must have broken his heart back when a crippling but mercifully short-lived attack of bone spurs kept him out of the Vietnam war. No doubt he was recalling those early agonies when he later told another campaign audience, “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works. Believe me, it works.”
So naturally he named another tough guy, a Tea Party congressman from Kansas named Mike Pompeo, to head the CIA. And Pompeo, a big fan of waterboarding himself, has just picked as his top deputy one Gina Haspel. Ms. Haspel had gained in-house fame of a sort by running a secret CIA jail in Thailand where one prisoner was waterboarded 83 times before his torturers finally decided he had nothing useful to tell. She later ordered the destruction of the videotapes and recordings of his torture.
So here we are back again to those wondrous worlds of yesteryear — the Inquisition, the Nazi death camps, the gulag, the Salem Witch trials, the Crucifixion, the Roman Circus. And Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, both draft dodgers like the so-called "president."
Before we get too excited, though, let's examine again the testimony of a man who knows, as Trump and King and Pompeo and Haspel never will, the truth about waterboarding. Not only is it torture, it is what you try after other forms of torture haven’t worked. (I first posted M. Alleg’s story in 2006. Fat lot of good it did then and a fat lot it will do now. But still…)
The following is from a 1958 book called The Question. The author, a French newspaper editor in Algeria named Henri Alleg, had already resisted a month of hideous torture at the hands of his own country’s paratroopers, including electric shock and having his testicles burned. The worst, inflicted only when all else had failed, was yet to come…
Here’s quote from Carl Sagan’s book The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. Not bad for 1995:
I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...
Who’s afraid of North Korea? Not me, at least not in the way we’re supposed to be. So Kim Jong-Un fired a single ICBM that might be able to hit Alaska. Are we supposed to believe that he’s just going wake up one morning and decide to bomb Anchorage, knowing that if he did so his country would be radioactive ash within minutes?
Then I remember yellow cake and aluminum tubes, the Axis of Evil, Saddam, cross-dressing Panamanian dictators, Gadaffi in his tent, ayatollahs, Russian commies, Chinese commies, mullahs, Cubans, Sandinistas, Somali pirates, bird flu and ecoli and anthrax and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! And then I realize that, well, yes, we are indeed supposed to think exactly that.
This map is only a slight exaggeration of how lots of Americans actually do view the world (click to enlarge):
They’re encouraged in their ignorance by leaders who are equally dumb. Ronald Reagan once returned from a trip to Latin America and said with genuine astonishment: “You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries down there.” Not to be outdone, George Dubya once informed the world that Nigeria was an important continent and that border relations between Canada and Mexico were excellent. He also once asked the Brazilian president: “Do you have blacks, too?” …Read on
The people crowded over the old man to hear his dying words. He was on his back, shriveled and bony and gray, like a dried-out lizard lying belly-up in the sun, gasping for breath and struggling to speak. Everyone quietly leaned forward to hear what he had to say.
The oldest man in the world, the only surviving link to the twentieth century, was about to speak his last, and the ragged people of 2110 were eager to hear his words. What wisdom did this fading relic of America’s final decades have to give? Surely this man who’d lived in better times had something helpful to tell them?
Shivering and dirty, they huddled ever closer, afraid to touch him lest he dissolve like ancient parchment in their hands. He coughed, they jumped; he gurgled, they gasped; he moaned, they sighed. They feared it was too late.
Then, suddenly, the old man shot up and spoke. His ghostly voice broke out in song, and the people heard the glorious souls of their ancestors come to life:
Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!
The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup!
Nationwide is on your side!
The effects of Botox may spread hours and weeks after injection causing serious symptoms. Alert your doctor right away as difficulty swallowing, speaking, eye problems or muscle weakness can be signs of a life-threatening condition. Side effects may include allergic reactions, neck and injection site pains, fatigue and headache. Don’t take Botox if there’s a skin infection. Tell your doctor your medical history, muscle or nerve conditions and medications, including botulinum toxin, as these may increase the sign of serious side effects.
