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February 27, 2019

Hal Brown blog Late Feb-early Mar. 2019


This blog contains links to my Capitol Hill Blue columns plus selected news items of the day.

Mar. 8-9, 2019 




“You have a rogue President of the United States, and we as a country are actually in serious danger.” — Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey
In April 2017, Trump reportedly ordered Mattis to assassinate Assad and 'kill the fucking lot of them.'
“President Trump continues to consistently tell the American people that NATO allies are bad, and that Putin is OK, which turns truth on its head.” — Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns
“Through your actions [Donald Trump], you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”— Retired Admiral William McRaven, the former commander of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command
The fatal flaw in the 'axis of adults' narrative was the assumption that Trump himself was willing and able to change fundamentally.
“Now the generals are gone, and they are being replaced by ‘yes men’ and ideologues who have no conception of the cost of war or the worth of allies.”— John Nagl, former president of the Center for a New American Security
“Kim Jong Un knows that Trump is the only American president in history who might be willing to put our alliances on the negotiating table. That’s why Kim keeps writing Trump love letters.”— Sue Mi Terry, former senior Korea analyst at the CIA
“The president has shown no learning curve in terms of his willingness to absorb inconvenient truths.”— Paul Pillar, former national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia
“The President of the United States may well be compromised by the Russians, which I truly believe is the case. And he is unfit to serve.”— Former Defense Secretary William Cohen

What did the president know and when did he know it? Trump knew it all, from the beginning Heather Digby Parton in Salon: Donald Trump's defenders have long argued he wasn't aware of the massive corruption. That excuse has blown away.

Every week seems to bring another Trump scandal. There are so many now we're going to have to start numbering them.  Up until now the sheer volume of alleged misdeeds and malfeasance has actually worked in the president's favor. There is so much out there that it's hard to keep the whole picture straight in your mind and that has the weird effect of making things seem less serious than they actually are.

We know that the Trump base and the vast majority of Republican voters still support the president and think it's all nothing but a witch hunt. They are mesmerized by the president and propagandized by Fox News and other right-wing media. But I would imagine that even people who don't like Trump but don't follow all this closely or in much detail wonder whether maybe the whole thing is just a collection of complaints that don't really add up to anything.


That's why it's meaningful when the likes of Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen of Axios, journalists whom the political establishment sees as avatars of acceptable mainstream thinking, decide that it's time to take stock of how many scandals are now being investigated and how wide the scope of the alleged criminality and corruption has become. It's rather sobering. On Thursday they wrote out a partial list, entitling it, "The biggest political scandal in American history."

VandeHei and Allen report that historians tell them there are only two previous scandals that even come close to what we are dealing with now: One is Watergate, and even Americans who weren't alive at the time have heard plenty about that one. The other would be Teapot Dome, a bribery scandal under the manifestly corrupt Warren G. Harding administration in the 1920s.

Mar. 7, 2019
Democrats will request copies of the president's tax returns in a matter of weeks, according to one senior member of the tax committee in the House of Representatives. Federal law says the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee can request any American’s personal tax information from the Treasury Department. Democrats will use that power in about two weeks, according to committee member Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell.  
The helicopter couldn't get him out of there fast
 enough after he was impeached


Mar. 6, 2019 


When a malignant narcissist negotiates with a psychopathic dictator


Rocketman Trump is my blog illustration. I feel free to use rude depictions of Trump here.
I try to be more restrained for the larger readership on Capitol Hill Blue.


REMEMBER, THERE ARE multiple reasons why Trump might cry foul and refuse to concede come 2020, and why he might also believe he could get away with it.

First, there is his personality. Trump is a malignant narcissist who values himself and his own advancement over everyone and everything else. Using and abusing his presidential powers to protect his prestige and position would be “very tempting” for him, to quote professor Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine and editor of the 2017 book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”

“When you have extreme narcissism,” Lee told me on my podcast, “Deconstructed,” last month, “the danger of it is that one can quickly go to resorting to violence and resorting to extreme measures to move away from the possibility of humiliation and to project force.”

Another article, this is from an Australian website owned by Rupert Mudoch:

She says Mr Trump, will always believe he is “Teflon man” because the malignant narcissist personality type always believes that it is the cleverest and is always right.
“Absolutely he thinks he’s cleverer than all of us, that he’s the cleverest leader of all and ultimately this will be revealed and shown,” she says.Equally, the malignant narcissist goes on the attack with critics, and will “lie with ease” and reshape facts to suit themselves — hence, she says, Mr Trump’s term “fake news”, for anything he doesn’t want to hear or which paints him in a less than adoring light.

He believes he’s always right, and anyone who thinks otherwise is out to get him. “Malignant narcissists are dangerous in that they say essentially say “it doesn’t matter what it costs, I’ll get what I want”, she said.
“They can be concerned and empathetic — as long as it benefits them.”

