Revolted Colonies

U.S. Politics and Culture

Month: December 2017

Learning to Spell Papadopoulos

“We’ve met the enemy,”  Walt Kelly’s Pogo once said, ” and it is us.”  Actually that epigram came from a poster exhibited at the first Earth Day celebration in 1970.  It meant that we are killing our planet and therefore ourselves.   It’s recalled best through the Pogo comic panel and has become a touchstone of American self-destructiveness.

The George Papadopoulos drunken confession must be added now to Richard Nixon’s tape system and Bill Clinton’s leaky faucet as examples of political self-destruction.  It turns out that Papadopoulos was the one who squealed to the FBI on the Trump-Russia connection. Only he didn’t know it.

 Papadopoulos first was seen clawing his way out of the primordial ooze to become  senior foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.  He was largely overlooked then, rating only a passing reference as one of a handful of geniuses working for the radioactive candidate.

The next sighting of Papadopoulos occurred in October 2017.  Special Prosecutor Mueller announced the Manafort and Rick Gates indictments in connection with the Russia probe, but the wily former FBI Chief buried the lede. His team also filed a one-count guilty plea by Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI. It was largely obscured by the feeding frenzy over Manafort’s indictment.  The White House immediately disavowed any knowledge.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders diminished Papadopoulos’ significance, calling him an unpaid volunteer and describing his activities as “unofficial.” 

The indictment elaborated that Papadopoulos was working through a professor in London to make contact with a “Russian national” who had dirt on Clinton.   Papadopoulos concealed these facts when questioned by the FBI, earning him the false statement conviction.   Papadopoulos’ new-found celebrity caused the press to re-examine campaign materials. They found the photo above, showing Papadopoulos as one point of a triangle formed with Russia Recuse-nik Jeff Sessions and Trump as the other two.  The unpaid volunteer possessed of the Russian dirt was hanging with the campaign heavies.  There is no audio to go with the picture but it’s safe to assume that they were not discussing Micronesian trade policy.

Today, the significance of Papadopoulos’ London jaunt became clear.  During his March sojourn an ebullient Papadopoulos also met with an Australian diplomat. Over the course of an evening of inebriation, he actually was a volunteer, coughing up that the Russians had the goods on Hillary.   The man from Oz filed away this information until July, when he heard about the Russian dump of Clinton and DNC email.  He reported his conversation to Australian intelligence. They in turn reported it to their American counterparts.  Ironically, the Australian Prime Minister was one of the first Heads of State to be bashed by Trump after the election.

Upon receiving the news the FBI launched its investigation into Russian involvement,  one that so far has brought down Manafort, Gates and General Michael Flynn, along with Papadopoulos.  Trump has continuously called the Russia investigation a hoax. Every picture tells a story, though, and this one has Lyin’ Don and the little volunteer making serious face time.

Today’s bombshell puts the guilty plea into perspective. Papadopoulos was the first domino to fall because he is the taproot of the investigation.  The Trump campaign itself spilled the beans.  Not only was the Russia issue for real, but the FBI got it from the horse’s mouth. For work this good, Papadopoulos deserved to be on someone’s payroll.  

I expected another indictment before the New Year but instead we got this leak about the Australian connection  The information connects the dots between the London meeting and the one two months later that took place in Trump Tower. The pieces are beginning to fall into place, and a complete story is beginning to emerge. The future ex-President predicted that the Russia investigation would be over by the end of the year. This is probably not what he meant.

 

It’s Midnight in Mobile

Dateline – South of South Carolina     

     Alabama will decide tomorrow whether Roy Moore or Doug Jones will be its next U.S. Senator. Forecasters say the election is too close to call. That’s because the forecasters are using polling data. You know how unreliable polls can be. 

     If anybody knows who the winner will be, she’s in Alabama right now and has been there all her life.  She talks to lots of people in her line of work,  hundreds of people every day, and she knows her people.  She’s right there, standing on the street or sitting in a car or behind a store counter.  She knows but nobody’s asked her.

     Roy Moore was a legend long before this election. He first surfaced nationally when he  defied a court order directing him to remove a Ten Commandants display from his courthouse. He was booted off the Supreme Court of Alabama.  He got reelected a few years later but he got removed again.  This time he ordered Alabama judges not to recognize same-sex marriages after the US Supreme Court said that was unconstitutional. 

      Moore ran for Governor twice, both times losing in the primaries. He ruled on a few sexual assault cases.  Jones put out an ad saying that Moore ruled in favor of the sex offenders. That isn’t quite true;  his votes would have affected a re-trial of the cases.

      His opponent and the media have taken a lively interest in Moore’s misadventures since a woman in her thirties accused Moore of assaulting her when she was 14 years old. In Alabama, that was and is against the law.  And Moore must have known, because he was a district attorney at the time, one of those fellows whose job is to put away people who break the law.    

     Other women have told similar stories.  Moore admits to dating some teenagers when he was in his thirties but says the girls were all of legal age.  Ah, but did he check their learner’s permits?  The age of the girls is not the point.  The point is that they saw Moore as a powerful man, and that’s the reason that a lot of girls  wouldn’t stop him or didn’t tell their stories.

       At any other time, Moore would have been run out of town on a rail. But this is not just any time. It’s tax bill time.  First, the Republican National Committee pulled back and cut off funds to the campaign. Realizing that they would need Moore’s vote to pass their tax plan, the Republicans have closed ranks. Even the future ex-President flip-flopped for Moore.   At least Trump was candid: anyone but a liberal democrat.

