The Greatest Tweet of All

When it comes to Twitter trolling, there are some who are simply in a class by themselves.  Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon, with his unconditional love of the movie Sucker Punch and his defense of Miracle Whip, comes to mind.  Then there’s Comfortably Smug, who’s the kind of guy who probably would have taken up for Tonya Harding if social media had been around in those days, just because nobody else would.  It’s feeds like theirs that make Twitter—which daily manages to drain yet more water from the shallow pool that is my remaining faith in humanity—somewhat bearable and sometimes fun.

But even these giants cannot hold a candle to the Once and Future King of Twitter—the one man who, through the sheer force of his epic trollery, just might be mankind’s last, best hope against the coming AI singularity.  Not only that, he also happens to be President of the United States.

That’s right, I’m talking about none other than Donald J. Trump.  Don’t mess with this bull, fellas, because if you do you’ll get the horns—especially if you’re a little boy dictator with body image problems.

Case in point:  one Kim Jong-un, son of the wacky North Korean despot Kim Jong-il.  Junior took over running the joint when his daddy bought the corner lot in one of hell’s seedier neighborhoods, and has since become known for his taste in Western whiskey and his penchant for executing relatives in rather creative ways.  He also likes to pal around with Dennis Rodman when he’s not threatening to rain down fiery destruction on the United States—kind of like a toddler screaming for attention, but with nuclear weapons.  Barack Obama seemed content to coddle this kind of behavior when he was president, but since Trump moved into the White House he’s been somewhat less indulgent.  This has led to a war of words between the two leaders, with Kim reportedly dinging the Donald over their respective age differences.

Trump, meanwhile, fired back with a rejoinder for the ages:

That’s weapons grade trolling, folks.  The only thing that would make it better is if Trump shipped a case of Jenny Craig to Pyongyang and had it delivered to Li’l Kim with his regards.

Liberals, of course, scoffed at the president’s mockery, screaming that Obama would have never done this and that Trump is leading us into war, blah, blah, blah—but my favorite response came from the satirical news feed DPRK News Service, which was so good that some Democrat detractors probably took it seriously:

Get your popcorn ready and let the games begin!

Scientology & The President: Leah Remini May Have a Surprising New Ally

One of the most fascinating documentary series to hit television in a long time is Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. The Emmy-winning show, which just wrapped up its second season, has done a tremendous job exposing the heartbreaking abuses at the hands of the church, as well as the great lengths Scientology has gone to cover them up.

The response to the series has been incredible, and the movement to strip the church (which is better labeled a cult) of its tax-exempt status is growing. Apparently, that movement includes someone with a sizeable bully pulpit: President Donald Trump.

The Hill reports:

Twitter messages from a Trump family friend and top official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) claimed that Trump and his family “couldn’t agree more” that the church should lose its tax-exempt status.

“From The moment I saw your series I told President Trump & his family we needed to revoke their tax exempt status. They couldn’t agree more, but please don’t publicize that yet,” Lynne Patton wrote to actress Leah Remini in the messages obtained by HuffPost. “This is going to get done in the next 4 years or I’ll die trying. Knock on wood!”

Patton has been an associate of the Trump family since 2009, and she has promised to do research into stripping Scientology of its status as a church.

“I look forward to doing my part to help put an end to this ongoing nightmare and blatant misuse of our IRS rules & regulations,” Patton wrote to Remini. “I want to do more research on Scientology’s history with the IRS, to date, so that I can better understand what tactics have been applied and where we can pick up.”

But there’s a problem. Experts say that administration influence may be illegal.

“For the White House or any administration official to try and influence who the IRS targets, for whatever reason, is wrong and could result in a violation of the law,” said former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission Larry Noble. “The IRS must make these decisions independently without any influence by the White House or administration officials.”

That could very well be true. But then again, you can find somebody who’s going to go on record saying that most anything Trump says or does violates some law.

Scientology is a dangerous cult that abuses children, breaks up families, extorts money from its followers, and in some cases has forced women to abort their babies. I’m immensely proud of Leah Remini, her co-host Mike Rinder, and the dozens of former Scientologists who have come forward to expose their former faith for the fraud that it is.

I welcome Trump’s support in the fight to expose Scientology for what it truly is. It must be stopped, and if it takes the influence of the President of the United States, so be it.

Will John McCain Kill Tax Reform?