Don’t take your chronic migraine laying down. Stand up!
And now a message from Ivanka Trump:
In business, as in life, nothing is ever handed to you.Now why don’t you all go and enjoy some champagne popsicles this Fourth of July?
Below are Fred Reed’s conclusions. For his supporting evidence, go here. I find it very convincing, but then I would. Pinko peacenik snowflake that I am.
To one watching the advance of Chinese science and technology, or to me anyway, several things stand out. First, the headlong pace. Second, the amount of it that appears aimed at making China independent of the West technologically and getting the United States off Beijing’s back. Third, the apparent calculated focus. It looks like intelligent design, as distinct from America’s competitive scrabbling for profit by special interests, the hope being that this might inadvertently benefit the country as a whole…
While Beijing works to benefit China, rapidly increasing its techno-industrial clout, Washington spends insanely on weaponry. It is trying to apply a military solution to a commercial problem. America crumbles economically, politically, culturally, but has the very best bombers.
We have well over a hundred synonyms for fraud, cheat and steal. American English captures every subtle nuance to every single form of theft ever devised. You’d almost think we worshiped it or something. Here are just a few examples, in alphabetical order:
Bait, bamboozle, bilk, betray, blackmail, bleed, bluff, buffalo, bullshit, burgle, burn, cheat. chicane, chisel, clip, con, cozen, credit default swap, deceit, deceive, defalcate, defraud, delude, diddle, dodge, double-cross, double-deal, dupe, embezzle, extort, fake, fast one, filch, finagle, fleece, flimflam, fool, fox, fractional reserve banking, free-market, fraud, gouge, grift, grifter, gull, gyp, heist, hoax, hold-up, hose, hoodwink, hornswoggle, hustle, imposture, inveigle, jerk- around, jimmy, jive, juke, lead-on, lie, long con, manipulate, milk, mislead, mulct, peculate, pilfer, pinch, play, play for a sucker, plot, ploy, Ponzi scheme, pull a fast one, purloin, put on, racket, racketeering, rifle, rip-off, rob, roll, rook, rope-in, run a game on, ruse, sandbag, scam, scheme, screw, sell a bill of goods, shaft, sham, shave, smoke, snare, snow, speculate, steal, subterfuge, sub-prime mortgage, swindle, swipe, take in, take to the cleaners, take for a ride, trick, wheedle, wheel and deal.
What do you think is really on our minds? Is it any wonder why you-know-who and his equally crooked offspring now rule over us? It’s a natural evolutionary development, something baked in our national DNA that was destined to emerge at some fateful point, like cystic fibrosis or hemophilia. After he’s gone there will just be another, then another, then another, on and on and on, year in, year out, until the Capitol Building lies in ruins and lichens grow in the Oval Office.
The Republican party is gleefully destroying health care in this country, climate change will soon spiral out of control, and we’re sleepwalking into a major catastrophe in Syria, but don’t tell the President: He’s busy tweeting insulting comments about Mika Brzezinski’s appearance. His petulance and immaturity are staggering. He has the mentality of an eighth grade mean girl with unlimited text messaging, and yet he dominates the political discourse. Every one of his puerile brain farts becomes topic A of the news cycle and shoves everything else into the background (exactly where Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan want it). I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this poses a serious existential threat to our country. We simply don’t have time for this childish nonsense. We simply don’t have time for fun and games. There are grave problems facing us that need to be addressed immediately by serious adults, but serious adults are nowhere to be found in American politics.
The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for sixteen years at a cost of over a trillion dollars. Why are we still there? What are we trying to achieve? What is the goal of this endless and expensive war? Nobody knows and nobody seems to care. It’s not debated at all. In fact, Trump wants to send four thousand more troops there. Isn’t it the job of our representatives in Congress to debate these kinds of issues? Isn’t that what democratic governments are supposed to do? Where are the serious adults who are willing to introduce this discussion?
Fun fact: Over the last decade, the Pentagon has wasted $28 million dollars buying the wrong kinds of uniforms for the Afghan army. Bring that up the next time Republicans preach the need for spending cuts and austerity.