She says Mr. Trump has his eye firmly on the next election.


Third: "Something is seriously wrong with Donald Trump: Let's stop kidding ourselves about that" by Bob Cesca, Salon

Whether it was genuine madness or all an act, Donald Trump's CPAC creepshow was evidence of profound crisis.

TWO EXCERPTS: If you’ve only watched the clips and highlights from Donald Trump’s CPAC speech last Saturday, you’re not getting the full picture of the explosive horror show that is the worsening status of the president’s mental health. For reasons that defy comprehension, I decided to watch the whole thing live. At the outset, I tweeted that given the Michael Cohen testimony in the immediate rear-view mirror, Trump’s CPAC speech was going to be “next level crazy.” In hindsight, I feel like I low-balled it.....
Before we continue, I’d like to emphasize that I’m not a mental health professional, nor am I an expert in the pharmacological effects of cognitive enhancers like Adderall or Provigil to make a judgment call on the specifics of what’s wrong with the president. However, I can say with confidence that something’s extraordinarily wrong with him, and it’s only getting more dangerous for the nation and by extension the world as time advances.==========

The normalization of Trump's unpredictable, spasmodic presidency, as well as the fact that so many of us don’t have the stomach to tolerate two-plus hours of watching him, are perhaps the only reasons why more Americans aren’t gathered as we speak, devising how best to legally remove him from office. For what it’s worth, I propose here and now that this conversation must begin in earnest.....
Trump’s obvious mental instability and emotionally erratic behavior has reached a harrowing new depth.
They need to be addressed by our political leadership with the same urgency as the myriad investigations into his crimes. This has to begin now before it’s too late. He will clearly do and say whatever it takes to secure his status, and it’s the presidency alone that’s keeping him out of federal prison. He’s at least competent enough to understand this, and he might be crazy enough to do anything to avoid accountability.

We’re in new territory. There is no road map, and what we do now will determine whether Trump is the last Trump, or possibly the first of many Trumps along the not-so-lengthy journey into a permanent form of lunatic authoritarianism. It’s time to take his madness seriously now before he levels-up again.

Psychiatrist on Trump: "The president deserves medical standard of care, and he is not getting it" Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee examines President Donald Trump’s recent outbursts.

A member of the public asked, “When Donald Trump wrapped his arms around the flag, it evoked Lennie from Of Mice and Men squeezing the mouse until it’s dead. Is the president going to destroy our country?”

I didn’t tell her this, but my answer would have been that he is well on the way, as long as we let him. How are we letting him? By colluding on the most basic point: by telling ourselves that the mental unwellness we see is not what we are seeing. Allowing him to give as long a speech as he did, allowing him to continue on Twitter, allowing him to remain in his position, and allowing his staff to turn over so that he has no one left but those who enable his illness—all this is the opposite of the proper treatment that he needs. Containment and removal from access to weapons, urgent evaluation, and then the least restrictive means of management based on the evaluation, is the medical standard of care.

Even the president deserves medical standard of care, and he is not getting it. The natural course of disease is that it will engulf the afflicted persons and lead them to destruction, if left without resistance

Trump might be well advised to worry about this possible legal trouble because the Dept. of Justice has nothing to do with it.


Updated story with a new more ominous background image:


Lawrence O'Donnell had a segment tonight about Trump at CPAC,
and read parts of "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. He
understand that Trump is a dangerous malignant narcissist and
has interviewed John Gartner, Bandy Lee, and Lance Dodes,
all prominent mental health professionals who agree that
Trump's behavior is of grave concern from a psychological
perspective. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
EXCERPT: Furthermore, assessing Trump’s psychology requires little speculation as we have available to us a life-long history of personal, romantic, business, and political relationships. With the exception of some of his predatory and criminal behavior, he has led his entire life in public. We know what he says and how he says it. Through his own words Trump has even let us in on what provokes him to act – primarily vengeance, vainglory, lust, greed, and an obsession with domination. It has been on this public stage, not behind closed doors, where we have witnessed him reward anyone who flatters him and punish those who fail to do so. His daily Twitter tantrums have constituted a kind of ongoing characterological EEG reading, as if the vicissitudes of his personality disorder produced brain waves that could be converted into a text form readable by all.

To discuss and explore his obvious psychopathology – a malignant narcissism and psychopathy that threatens us all – is not to adopt the Soviet-style use of psychiatric diagnosis in the service of political repression. Rather, as I will argue, it is understanding that can be put to emancipatory purposes. This is because knowing his psychology is central to the project of resisting his policies, and to the task of understanding his appeal to a significant plurality of Americans. If the central thesis of this essay is correct, that Trump’s pathology is isomorphic with his brand, then what may look to some of us as signs and symptoms of profound impairment is precisely what makes him the object of near delirious veneration on the part of his base. As he well understands, to them he can do no wrong. Or, rather, every wrong he commits is righteous.

