The Madman and the Turks

It's definitely new to be living in a country led by someone who is, at the very least, quickly deteriorating mentally. Hell, at least Ronald Reagan had the sense to let others do his job when his faculties were fading. But that's the kindest reading of President Donald Trump. More likely, Trump is someone who has never had whatever part of the brain allows for empathy and human decency, and the vicissitudes of time, as well as the weight of decades of extravagant criminality and the exertion of keeping all of that hidden, not to mention being, you know, president, have worn out any stability that remained. For lack of an elegant phrase, he's a fucking madman.

This madness was clearly on display today in his dealing with Turkey's attacks on the Kurds in Syria, something that is happening because Trump is removing all U.S. troops whose presence was protecting our allies in fighting ISIS terrorists in the region. Indeed, when Trump says, "We defeated 100% of the ISIS caliphate," what he's really saying is that Syrian Kurds fought hard against ISIS, losing 11,000 soldiers in the battle, with some support from the United States (and, no, 100% has not been defeated).  Because Trump is a madman, listening to the demonstrably evil Stephen Miller, he gave another madman, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is a savage dictator, the go-ahead to mass murder the Syrian Kurds. This shit is complicated. Read up on it yourself.

But, bottom line, we dicked over an ally and we are already responsible for hundreds of deaths of civilians and soldiers, likely to be in the thousands soon, and we undermined everything our military had done for the last five years in the region. In fact, in hasty retreat, we're bombing our own outposts so that the weapons there don't get used by the Kurds or the Turks (they're both using arms we sold them, so, hey, capitalism).

At another of his press meets of the damned, this time with the president of Italy getting to sit awkwardly while the president of the United States went full Mussolini, Trump shit all over the Kurds. And it may as well have been literal shitting. He may as well have walked over to a giant map of Syria and squeezed out a turd over the northeastern section and said, "Yeah, that's what I mean."

Because, see, he really did say, "The Kurds are much safer right now, but the Kurds know how to fight.  And, as I said, they’re not angels.  They’re not angels, if you take a look.  You have to go back and take a look.  But they fought with us.  We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us, and that’s okay.  They did well when they fought with us; they didn’t do so well when they didn’t fight with us." Everything is transactional with Trump because he's just a chintzy, cheap, cheating motherfucker who stiffs people on the bill. He thinks that what he did was "strategically brilliant" because he believes he saved a few bucks. The dumb son of a bitch might just get us dragged into a war with Turkey, Syria, and Russia, but, hey, his idiot hordes think he's wise as fuck and that's all that matters.

Shit got even dumber with the letter that Trump really sent to Erdogan to convince the mad, cruel dictator to stop killing people. Trump really said, "I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy -- and I will." He really said that history "will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen." He really said, "Don't be a tough guy." He really said, "Don't be a fool!" He really used exclamation points. He really talked about making a deal, like he was creating material for another of his shitty books. Our goddamn president wrote the equivalent of an old shut-in's letter to the editor about how those darn teenagers ride around with their music too loud.

It would be embarrassing, like everything else in this stupid time we're condemned to live through, except that there are lives in the balance. Hundreds of thousands of lives. The Kurdish defense force, the 60,000 troops that the U.S. trained, has already crumbled. The Kurds have been forced to ally with Bashar al-Assad's Syrian military for protection, which will likely expand the conflict and give Assad a region he had more or less lost.  And Turkey is telling the United States to go fuck itself with its call for a cease fire.

Republicans have already allowed Trump to defy Congress on subpoenas and other matters. Even if the GOP got on board with more than just words in opposition to Trump on this, they've already given Trump the ability to say, "Nah. Fuck you. I'm just gonna do what I want and call it brilliant." Like every madman in history.

(Note: Yeah, ISIS exists only because of the disastrous U.S. invasion of Iraq. And, yes, regime change is a bullshit goal. You are very smart to say that. Pat yourself on your righteous back. But that's not what's going on in this situation. This is about allowing a slaughter of people who did everything we asked of them to try to stop a Frankenstein monster of our creation. You can oppose war and oppose a massacre. In fact, you're an asshole if you can't do both. Some of us have been consistent when it comes to genocide and ethnic cleansing, which this isn't yet, but could be. In other words, comparing a belief in preventing the slaughter of the Kurds to support for the war in Iraq is dumb and you are dumb if you think that.)


