A Bodyguard Of Lies, All The Way Down

As the new movie “Darkest Hour” ends, Lord Halifax acknowledges that Winston Churchill has taken the English language and sent it into battle.  We are not yet in our darkest hour in the U.S., but we too have a political leader who sends the English language into battle.  Too bad he does not do it in service of any cause nobler than enriching himself and his Mar-a-Lago customers, whom he told Friday night that they are about to “get a whole lot richer.”

Churchill said that “in war-time, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”  He had a very noble purpose, turning back Nazi domination of Europe (sullied by his simultaneously vicious and oblivious imperialism).  In 2017, the president protects himself, or tries to, with nearly incessant razzle-dazzle, aka lies–but not, as far as I can tell, in service of any noble cause at all.  It’s just a bodyguard of lies all the way down, with no bottom in sight yet.

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Paul Ryan Says “My Minute Will Last As Long As I Want It To Last”–True, Until Next November, Then He’s On Borrowed Time

Paul Ryan said a minute or two ago on the House floor in DC that his “minute” can last as long as he wants it to.  Ryan, as Speaker, can, indeed, make his “minute” last as long as he likes in today’s House debate on the corporate tax cut bill.  But he is on borrowed time–and he probably knows it, as his hints at retirement show.  People who oppose Ryan’s agenda, and McConnell’s agenda (as for Trump…”agenda” is too dignified a word for it, I think) have a goal in view now–toss them out next November.

Not To Worry About A “‘Coup’ In America–After All, Case Officer Putin Has Trump Under Control

If there is a “coup” going on in America, from what direction is it coming?  Is Robert Mueller, long-time Republican and Marine veteran, leading a leftist coup to oust Trump?  Or is Fox News colluding with Vladimir Putin to destabilize our American democracy?  Much closer to door #2, I would say.  I am not sure exactly who is calling the tune, but Trump, Fox News, and most Republicans (or, as some say, Republirussians) are sure singing from the same nasty hymnbook.  The rightwing noise machine is a feedback loop of attacks on Robert Mueller these days.

If Trump’s lawyers really think emails from the transition period between November 9, 2016 and January 20, 2017 were seized illegally by Mueller’s team, they have a remedy: file a motion with a Federal judge in DC.  If they had any kind of valid legal case, they would have done that already.

If Robert Mueller were really trying to engineer a coup by relying on a team of corrupt pro-Hillary partisans, why did he get rid of the FBI agent who wrote those 2 am texts?  Mueller got rid of the indiscreet and dubious agent.  So what exactly is the problem?  Senator Cornyn of Texas had no good answer when asked that question yesterday, though he did clear his throat and harrumph a while.

Republicans tried and pretty much succeeded in delegitimizing Lawrence Walsh’s investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal in the late nineteen-eighties (hat tip Charlie Pierce).  Will Trump succeed in delegitimizing Mueller?  Trump has something Reagan didn’t: Fox.  He also has majorities in both houses of Congress, for now.  Will Mueller turn out to have more conclusive evidence (and time to present it) than Walsh did?  I think yes and who knows.  Three days from now, if the tax bill passes, as seems likely, and Congress and the country get ready for Christmas and New Year’s, the situation becomes more volatile between Mueller and Trump.  I would be very surprised if Trump went away quietly, but I also think Republicans in Congress would much rather have Pence as president.

When Putin calls Trump, does he give direct marching orders?  Or is it more subtle and refined?  What are the safe words?  The safe words that may have been worked out in their hourlong meeting with no US translator or official present, in Europe, a few months ago, that was not disclosed by any US official but by Buzzfeed?  And do they talk every few days?  We have heard more about their phone calls from the Kremlin than from the State Department.  Is Fox News looking into this?  Putin is mighty white, which appeals to some people, but do the patriots who voted for Trump believe that our constitutional republic is in good hands with Putin as Trump’s case officer (as James Clapper said recently, and I don’t trust Clapper a whole lot, but he seems to have assessed Putin-Trump accurately)?  Trump’s “national security strategy,” which he just presented on TV, does call out Russia and China to some extent, but Trump read those sections of the strategy report like a zombie, skipped some parts critical of Russia altogether, and only became animated when he spoke of collaboration with Putin.  Collaboration is not necessarily collusion or criminal conspiracy, but sometimes smelling a whole lot of smoke ought to be enough evidence to flee the crime scene, eh?

