The Golden Shower

Something interesting—this is number 21.

I’ve been trying to shake off this story for months, but it won’t go away, no matter how hard I try. Every two or three months I think about it, real hard. But I still can’t shake it. Maybe I should think about it harder. I will think about it.

In the meantime, here is some of the back  story:

… And the Golden Shower is only one sliver of the pie. It is possible the President’s prior appointment in a Moscow hotel has shriveled to a footnote in the drama now playing out. It may no longer be important whether the infamous Pee Pee Tape exist, much less whether Donald Trump really did order up prostitutes to piss on a bed. So far, all we have is an unofficial dossier prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele. Critical parts of the dossier rely on second-hand sources, sources that have not been verified. It’s up to those who read Steele’s report to decide on its merits. A copy is posted on-line, including the pertinent paragraph labeled 2:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

To be sure, it is difficult for me to believe that an earnest candidate for President of the United States would pay prostitutes in Moscow to piss on the bed where the former President and his wife previously slept. That is, it was difficult prior to 20 January of this year, when Mr. Trump assumed office. Since then there have been developments:

That was since becoming President. Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star has commented on 337 false statement by Donald Trump since inauguration.

The previous link to Daniel Dale’s page has gone stale, but the Toronto Star has created a new one:

The complete list of all 363 false claims Donald Trump has made as president

The Star’s running tally of every false thing the president of the United States of America has said, so far.

So, let’s forget about the Golden Shower and the President’s strange concept of truth, and let’s come up to date with this week’s story. Yesterday’s edition of ABC World News Tonight with David Muir has a good run-down. Here are some screen  shots, courtesy of Hulu.

 

Let me run through the narrative behind this sequence of images. The first shows the text of an email sent from Trump associate Rob Goldstone to Donald Trump Jr., son of the President. Mr. Goldstone is alerting Trump Jr. that the Russian government is prepared to assist Trump Sr. in defeating rival  candidate Hillary Clinton. Yes, we get the hint. The Russian Government (Vladimir Putin) does not want Hillary Clinton to become President of the United States, but would instead prefer that Donald Trump Sr. become President of the United States. I hope I have made that clear enough.

Now the next picture. Trump Jr. receives Mr. Goldstone’s message, and is enthusiastic about the idea. Young Trump responds, “[I]f it’s what you say I love it…” Hey! There’s going to be a meeting with the Russian agent.

And now the next image. Young Trump forwards the correspondence to his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and also to Paul Manafort, at the time Donald Trump Sr.’s campaign manager. They want to have the meeting.

So all this came to light a few days ago, and the New York Times was preparing to release copies of the email exchange. Donald Jr. beat them to the punch by releasing his copies of same. The sum total seems to show that a year’s worth of denials by Trump associates and the Trump campaign have been a year’s worth of misinformation. Some would say prevarication. First we have Reince Priebus, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee and current White House Chief of Staff under President Trump in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News 24 July 2016:

Stephanopoulos: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you, or your campaign and Putin and his regime?

Priebus: No, sir, I have not. It’s absurd… There’s no basis for it.

Which seems to give a new definition to the word absurd.

Next it’s 18 December 2016, over a month after Mr. Trump’s election. The interview is between John Dickerson and then Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway. The clip is from Face the Nation on CBS, which provides a transcript:

Dickerson:  All right. We are not going to get any insight into the president-elect’s thinking here, but let me try this. Did anyone involved –

Conway: I gave you plenty.

Dickerson: — in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election?

Conway:  Absolutely not. And I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it’s a fact on television. That is just not only inaccurate and false, but it’s dangerous.

“Those conversations never happened?” “Inaccurate?” This from the Queen of Accuracy?

It remains to be seen who or what is dangerous. Next let’s go to the President of the United States. Here he is on 16 February, three weeks on the job. The video is from a White House press conference. When asked, the President responds:

I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.

(the next image) In July 2016, a month after arranging and participating in a meeting with the Russian lawyer, Donald Trump Jr. was seen crawling all over the opposition for suggesting such a thing. Here is a partial transcript from an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper:

In the clip above, CNN anchor Jake Tapper asks Trump Jr. about Mook’s allegations that Russian state actors were behind the leaked DNC emails. Trump Jr.’s response is staggering, considering what we know now:

Tapper: [Mook] seemed to be suggesting that this is part of a plot to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Your response?

Trump Jr: Well, just goes to show you their exact moral compass. They’ll say anything to be able to win this. This is time and time again, lie after lie. You notice he won’t say, “Well, I say this,” he’ll say, “Here are experts, here’s house cat at home who once said this is what’s happening with the Russians.” It’s disgusting; it’s so phony.