From:

Excerpt: One of President Donald Trump’s former White House lawyers said this week that special counsel Robert Mueller is an "American hero" and that the probe he is leading is not a "witch hunt," rejecting the president's repeated characterizations of the Russia investigation and the man leading it.

In an interview on ABC News’ “The Investigation” podcast published Tuesday, Ty Cobb disputed many of the president’s complaints about Mueller and his team, chiefly that Mueller’s examination of the 2016 presidential election and Trump’s possible obstruction of justice was a "witch hunt.".

“I don’t feel the investigation is a witch hunt,” Cobb said, adding he wished the investigation “had happened on a quicker time frame,” while acknowledging the pace was not Mueller’s fault.

Cobb, who joined the White House months after Mueller was appointed special counsel in 2017 and left in May, had nothing but praise for the former FBI director who Trump derides on a regular basis. 

Citing Mueller’s status as a decorated Vietnam War veteran, Cobb called Mueller a friend who is “an American hero” with a “backbone of steel.” The former White House lawyer said he has known Mueller for three decades.


“I think the world of Bob Mueller,” he said, adding that he believed Mueller to be a “very justice-oriented person.”

Mar. 4, 2019

Monday Night Unfunny Funnies


I don't need a fact checker to tell when Trump is lying. All I need to do is see the creature sitting coiled behind the Resolute desk for who he is.


Yesterday's column: "Trump’s CPAC rant: Cornucopia for psychiatric diagnosis" by Hal Brown, MSW

Today's Column not on CHB yet:

..........
..........
The book tour Trump should fear is Chris Christie'sA book tour is one of the best ways to grab public attention and no doubt Christie will be making news just as Andrew McCabe did when he was promoting his book what seems like an eternity ago. He's already getting headlines talking about how he thinks Trump should be more worried about the investigations in the Southern District of New York (now well known as the SDNY) than the Mueller investigation because the former has no limit on the scope of their investigation.


I watched Chris Christie on "Morning Joe" as he began his book tour for "Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics." Crooks and Liars calls this his redemption tour in "Zombie Chris Christie Rises Yet Again To Pat Himself On The Back."

The problem with this is that it hardly matters whether Christie lied about Bridgegate if he's positioning himself to run against Trump in the primary. Why should it matter to Republicans that a lying liar who lied about something now of little consequence who is running against an incumbent who at last count has made over 9,000 false or misleading claims to date including over 100 in has CPAC rant.

Following the first part of Michael Cohen’s public hearing before the House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speculated that President Donald Trump is “sitting in Vietnam right now fuming that no one’s defending him.” 
“There hasn’t been one Republican yet who has tried to defend the president on the substance, and I think that’s something that should be concerning to the White House,” Christie commented. 
“Why are no Republicans standing up and defending the president on the substance?” the former Trump transition official asked. “That’s either a failure of those Republicans on the Hill, or a failure of the White House to have a unified strategy with them. They knew this was coming with Michael Cohen.” 
Christie continued: “And so I think it’s going to, as the day goes on, it’s going to get tired of hearing the attacks on Cohen’s credibility. He’s not a credible witness, but he does have corroboration on certain things. Where is the defense of the president?
What a book tour does in addition to selling more books is to provide a politician a brief, but an incredible platform, for airing their views. It is invaluable for anyone who is considering running for office.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says President Trump should be more worried about the prosecutors in New York than those working on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, saying the Southern District of New York now has a “tour guide” in former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. 
“Bob Mueller, I've said for nine months, is not the person to worry about. The person to worry about, the people to worry about, are the prosecutors in Manhattan,” Christie said on Fox News’ "Todd Starnes Radio Show" on Friday as he promotes his new book, “Let Me Finish.”
This is the image I am using on the story. The caricature
 is by DonkeyHotey who makes them for free, and the photoshop is mine.
One thing Christie has going for him is that he makes for good television. He is figuratively and literally an oversized personality. He's a narcissist but not a malignant narcissist. He's a bully but not a sociopath. He's a critical thinker rather than a student whose college professor said he was the dumbest Goddamn student he ever had. He's articulate not someone who lapses into speaking in word salad when he isn't reading a script. He's a moderate Republican, not beholden to the extreme far right. He's an experienced politician, not a rank amateur. 

He's like Donald Trump minus the mental illness, ignorance, and craven pandering to the far right.

I am convinced Christie wants to be president.
....................
Addendum: Six mean things Trump said about Christie in 2016.