Man-made climate change is a fact. It is not a “theory” or a hoax cooked up by the Chinese or Al Gore. Exxon Mobil’s own scientists knew that putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere was heating the planet back in the seventies. The US military knows it as well. So does Miami Beach. If we stopped using fossil fuels today, the effects of climate change would still continue to intensify well into this century. This is a guaranteed crisis barreling right at us. Where are the leaders who will state this elementary scientific fact with force, confidence and conviction to the American people? They are absent. The Democrats issue feeble whimpers about how we should maybe, kinda, sorta do something about global warming while scientific illiterates dictate energy policy and stifle the debate.
We get Rick Perry as energy secretary, who doesn’t “believe” in the findings of climate science, which is tantamount to saying you don’t “believe” two plus two equals four. This is like putting a one-eyed drunken sixteen year old behind the wheel and telling him to get you home safely.…Read on
Remember back in April when Trump’s illegal missile attack on the Syrian airstrip was being hailed by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and shamefully many other media commentators as the moment when “Trump became President of the United States?”
Shamefully? Didn’t that monster King Assad deserve it after dropping sarin gas on all those little children Trump watched dying on TV? Maybe so, but then again maybe no. I had a few questions right at the start. Why was so little damage visible on the footage of that airstrip? Why did Trump delegate the decision to launch this act of war to his generals? How did we know that sarin was what killed those children anyway?
The answers to these and many other questions about the Syrian attack and Trump’s response can be found in an exhaustive article by Seymour Hersh in Die Welt, which made the back pages of a few papers here, but has been mostly been ignored. Seymour Hersh, for those of you born yesterday, is the best investigative reporter in America. (Full disclosure: I have known him for many years and even served, back in the day, as one of his anonymous sources.)
Do read the article. The longer you think about Hersh’s revelations, the more frightened you’ll be about the specimen to whom we have given the power to set off an atomic war.
This from WNPR News:
The Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case on whether the owner of a Colorado cake shop can refuse to provide service to same-sex couples due to his religious beliefs about marriage…Forget about the Supreme Court. If I were Mullins and Craig I’d give some thought to the message communicated. One relatively mild possibility: “No extra charge for the snot.”
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission sided with Mullins and Craig. It said that if Phillips is creating custom wedding cakes for heterosexual couples, he must do the same for gay couples. The Colorado Court of Appeals also ruled in favor of the couple.
Phillips argues that he is happy to sell baked goods to gay customers. “He simply believes that only marriage between a man and a woman should be celebrated,” his lawyers wrote in the petition asking the court to take the case. “Thus, he declined to create custom art for a specific event because of the message it communicated, not because of the persons requesting it.”
Prepare to be shocked. It turns out that Trump’s great big tremendous Carrier jobs deal that was going to ring in a new era of American greatness, um, hasn’t:
More than 600 employees at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis are bracing for layoffs beginning next month, despite being told by President Trump that nearly all the jobs at the plant had been saved. The deal, announced with great fanfare before Trump took office, was billed not only as a heroic move to keep jobs from going to Mexico but also as a seismic shift in the economic development landscape.
Nearly seven months later the deal has not worked out quite as originally advertised, and the landscape has barely budged.
Like everything else about Trump, it was all bullshit. In exchange for $7 million in ”incentives,” Carrier would agree to keep at least 1,069 people employed at its Indianapolis plant. It turns out that only 730 of the positions Trump ‘saved’ were the kind of manufacturing jobs that are going to make America great again. The rest were engineering and technical positions that weren’t going to be outsourced in the first place. Anyway, six hundred people are getting the ax in spite of Trump’s awesome deal-making skills. Go figure.
Not to be outdone, Carrier spun some silky corporate bullshit of its own. They claim to have offered the workers other jobs in the company, the only trouble is that they forgot to tell the workers:
… union officials say they have heard nothing from the company about any job offers elsewhere within the company. All they have received is the official notice, as required by federal law, that the first round of cuts — 338 jobs — will take place on July 20, with an additional 290 employees terminated on Dec. 22, three days before Christmas.