Trump Jr. also went on to say that Mook ought to be “ashamed of himself” for spreading the idea that Russia was working in support of the Trump campaign. But just weeks earlier, in early June, British publicist Rob Goldstone had informed Trump Jr. about “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

This certainly does put the spotlight on the Trump opposition’s moral compass. Imaging them putting out something in 2016 that Donald Trump Jr. was preparing to put out a year later. People, when your goal is to work with the Donald Trump contingent, it doesn’t help to always be stepping on their lines. Just ease back. They’re are going to get to the matter when they are good and ready.

The image after that shows White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier this week setting the matter straight, this in a press briefing where cameras were not allowed. She repeated a message from the President:

My son is a high quality person, and I applaud his transparency.

I don’t know about you, readers, but I am glad we finally have transparency in our government at the highest levels. Doing the thing, then denying doing the thing, then hammering the opposition for talking about doing the thing, then saying that you really did do the thing—that’s transparency where I came from.

Mrs. Sanders then refused to take any more questions on the matter.

The final image shows Donald Trump Jr. on Fox News:

In retrospect, I probably would have done things differently.

Differently? Like, not have the meeting with the Russians with the aim of getting the benefit of spying by Russian intelligence agencies? Like not lying about it a few days later? Like not raking the opposition over the coals for suggesting such a thing? Like, maybe, joining the Marine Corps instead of hooking up with a crooked political enterprise? We may never know.

In retrospect, I probably would have done things differently. I would not have wasted so much time pursuing the absurd notion that a future President of the United States would pay Russian prostitutes to piss on a presidential bed, while he watched. I would have long ago put this story of the Pee Pee Tape to bed.

All right. That may not have been the best choice of words.

There’s going to be more. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Conversation

Number 2

I mention this sometimes. I have a few conservative friends, not as many as I used to have. On Facebook I cultivate them, but often when I put the skewer to Donald Trump, supposed gun rights, science denial, any number of gods—then a conservative friend drops me like I was last year’s iPhone. Facing a dearth of headwind from Facebook conservatives, I have taken to drawing from conservative media outlets. Talk about striking pay dirt! If gold is where you find it, threadbare intellect is where they nurture it. Now I draw from sources as mainline as Trump News, Fox News, Breitbart, the Media Research Center, Pastor John Hagee, Pastor Robert Jeffress, author Ray Comfort, actor Kirk Cameron, and others. I obtained a Twitter account so I could follow President Donald Trump. Now I receive multiple daily notifications about postings by The Donald and also such conservative beacons of light as Sarah Palin and Bill O’Reilly. Hence this yesterday:

Who would believe it? Bill O’Reilly telling the President of the United States to tweet facts. That is, facts, as opposed to:

Yes, when you set out at the beginning of the day to tweet the truth, it’s best not to lead with blaming anthropogenic global warming on the Chinese propaganda mill.

If this exchange was less than amazing, what followed immediately upon was less than surprising. Start with this:

Here we have somebody posing as “Trump Train” and responding, “He does tweet facts!!!!!!!!!” I believe that is nine exclamation marks. Check me on that. “Trump Train” is saying Donald Trump does tweet facts. Such facts being:

“asad” (where do they get these names?) chimes in, “alternative facts.” I can’t tell if “asad” is attempting to be factual or sarcastic. “Trump Train” comes back with, “And considering how @Potus has been ABUSED-perfectly ok to tweet an insult here and there.” Insult away, Trump Train, whoever you are. It’s become the name of the game. Here’s more:

Tom Vail (a real name at last) has an avatar reflecting on Hillary Clinton, but I can’t tell the reference. Tom tells us, “The US deserves better from Media. The US deserves better from Hollywood. The US deserves better from Academia.” Besides the needless capitalization of a couple of words, this seems to be grammatically correct.

I can understand wanting better from the media. Conservatives since Richard Nixon have harped on bad reviews from reporters, all the while failing to consider that if they would quit screwing up, then reporters would quit telling everybody they’re screwing up.

“Better from Hollywood?” Better scripts? Better acting? Bigger boobs? He doesn’t say. Could it be that in movies conservatives are often portrayed as heavies? As in In the Heat of the Night? Yeah, this movie would have been a lot more believable if Police Chief Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger) had been portrayed as a civil right crusader.

“Better from academia?” Tom is reflecting the concern by a majority of conservatives that American colleges and universities are hotbeds of liberal activism. He could be right. My observation is that colleges and universities are populated by a bunch of smart people, and when people get smarter, they tend to get more liberal.

I will skip over “mari Trump” (with an emoticon?)…

… and some others and go straight to Marita Murphy, another real name, apparently.

According to Marita, “tweeting that CNN is fake news IS verifiable.” What really bums me about Twitter is the 140-character limit. Imagine if this restriction were lifted, then Marita would have a larger canvas, allowing her to pile example upon example, demonstrating conclusively that calling CNN fake news is verifiable. Fortunately, I am not so restricted, so I will advance those examples that eluded the unfortunate Marita. Here are some:

CNN reports Special Counsel Robert Mueller may investigate President Trump for obstruction. “The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.”