Fox News Spiked Stormy Daniels Story Before Election: Report

Mayer’s juiciest bit (in her New Yorker story) may just be one that Fox News passed on. “Diana Falzone, who often covered the entertainment industry, had obtained proof that Trump had engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006 with a pornographic film actress calling herself Stormy Daniels,” Mayer writes. She says Falzone had even confirmed it with Daniels through Gina Rodriguez, Daniels’ manager at the time and with Daniels’ former husband, Mike Moz, who she says “described multiple calls from Trump.” “Falzone had also amassed emails between Daniels’ attorney and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, detailing a proposed cash settlement, accompanied by a nondisclosure agreement. Falzone had even seen the contract,” Mayer writes. CNN has previously reported that Falzone’s story was squashed by Fox.

Mayer writes that Rupert Murdoch has “cultivated heads of state in Australia and Great Britain” and she was told that “he’s always wanted to have a relationship with a president—he’s a businessman and he sees benefits of having a chief of state doing your bidding.” 

Trump has a loyalty scale for Fox News hosts
The longtime co-host of the rotten morning program “Fox & Friends” is among the network anchors who have been graded by Trump on loyalty. The news comes from a fresh story by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer:
Trump has told confidants that he has ranked the loyalty of many reporters, on a scale of 1 to 10. Bret Baier, Fox News’ chief political anchor, is a 6; Hannity a solid 10. Steve Doocy, the co-host of “Fox & Friends,” is so adoring that Trump gives him a 12.

How does a “Fox & Friends” star secure such extra credit? Well, by surrendering all independent thinking for years and years and years.

How Giuliani Might Take Down Trump



Photoshop therapy
Click image above to enlarge

Warner: ‘Enormous amounts of evidence’ of possible Russia collusion

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday lawmakers have found "enormous amounts of evidence" into potential collusion between the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and the Russians during the 2016 election. Mark Warner of Virginia made his remarks in response to an assertion that there is "no factual evidence of collusion" from the Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who is chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

...................

Trump walked out at CPAC and hugged the flag, for a second he rocked it back and forth, I could say as if humping it but that would be rude. That and the bulls*it comment are making worldwide headlines. What must foreigners think of us? 
As a clinician, I saw numerous signs of his deteriorating mental condition and this is just from the clips I watched. I can't stand to watch the entire two hours. 

Knowing he won't ever get the Nobel Prize maybe he wants to get himself on Mt. Rushmore. I made two images to go with this. I put one of Twitter.


Click above for link, if you are on Twitter you can write comments to tweets.
Watch video here.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Sunday that he plans to request documents from more than 60 people and organizations connected to President Trump as part of an inquiry that could eventually lead to his impeachment.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said on ABC News’s “This Week” that the targets include the president’s son Donald Trump Jr.; Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization; and the Justice Department.
The materials, the congressman said, would be used “to begin investigations to present the case to the American people about obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power.”
“Impeachment is a long way down the road. We don’t have the facts yet. But we’re going to initiate proper investigations,” he said..................
................. “This investigation goes far beyond collusion. We’ve seen all the democratic norms that we depend on for democratic government attacked by the administration,” Nadler said Sunday, pointing to Trump’s attacks on the press, intelligence agencies and federal law enforcement. “All of these are very corrosive to liberty and to the proper functioning of government and to our constitutional system. All this has to be looked at and the facts laid out to the American people.”

I gave up posting on Daily Kos (after over 600 articles) mainly because Capitol Hill Blue gave me a more serious platform, but also because compared to any other progressive political websites even with their high readership I find them useless. Their editors have almost no grasp of psychology and disallowed some of my posts about Trump. At least they came around with this, now unfindable on their main page, but fortunately reposted on Alternet. Alternet is distinguishing itself by publishing articles about Trump's psychopathology and links to articles from other websites, notably the interviews by Chauncey DeVega on Salon with  John D Gartner, Lance Dodes, and Bandy Lee. Here's their republished story from Daily Kos today. It will assure much higher readership.

The mainstream media is finally recognizing Trump for what he is: A sociopath

..........


“If Trump was more sophisticated and had the ability to think long term, he would have anticipated that Cohen might have become a problem if he didn’t hold him close,” O’Brien told me. But Trump isn’t a long-term thinker.
“He’s never had to deal with the people he has face-planted coming back to haunt him — ever. He’s been doing this to people for decades,” O’Brien said. The difference now? “He never had law enforcement turning people on him and essentially weaponizing them against him.”
D’Antonio agreed that “the president made the mistake of disrespecting Cohen because he believed he had purchased Michael and that he would stay bought. When the underdog turns and bites hard, the overdog is always surprised.”

