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Rudy’s Bizarre Adventure (Recollection Remix)

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Composite image: Donald Trump speaks to the National Rifle Association convention, in Dallas, Texas, 4 May 2018 (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters); Rudy Giuliani speaks at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C., 5 May 2018 (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo); uncredited protest image of Vladimir Putin.

The intersection of #DimensionTrump and coming right out and saying it is itself a futile endeavor; something can easily go here about parallel lines, overlap, and single tracks. Meanwhile, there is a no longer confidential memo from John Dowd to Robert Mueller, in January, and it is worth reconsidering the last several months of presidential simmer and tantrum in light of what we learn. Steve Benen tries, today, explaining one particular aspect:

This was the first time Trump World acknowledged the president’s direct role in dictating the wording of his son’s statement to the New York Times. In fact, the president’s legal team and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders specifically told the public, on multiple occasions, that Trump had nothing to do with crafting that statement. Those denials, we now know, were plainly false.

Over the course of the last year, Trump and his team have already changed their story about the purpose of the meeting—more than once—and these new revelations take the evolving narrative in an even messier direction.

Asked about the contradictions, Rudy Giuliani told ABC News yesterday, “This is the reason you don’t let the president testify. Our recollection keeps changing.”

And there you have it. Something, something, mumble, murmur only goes downhill from there. Or not. Giuliani could stand at the bottom of a giant sinkhole and tout the merits of natural engineering, and for some reason people would try to take him seriously.

Oh. Right.

(more…)

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Rudy’s Bizarre Adventure

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, 19 July 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

In truth, the problem with calling Rudy Giuliani the gift that keeps on giving is not the fact of its politic, but, rather the disaster that statement represents. Caroline Orr, for instance, noted yesterday—

Speaking about the Mueller probe, Rudy Giuliani tells Judge Jeanine: “Maybe they think Manafort’s somebody they can flip faster.”

… hence implying that Manafort has incriminating evidence on Trump that would give him leverage to flip.

—and that ought to be hilarious except for the fact that it is real. And toward a certain political objection we might simply note that regardless of aesthetics and sincerely held beliefs, there really are investigations afoot, and one of President Trump’s attorneys really is putting on some extraordinary manner of flaming excremental spectacle.

The lede from Zeke Miller for Associated Press is striking insofar as it is a lawyer saying it instead of some conservative pundit on cable news—and, sure, go ahead and make the obvious point about Rudy Giuliani as a pundit, but what, really, is anyone to actually do with it?—but then we also face the prospect that this is an attorney for the President of the United States, which ought to be significant in and of itself even before begging the question of a sitting president pleading the Fifth:

President Donald Trump’s new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, won’t rule out the possibility that the president would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the swirling Russia investigation.

“How could I ever be confident of that?” the former New York City mayor and U.S. attorney said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Giuliani said despite Trump’s openness to sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller, he would strongly advise Trump against it.

“I’m going to walk him into a prosecution for perjury like Martha Stewart?” Giuliani said. Stewart was convicted in 2004 of lying to investigators and obstruction in an insider trading case.

Giuliani suggested that Trump wouldn’t necessarily comply with a subpoena from Mueller, but he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the president sitting for an interview with Mueller.

“He’s the president of the United States,” Giuliani said. “We can assert the same privileges other presidents have.”

That last is, technically, true; many critics will rightly point out it is also functionally meaningless; asserting privilege is different from actually exercising them insofar as one must make the assertion stick, and history does in fact seem clear on this point, which in turn means invoking and asserting a constitutional right: The President of the United States will not convey any true information that would incriminate him.    (more…)

Carter Page

#NoPuppetNoPuppet | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Composite — Donald Trump: Detail of photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for msnbc; Carter Page: AP Photo; Puti-Toots: Artist unknown.

This is Carter Page. Honestly, it is pretty much what it looks like. The headlines can tell you quite a bit, and either read along or don’t; there is a lot there, and the tale really is as clumsy and ridiculous as it seems.

• Milder, Zachary. “Trump’s New Russia Adviser Has Deep Ties to Kremlin’s Gazprom”. Bloomberg. 30 March 2016.

• Ioffe, Julia. “The Mystery of Trump’s Man in Moscow”. Politico. 23 September 2016.

• Nechepurenko, Ivan. “Carter Page, Ex-Trump Adviser With Russian Ties, Visits Moscow”. The New York Times. 8 December 2016.

• Schwarz, Jon. “Carter Page, at Center of Trump Russian Investigation, Writes Bizarre Letter to DOJ Blaming Hillary Clinton”. The Intercept. 15 February 2017.

• Woodruff, Judy. “Former Trump adviser says he had no Russian meetings in the last year”. News Hour. 15 February 2017.

• Reilly, Steve. “Two other Trump advisers also spoke with Russian envoy during GOP convention”. USA Today. 2 March 2017.

• Helsel, Phil. “Carter Page, Adviser Once Linked to Trump Campaign, Met With Russian Ambassador”. NBC News. 3 March 2017.

• Herridge, Catherine, Pamela K. Browne, and Christopher Wallace. “Ex-Trump adviser Carter Page rips ‘false narrative’ on Russia collusion”. FOX News. 30 March 2017.