CNN reports Robert Mueller expands special counsel office, hires 13 lawyers.Special counsel Robert Mueller is said to be building out his investigative team with some of the country’s best legal minds, in a development that speaks to the seriousness of the Russia probe but also is raising red flags on the pro-Trump side.”

CNN reports Russian hackers tried altering US election data. “Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before President Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed … In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data … As many as 90,000 records were ultimately compromised … Illinois became Patient Zero in the government’s probe, eventually leading investigators to a hacking pandemic that touched four out of every five U.S. states … In many states, the extent of the Russian infiltration remains unclear. … The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database … According to the leaked NSA [National Security Agency] document, hackers working for Russian military intelligence were trying to take over the computers of 122 local election officials just days before the Nov. 8 election” … in October 2016  “the White House contacted the Kremlin on [a] back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict …”

CNN reports No obstruction case against Trump so far.Former FBI Director James Comey’s written statement, which was released in advance of his Thursday testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, does not provide evidence that President Trump committed obstruction of justice or any other crime. Indeed it strongly suggests that even under the broadest reasonable definition of obstruction, no such crime was committed.”

And so on. Keep plugging away, Marita. I will keep looking for the fake news.

And I will continue to stay hooked into my favorite conservative sources. There’s plenty more where this came from.

Media Research Center

Number 4 in a series

(Photo by Jonathan Ernst, Reuters News Service)

I’ve mentioned the Media Research Center before. They are committed to providing a counterweight to  liberal bias in mainstream media (news outlets). They have an interesting way of going about it. I receive daily mailings from the MRC, one of which is called Cyber Alert (Your Daily Media Bias Intelligence Briefing). There’s a numbered list of items for readers’ consideration. Today’s item 3 is of interest:

3.  CNN Reporter Thinks Trump Admin Is Endangering Media, Compares to ‘War Zone’

CNN has become a self-serving propaganda mill for journalists the past few months, reaching a new level of shamelessness. Wednesday’s New Day ran the headline, “TRUMP WHITE HOUSE INTENSIFIES WAR WITH MEDIA,” with reporter Clarissa Ward (filling in for co-host Alisyn Camerota) worrying that by labeling the media as fake and such, that the White House is putting the lives of journalists in danger…

“Trump White House intensifies war with media.” That’s worth checking out. Follow the link. There follows some back and forth about whether this “war with the media” is actually putting lives in danger. The image above from Google Images gives color to the mood in question. What, then, does this war with the media look like?

  1. Jun 28, 2017 08:06:14 AMThe #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!
  2. Jun 28, 2017 05:58:59 AMSome of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U.S.
  3. Jun 28, 2017 05:49:22 AMThe failing @nytimes writes false story after false story about me. They don’t even call to verify the facts of a story. A Fake News Joke!
  4. Jun 27, 2017 07:47:17 AMSo they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!

Plus a bunch more. More recently:

I heard poorly rated speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..

…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!

Previously reported:

CNN Newsroom
6/27/17 3:13

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think it’s the constant barrage of fake news directed at this President, probably, that has garnered a lot of his frustration. You point to that report. There are multiple other instances where that outlet that you referenced has been repeatedly wrong and had to point that out or be corrected. There’s a video circulating now, whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know.

But I would encourage everybody in this room and frankly everybody across the country to take a look at it. I think if it is accurate, I think it’s a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism. I think that we have gone to a place where, if the media can’t be trusted to report the news, then that’s a dangerous place for America, and I think if that is the place that certain outlets are going, particularly for the purpose of spiking ratings, and if that’s coming directly from the top, I think that’s even more scary. And certainly more disgraceful. And I hope that that’s not the direction we’re headed. I hope that outlets that have continued to use either unnamed sources, sometimes stories with no sources at all, we’ve been going on this Russia/Trump hoax for the better part of a year now with no evidence of anything. Things like the success at the VA barely get covered. They may get covered for an hour at a time, but this story gets covered day in, day out, and I think America is frankly looking for something better. They’re looking for something more. And I think they deserve something better from our news media.

High five to the MRC for going to bat for President Trump, since that appears to be their main job . And what a job it is. Here is a president who has passed off more than 300 fabrications since taking office, has mired his administration in a messy probe into collusion with Russian intelligence operatives, has staffed his administration with the most over of the politically ripe,  and  has fumbled away opportunity after opportunity to get a bunch of stuff done, all the while alienating this country’s friends and cozying up to our enemies. That in addition to becoming an international embarrassment. Details on request.

Trump News

More From Trump News

Yes, your memory is correct. I subscribe to a newsletter from Trump News. That’s the name of the sender when their daily report shows up in my inbox. The site is EnVolve.com, and the screen shot above is from today’s mailing. Please pardon, but I jacked up the contrast so you can read the caption beneath the photo. The link points to a page that elaborates:

Negative Liberal Media REFUSES To Report What This Republican Patriot Did!

Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers took a moment to support the victims of last week’s shooting at a congressional baseball game practice by donating blood on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

It is no surprise to see the Vice President doing this, as he often examples what Patriotism looks like for the everyday citizen. Also not surprising is the clear lack of media coverage that such service would generally merit. Clearly, the negative liberal media would hate to ever show that any Republican, especially the Vice President, could ever have a caring heart for others.

And that’s the message for today. A deranged gunman, a Bernie Sanders supporter, shot up a baseball  practice session, wounding several, including Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana District 1. And patriotic Vice President Mike Pence stepped forward to donate blood. And the liberal media (meaning the mainstream news outlets) refused to report it. “REFUSED.”

Refused, that is, except for ABC News:

Mike Pence, other lawmakers donate to Capitol Hill blood bank in honor of Scalise

By DAVID CAPLAN

Vice President Mike Pence was among those on Capitol Hill Tuesday who rolled up their sleeves and donated blood in honor of the victims of last week’s shooting at congressional baseball practice at an Alexandria, Virginia, park.

That was posted today. The blood drive is still ongoing and will continue tomorrow. It will be interesting to see just how many mainstream news sources refuse, absolutely refuse, to cover the story. So far Washington News 8 has covered it, as well as The Hill.

Regarding Trump News, I am dead certain this is not an official Donald Trump outlet. From all appearances it is an independent enterprise established to capitalize on Trump’s notoriety and his fan base. Another thing I am sure of is that Trump supporters read Trump News, and they accept its news as factual. It’s another sign we live in interesting times.

Media Research Center

Number 2 in a series

Here’s what passes for news in some circles. I subscribed to the Media Research Center (MRC) newsletter,  and I receive daily (sometimes more) mailings. I am dead sure some of my Facebook friends (ex friends?) consider this and similar outlets to be the straight skinny, but the MRC is as close as you can get to an outlet of disinformation. Rats! I forgot about Alex Jones. OK, second closest. They put out more stuff than I can cover, so I have to pick and choose. Here’s my most recent favorite (from the email):

[May 27 at 8:28 AM]

Dear John,

The way the media is portraying the “riots” in Venezuela is awful. It’s quite frankly dangerous and irresponsible.

[some stuff]

As you probably know, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in response to catastrophic food shortages. Homicide rates in Caracas are now higher than any other city in the world.

This once wealthy and prosperous nation has been completely decimated by socialism and the meddling of Castro’s Cuba.

But you wouldn’t know that based on the media coverage.

“Wouldn’t know that based on the media coverage?” Really? Then how did I find out about it?

Today CNN aired a report produced by one of their reporters who entered the country disguised as a tourist. In February the government banned CNN from the country after that network published a report about the issuing of passports to potential terrorists:

Conatel [Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission] accused the channel of attempting to “undermine the peace and the democratic stability” of Venezuela.

It did not specifically mention the passport story, but government officials had earlier in the day disputed it at a press conference.

The story was the product of a year-long investigation into allegations that Venezuelan passports and visas were being sold to people in Iraq, including some with terrorism links.

The report alleged that Venezuelan Vice-President Tareck El Aissami was directly linked to the granting of 173 passports, including to members of the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which is designated a terrorist group by the US and other Western powers.

That was drawn from a CNN news item I picked up on YouTube. Another liberal news outlet hiding the story from us is The New York Times:

CARACAS, Venezuela — In scenes across Venezuela, the security forces emerge as villains in dark uniforms. A young demonstrator approaches the military with outstretched arms, witnesses said, only to be shot dead moments later.

In one video, a National Guard armored vehicle runs over protesters. In another, a man shrouded in tear gas falls into convulsions before soldiers toss him on the back of a motorcycle.

The cover-up is unrelenting. Even The Dallas Morning News:

CARACAS, Venezuela — A day that began with largely peaceful protests against Venezuela’s socialist government took a violent turn Monday as fierce clashes between state security and demonstrators killed at least two people.

Thousands hauled folding chairs, beach umbrellas and protest signs onto main roads for a 12-hour “sit-in against the dictatorship,” the latest in a month and a half of street demonstrations that have resulted in dozens of deaths.

Sadly, even The Washington Post:

Venezuelan security forces and the pro-government motorcycle gangs known as “colectivos” have met the unrest with escalating force, and in some cases, lethal gunfire, making matters worse. At least 55 people have been killed in the past seven weeks, including protesters, members of the security forces and bystanders caught in the fray. About 1,000 have been injured, according to the latest tally by authorities, and 346 businesses have been looted or burned.

“The danger is that a spiral of violence will overwhelm the capacity of either side to control it,” said Phil Gunson, a Caracas-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, adding the mayhem of the past several days appears to have “crossed another threshold.”

“The more people die, the more the anger grows and the more willing the government becomes to respond even more violently,” Gunson said.