     You don’t hear much about Doug Jones.  He started as a staff attorney for the U.S, Senate Judiciary Committee.  After that, he went home to Dixie to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.  After a few years he went into private practice but returned to government work when Bill Clinton appointed him U.S. Attorney.  After that, he’s bounced in and out of government appointments.  His appointments have been political.  There’s no record that Jones had to be relieved of  his post.   Jones considers himself a middle of the road kind of guy.  He wants to reduce corporate taxes but would vote against the tax bill.

     Democrats have been pouring money and a ground-game into the Jones campaign, especially in the last few days. If there is a big turnout, particularly among African-Americans, Jones could pull off an upset. The Republicans are all-in too. They are throwing all their resources at this election, because a Moore victory makes passage of the tax bill feasible, and a Jones victory makes it dead on arrival.

      In all the hullabaloo about the political impact of the election,  some people have taken their eyes off the sparrow.  Not Richard Shelby, Alabama’s senior senator and a Republican.  Shelby said he believed the accuser and added that Jeff Sessions said he had no reason to doubt her story.  Shelby said, “”I didn’t vote for Roy Moore. I wouldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.”  Shelby made his statement on CNN, which guarantees it would be aired three times per hour,  not at a Birmingham Botanical Garden fund-raiser.  

     The odds are good that even if Moore wins, he won’t be in Washington long; maybe long enough to cast one vote.

Update: what-the-hell-is-happening-with-these-alabama-polls?

Al Franken’s Final Bow

When Scott Fitzgerald said that there are no second acts in American lives, he could have been talking about Al Franken. The curtain is about to ring down on his second – and likely final – act as junior Senator for the State of Minnesota. Many of his Democratic colleagues and lots of his Republican adversaries have demanded his resignation over a growing number of sexual misconduct incidents. After all,   Conyers is gone.  Roy Moore may be walking into a shooting gallery. Franken will resign. The culture demands it because the Groper-in-Chief is the elephant in the room.   All of the fallen misogynists are placeholders for the future ex-president. Their careers are dying for his sins as well as their own.

If Franken’s follies were limited to his first act, comedian and humorist, he might have survived. Not that shoving his tongue down Leann Tweeden’s throat passes for stagecraft or that the prank photo of Franken seeming to grab her breasts would get him on the short list for the Mark Twain Award. But USO shows have never been high-brow affairs. Bob Hope ran on fumes for decades by parading Ms. Va-Va-Va-Voom in front of our weary troops. Different times, different mores perhaps, but Bob probably kept both hands on his own putter. 

As a Senator, Franken supported legislation that called for equal pay for women and freedom in their reproductive rights choices.  He sponsored a bill from which he has removed his name.  After the USO scandal broke he stood defiant, calling  for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate him.  No Senator had been unseated for acts undertaken before taking office. He thought he could withstand the scrutiny.  Not any more.

The funny man got the hook when more victims stepped forward, complaining that Senator Al groped them during photo ops at the Minnesota State Fair. Franken said he didn’t remember; between the fried mooseburgers on a stick and the Four-H shows, one could lose their mind and forget locking their mitts like a vice grips on a voter’s buttocks.   Five was too much, though, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the list continues to grow.  In fact, he’s lucky that the sheep and cows have maintained their vow of silence.

Franken has been a hard-working Senator, and he has taken his state’s interests seriously and knowledgeably. He’s a smart and articulate guy. He’s done his homework and has gone after Jeff Sessions and Betsy Devos in their confirmation hearings, nailing them with their own words.  Being an honorary Minnesotan, I’ve observed his supporter’s silent disapproval. His constituents were not calling for his ouster but they were ashamed of his behavior. Liberals wanted to give him a pass, but he should not get special treatment. It doesn’t matter if his heart is in the right place if his hands are not.

 

A Half-Week in Review

It’s only Thursday night so it’s cocky  to think of this as a whole week in review. Maybe a half-week. Things could look different Saturday night. Not so different, though, to make this snapshot obsolete.

The tax bill is taxiing on the runway but it’s anybody’s guess if that mountain of guano has enough ground speed to take off. Late arriving analysis makes the deal a stinker on taxes. Not to mention all the social policy it tries to shove down everybody’s gullet. As it stands, a lot of members of Congress who vote for it will fall on their swords if the bill becomes law. Donors love the bill. Voters don’t.   As for me, everything besides the tax bill is only noise. The bill is radical. It’s not just a tax bill.

For the still-curious, there’s a new wrinkle in the Russia probe. The future ex-President was strong-arming Senators to shut it down last summer. That’s not necessarily a crime. It sure makes Comey’s firing more about Putin than Clinton. The Troll in Chief says this will be over in a month. Thanks, but I’ll take the points.

Staggering Rex Tillerson. Don’t call the boss a moron, especially if he is. The insiders say Rex is out. Pompeo goes from CIA to State and Tommy Cotton of Arkansas leaves the Senate to be the Spook in Chief. Arkansas holds on to its GOP Senate seat. Whispers are that this positions the CIA to stonewall investigators. None of this eyewash has amything to do with diplomacy or espionage. It’s doubtful that this subtlety originated in the Oval Office. So, who is calling the shots?

Did any sexual predator get outed today? The heat is turned up on Franken and Lauper. Keillor is benefitting from a backlash and a weak case. The Reign of Terror is not over. The accusations are looked at more closely. Why does Santa have all those kids on his lap? Is it really St. Nick filling up his list?

The stock market crashed 24k today. A lot of Americans can’t buy in. It’s no Party for them.They will get hosed on taxes without any payoff. Meet the new Serf, same as the Old Serf.

The details may change in the next few days. The big picture is the so-called tax bill, and it won’t change. Besides the trillion dollar payback to the plutocrats, it changes health care and education policy. The rich get rich, and the poor get children. The big payback won’t go into new domestic jobs. The U.S. will be a friendlier tax haven for the Global Parasites. 

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