• Ross, Brian and Matthew Mosk. “Trump campaign adviser Carter Page targeted for recruitment by Russian spies”. ABC News. 4 April 2017.

• Groll, Elias. “Russian Spy Met Trump Adviser Carter Page and Thought He Was an ‘Idiot'”. Foreign Policy. 4 April 2017.

• Kaczynski, Andrew. “Former Trump adviser Carter Page says he didn’t disclose Russian spy contacts to campaign”. CNN. 5 April 2017.

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The Carly Fiorina Show (Reality Reeling)

Carly Fiorina, former chairman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard Co., pauses while speaking during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. The talent show that is a presidential campaign began in earnest saturday as more than 1,200 Republican activists, who probably will vote in Iowa's caucuses, packed into a historic Des Moines theater to see and hear from a parade of their party's prospective entries. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina wants to be a CEO again, only this time the letters stand for Chief Erroneous Obfuscator.

"Fiorina says she didn't misspeak in saying that Gen. Keane (who retired before Obama) had to retire early for disagreeing with Obama" (Jordyn Phelps, via Twitter, 15 December 2015)GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said she did not misspeak during Tuesday night’s debate when she said that Gen. Jack Keane retired early because he “told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear.”

But Keane, who served during the Bush administration, retired before Obama became president.

(Phelps)

To the one, lying is nothing more than we’ve come to expect of Carly Fiorina; it is, after all, her track record.

To the other, though, what the former HP boss knows is pretty much the same thing we all recognize, that truth doesn’t matter in the Republican Party.

And that’s the thing; she will pay little to no penalty during the GOP primary for being a liar. The only question is whether her business acumen can make that pitch in the general, should she win the nomination.

After all, if she wins the nomination and must, as part of her pivot, explain her lies, she has two main avenues for defending herself, either repeat the lies or make up new lies. That is, she can either hold the line or pretend she didn’t say anything at all. According to her track record, the actual historical record is irrelevant to her candidacy.

The only question is whether the rest of American voters are as gullible as Republicans.

This is the Carly Fiorina Show.

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Image notes: Top ― Carly Fiorina, former chairman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, addresses the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, 24 January 2015. (Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images). Right ― Tweet by Jordyn Phelps, 15 December 2015).

Phelps, Jordyn. “Carly Fiorina Digs in on Claim That General’s Retirement Was Due to Obama Dispute”. ABC News. 16 December 2015.

The Carly Fiorina Show (Next Level)

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina speaks during the WSJ/FBN Republican presidential debate, 10 November 2015, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo: Morry Gash/AP)

“Yes she met him in a green room, but not in a green room before a show. It was before a conference.”

Anna Epstein

The Carly Fiorina Show really does distinguish itself according to strange rules forged in some alternate universe. Then again, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is a Republican, and running for president at that. And this year the conservative market licks its lips for lies, as Dr. Ben Carson so aptly reminds. Ms. Fiorina, for her own part, works hard to keep up.

Which brings us to the WSJ/FBN debate; Steve Benen observes:

Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, reminded Carly Fiorina, “In seven years under President Obama, the U.S. has added an average of 107,000 jobs a month. Under President Clinton, the economy added about 240,000 jobs a month. Under George W. Bush, it was only 13,000 a month. If you win the nomination, you’ll probably be facing a Democrat named Clinton. How are you going to respond to the claim that Democratic presidents are better at creating jobs than Republicans?”

If anything, Baker’s numbers were tilted in the GOP’s favor, since Obama’s totals are dragged down by including the early months of his presidency, when the economy was in free fall. Nevertheless, the point is accurate―since World War II, more jobs are created under Democratic presidents than Republicans―prompting Fiorina to reply, “Yes, problems have gotten much worse under Democrats.”

She’d just been reminded of the opposite, which made the exchange a little unnerving. I kept waiting for one of the candidates to drop the pretense and declare, “I reject this version of reality and replace it with one I like better.”

(more…)

The Scott Walker Show (Sounds About Right)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, 26 February 2015. Photo by H. Darr Beiser, USA Today.

Okay, so this is how we’re going to do it―

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) affirmed on Sunday that he would not seek to end birthright citizenship as president, seemingly bringing to an end a days-long grapple for a definitive position on the issue.

“No,” said the Wisconsin Republican when asked if he was “seeking to repeal or alter the 14th Amendment,” during an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

Walker’s position on the topic―which has moved from the fringes of the Republican Party to a mainstay of the campaign trail―has not so much evolved as jumped around in the past week ....

―with Sam Stein explaining the joke for Huffington Post, and you deciding whether or not you really want the detail, since it’s not actually funny, and, well, you know, we might also suggest simply nodding and saying, “Sounds about right”, would suffice.

____________________

Stein, Sam. “Scott Walker Completes The Journey Back To Not Repealing The 14th Amendment”. The Huffington Post. 23 August 2015.

A Note on ‘Curing’ Heterosexuality (Puppy Power Mystery Mix)

Puppy play. (Original photograph by The Stranger.)