Random Observations on Two Nights of Trump Batshittery

1. At his campaign rallies of the damned the last two nights, in Minneapolis on Thursday and in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Friday, President Donald Trump repeated one word like it was a tic or, more likely, the result of having the vocabulary of an Adderall-popping 8-year-old. That word? "Great." Like when he was blowing Fox "news":
- "What a great group, Ainsley and Steve, and by the way, Brian has gotten a lot better, right? Brian was a seven and he's getting close to ten territories, and Steve has been so great, and Ainsley is just incredible."

And then immediately:
- "There's some really great people, and again, Tucker has been very good. I have to say he's been very good. Smart, he's been great, Tucker. And the legendary Sean Hannity, great, number one, number one show."

And in a fucked-up story about dead soldiers coming back (which morphed into one of his "sir" stories of lies):
- "I said, 'How are you doing?' 'We're fine, sir. We're fine. We're really good.' I say, 'That's great' and I'll tell the Colonel and say, 'Colonel, I think you're doing great.' 'No, sir. They're not going to do great, you'll see...'"

Seriously, like 50 times per speech, at least, he said something was "great," as in "very good" or "very large," sometimes repeatedly:
- "They're just very, very devastated but these are great, great people."

All that was just a small sample in Minneapolis. In Lake Charles? Here he is fluffing a pair of frauds who wrote shit books that say Trump is innocent of everything except being awesome:
- "A man like Greg Jarrett, great guy. He wrote a book and the book tells you the whole story. Best seller book. Greg Jarrett, great guy. So many. Bongino, I tell you, he's not a lawyer, but he is better than the lawyers. He's called 'street smart.' But these are great. So many great people."

I mean, fucking seriously, here he is attempting to say something about the Republicans running for governor in Louisiana:
- "Then one of our two great candidates will win that and it'll be John Bel Edwards against one of our two great and they're both great people. They're great."

It just gets worse and worse. Talking about Louisiana's Republicans in Congress:
- "He loves you so much and he's really a brave guy, Steve Scalise. And then we have some other great warriors, great congressmen. Thanks, Steve. Great, great."

He's always a fuckin' car salesman, always trying to convince you that every goddamn lemon is a Rolls. But even a car salesman knows you gotta vary the pitch or it gets boring.

2. Trump will do anything to get a crowd whipped up. In both places, he pretended to be former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page texting notes to each other, leading up to an orgasm over Trump losing. In Lake Charles, he declared the impeachment inquiry "bullshit." In both cases, the idiot hordes lost their tiny fucking minds, screaming in joy like they found out Miller Lite and store-brand tortilla chips were half-price at the Piggly Wiggly.

3. Beyond Strzok and Page, Trump's attacks on people for hating the United States (or, more precisely, hating him) are getting so appalling that the rallies are just a rope away from becoming a lynch mob. His savage lies about Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose district is Minneapolis and some suburbs, were hysterical. "We have never seen scandals like Omar's in Congress, and nothing gets done about it," he said, as if he knows about all the scandals in the history of Congress. She is an "America-hating socialist," he said, and then he cited fucking Powerline, a shit blog, in saying that Omar married her brother to give him citizenship. He did another fantasy conversation where Hunter Biden is being interviewed about his business dealings and then went nutzoid mob boss, saying, "I want to see Hunter asked this way. Hunter. You know nothing about energy, you know nothing about China, you know nothing about anything, frankly. Hunter, you're a loser." That's the president of the goddamned United States tearing apart a private citizen for the crime of not being a criminal. He is implicitly inviting violence to stop these America-hating and -harming enemies.

3a. I thought paraphrasing or making up conversations was bad and wrong and should never be done. But I guess that only applies when Trump is one of the people in the conversation.

4. You have to be one devoted racist to still support Trump at this point. I mean, you have to be a filthy semi-human who can't stand the idea of blacks and whites and Hispanics and others living together in any proximity. I guess what I'm saying is that you have to be a human-sized piece of shit to say that Trump is worthy of being your leader. They will never get those arenas clean again.


Random Observations on the Latest Trump Batshittery (TBD)

I was about to write something about Trump's total batshittery last night in Minneapolis, but I'm waiting until after tonight's batshittery in Lake Charles because that dumb orange motherfucker is in my family's neck of the woods.