Mar. 2, 2019
Click image to enlarge
.
This is a photoshop I made from a picture of Cleavon Little in
"Blazing Saddles" which I changed from the one I first posted
 to avoid copyright infringement. The sky is an image I added myself.
I am learning to use a new photoshopping image manipulation product called InPixio. Here's how I made the Blazing Saddles tribute image.
The Hill breaks down the public Cohen hearing from smallest to biggest surprise, the most cringe-worthy moment, the sassiest remark from Cohen, and more:

Maybe the truth, the whole truth — and a whole lot more, too — from Michael Cohen


                 



From: The Revenge of Rod Rosenstein: These are all examples of why fighting a hundred duck-sized horses is easier but can take more time. Trump will be answering questions and subpoenas on these allegations for the next two years. It is unlikely to be lethal, absent false statements or obstructions, but it is likely to exhaust him and his presidency. His mounting troubles are likely to rekindle his anger at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who will leave the Justice Department in coming weeks. It was Rosenstein who ordered the referral of the Cohen criminal case to the Southern District of New York.
At the time, I wrote that the move made more strategic than legal sense. It made little sense for Mueller to pursue Manafort on unrelated fraud and other crimes but then to send similar claims against Cohen to New York. If anything, Cohen is linked more closely to Trump, as recently shown. Yet, in doing so, Rosenstein has insured that any forced closure of the special counsel investigation would not end all investigations. In other words, if the horse-sized duck toppled in Washington, a stampede of duck-sized horses was coming from New York. Now we will see which one is worse.
Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. 

File under Sick Quotes: “The incredible thing about the homosexuals is they are willing to destroy lives and destroy the whole fabric of society so long as they and their weird way of doing sex is legitimized,” said Pat Robertson, in a segment first reported by Right Wing Watch. “That’s what they want and they will take away everything; they will destroy marriage, they will destroy families, they will destroy, in this case, the foster children. They are willing to tear down the entire edifice in order to have the majority of people recognize the way they do sex.”

Oregon becomes the first state with mandatory rent control - Think Progress


Mar. 1, 2019

Just saying: "Why is everybody looking so happy" thinks the befuddled president. Read story to find out why.


Malignant narcissist: By now I expect Trump thinks he came out a winner at the Hanoi summit what with his (sick, sick, disjointed rambling) tweet:" I never like being misinterpreted, but especially when it comes to Otto Warmbier and his great family. Remember, I got Otto out along with three others. The previous Administration did nothing, and he was taken on their watch. Of course I hold North Korea responsible ........ for Otto’s mistreatment and death. Most important, Otto Warmbier will not have died in vain. Otto and his family have become a tremendous symbol of strong passion and strength, which will last for many years into the future. I love Otto and think of him often!" Like, really, he loves Otto and thinks of him often!!! Tell that to his parents face to face instead of in a tweet. There's a double lie. Trump loves is a two-word oxymoron.

‘Trump is a sociopath’: Harvard psychiatrist breaks down the president’s ‘severe, continuous, mental disturbance’ Harvard psychiatrist Lance Dodes


There are two major risks from Mr. Trump.
First, there is a serious risk that he will start a war to distract the country from his multiple failures and his attempts to become a one-man ruler. This is most likely to occur as he is stressed by challenges to his position as President. Other tyrants have plunged their nations into war, sometimes by creating an international incident as an excuse, to avoid internal disputes and solidify power.
Second, there is a serious risk of his destroying democracy in this country. He has already eroded it by attacking the principle of balance of powers, attacking the judicial system and the Congress, attempting to gather all power to himself. He has tried to destroy our free press by claiming that its criticisms of him are “fake news” and that a free press is the enemy of the people. These are well-known tactics of would-be tyrants, and are signs of sociopathy with his single-minded concern for himself and absence of conscience or concern for the feelings or lives of anyone else.

To reconstruct life at the National Security Council during the early Trump presidency, POLITICO spoke with about three dozen current and former government officials.
This guy isn't just a racist and birther, but he was afraid
Sharia Law would take over the U.K. and the U.S.and
that Hezbollah was everywhere including his home state.

This is a long, detailed article. Here are a few excerpts:

(White House Security Advisor Susan) Rice said the NSC staffers should give Trump a chance, that he and his team deserved the benefit of the doubt. Their duty was to the country, she reminded them, and they should do whatever it took to help America — and Trump — succeed.

What Rice didn’t — couldn’t — tell these government employees was that the dawn of the Trump administration would be a time of extraordinary personal and professional torment for them; that they’d be asked to make ethically, and legally, dubious decisions while ignoring facts and evidence on basic issues to fit the president’s whims; that they would be vilified as “Obama holdovers” and treated like an enemy within, to the point where some of their lives were threatened; that they’d grow so paranoid they would seek “safe spaces” to speak to each other, use encrypted apps to talk to their mothers, and go on documentation sprees to protect themselves and inform history; that at least one career staffer would cry on the way home from work every night; and that another would call Trump a “dumpster fire” in a farewell message.

When NSC employees today recall the events, they use words like “crazy,” “nausea” and “fear.” Some liken the experience to surviving a traumatic event.