Alabama, A Light Unto The Gentiles (Just Not The Way Roy Thought)

The jaded and cynical Nathaniel asked (Gospel of John 1:46) “can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  Jaded and cynical people in 2017 America wondered, can any good thing come out of Alabama?  Sure can!  I was surely apprehensive that Alabama might send Roy Moore to the Senate, but it sent Doug Jones instead, and great credit goes to him for running an excellent campaign.  Last year in Massachusetts, 91 out of the 351 towns and cities in Massachusetts gave more votes to Trump than Clinton.  So maybe Malcolm X was not so off-base when said that if you are south of the Canadian border, you’re South–but thank goodness the elections of 2017 have shown surprising signs of Democratic and progressive renewal all over the United States.  Not in the way that Roy Moore figured, Alabama today has become, so to speak, a light and a witness to the nations (see Isaiah 49:6).  I expect Alabama’s election of Doug Jones will inspire hundreds and maybe thousands of Democrats and progressives to get over the wailing and gnashing of teeth and prepare for political battle in 2018 in all 50 states.  (Or sooner, if Trump manages to fire Mueller and/or the GOP passes their tax cut for corporations and pass-throughs/healthcare sabotage bill.)  The GOP and Trump still have the power, if unified, to initiate giveaways to the robber barons of the 21st century, install horridly unqualified judges, and maybe worse.  But the wind is not at their back right now, and Democrats can and should press their advantages, looking toward next November’s elections.  Trump may tweet “I was right” (but of course) and blame everybody else about what happened last night, but he has suffered multiple political bubble punctures now, and everybody knows it.  Doug Jones said today that Alabama’s issues are the same as the issues across the country, jobs, education, health care–and he is really right.

Breaking News Via Revelation Chapter 9: The Oval Office Is A Bottomless Pit

If you were thinking that the president bottomed out today with his sexual innuendo about Democratic US Senator Gillibrand, think again.  As First Lady Michelle Obama said last year, the presidency does not change who you are, it reveals who you are.  For this president, there is not likely to be any soundable bottom.  We could look more closely at the paradoxical geometry of bottomless pits in a finite universe.  We could ask whether a rock dropped in the Oval Office would ever bounce off the bottom, but why not look instead to the Scriptures.  As the book of Revelation predicted, the president is the “king of the bottomless pit.”  That’s from Revelation chapter 9, “then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit….from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened….then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth….they have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails.  They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit.  His name in Hebrew is Abaddon.”  Or, in Old High German, “Trump.”  At least many people say so.  Also, I regret to report, and even though it may hurt the feelings of those who believe Scripture is without error, the scorpions have been stinging us for more than five months.

Update December 13: USA Today’s editorial today, “Will Trump’s Lows Ever Hit Rock Bottom?” says, shockingly but fairly, that Trump is unfit to clean the toilets of Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes!

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/12/12/trump-lows-ever-hit-rock-bottom-editorials-debates/945947001/

How To Maximize Your ROI: Eat A Meadow Gold Dairy Sign For Breakfast And Spend Your Savings On Booze, Women, And Movies

I hear from inside sources that Senator Charles Grassley is on C-Span 4 right now telling American investors how to maximize their Return On Investment vis-a-vis Booze, Women, and Movies.  And on C-Span 5, Senator Orrin Hatch is introducing a bill to require children over 8 years old to go to work in the coal mines and textile mills before they qualify for CHIP coverage.  Hatch said that he grew up so poor that he lived “in a shack with a Meadow Gold Dairy sign for a wall.”  So what, Senator Orrin?  I was so poor that we had to eat part of the Meadow Gold Dairy sign every morning for breakfast.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/12/04/why-arent-you-paying-the-estate-tax-maybe-because-you-bought-311000-bottles-of-whisky/?utm_term=.c4af24093ace

Trump Fixin’ Up His Hair Real Pretty So He Can Meet Forgotten Men And Women Tonight In Atlantic City

Honey last night I met this guy named Trump and I’m gonna do a little favor for him, OK?  He is doing a victory dance with the donor class today in New York City, but I know he cares a whole lot about us forgotten men and women here in Atlantic City.  I know my Trump will come down to Atlantic City tonight, after he fixes up his hair real pretty.  I know they lie when they say he has debts no honest man can pay.  I know the gamblin’ commission (head man in charge Mitch McConnell down in the Swampland) is holdin’ on by the skin of its teeth, but I know Trump will never leave us on the wrong side of the line (he’s so fine, do-lang, do-lang…).

The 2019 “Medicare For All Act” Can Be Written In Crayon On A Napkin As Far As I Care–Don’t Fixate On Problems With “Process”

If the “enemies list” of people who will be hurt by the Republican tax bill gets mad and “woke” enough to overcome GOP gerrymandering and vote suppression next November, and Democrats regain the majority in Congress, I am fine with Bernie or Jon Tester or Heidi Heitkamp or Claire McCaskill writing “Medicare for all” on a cocktail napkin and having that become the law of the land.  Mitch McConnell’s flouting of “regular order” and the sight of a Senate bill with X-ed out pages and jotted corrections in the margin is abusive and undignified and regrettable and infuriating–but mainly because the substance of the bill is an attack on the social contract between generations.  Fixating on process “violations” won’t win over very many “forgotten men and women” who voted for Obama as well as Trump.  Democrats can and should focus on the bad effects, the bad substance, the uncertainty and insecurity and unwelcome changes the bill imposes on many millions of voters.  Jon Tester’s video was great, but the big story is the heavier burdens being laid on middle-income American voters.  I believe that is the winning message.  Substantive injustice is the big issue, procedural issues are an irritant but a side issue.