There is no escaping it. The liberal media are suppressing the true story about Venezuela.

Or, which is more likely, the MRC knows its readership to the core and continues to push this false narrative and others in a stream without letup. This would not be possible if there were not readers eager for any and all that makes them comfortable with their prejudices.

The MRC saga will continue and so will this series. There is more fun heer than anybody has a right to enjoy. Call me unrepentant.

The Government You Paid For

A continuation

Greg Gianforte, newly-elected Montana representative in Congress, seems to have a lot going for him:

Gianforte co-founded Brightwork Development Inc., a software company, in 1986; he and his partners sold the company to McAfee Associates for $10 million in 1994. He then moved to Bozeman, Montana.

Gianforte founded RightNow Technologies in 1997. The company went public in 2004 and was sold to Oracle Corporation for $1.5 billion in 2011. Before the sale, RightNow Technologies employed about 500 people at its headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, and over 1000 people in total.

Gianforte is a board member of FICO and chair of the board at Petra Academy, a Bozeman, Montana, Christian school.

Just about everybody recognizes this as the road to success. Gianforte seems to have everything going for him. How, then, to account for this:

(CNN) — Greg Gianforte, less than 24 hours removed from being charged with assault for “body-slamming” a reporter, won the Montana special election on Tuesday night.

So, now what?
We know two things for sure.
1. Gianforte will appear in court sometime between now and June 7 to find out whether he will be convicted on a misdemeanor assault charge.
2. Republicans, even if they wanted to, couldn’t refuse to seat him. This was litigated in the late 1960s in a case involving Rep. Adam Clayton Powell.

For those not old enough to remember, Adam Clayton Powell was a Democratic congressman who  represented the borough of Harlem in New York City. Here was another who had everything going for him. Harlem was, and may still be, the center of NYC’s black population, and Powell was the first black man elected from the state of New York to Congress. It seemed like a job for life. Unfortunately he wanted more. From Wikipedia:

By the mid-1960s, Powell was increasingly being criticized for mismanaging his committee’s budget, taking trips abroad at public expense, and missing meetings of his committee. When under scrutiny by the press and other members of Congress for personal conduct—he had taken two young women at government expense with him on overseas travel—he responded:

I wish to state very emphatically… that I will always do just what every other Congressman and committee chairman has done and is doing and will do.”

Opponents led criticism in his District, where his refusal to pay a 1963 slander judgment made him subject to arrest; he also spent increasing amounts of time in Florida.

In January 1967, the House Democratic Caucus stripped Powell of his committee chairmanship. The full House refused to seat him until completion of an investigation by the Judiciary Committee. Powell urged his supporters to “keep the faith, baby,” while the investigation was under way. On March 1, the House voted 307 to 116 to exclude him. Powell said, “On this day, the day of March in my opinion, is the end of the United States of America as the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Powell won the Special Election to fill the vacancy caused by his exclusion, but he did not take his seat, as he was filing a separate suit. He sued in Powell v. McCormack to retain his seat. In November 1968, Powell was re-elected. On January 3, 1969, he was seated as a member of the 91st Congress, but he was fined $25,000 and denied seniority. In June 1969, in Powell v. McCormack, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the House had acted unconstitutionally when it excluded Powell, as he had been duly elected by his constituents.

What the Court ruled was that the people in his district held sway over any power vested in members of Congress. They could not refuse to seat a properly-elected member. That was of no avail to Powell, as his constituents responded in their own  voice and cast him aside in the next election.

And that’s that concerning miscreant congressmen, and I am not even bringing up the matter of Wilbur Mills and the Argentine stripper in the Tidal Basin Pool.

So, what is the duty of the United States Congress with respect to members who embarrass themselves and the Congress? I’m guessing it depends on what a member does. And what exactly did now Congressman Gianforte do? Details are available. No video exists of the encounter between Gianforte and the reporter, but YouTube has an audio, and The Atlantic has a transcript from that recording:

Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian: …the CBO score. Because, you know, you were waiting to make your decision about health care until you saw the bill and it just came out…

Greg Gianforte, the congressional candidate: Yeah, we’ll talk to you about that later.

Jacobs: Yeah, but there’s not going to be time. I’m just curious—

Gianforte: Okay, speak with Shane, please.

[loud scuffling noises, an even louder crash, repeated thumping]

Gianforte: [shouting] I’m sick and tired of you guys!

Jacobs: Jesus chri—!

Gianforte: The last guy that came in here, you did the same thing! Get the hell out of here!

Jacobs: Jesus!

Gianforte: Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing! You with The Guardian?

Jacobs: Yes! And you just broke my glasses.

Gianforte: The last guy did the same damn thing.

Jacobs: You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.

Gianforte: Get the hell out of here.

Jacobs: You’d like me to get the hell out of here, I’d also like to call the police. Can I get you guys’ names?

