Yeah, Kids. It’s “Binary”. Sessions Lied Under Oath

NEW BLOG PHOTO_edited- 2This one is really simple. The top law enforcement official of the United States lied under oath. As all the cool kids are saying these days, “It’s binary.” Yes … or … no. Simple as it gets. No nuance required. And here, as regards Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions the III of the great state of Alabama, the answer is unambiguously, “yes.”

So less than one day after the D.C. punditocracy was wetting itself over Donald Trump “pivoting” to Presidential, we’re whiplashed back into the real reality of, you know, what is really going on. And there’s no plausible equivocating that can be done here.

Sessions, one of the first-in-for-the-Donald members of Congress, and a constant presence throughout the sordid campaign, not only lied in his reply to a question from our own Al Franken, he “volunteered” the lie … abut something that he didn’t have to lie about. (Although the more his standing with the Senate Armed Services Committee is tossed up as an explanation for chatting up the Russian ambassador the more people are stopping to say, “Wait a minute. Chatting up foreign ambassadors is a function of the Foreign Relations Committee, not the one Sessions was on.”

The significance of last night’s news — from both The Washington Post (on Sessions and the Rooskies) and The New York Times (on several foreign governments offering confirmation of Trump associates meetings with Russians in Europe during the campaign) — is that Congressional Republicans are … this close … to the tipping point. The point at which the accumulation of suspicion and evidence is large they have no practical choice other than to agree to an “independent special prosecutor” to investigate — a la Ken Starr — anything and everything related to Trump and the Russians.

Who that special prosecutor would be, who appoints him/her and what level of subpoena power (i.e. into Trump’s taxes) they have remains to be … politicized to hell.

But for now, things are proceeding quite nicely, thank you.

Trump worshippers and toadies will kick up a lot of dust parsing the possible innocence of Sessions’ coziness with the Russian ambassador. But the, uh, unimpeachable fact is that he flat out lied … under oath … to Congress. Just as Bad Old Bill Clinton lied about “not having sex with that woman.” Only this time, we’re not talking about heavy-petting, sort-of-sex in the Oval Office. We’re talking about colluding with the United States’ primary foreign adversary to screw with a Presidential election. Republicans are going to have go deep doo-doo double secret probation tribal to make sex a bigger deal than this, and I have no doubt they will. But as they like to say down in ‘Bama, “That dog don’t hunt.”

Six weeks into the Trump era we’ve already reached the point of needing an extra-Congressional investigation of possibly treasonous activity. (“Treason” being another word that has lost most of its meaning as a result of the constant braying of tri-corner hat-wearing imbeciles.)

Not that I’m surprised, you understand. In fact what surprises me most about the way Sessions, Gen. Flynn before him and the whole Trump team has responded to “the Russian thing” is that it doesn’t seem to have occurred to any of these deep thinkers that it is the business of the NSA, the CIA, the DIA and on and on as well the MI5 in Britain and every other allied intelligence agency to monitor meetings and calls and communications with people close to Vladimir Putin. In fact … wait for it … it’s precisely what we pay billions of dollars a year for them to do.

So, I don’t know if, “Dem boys ain’t too bright” is another ol’ ‘Bama sayin’. But it sure fits this crowd.

It’s Time for the Press to Get Nefarious with Trump’s Taxes

NEW BLOG PHOTO_edited- 3Last week the editor of The New York Times said he’s willing to risk jail to publish Donald Trump’s tax returns. Because he’s regarded as a serious guy in a serious job we should regard that as a serious promise. But it is also a call to hackers, IRS bureaucrats, former accountants and anyone else with access, legal or (more likely) nefarious, to do business with the grand Grey Lady on the single biggest untold story of this election.

the editor, Dean Baquet was at Harvard with Bob Woodward of Watergate fame, who was at first a bit tremulous about the idea of publishing a private citizen’s most comprehensive and revealing financial disclosure. I mean, people could get arrested! But as the conversation went on Baquet said, “[Trump’s] whole campaign is built on his success as a businessman and his wealth.” To which Woodward, perhaps steeping up his bravado said, “Some things you have to do. . . . This defines Donald Trump. . . . There’s a big hole here.”

Do you think? Trump’s appeal may be more rooted in his exploitation of age-old white grievance and resentments, but the “fact” he’s as rich as Croesus, or so he says, adds tremendously to the enthusiasm his various baskets have for him. Were he not living in a penthouse decorated in a style best described as “early Saddam Hussein” and not (currently) married to a former achitecture student-turned-bikini model and not fly around in his own 757, he’d be just another duck-tailed doofus gassing on at the 19th hole. But roll all that into one gaudy picture and you’ve got something that screams “Success!” to America’s perennially self-pitying white middle and lower classes.

Here, here, here and here are some good Trump tax-related stories based on what little can be discerned.

The ethical nut of this promise, this vow, from Baquet is that Trump has so blatantly and egregiously gamed the standard politician-journalism game that the only way to crack him is with what on the face of it is Edward Snowden-like criminality … and let the lawyers sort it out later, a la Daniel Ellsburg during the Vietnam war. And I believe he’s right.