That last bit about 290 employees being canned on December 22nd is particularly charming in light of Trump’s boast about the workers that “They’re going to have a great Christmas!”…Read on
A while ago Politico ran a collection of handwritten notes sent by the so-called “president” to various members of the so-called “fake media.” Little Donnie must have slept through his cursive writing classes; all the notes are printed except for the signatures, which are merely jagged designs. The “Donald” portion might, with some imagination, be read as “Amahl.” The rest cannot even be misread.
It looks to me as if an ambitious prosecutor could rid us of our so-called “president” without going to all the trouble of impeachment. Anybody listening over there at the FBI? Anybody?
“Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition to be carried on from thence against the territory or domination of any foreign prince or state or of any colony, district or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined not more than $3,000 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
—U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 960
I came across these beauties last week in a secret place I know on Sharon Mountain. If you’re very, very good I might take you up there someday. It'll be fun!
A weird exchange from the transcript of CNN’s interview with our so-called “president” and Klaus Iohannis, the President of Romania…
Mr. President, was there any discussion about the visa waiver program for Romania? Is there a time frame for including our country in this program?
TRUMP: We didn’t discuss it. We didn’t discuss it, but there would be certainly — it would be something we will discuss.
IOHANNIS: I mentioned this issue. And I also mentioned it during other meetings I had, because this is important for us, it’s important for Romanians, one, to come to the United States.
You know Preet Bharara, right? Yeah, that Preet Bharara. The scourge of Wall Street and now of our so-called “president.” Turns out I know him too, or did in 1986 when he was a Harvard freshman. Back then Breet and I were on a first name basis, at least on my side. You might say I made him what he is today. Or not.
Anyway last week my son Ted asked me if I knew Bharara and I said no and he said yes you did too, directing me to Google and this 1986 article from The Harvard Crimson:
Doolittle teaches two sections of Social and Ethical Issues: “all political issues are ethical issues at heart,” he says. Students in his sections say that Doolittle’s anecdotes make class entertaining and interesting. “His sense of humor really helps,” says Preetinder Bharara ’90. “He doesn’t care about the excess stuff — just the writing,” Bharara says.And all these years, those early lessons stuck with him. Take a look:
But Kaling’s commencement speech wasn’t the only entertaining one delivered at Harvard Law School — or even the best one, in some people’s estimation. Another speaker, Preet Bharara, managed to combine humor and wisdom, in magnificent fashion…
“A few months ago, my dad calls when he sees the announcement about the Harvard Class Day program and tells me that he and mom would come up for it. I say, ‘Dad, I am really touched. But you don’t have to drive all the way up from New Jersey. You just had knee surgery; it’s a long haul. Really, Dad, don’t worry about it.’
“And so my Dad gets all serious and says to me: ‘Preet, how could we NOT come? And miss a once-in-lifetime chance — once in LIFETIME chance — to see the Mindy Kaling?’
“Yes, the Mindy Kaling — the definite article is what makes the joke. That, and Bharara’s killer Indian accent (click here and go to around the 12:55 mark). Given his acting talent, maybe Bharara should make a guest appearance on The Mindy Project.”
John F. Kennedy’s press secretary was Pierre Salinger, a concert pianist at the age of six, winner of the Navy and Marine Corps medal as captain of a submarine chaser off Okinawa, a reporter and editor for The San Francisco Chronicle and Collier’s, legal counsel for a Senate committee investigating organized crime, and a top JFK aide in the 1960 presidential campaign.
Donald F.Trump’s press secretary is Sean Spicer.
From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — One by one, they praised President Trump, taking turns complimenting his integrity, his message, his strength, his policies. Their leader sat smiling, nodding his approval.
“The greatest privilege of my life is to serve as vice president to the president who’s keeping his word to the American people,” Mike Pence said, starting things off…
So it went on Monday in the Cabinet Room of the White House, as Mr. Trump transformed a routine meeting of senior members of his government into a mood-boosting, ego-stroking display of support for himself and his agenda. While the president never explicitly asked to be praised, Mr. Pence set the worshipful tone, and Mr. Trump made it clear he liked what he heard.