*Now, two years into Trump’s tenure, current and former U.S. officials say they are worried about the long-term damage his administration is still doing to the way such critical decisions are made — with dangerous consequences that are not always easy to perceive. They worry Trump’s presidency has poisoned the relationship between career government staffers and political appointees, threatening the ability of a future president to make decisions based on nonpartisan expertise.

Career staffers at the time knew, of course, that Trump came to the presidency having never served in government. But the president’s unwillingness to delve deep meant tough decisions often were delayed as people were forced to adjust.

“All of us were like, ‘We have no idea where the fuck this is coming from,’” one former NSC staffer said. “If I had to guess, I now wonder if Flynn and his people wanted to buy time. It may have been lengthy staff work, but it wasn’t shoddy staff work.” Perhaps more than anything, the executive orders Trump issued, or tried to issue, in his first week illustrated the disorder.

The mood was especially tough for women and minorities. For the most part, the Trump political appointees were white men, a disproportionate number with military backgrounds. It was a sea change from the Obama years, where many women and minorities held key NSC positions. A Muslim staffer found the atmosphere so unbearable, she quit after eight days. A former White House official said it seemed like all the female Trump appointees wore skirts or dresses, so she started doing the same thing. Another woman, a then-NSC career staffer, said many Trump appointees would assume she was a notetaker or a secretary. One day, she was walking down a hall, and there was a woman walking in front of her. A man walking toward them glanced at the woman in front and said, “Well, look at that national treasure.”


The political appointees’ distrust of the career staffers led the latter to take steps they never could have imagined under previous presidents.

Because the policy process was largely broken, officials sought ways to quietly share information with colleagues in other agencies and among themselves just so that the relevant officials would know what was happening. 

The former staffers insist they were right to be paranoid. There were rumors that political appointees had launched an “insider threat” program complete with phone surveillance to ferret out leakers and other allegedly disloyal members of a “deep state.” There also were reports of blacklists of career staffers whom political appointees wanted to fire. Career staffers grew antsy about whether their cellphones were being used to spy on them; some left the devices at home.

Summing Up

Among NSC watchers, there’s a sense of relief that no major national security crisis occurred during those first several hectic weeks. The question now, many say, is whether America's foreign policy machine under Bolton is functional enough to handle a major surprise.

“If you don’t have process, then when a crisis happens you’re not going to be able to pull the right people together for a coherent response,” said Ivo Daalder, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO who now leads the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “And in this administration, all the crises that we’ve had so far have been self-inflicted. We haven’t had one from the outside.”



Feb. 28, 2019
Here's my live blog of the Cohen hearing. As I sat alone it was a conversation with imaginary friends.

Click to enlarge
My tweet: We tried to exercise our about . With his eye only on the prize, said to have ignored his advisors. He thinks he can best Kim with the sheer force of his superstar magnetism. He just made the world even more dangerous.
Click to enlarge
Some interesting background about Michael Cohen (Wikipedia
Cohen grew up in the town of Lawrence on Long Island, New York. His mother was a nurse, and his father, who survived the Holocaust, was a surgeon. Cohen is Jewish. He attended Lawrence Woodmere Academy and received his BA from American University in 1988 and his JD  from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1991. 

(Ed. Note: Cooley is a commuter law school located in a building in downtown Lansing, Michgan. The best known graduate until now was former Michigan Gov. John Engler and recently interim Michigan State Universty president who was recently forced to resign because of the sexual abuse scandal. Cooley is ranked at the bottom of the list of American law schools and as the lowest standards for admission. However, many lawyers in mid-Michigan went there including a good friend of mine who is an excellent chief assistant prosecuter.)

Cohen married Ukraine-born Laura Shusterman in 1994. Laura Shusterman's father, Fima Shusterman, left Soviet Ukraine for New York in 1975. Cohen has a daughter, Samantha, and a son, Jake. Cohen's wife, according to The Wall Street Journal, is implicated in potential criminal activity, and Cohen's father-in-law was the person who introduced him to Trump according to a Trump biographer.  

Cohen's uncle is a doctor who treated members of the Lucchese crime family. The uncle owned "El Caribe Country Club", known to be frequented by individuals associated with the Russian mafiaEvsei AgronMarat Balagula, and Boris Nayfeld. 

Before joining the Trump Organization, Cohen had purchased several homes in Trump's buildings. A 2017 New York Times article reported that Cohen is known for having "a penchant for luxury"; he was married at The Pierre, drove a Porsche while attending college, and once owned a Bentley.

After denying racism, videos of Meadows vowing to send Obama 'home to Kenya' resurface On Wednesday evening, the 2012 videos started to gain steam on social media.

"2012 is the time we're going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is," Meadows said at a June 9, 2012 rally. "We're going to do it!" Three days later, he made a similar remark at a tea party event.