Unidentified third man: Hey, you gotta leave.

Jacobs: He just body-slammed me.

Unidentified third man: You gotta leave.

Make what you want of this, but this gives the impression of a politician so sure of his election that he believes nothing he does will derail it. He comes close to being correct on that point.

The take out from the exchange is that reporter Jacobs wanted to question Gianforte about his take on  the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) evaluation of the health care bill just passed by the House of Representatives. By all accounts the CBO results reveal the House failed miserably at their goal of providing an adequate replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed by the Obama administration.

My impression is that Gianforte, no friend of the previous President and his ACA, felt the reporter was aiming to embarrass him by forcing him to defend this unpopular piece of legislation. Besides, Gianforte was in the process of setting up for another interview, and he felt Jacobs was intruding. By any measure, Gianforte’s response was over the top in the best meaning of the term. He puts Jacobs off with, “Okay, speak with Shane, please.” Then, for reasons not yet explained, he does more. The audio records no other exchange of words before there is the sound of Jacobs being thrown to the floor by Gianforte. That rapid thumping mentioned in the transcript is apparently Gianforte landing blows on Jacobs. WTF?

The Congressman’s initial response to accusations that he assaulted a reporter was less than candid:

Gianforte’s campaign has challenged the claim, alleging that the reporter grabbed Gianforte’s wrist and was overly aggressive after asking the question.

That turkey did not fly. Others dispute his disclaimer. Continuing from the foregoing:

However, a Fox News reporter who witnessed the incident has written that Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.” She also noted, “To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte.”

If this is any indication, the United States is returning to its rough and tumble days of two centuries ago:

Preston Smith Brooks (August 5, 1819 – January 27, 1857) was an American politician and Member of the US House of Representative from South Carolina, serving from 1853 until his resignation in July 1856 and again from August 1856 until his death.

Brooks, a Democrat, was a fervent advocate of slavery and states’ rights. He is primarily remembered for his May 22, 1856 assault upon abolitionist and Republican Senator Charles Sumner; Brooks beat Sumner with a cane on the floor of the United States Senate in retaliation for an anti-slavery speech in which Sumner verbally attacked Brooks’ second cousin, Senator Andrew Butler. Brooks’ action was applauded by many Southerners and abhorred in the North. An attempt to oust him from the House of Representatives failed, and he received only token punishment in his criminal trial. He resigned his seat in July 1856 to give his constituents the opportunity to ratify his conduct in a special election, which they did by electing him in August to fill the vacancy created by his resignation. He was reelected to a full term in November 1856 but died five weeks before the term began in March 1857.

There is a reason they don’t allow guns in the Capitol Building.

But we don’t have to  go that far. Here’s something from a few years back:

United States congressional representatives are elected by people in their districts, and they meet in Washington, D.C. to make laws. That much I think I have figured out. What the representatives do is news, stuff of interest. News reporters tell us all this stuff. That’s one way we get the news. But stories about reporters interviewing congressional representatives are not news. Usually. Here’s how I first learned of the story:

On January 28, 2014, NY1-TV political reporter Michael Scotto was interviewing Grimm in a balcony-hallway of the U.S. Capitol building, asking him about his thoughts on the just-ended 2014 State of the Union Address. He then tried to question Grimm about his campaign finance controversies. Grimm stated that he would only discuss the State of the Union speech, and not the investigation; as Scotto started to mention the investigation again, Grimm walked off. Scotto then turned to the camera and implied that Grimm didn’t want to face the issue on-camera. Grimm then appeared to intimidate Scotto, saying that he would “break (Scotto) in half”, as well as threatening to throw Scotto over the balcony.

Grimm issued a statement defending his behavior, saying that he was annoyed by what he called a “disrespectful cheap shot” from Scotto. The next day, Grimm contacted Scotto to offer an apology for his behavior, which Scotto deemed to be sincere. He also issued a written statement apologizing for his behavior, saying, “I shouldn’t have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and lose my cool.”

That was Congressman Michael Grimm, who at one time represented Staten Island and a section of Brooklyn. Congressman Grimm’s trouble stemmed not from  his encounter with a reporter but with his shady business dealings, for which he did time.

I feel I am not the only one to sense a rising  pugilistic response to pesky reporters. With the marked political polarization that accompanied the election of a liberal black man to the highest office, conservative voters are leaning more and more toward candidates who favor action over words, and stronger words whenever possible. “I’m sick and tired of you guys!” and “The last guy that came in here, you did the same thing! Get the hell out of here.” and Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing! You with The Guardian?”

“You with The Guardian?” It’s starting to matter which news outlet you work for how you get treated, or mistreated. But the image headlining this post proclaims, “Body slam every journalist.” That was later removed by the East Tarrant County Tea Party. Apparently no news really is good news.