Fresh off getting its butt kicked in Virginia on Tuesday night, I warned the GOP that its defeat had less to do with the unpopularity of Donald Trump and more to do with the Senate’s utter inability to move anything that resembles a conservative agenda forward.  Their last big failure came courtesy of Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain, who torpedoed Obamacare repeal even after voting for it repeatedly while Barack Obama was president.  Now it seems that the World’s Greatest Deliberative Potty has moved on to strangling tax reform in the cradle, and guess who’s hands are doing the dirty work again?

As you might expect, Collins is also back on board to sabotage the GOP’s one last shot at redemption because she thinks it’s unconscionable that people shouln’t have to turn over half of their estates just because they kick the bucket.  Joining the list of usual suspects is Bob Corker, who after announcing his retirement from the Senate is in full kiss-my-ass mode and figures he might as well give Trump the finger on his way out.

Those two plus McCain equals three, which means only 49 GOP votes left—and no tax reform for you.

McCain is ostensibly applying the bipartisan standard, in which he says he can’t in good conscience vote for something that doesn’t have at least some Democrat support.  Would that the Democrats had paid him the same courtesy when they shoved Obamacare down the country’s throat without a single Republican vote.  It doesn’t really matter, though, because McCain doesn’t mean a word of it.  If he did, he would have voted for a clean repeal on principle, so that Democrats and Republicans could then craft a truly bipartisan solution for health care.  Instead, he’s content to saddle the country with an unsustainable  program that is causing real hurt for the middle class.

The same goes for taxes.  What we have right now is a hopelessly complicated system riddled with so many special interest carve outs and favors that nobody can possibly understand it, which also makes American business less competitive and incentivizes them to park mounds of cash overseas.  Reforming that system could bring that money back and unleash the power of the American economy, while giving real relief to people who haven’t seen their real wages rise in years.  As an added bonus, it would also rally voters back to the GOP and prove that it can actually get things done.

Instead, McCain would rather stick a finger in the eye of the president just because he can.

What he seems to forget—or maybe McCain just doesn’t care—is that there are millions of us out here in the country who will have to pay the price for his vindictiveness.  The GOP will also suffer—because if they fail yet again, it’s a virtual guarantee that what happened on Tuesday will repeat itself on a national scale.

Then again, maybe that’s all part of the plan.  Maybe the establishment is content with seeing the GOP majority wiped out, just so they can halt the Trump agenda and show him who’s really boss.  And if a Dem-controlled House votes to impeach him, so much the better.  That’s what an outsider gets for daring to shake up the Washington status quo.

The swamp will not be so easily drained.

Ryan and Santorum Disagree on Meaning of Democrats’ VA Election Sweep

Nearly every observer has an interpretation of yesterday’s electoral sweep of Virginia by the Democratic Party, the first significant, positive performance the party has displayed since the election of Donald Trump.

President Trump quickly tossed gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie beneath a bus after his loss, which unexpectedly was by 9 points, despite the fact that Trump had tweeted and robo-called in support of Gillespie just before the election. He likes winners, you see, and those who “embrace” him.

 

But Gillespie was not a winner, despite not only Trump’s endorsement, but the Trumpian atmosphere of his campaign, which included strong criticism of his opponent Ralph Northam via ads on the issues of illegal immigration and sanctuary cities, as well as echoes of the president on Confederate monuments and kneeling NFL players.

He wasn’t the only Republican loser on Tuesday; it was a sweep.

Democrats also won at least 14 seats in the state’s House of Delegates and could gain control of the chamber for the first time since 2000, depending on the outcomes of four races that qualify for recount, The Washington Post reported.

Additionally, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio won reelection and Chris Christie, formerly among the most unpopular governors in the country, certainly contributed to his Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno’s loss in her bid to replace him — she was defeated Democrat

So what happened in Virginia? Is this a rejection of Trump, dissatisfaction with the performance of the Republican Congress, or both? (The New Yorker triumphantly finds Trumpism in decline. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Rick Santorum came down on opposite each other in their interpretations of the results.

Ryan spoke at a tax reform event held by The Washington Examiner. Responding to the election results in the context of the GOP’s new tax bill, he said the following:

“It doesn’t change my reading of the current moment. It just emphasizes my reading of the current moment which is we have a promise to keep…. We’ve got to get on with keeping our promise, and one of the chief promises we made when we ran for office … in 2016 was that we would do tax reform and tax cuts for families, for people, and so we’ve got to get on with that.”

He went on to say, that “If anything, this just puts more pressure on making sure we follow through…That’s what I take out of it. I adore Ed Gillespie. I feel bad that he lost, but I think it simply means we’ve got to deliver.”