The New Lines Of Investigation Michael Cohen’s Testimony Opens Up For Congress



Excerpt: With any other president or public figure, foul, racist language or further evidence of lying and cheating would be its own headline. At this stage, I just want to know whether President Trump is a criminal.
Democrats deftly avoided the impeachment question throughout 2018. But Wednesday’s dramatic public testimony by lawyer, fixer and felon Michael Cohen makes avoiding impeachment much more complicated. And while more noise is coming from the left flank, this is not a left-flank dilemma. It’s about the Constitution and the rule of law.
Thus far, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has quelled impeachment chatter within her caucus, mostly by telling her colleagues to “wait for the Mueller report.” After all, the Russia interference investigation is a lot for Americans to absorb — the intrigue, the technology, the Russian names — a 21st-century spy thriller. On the other hand, cheating on your taxes and your wife, and lying to win an election is like something out of a 1970s soap opera. You don’t need to pay attention to every episode to get the gist of this story.
The problem with the “wait for the Mueller report” logic is that so much of what has been alleged against the president is being investigated outside of the Mueller investigation — in federal and state courts, with state attorneys general and investigative reporters, and now in Congress. As the emoluments case from state attorneys general moves forward, as it’s poised to do, we may have another set of legal issues on our hands. You have the New York state attorney general, and you have the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The Mueller report is just another stop along the road.
But now, with Cohen’s testimony, it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to stave off the impeachment discussion in Congress.
=================

The mob analogy got a whole lot stronger

Rubin lists examples from the hearing and writes:
…you might be a fan of mob movies. In Cohen’s telling, Trump sits atop a kind of crime factory mowing down red lines daily, operating above and beyond the law to enrich its top boss and depending on the ultimate loyalty of underlings. Reporters have often commented that Trump publicly speaks in language a crime boss would use (e.g., deploring “flipping”). That may not be a coincidence. Trump’s self-image and organization are very much styled after a Hollywood movie portrayal of a gangster and his crime family.
As in the movies, the organization breaks down when someone becomes a “rat,” a cooperating witness. You have to find someone deep in the organization to provide insight into the day-to-day operation, to break the code, as Cohen said. These people are criminals, which is why they have access to even bigger criminals. Saying Cohen is a convicted perjurer is like saying Sammy “The Bull” Gravano was a felon. Well, duh. How else were the feds going to catch up to John Gotti and dozens of other mobsters?

George Conway Torches ‘Sociopath’ Donald Trump In Fiery Cohen Hearing Tweetstorm - I nominate him as an honorary member of Duty to Warn

Click image to enlarge


===========

Inside Schumer’s plot to win the Senate


Some of the possible Senate candidates like Montana Gov. Steve Bullock are more interested in running for president. I hope they reconsider and do what is right for the party, and thus the country. HB

Feb. 27, 2019
My image Click above for story
Feb. 26, 2019
Breaking news:
Click above to read comments on Twitter

Update 02/26/19 7PM EST

“A bad deal for the United States”: top South Korean official , Moon Chung-in, a special adviser for foreign affairs and national security to South Korea’s president slams proposed Trump-Kim pact – VOX

proposed agreement for President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to sign during their Vietnam summit this week “is a bad deal for the United States.”
That’s not the view of a cynical expert, or a Democrat. It’s the view of a top national security adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

For one of his (S. Korean Pres. Moon Jae-in) top advisers to trash the proposed agreement is more than surprising, because it could drive a major wedge between US negotiators and their South Korean counterparts. That matters for the North Korea talks as the South Koreans have proven to be important conduits in certain diplomatic moments.

Still, a top adviser of a critical ally in the US-North Korea talks just trashed the general outline of what Trump and Kim may sign in two days. And if South Korea isn’t happy, it’s possible Trump’s negotiators may have to scramble to either satisfy their ally or change the proposed deal altogether. 
The original image is below
I made this and put it on before Russian Foreign
Minister Lavrov showed up in Hanoi and I had to
update the column.
“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.”

 “It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.”
 
― Viktor Emil Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

 click to enlarge images


Click images to enlarge (learning to use my new photo editing software)

New: Why not to waste your time watching CNN why to stick with MSNBC or PBS

Science and Nature

TRUMP SPEAKS AT FOURTH-GRADE LEVEL, LOWEST OF LAST 15 U.S. PRESIDENTS, NEW ANALYSIS FINDS -NEWSWEEK

President Donald Trump—who boasted over the weekend that his success in life was a result of “being, like, really smart”—communicates at the lowest grade level of the last 15 presidents, according to a new analysis of the speech patterns of presidents going back to Herbert Hoover.
The analysis assessed the first 30,000 words each president spoke in office, and ranked them on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scale and more than two dozen other common tests analyzing English-language difficulty levels. Trump clocked in around mid-fourth grade, the worst since Harry Truman, who spoke at nearly a sixth-grade level.
At the top of the list were Hoover and Jimmy Carter, who were basically at an 11th-grade level, and President Barack Obama, in third place with a high ninth-grade level of communicating with the American people.