What we are left with is a contingent of the United States government fiercely at odds with mainstream media, which is to say at odds with people and organizations that bring in the real, often bad, news. The current President calls it fake news and also calls mainstream media an enemy of the people. He is also the president who previously claimed he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue (in New York) and not lose any supporters. It would appear we are starting to get the government we paid for.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Friday Funny

One of a series

Last week’s Friday funny (see the link above) reminded me of this. I apologize. I do not have the original news item. It’s from 30 years back, but I can still relate the essentials from memory. It goes like this:

Conroe, Texas (why does this stuff always happen in Texas?). A 72-year old man was arrested for solicitation of prostitution. He had to phone his mother to come and bail him out.

And that is funny. Embarrassing, as well.

Snowflake-in-Chief

New game in town

This series is titled Snowflake-in-Chief for a reason. The administration of Donald Trump has been the skowflakeist in recent memory, making for interesting reporting and even more interesting watching. This came up on CNN yesterday. It was a panel discussion hosted by Don Lemon  (CNN) and featuring the following:

  • Ben Ferguson, host of the Ben Ferguson Show (upper left)
  • Angela Rye, former Executive Director Congressional Black Caucus (upper right)
  • Paris Dennard, CNN political commentator—Director of Black Outreach for President George W. Bush (lower left)
  • Symone Sanders, former press sectary for Bernie Sanders (lower right)

What unloaded all this was a back and forth between reporter April Ryan and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. It is not news that the FBI is investigating possible collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. Ryan was asking a question and was being too persistent. The result is today’s source of humor. From NBC News:

Stop Shaking Your Head’: Sean Spicer Lashes Out at Reporter April Ryan

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer snapped at a female reporter on Tuesday over a question about the administration’s image, telling the veteran White House correspondent to “stop shaking your head” — a snide comment that drew rebuke from Hillary Clinton and several prominent women journalists.

Spicer got into a heated exchange with American Urban Radio Networks’ correspondent April Ryan at the White House press briefing after the reporter asked how President Donald Trump’s administration would work to repair its image.

Ryan followed up with a question about Trump’s meeting with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whom Trump made a vulgar comment about in 2006.

Spicer then accused Ryan of wanting to push an agenda, telling her from the podium to “stop shaking your head.”

“April, hold on, it seems like you’re hell-bent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays,” he said.

“I’m sorry, please stop shaking your head again,” he added.

A reporter should stop shaking her head? Good thing Spicer didn’t notice I was shaking my head while I watched this on YouTube. What is equally interesting, maybe more so, was the response of panel members Ferguson and Dennard. Both have a conservative bent, to say the least, and both jumped in to prop up the administration.

Lemon: Paris, I know you want to jump in. He became annoyed [for asking the question], how is he [Trump] going to revamp his image, given the rocky start this administration has had. Is that a reasonable question for her to ask?

Dennard: No, I don’t think it was an unreasonable question to ask, if that had been the only question. I think it was a series of questions, back to back to back, and that she was not giving him a chance to  answer the questions. And oft times what happens is, when you give an answer these journalists do not like, they continue and press and press until they try to get you to answer the way they want you to answer.

Lemon: That’s what a reporter does…

I’m with Lemon on this. I am not a reporter, but when I ask somebody a question, and they make an attempt at evasion, then I get to thinking there’s something more here, and I  press for details—something to back up what the person has just told me. Sometimes I ask peripheral questions, when all the while the question I want to ask is “What did you do with the body?”

At the heart of the matter is Trump’s charge back on 4 March that President Obama ordered wire taps on his (Trump’s) phones in Trump Tower. That has devolved into  multiple (another way of saying unanimous) reports back from the Justice Department that no such order was given, nor could it have been given by a president. That migrated into the matter coming before  the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, headed up by Devin  Nunes, Republican congressman from California and previously a member of the Trump administration transition team. At a point a few days ago Congressman Nunes saw fit to get himself to the White House with the errand of reporting to President Trump that a review of intelligence documents revealed transition team members had been recorded during monitoring by American intelligence agencies. Trump quickly leveraged this revelation into vindication of his original claim, and subsequently Nunes was back on the White House grounds receiving additional information. As a side note, practically all Democrats and some Republicans in the government see these goings on as evidence Nunes has allegiance to the administration and not to the Committee. Under this pressure, Secretary Spicer turned unusually prickly, even for him.

An item appearing in The Week elaborates further:

Ryan was reminding Spicer of all the Russia-related news the White House is dealing with — the scuttled Sally Yates testimony, President Trump’s widely dismissed claims he was wiretapped at Trump Tower, the broader Russia investigation — and Spicer cut it, rejecting the premise. “No, we don’t ‘have’ that,” he said. “I’ve said it from the day that I got here until whenever that there’s not a connection. You’ve got Russia. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that’s a Russian connection.”