The Republican party is even less popular than Trump himself, as is Congress as a whole. Despite majorities in both houses, the GOP has accomplished almost nothing of its legislative agenda. Most victories for Trump are the fleeting sort executive orders bring. That makes Ryan’s (and Trump’s) interpretation plausible.

Santorum had a different interpretation. Appearing on CNN on a panel analyzing the results, the former Pennsylvania senator blamed Trump’s “Twitter bombs” and “personal attacks”, arguing that “it is hurting him” and the Republican Party. (“Everyone is telling him that.”)  He went on to say that the voters who were turned off by Trump in Virginia, not because they were opposed to his agenda, but because they were opposed to the way he demeans others in public. That doesn’t include his treatment of the media, which Santorum believes goes over very well.

While Santorum acknowledged the lack of legislative accomplishment, he alluded to promises made by Trump in that regard, implying that a lack of leadership on the part of the president was at least in part responsible for Republicans having nothing to show for their nearly ten months of control of the federal government. In other words, the buck stops in the Oval Office.

Ironically, prior to Trump’s election, Santorum sought to appeal to the same working class voters Trump did, adopting unusually protectionist economic positions for a Republican. He validated Trump’s popularity in debates as well. By contrast, Ryan kept his distance from Trump for some time, and even easily fought off a supposedly Trump-like primary challenger, before ultimately embracing the inevitability of the Donald. Now the two appear to have flipped in where their locate the blame and aim their criticisms, and thus how they see Tuesday’s results.

Perhaps the answer simply is that all politics is local. That at least appears to have been the case in New York and New Jersey. Everyone wants to read the tea leaves in Virginia though, hoping to gain some insight into the future of the Trump presidency and Trumpism. Personally, I think it’s doubtful that this one case study can tell us much. What do you think?

Trump Doesn’t Have To Be ‘Unhappy’ His Appointees Are Not Investigating Clintons

President Trump on Thursday criticized the Justice Department for failing to investigate Hillary Clinton. Trump said that he was “very unhappy”  and “frustrated” with a situation that he called beyond his control.

Speaking on Larry O’Connor’s radio show, the president said, “The saddest thing is that because I’m the President of the United States I’m not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department, I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI, I’m not supposed to be doing the kinds of things I would love to be doing and I’m very frustrated by it. I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with the dossier and the kind of money…?”

“It’s very discouraging to me,” the president continued. “I’ll be honest, I’m very unhappy with it that the Justice Department isn’t going—now maybe they are but you know as president, you’re not supposed to be involved in that process but hopefully they are doing something and maybe at some point we can all have it out.”

President Trump seems confused here. The Justice Department is under his authority. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, is his appointee and works for him. If President Trump really believes that Hillary Clinton is a criminal, he could easily order an investigation to determine whether that is true.

What the president cannot do is interfere with an ongoing investigation. This is why President Trump got into trouble for firing FBI Director James Comey. Comey alleged that Trump pressured him to stopping the investigation of Mike Flynn, which skates perilously close to obstruction of justice.

But stopping an investigation into Flynn is the opposite of starting an investigation into the Clintons. As a candidate, Trump seemed to understand that the president had the power to order an investigation when he promised on the campaign trail to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary. Chants of “lock her up” were encouraged by Trump at his rallies.

In fact, it was President-elect Trump, not the Department of Justice, who decided against an investigation of the Clintons. Two weeks after the election, Trump said, “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways, and I am not looking to hurt them at all. The campaign was vicious.”

At a post-election rally in December 2016, Trump stopped the crowd from chanting “lock her up.”

“That plays great before the election,” Trump said. “Now we don’t care, right?”

Now that Trump’s approval rating is in the cellar and the Russia investigation is heating up, Trump’s interest in Hillary is renewed. This may be due to the recent revelations about Democrat involvement in the Trump dossier, but it is more likely the president is using Hillary as a distraction and a way of shoring up support for his base. If the president really wanted an investigation of Hillary, there would be one.

While criminalizing political differences is a dangerous road to travel, in the case of the Clintons there seem to be ample grounds for an investigation. Did the Clinton Foundation break the law by selling influence and access to the Secretary of State? Did the Democrats illegally collude with the Russians on the Trump dossier? Did the Obama Administration use the dossier supplied by the Clintons to improperly spy on Americans? Did the Clintons violate laws when they exerted their influence on the Democratic National Committee during the primaries?

Trump’s calls to “lock her up” complicate any investigation of Hillary. As with his tweets calling for the death penalty in the recent New York terror attack, Trump’s words can be considered prejudicial to the  outcome of an investigation or trial. If the president thinks Hillary broke the law, he should have Jeff Sessions appoint an independent counsel and then stop tweeting and talking about it.