Last Friday’s fiasco at Trump’s new hotel in D.C., where he played the national media for chumps by exploiting their live national coverage for an infomercial for the building goosed with a bunch of campaign-rally hosannahs from grizzled war vets before finally A: Conceding that Barack Obama was born in the USA, and then, B: Accusing Hillary Clinton of starting the whole racist birther BS, sent the press into a remarkable fury. Even CNN, directed by former “Today Show” exec Jeff Zucker, a guy who would stick viewers’ heads in a stopped-up cruise ship toilet knowing his target demo would watch it 24/7, expressed outrage over the incident.

Why, exactly, you ask? Certainly not because Friday was the first time Trump has “rick rolled” an audience. That’s SOP for the guy. The critical difference Friday was this: Trump made the assembled reporters and their colleagues and bosses back at the office look like fools. Or, chumps, as I say. Now, having juuuust a bit of experience with Le Grande Journalist Ego, reporters and editors are pretty thick-skinned about being called names — like “fool” and “chump” — but get really upset when someone shows a whole country how indisputably easy it is to make them look … well, foolish and chumpy.

So a guy the vast majority of the press regards as a fraud on one level or another plays them for a free commercial and makes them look ridiculous. What are they, can they do about it? The Times followed Friday’s fiasco with a “tough” analysis piece, saying, “He nurtured the conspiracy like a poisonous flower, watering and feeding it with an ardor that still baffles and embarrasses many around him. Mr. Trump called up like-minded sowers of the same corrosive rumor, asking them for advice on how to take a falsehood and make it mainstream in 2011, as he weighed his own run for the White House.”

But as most of the gamed-and-ridiculed press has come to understand, “tough” analyses, “strongly-worded” editorials and hour after hour of gob-smacked, incredulous talking heads are all gnat-bites on the hide of a creature long accustomed to nefarious behavior. None of it means anything, because none of it has any significant effect.

The only topic, the only single subject matter that carries any weight, that would pull down the (gold metallic micro-fibre) curtain and allow voters to see and assess Trump for what he really is are his tax returns. That is where The Story is, and pretty much everyone in the press, including FoxNews and Bretibart, knows it.

Which brings people like the editor of the New York Times and Bob Woodward — who’s colleague David Farenthold has fast-tracked himself to a Pulitzer for the most dogged and aggressive coverage of Trump’s finances — to say out loud 50 days before the election that the time is nigh for two wrongs to make a right. We are talking the Presidency of the United State here, not doping in pro sports or the machinations behind some gas pipeline.

If you’re going to break the rules you traditionally operate under — by soliciting, maybe even paying for Trump’s tax returns — you do it to properly, fully dissect a “non-traditional” (i.e. quite possibly criminal) candidate for the most influential office on the planet … and let the lawyers argue it out later.

And you do it now.

Rep. Ellison’s Ultimatum: Single Payer or Government Shutdown

SatireSaint Paul, Minn. –U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)  announced today that he is leading a progressive effort to shut down the federal government until a single payer health insurance system replaces the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, further complicating the federal budget impasse.

“The private insurance exchanges used in the ACA were never what progressives wanted, so ‘we the people’ have decided to make a principled stand against them,” said Ellison, Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  The Caucus has long advocated for a single payer system in which the government would fund and operate a single insurance pool for all Americans, similar to how Medicare has long been structured for older Americans.

Rep. Ellison’s rhetoric was eerily similar to that of his fellow House Republicans, who have pushed for replacing the Affordable Care Act with the status quo system.  Under the current system, 48 million Americans are uninsured and health costs are among the highest in the industrialized world.

Rep. Ellison said his caucus is pushing legislation authored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to essentially build on and expand the federal Medicare program.  Under the bill, all Americans would be guaranteed access to health care regardless of an ability to pay or pre-existing health conditions.

Just as Tea Party-backed House conservatives advocated in 2009 for preserving the status quo private health insurance system, House progressives pushed for a single payer approach in 2009. But neither side was able to muster sufficient votes to enact their preferred policy.

Still Ellison points to an Associated Press poll finding that 65% of Americans agree that “the United States should adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers.”  Ellison also noted an NPR poll shows that 93 percent of Americans believe that the number of uninsured under the status quo system that the Republicans are fighting to preserve is a “serious problem.”

“When House Republicans finally agree to open up the government again, we’re going to shut it down if they don’t support our single payer approach,” Ellison said.  “House Republicans shut down the government to maintain a status quo insurance system that almost all Americans believe is a serious problem, so progressives can damn sure shut it down over something that two-thirds of Americans support.”

Rep. Ellison said he has offered to compromise with Republicans by offering to delay the implementation of the single payer system by a year.  Ellison has also offered to allow private insurers to sell Medigap-like supplemental health insurance plans.  However, Ellison says Republicans are refusing to even discuss compromise.

In a related development, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced that he would move to re-shut down the federal government if House Republican lawmakers didn’t pass his legislation to require background checks on people buying guns at gun shows or online.  A Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 86% of Americans support such background checks.  Despite this overwhelming public support, Manchin’s bill was rejected by House Republicans in April 2013.  Manchin also demanded a new credenza for his office.

NOTE:  If it is not obvious to you, THIS IS SATIRE.  IT IS NOT A TRUE STORY. Representatives Ellison, Conyers, and Manchin are much too responsible to shutdown the government when they don’t get their way in the democratic process.

This post was featured in Politics in Minnesota’s Best of the Blogs and in MinnPost’s Blog Cabin.

Related post:  Bachmann Vindicated:  Industrialized Nations Continue Rush to Replicate U.S. Health Care System

– Loveland