Nevertheless, Ryan persisted. Spicer selectively insisted that everyone has dismissed reports of Trump-Russia collusion, despite the ongoing FBI investigation, and told Ryan, “I’m sorry that that disgusts you. You’re shaking your head.” He accused her of pursuing an “agenda” and ignoring “facts,” and when she changed subjects to ask about a White House visit by Condoleezza Rice, Spicer accused Ryan of being “hellbent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays,” adding again: “Please, stop shaking your head again.”

Yes, reporter for the American Urban Radio Networks April Ryan, quit shaking your head when the press secretary evades your questions and dresses you down. Ryan recalled her impressions following the briefing:

“I’ve been here for 20 years, since 1997, the second term of Bill Clinton,” Ryan told MSNBC’s Katy Tur afterwards. “We’ve never seen anything like this before. And my question was simple. How do you change the perception problem basically? I don’t know verbatim what I said, but that was the impetus and the crux of my question. And it went off into this Russian dressing, no shaking my head or whatever.”

“I understand what Sean is doing,” Ryan said, “Sean is being the White House press secretary talking about and trying to make this administration look better than what it does right now. Unfortunately, I was roadkill today.”

Ben Ferguson was the other panelist to push back, to defend the administration:

Ferguson: First, he didn’t lash out at her. He defended the White House, and I think there is one thing that the press sometimes does, especially in the White House. They act as if somehow they’re above the average American person, or they’re somehow better than other people, or they’re elitists, or they’re special.

Right. A person, selected by a responsible news organization selects from its cadre a qualified reporter to attend these White House briefings, where often the most critical news affecting the planet gets disclosed. And then these reporters are expected to humble themselves and act like Archie Bunker next door. What does that remind me of? Oh, yes:

A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.

There have been times in the past when a reporter needed to get hard nosed with the President of the United States:

During Richard Nixon‘s presidency, critics accused Rather of biased coverage against him. At a Houston news conference in March 1974, Nixon fielded a question from Rather, still CBS’s White House correspondent, who said, “Thank you, Mr. President. Dan Rather, of CBS News.” The room filled with jeers and applause, prompting Nixon to joke, “Are you running for something?” Rather replied, “No, sir, Mr. President. Are you?” In his question, Rather accused Nixon of not cooperating with the grand jury investigation and the House Judiciary Committee in relation to the Watergate scandal.

Do we need snippy White House Correspondents, such as April Ryan, even today? Especially today. You go, April.

Priorities With A Capital P

Breaking news

Caught this coming over the wire from CNN:

TOM BRADY’S MISSING SUPER BOWL 51 JERSEY LOCATED BY FBI, NFL SECURITY

The mystery of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady‘s missing Super Bowl 51 jersey has been solved, the NFL announced on Monday morning.

My heart raced upon learning of this latest break in the weeks-old saga. I owe it up to you, readers, to fill you in on the very latest concerning this national crisis.

Wait! What am I thinking? From The New York Times:

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea conducted a ground jet test of a newly developed high-thrust missile engine, the country’s state-run news media said on Sunday, even as Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson is in the region discussing tougher strategies to help end the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

The Korean Central News Agency said the test took place at the same northwest facility where the country has been launching rockets to put satellites into orbit, which Western officials have said were efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile.

From CNN:

Russian fighter jets ‘buzz’ US warship in Black Sea, photos show

From ABC News:

FBI head has ‘no information’ backing wiretap claims, confirms probe of possible links between Russia and Trump associates

By MIKE LEVINE

The Ever-Diminishing List of Those Who Cannot Obtain Life Insurance at any Price

One of a continuing series

War-StrikeDaeshEscapingFallujah

Let’s have another look at that list. Who’s left? Just Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, Hatim Talib al-Hamduni, and a bunch of others. Wait, that’s the list from yesterday:

(CNN) — Two ISIS senior military commanders died last week in a U.S. airstrike, killing a man that the United States says oversaw the terror group’s 2014 offensive to capture the all-important Iraqi city of Mosul, the Pentagon said Friday.

The June 25 airstrike near Mosul killed ISIS’ deputy minister of war, Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, and Hatim Talib al-Hamduni, a military commander in the area, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

Two years ago President Obama characterized ISIS, more properly known as “Daesh,” as “junior varsity.” He always seemed overly generous to me.

Replacements for Mr. al-Bajari and Mr. al-Hamduni have yet to be named. To replace Deputy Minister of War al-Bajari, Daesh will require a candidate with five or more weeks of demonstrated experience commanding collected bands of college dropouts, psychopathic killers, and others known for making unfortunate life choices. The candidate will also be required to demonstrate the ability to draw up battle plans having a duration of two hours or more, plus the highly valued skill of giving commands while keeping a straight face. A paid-up life insurance policy is a must.

The candidate to replace Mr. al-Hamduni as military commander will need to possess an immense level of credulity, a demonstrated history of not asking too many embarrassing questions, and also the ability to look 25 minutes into the future. Paid up life insurance is a plus.