Look forward to him going bigger on the Peter Strzok orgasm since he got a laugh with it last night. He'll be humping the lectern or some MAGA cretin's head.

Watch this space.


That Letter From Trump Is Punk Ass Bitchery

The Constitution is pretty fucking clear in how vague it is about impeachment. All it says in Article I is "The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment" and "The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments" with more procedure following there. But that's after impeachment in the House. In Article II, you get this: the president "shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." That's interesting, no? Oh, and this: "The President...shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." There's also something about a jury not being required.

There ya go. Everything else is up to the House of Representatives on how to proceed, which is guaranteed by the Constitution ("Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings"). Nothing in there about a vote to open an impeachment inquiry. Nothing in there about anything. At this point, the Democratic-led House of Representatives can make up any fuckin' rules it wants: "Republicans can only ask questions if they do so without pants" or "Democrats can make farting noises when Republicans speak." Or, you know, let's just investigate this and get on with it, which is what Democrats are trying to do.

And since Donald Trump is the king of motherfucking, of course he was going to be a motherfucker about it. This has been his modus operandi his whole life: throw up as many lawsuits and delays as he can until the other side just gives up. Now, his legal counsel has released a letter to the leadership of the House where it says that Trump ain't gonna eat his vegetables and that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are such mean meanies.

The letter is less a legal document and more a review of the script of every bullshit campaign ad that Trump has put out in the last couple of weeks.  They've still got 2016 on the brain: "You seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen. Many Democrats now apparently view impeachment not only as a means to undo the democratic results of the last election, but as a strategy to influence the next election, which is barely more than a year away" in order to defeat Trump.

This is the "state the obvious in a sinister way" strategy. Yeah, fucko, the purpose of an impeachment is ultimately to remove the president, which, obviously, somewhat undoes the last election (it won't undo the shit-ton of damage Trump has already done) and, yeah, obviously, it would influence the next election. Every time someone says this shit, someone else should be there to yell, "Duh" and "No shit, shit-for-brains."

The rest of the letter is a list of the Fox "news"-ready grievances and lies that Trump airs every fuckin' day on Hell's Twitter feed. The phone call with President Zelensky was "completely appropriate." Rep. Adam Schiff "covertly assisted" the whistleblower. And, my favorite, Schiff created "a false version of the call and read it to the American people at a congressional hearing, without disclosing that he was simply making it all up," which is true if you're not a fucking moron and if Schiff hadn't said that he was speaking "the essence" of what Trump said, "shorn of its rambling character." By constantly insisting that Schiff didn't present it as a paraphrase, Trump is counting on his idiot hordes' idiocy (and probably revealing his own) in not understanding what Schiff said.

But even on substance, the letter is just fucking weird. There's the constant insistence on due process. And while, yes, there is some due process involved in hearings, what the letter demands is the full range of rights that would be available in a fucking trial, not in an investigation.

And as for the complaint that Republicans aren't allowed to subpoena people, well, fuck, each subpoena requires a vote of the full committee. So do they really fucking expect Democrats to go along with all the circus freaks that Republicans would want to put in front of the cameras to insist that Joe and Hunter Biden are the source of all corruption in the world? Shit, they'd probably wanna drag Hillary Clinton into it because they just can't quit her.

(Sidebar: As for "precedent," there was no Judiciary Committee investigation for Bill Clinton's impeachment because everything was based on the Starr Report. In other words, the investigation was done. Not so here.)

The letter even fucking lies about things. For instance, it reads, "The Committees have broadly threatened that if State Department officials attempt to insist upon the right for the Department to have an agency lawyer present at depositions to protect legitimate Executive Branch confidentiality interests-or apparently if they make any effort to protect those confidentiality interests at all-these officials will have their salaries withheld."

It cites a letter from the chairs of the committees to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan that's about Secretary of State and Trump's most loyal ass lamprey Mike Pompeo preventing DoS employees from testifying. Reps. Engel, Cummings, and Schiff say that House rules say that witnesses may have personal counsel present, but not Executive Branch counsel. And that "the same rule has been in place for more than a decade...and it was in place during Secretary Pompeo's tenure on the Benghazi Select Committee" back when Pompeo was just that fucking prick congressman from Kansas. And the Democrats go on to say that, if you insist on violating the rules and force your employees to violate them, here are the penalties, including loss of salary, which is what the law calls for. Imagine how Pompeo would have blown a fucking fuse if Hillary Clinton (see? She's always around) had told the Benghazi committee to go fuck themselves. Republicans would have Benghazi'd the State Department themselves.