My long winter seems to be over, finally. There was a fourth hospitalization last month for abscesses that developed following the second operation. I’m still pretty weak, but functioning. Enough, anyway, to re-run the following piece, in case you missed it in the June 25, 2000 Washington Post:
My official Cold War Recognition Certificate arrived in the mail the other day, signed by the U.S. secretary of defense — or at least his autopen. About time somebody showed a little appreciation for my role in toppling the Evil Empire.
I learned that my day was coming more than a year ago with the news that Congress had finally set up a Cold War Recognition Certificate program for the estimated 22 million of us who toiled, “honorable and faithfully,” in America’s longest war. A formerly obscure Republican congressman named Rick Lazio proposed the measure. Now it’s the law of the land, unlike a certain national health care proposal I could mention.
All I had to do was mail off my request with a document proving that I had served in the military or certain government agencies. No problem. I keep all that stuff in a box under my bed, along with my old catcher’s mitt and the carnation I wore to senior prom. So I immediately sent my application to an address in Fairfax and waited as nine short months sped by. And now the certificate is on my desk.
I notice that Defense Secretary William S. Cohen has gone a little light on the specifics of my contributions, no doubt due to lack of space and considerations of national security. But, at this late date, surely no harm can come of revealing what the secretary left out.
My Cold War career began modestly in early 1956 with my appointment as a private to Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Battalion, PsyWar Center, Fort Bragg, N.C. My assignment was to rake up pine cones outside the battalion’s S2 building while other draftees, inside it, prepared secret intelligence studies on two small Southeast Asian countries code-named soaL and manteiV. Really…
To take one example from hundreds:
Likewise, the press seems to have forgotten the power of distraction. Coverage of the Trump-ordered missile attack in Syria made little reference to how conveniently it deflected attention from Russia-gate, Trump’s conflicts of interest, his draconian budget cuts, etc.
The article’s title, curiously enough, is What the Press Still Doesn’t Get About Trump. Because what it really still doesn’t get about Trump is that there is seldom any Machiavellian cleverness behind his blurts and stumbles. There is only childlike ignorance.
Here is Peter Wehner, in an otherwise unexceptionable New York Times op-ed piece:
Of the many things people worried about before President Trump took office, it turned out that the main problem was his incompetence rather than his authoritarian tendencies — at least so far.This seems to be the best and practically the only worthwhile Trump achievement that Republicans can come up with in these first hundred days. But what a pathetic stretch it is. Mitch McConnell stole Obama’s Supreme Court seat and kept it on ice for the new so-called “president.” Trump’s master stroke was his selection of a name from a list of 20 conservative jurists compiled for him by the Federalist Society. Any old name. Barring a conviction for dorking a llama, anyone on the list would have been automatically confirmed by the Republican majority in the Senate.
This isn’t to say that Mr. Trump has no successes to speak of. His appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was a masterful stroke.
From The Independent:
“In terms of the immune system, the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine.”
This nonsense is from an Associated Press interview Friday with the so-called “president.” More gibberish is below the fold, but you should really read the whole transcript here. It’s an astonishing document.
TRUMP: Number One, there’s great responsibility. When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I’m saying to myself, “You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that’s involved,” because people could have been killed. This is risk that’s involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet .... every decision is much harder than you’d normally make. (unintelligible) ... This is involving death and life and so many things. ... So it’s far more responsibility. (unintelligible) ....The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list…
So the Republican Party has various groups, all great people. They’re great people. But some are moderate, some are very conservative. The Democrats don’t seem to have that nearly as much. You know the Democrats have, they don’t have that. The Republicans do have that. And I think it’s fine. But you know there’s a pretty vast area in there. And I have a great relationship with all of them. Now, we have government not closing. I think we’ll be in great shape on that. It’s going very well. Obviously, that takes precedent…