There is a long, hard joke in there somewhere involving basic Freudian propositions of differentiation between polymorphous equivalence in pleasure seeking and genital focus. And with a setup like, that, well, right. But it did come about that in the wake of an embarrassing trial and subsequent, obvious verdict against a conversion therapy outfit called Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a friend mused on the thought of whether or not humanity might achieve a cure for heterosexuality.

The unfortunately requisite disclaimer here is threefold; there is an obvious cure, it is an obvious joke, and there are still people in the world who would take such a joke as some manner of genuine threat. No, we’re not coming to apply anti-straight conversion therapy.

To the other ....

Last weekend, I was hanging out at the Cuff, the leather bar at 13th and Pine, when a man to my left pulled out a pink rubber ball.

(Baume)

Something about a setup like that goes here, but here’s another morbid joke, and this one almost worth recounting. (more…)

A Clown Car Crossover Extravaganza

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

Two stars of the 2016 GOP Clown Car strove for fabulosity in a crossover clusterdiddle for the ages. Steve Benen of msnbc brings us the Tales of Two Petty Whines in the wake of marriage equality; first up, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s (R) grasp of constitutional law has long been a little fuzzy. In January, the Republican presidential candidate said Supreme Court rulings don’t set the law of the land because decisions need to be enshrined by lawmakers through “enabling legislation.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)The problem, of course, was that this was gibberish.

Huckabee’s argument was presented in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, which arrived on Friday. Right on cue, the former governor made a similar argument to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos yesterday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you calling for civil disobedience?

HUCKABEE: I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law. They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the letters from a Birmingham jail reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all. And I do think that we’re going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision.

He added moments later, “I’m not sure that every governor and every attorney general should just say, well, ‘It’s the law of the land,’ because there’s no enabling legislation.” When Stephanopoulos asked if he would enforce federal law if elected president, Huckabee said it would depend on Congress passing “enabling legislation.”

Mr. Benen makes the first, obvious point, that, “There won’t be ‘enabling legislation’.” Mr. Huckabee is, in all seriousness, pulling a screeching monkey out of his ass and telling you it’s a rabbit prophesying in a hat.

There is also the question of civil disobedience, and while most can agree it has its place, one wonders if our Republican neighbors can tell the difference. In tihs case, the proposition is a matter of civil disobedience in assertion of a right to discriminate and harm. In Jesus’ name, you know. Amen.

But wait, there’s more!

(more…)

The Important Thing

WASHINGTON — NOVEMBER 17: U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) leaves the House Republican Conference leadership elections alone on Capitol Hill November 17, 2006 in Washington, DC. Hastert is the longest-serving Speaker of the House but is now scorned for losing control of the House to the Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This is the only thing you need to know about the spectacular awfulness accused of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert:

Jolene said she asked her brother why he never told anyone. “And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?'”

(Ross, Schwartz, and Capell)

This includes never.

And never includes the time before Mr. Hastert rose to lead the United States House of Representatives.

There will be continued scorn toward hypocrisy and his role in American sexual moralism, and when it comes to spectacular headlines accusing that a former Speaker of the House of Representatives is a serial sexual predator, there are certain things that might get lost along the way.

Jolene said she believes the abuse ended when Steve moved away after his high school graduation in 1971. Reinboldt died of AIDS in 1995. She believes Hastert’s alleged actions irrevocably changed Steve’s life for the worse.

This is what it does. This is why it cannot be.

“And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?'”

And that is every day in these United States.

This is an awful scandal. It will be spectacularly horrible. But there are things about this story that were true and important before it ever happened, remain so now, and will continue as such after the headlines have passed.

And those things require address.

So, you know, if there’s one thing to remember from all of this, we should probably make it the really, really important one.

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Image note: Detail ― U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) leaves the House Republican Conference leadership elections alone on Capitol Hill November 17, 2006 in Washington, DC. Hastert is the longest-serving Speaker of the House but is now scorned for losing control of the House to the Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ross, Brian, Rhonda Schwartz, and John Capell. “Exclusive: Alleged Dennis Hastert Sex Abuse Victim Named by Family”. ABC News. 5 June 2015.

History, Passing

Mary Doyle Keefe poses beside Rosie the Riveter in undated photo from Associated Press.

Rosie is dead.

Mary Doyle Keefe, the model for Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1943 Rosie the Riveter painting that symbolized the millions of American women who went to work on the home front during World War II, has died. She was 92.

(Collins)

Parenthood is a lifetime gig, you know, and if there is any comfort to be found in the passing of a cultural icon, it is that I have the rest of my life, still, that I might someday figure a way to explain to my daughter just how important Rosie the Riveter really was.

She changed everything. And perhaps this is an inadequate expression; therein lies the challenge. But still, it is no less true.

We’ve got some work to do, still, as a society. And, you know, we’ll get there, someday. Or kill ourselves trying. Thank you, Mary Doyle Keefe; your part in this story is etched in hearts and minds of generations, a permanent chapter in the collected tales of our American conscience.

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Image note: Mary Doyle Keefe poses alongside Rosie the Riveter in undated photograph from Associated Press.

Collins, Dave. “Model for Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter Painting Dies”. ABC News. 22 April 2015.