Most impotently, Trump challenges Pelosi to hold a vote on the inquiry: "the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the President without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step." And that gives the game away. "Political accountability" just means "I want some shit to make more campaign ads. I want some names I can toss around at my rallies of the damned."

Right now, I'm hearing the punditocracy say that Democrats should knuckle under and let Republicans have more say. They keep talking about previous impeachment hearings like Republicans now are even remotely like Republicans in 1974 (and, in 1998, it was Republicans running it). Fuck that. They are rabid dogs. Rabid dogs don't get to be treated with "fairness."

This is of a piece with the lawsuit blocking the Southern District of New York from getting Trump's taxes. Trump's lawyers argued that the president can't be held accountable for any crimes while president. It was such a breathtaking argument that a federal judge said, essentially, "Oh, fuck to the no on that shit." Now, in this letter to Democrats, his lawyer is arguing that you can't impeach the president if the president doesn't think he should be impeached. Or, in other words, he's not just above the law; he's above the Constitution.

Democrats should respond to the letter by escalating this shit. Break out the inherent contempt. Arrest some motherfuckers. Make people beg to talk. They wanna play this hard? You gotta go harder. Fuck going high. Break the foundation under them.


Continuing the Rude Pundit's 16th Anniversary Panhandling

Big damn thanks to everyone who has donated so far to keep me in various brain-altering substances and helping to get new equipment to make Another Goddamn Podcast, among other stuff.

A new episode of the podcast is up now, with a rude rant about how Republicans' actions from starting with Bill Clinton and Travelgate brought us to this fucked up moment in time.

And more big damn thanks if you signed up for the Patreon. A new post will be up tonight for all donors, and that shit starts at just $1 a month. A little something for everyone.

Yeah, it's been 16 years since that fateful day in 2003 when I thought, "Huh. Maybe I'll start one o' those blog things I've been reading." And this has been my joy and my curse ever since. Joy? Well, shit, that's because of you, even when you're cussin' mad at me. Curse? Fuck, it's exhausting following the political world this closely.

But you can help ease the pain and give more joy by donating in my every-other-year fundraiser. You can just smash that "Donate" button on the side or click right here. (It's PayPal. If you prefer Venmo, I'm happy to send a link. By the way, did you know PayPal owns Venmo? Weird.)

My promise to you is that every dollar will be used for totally unwholesome purposes.

And let's try to stay sane in these insane times, hand in hand, into the rude future.

(Note: The real 2003 origin story is something like me thinking, "Man, fuck George Bush and all these fuckers that started this bullshit war and call people like me traitors. Lemme see how disgustingly crude I can be about it. Commence the sodomy jokes..." I was likely on my apartment floor, empty vodka bottle in my hand, wondering who did the last of the coke and where my pants had gone. I've matured in the 16 years since then. I prefer whiskey now.)


Trump's Madness Today By the Numbers

(All of this is taken from the official White House transcripts - real transcripts, not impressionistic summaries - of two events Donald Trump held with poor Sauli Niinist√∂, the president of Finland, who just looked like he'd rather be back at the museums he had been visiting than anywhere near Trump. The first was a noontime sit-down photo op before a meeting that you know was awkward as hell. The second was the now infamous press conference meltdown just two hours later. The repetition, the insistence on lies as truth, the childish insults and accusations, they're all just the expressions of Trump's mind in utter disarray, unable to face or even comprehend that he might actual be held accountable for his actions.)

16 - Number of times Trump declared his conversation with Ukraine's President Zelensky "perfect"

12 - Number of times Trump said the conversation or something else was "nice" (note: Trump was not nice in the conversation.)

3 - Number of times Trump brought up Lindsey Graham telling him "I never knew you were that nice" (or a slight variation on that) in regards to the conversation

3 - Number of times Trump said that Adam Schiff committed treason by paraphrasing Trump's conversation with Zelensky (note: Schiff was very clear that he was paraphrasing. You'd have to be a fucking moron to think he was reciting the actual words used.)