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER BOTTOM - DAILY BEAST

We Have Finally Normalized Trumpism

This is the sad state of conservatism in the Trump era: You can either have your dignity but no influence or relevance, or you can keep your dignity and hit the pavement.

Donald Trump has signaled to his inner circle that even he knows Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishing his investigation will be a new beginning, not a dramatic end, for Trumpworld’s eclectic legal hellscape.

The president made clear to his outside legal team, which includes Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, that he didn’t want his lawyers going anywhere—even after the Mueller probe ends. The conversations served as a private admission that federal investigations bedeviling his first term in office will be haunting him for possibly years to come.

The president broached the topic of keeping his team together starting late last year, according to two sources familiar with the exchanges, by discussing other legal woes he might face after the Special Counsel’s Office submits its report to the Department of Justice.


A little bit of Dana Milbank from Trump is the best thing since sliced bread. And he invented sliced bread! on Trump planning July Fourth celebration.

  • “We will be having one of the biggest meteorological phenomena in the history of Washington, D.C., at 6:45 am tomorrow. It will be called ‘Sunrise.’ ”
  • By reelection time, he will have given Americans indoor plumbing, ice cream and Christmas.
  • He gave himself props for the “safest year on record” in aviation in 2017, even though no U.S. airline had had a fatality since 2009. And he claimed credit for inventing the 19th-century economic phrase “prime the pump.” This would appear to be a pure example of “fake news” — a phrase for which Trump has also awarded himself authorship.
  • “How about the word ‘caravan?’ ” he said at a rally last week. “ ‘Caravan.’ I think that was one of mine.” The Post’s JM Rieger, who traced the origin of “caravan” to 1588, observed that Trump has also awarded himself credit for, among other things, a veterans’ health-care law enacted in 2014.
  • And as Congress blocked his border wall, Trump claimed credit for segments of wall built years ago. “A lot of the wall is built,” he announced.
  • And that wall is the greatest thing since sliced bread — which, it so happens, Trump also invented.




































































































































































































Trump's inner circle might escape Mueller charges — but still won’t be safe


Several sources close to Trump’s White House say the real threat is not Mueller’s examination of potential collusion between Trump associates and Russia in the 2016 campaign.

Instead, they fret that people around the president could get indicted for misleading lawmakers — one of the key charges that Mueller recently lodged against longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr told CBS earlier this month that his panel during the course of its two-year Russia investigation had “not been shy” in referring people to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. The House Intelligence Committee recently voted to send more than 50 of its transcripts to Mueller.

“These guys took the whole Congress thing way too lightly. They didn’t understand [members and aides] actually listen, take notes and record this shit,” said a senior Republican official in regular touch with the White House. “I think they all took it way too nonchalantly and didn’t think it matters — and boy does it.”

“If you lie in a sworn deposition to Congress or anybody else then you should be worried. That’s how people go to jail,” added Barry Bennett, a former Trump 2016 campaign adviser.



Feb. 25, 2019
Link to story above
I don't write the titles for my columns, the editor does. This is standard practice in newspapers and online. Doug Thompson, CHB editor and publisher is an old newspaper pro so he writes headlines far better than I do. HUFFPOST consistently has some of the best front page titles. Generally, the title on the main HUFFPOST page is different than the title on the story as is the case in the "Grab 'em pres accused again" story. As far as print newspapers the NY Daily News is the best for front pages. Here are their Donald Trump front pages.


More about the woman now suing the president who says Trump forcibly kissed her.


These quotes are in a Forbes article about Roger Stone, but apply to Trump as well:

Gaslighters/narcissists are some of the most predictable people, especially when they perceive they've been wronged.  Roger Stone posted an Instagram photo of Judge Amy Berman Jackson next to an image of crosshairs.What's one of the most effective ways to handle a gaslighter/narcissist? After Stone's Instagram post, Judge Jackson ordered Stone to not speak publicly or write about the investigation or case against him.....

 Why is this type of punishment so effective for a gaslighter/narcissist?  Because gaslighters/narcissists live off attention.  They find power in whipping people into a frenzy, particularly after posting something provocative on social media.  Never before has a gaslighter/narcissist been able to transmit a message of perceived persecution or accusations so quickly. For example, look at the frenzy President Trump causes every time he posts on Twitter. Trump's tweets are so effective at riling people up and distracting them that they are helping Twitter's bottom line.


Gaslighters/narcissists know exactly what they are doing when they post incendiary comments and photos on social media. 


Rod Rosenstein drops mysterious hints about the possible release of a Mueller report