The case against the Clintons is much stronger now than it was a year ago when Trump was threatening to “lock her up.” As the allegations mount against the Clintons, the need for an independent investigation grows. President Trump has the authority to make an investigation happen. And should.

 

 

Trump Allies Fear the President May Fall to an Impeachment Vote

When Steve Bannon is in damage control mode, rather than damage creation mode, it may be time to worry.

According to a report from Vanity Fair, there is some concern from two of President Trump’s allies that recent developments are pointing to impeachment.

Bannon reportedly believes Trump’s hold on power is slipping in the wake of recent legislative failures. According to Vanity Fair, he recently did a “spitball analysis” of the president’s Cabinet to see who would remain loyal to Trump if the 25th Amendment were invoked, and is unsure if Trump would survive an impeachment vote.

“One thing Steve wants Trump to do is take this more seriously,” a Bannon confidant told the magazine. “Stop joking around. Stop tweeting.”

I don’t know that the president is joking around, or that he can stop tweeting. It’s like an obsession with him, at this point. Obviously.

One thing Bannon has been pushing for behind the scenes is for President Trump to cut the funding to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, regarding Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

I can’t even begin to express what a bad idea that is.

Trump pal, Roger Stone wants it to go even further, with Trump not only defunding Mueller, but bringing in a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton. He suggests either former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani or Fox News personality Judge Andrew Napolitano. At some point, that would bring Mueller, himself, under investigation.

Stone is pretty much a lunatic, I must add.

Both Bannon and Stone are stressing over the recent indictments brought against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and his business partner Rick Gates.

I’m not sure how close they think this will get to Trump, but neither trust Republican lawmakers not to vote to impeach, should things begin to get too hot with the investigation.

This is where I point out that many of the problems Trump has have come about because of a lack of self-control on his part, and how those who want to unbridle him have done him no favors.

Two of those doing him no favors are Bannon and Stone.

You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, gentlemen.

Emmy-Winning Actor Shares a Refreshing View on Politics

Hollywood has made no secret about its political views – plenty of people in show business have telegraphed the view that they would like to see the Trump presidency become a dismal failure. One Emmy-winning actor has made his views on the Trump administration known, and they’re pretty refreshing.

Bryan Cranston won four Emmys for his work on Breaking Bad, and he made a name for himself as a comic actor on shows like Seinfeld and Malcolm in the Middle. Cranston is no conservative; in fact, he was outspoken against Donald Trump throughout the campaign. But he recently did an interview with the Hollywood Reporter in which he admitted that he cannot bring himself to root for Trump’s failure.

President Trump is not the person who I wanted to be in that office, and I’ve been very open about that. That being said, he is the president. If he fails, the country is in jeopardy. It would be egotistical for anyone to say, “I hope he fails.” To that person I would say, f*** you. Why would you want that? So you can be right?

I don’t want him to fail. I want him to succeed. I do. I honestly do. … And if you’ve got a good idea that helps the country, oh man, I’m gonna support you. I don’t care if you’re a Republican and I’m a Democrat or whatever, I don’t care. A good idea’s a good idea. Let’s do that. We’ve got to get away from this idea that our country is political football, and someone with a different opinion is the enemy. Assume they love this country as much as you do, and there’s always room for improvement. How can we make it better?

In the interview, Cranston discussed his role in the new film Last Flag Flying and expressed the opinion that an American can be anti-war yet support the troops. It’s nice to see a liberal actor take a political view that doesn’t immediately dismiss the other side. That sort of attitude is sorely lacking on both the left and the right these days.

What If the President is a Victim in All This?

I know that by merely asking the question I’m going to get unmitigated hell on social media. But given what we know about Paul Manafort, I think it is a question that needs to be asked. Yes, let me concede up front that it then raises all sorts of other questions and concerns about the President, e.g. what’s it say about him that the Russians knew he was an easy mark.

But let’s consider the possibility anyway.

The Russians did not want Donald Trump elected. They just wanted to screw with our elections and make us hate each other. It worked. Their larger goal was to serve their own interests. They had a Podesta who could get close to Clinton, but they had a guy living in Trump Tower who could get even closer to the Republican nominee.

Yes, it does raise all sorts of other questions about the President, his team, etc., but I think we should be open to considering whether Manafort might have been working for Trump not for Trump’s interests, but for the interests of another of Manafort’s clients. Given the GOP weakening its position on Ukraine, etc., it seems like it would have been money well spent whether Trump won or lost.

And in the meantime, the Russians were able to sow lots of chaos and discord throughout the American political process.