7 - Number of times Trump referred to Schiff as "shifty" (note: Schiff is Jewish and the "shifty Jew" is a well-worn anti-Semitic trope)

11 - Number of times Trump called the media "fake," especially attacking the Washington Post

2 - Number of times Trump directly accused Joe and Hunter Biden of being "corrupt" and "crooked"

3 - Number of times Trump said, "Are you ready?" to a reporter to try to silence them

1 - Number of times the word "Liddle'" (with its accompanying weird-ass apostrophe) appears in the transcript

5 - Number of times Trump accused our allies of not giving enough money for something, either Ukraine or the World Trade Organization

9 - Number of times Trump mentioned a "transcript" of his phone call with Zelensky, calling it "exact" and "word for word, comma for comma" (note: the memorandum of the call notes on its first page that it is neither exact nor complete. It is based on memories and notes.)

1 - Number of times Trump expressed awe over China's military parade

29 - Number of times Trump called something "corruption" or describes it as "corrupt" (note: Often, the repetition is in a single thought, as in, talking about the media, "But much of it is corrupt. It’s corrupt. You have corrupt media in this country.")

1 - Number of times Trump claimed he doesn't know what a moat is (note: This is not an exaggeration. He said, "A moat — whatever that is.")

2 - Number of times Trump couldn't bring himself to say "jock" in "jockstrap."

2 - Number of times Trump reminded everyone about President Obama telling Russian President Medvedev, "Tell Vlad I’ll talk to him after the election is over" or "Hey, tell Vladimir I can do a lot more after the election." (note: Referring to missile defense and other issues, what Obama really was caught saying on a hot mic was "This is my last election...After my election I have more flexibility." In other words, Trump paraphrased what Obama said and pretended like it was an actual quote, which is what he accused Adam Schiff of doing.)

9 - Number of time Trump called something that wasn't a lie a "lie," thus lying about the lie, which is pretty much a summation of the whole goddamn, pathetic day.

Endless - Number of times Trump tried to discredit and intimidate the whistleblower


The Rude Pundit's Every Other Year Anniversary Cash Grab Is On

(tl;dr - Give me money.)

Yeah, this here blog is officially 16 years old. Old enough to drive, not old enough to drink legally, but that's never stopped it. Actually, 16 blog years is like 500 in human years. It's the last of a dying breed: the goddamn independent blog, not relying on advertising, just on one idiot who can't force himself to stop, and, shockingly, thousands of readers, many of whom have stuck it out through Bush, Obama, and now whatever the fuck fate has in store for us with this orange motherfucker.

There's all kinds of new shit now: Another Goddamn Podcast (a new episode will be up tonight), a monthly Patreon page you can join for all kinds of bonus posts (starting a $1 a month - but you should totally do the $3 or more if you can afford it - more goodies that way), and, in January, a brand new Rude Pundit stage show: It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fucked). It starts in Calgary in the Great White North, but more dates in the good ol' USA will be announced soon. The website will be up in the next month.

Honestly, this is all kind of fucking crazy. It's always been crazy, but now we are living through an age that is going at the pace of a weasel on meth.  And you gotta adapt to the times, which means I do some of what used to be bloggery over on Twitter. (There's also a lively community of the rude over on Facebook - where you can actually make comments.) But I still post 2-3 times a week here. I'm lucky enough to have a blast on The Stephanie Miller Show every Monday. And it's all free. Well, not the stage show or the Patreon. But you get the idea.

So every other year, I open the panhandling hat and ask you to fill it. Oh, sure, I'm not gonna lie to you. Some of the money's gonna buy me whiskey and some rum I've been thinking of getting into. Jesus, I can't do this shit sober. But mostly I'm trying to upgrade the equipment: the computer, the microphones for the podcast, maybe the soundboard. And probably some shrooms.

And some expenses for the stage show (like the Trump and Pence bobbleheads I'm gonna do terrible things to). And some acid.

And, hey, maybe, just maybe, a return to Los Angeles to sit in live with Steph for a few days. And weed.

If you're already giving over at Patreon, you're fuckin' awesome. If you don't wanna worry about monthly shit, you can slam that PayPal button over there or just click right here.

Hell, if you give, say, $50 or more, I'll send you some of the posts from Patreon as a thank you and maybe a sneak page of the new show. If you can't afford anything, you are still a righteous human for even considering it.

Keep on readin', clickin', listenin', and retweetin', motherfuckers, like you have for 16 goddamn years. We've gotta keep fightin'.