President Jackass obstructs justice. Again.

So today the man-baby came clean about not having any recordings of his conversations with James Comey.  That in itself could be newsworthy, as Trump virtually never “confesses” to anything.

Actually, he didn’t “confess” this time either, but rather indicated that it was all a bluff to influence Comey’s testimony before congress – meant to keep him “honest” – and he bragged about how well it worked.

Hang on a second while my head stops spinning. There, OK. Let’s see if I have this right.

  1. The President of the United States fired the Director of the F.B.I., James Comey, and then explained on national television that he did so because he was unhappy with the investigation of Russian meddling in the election, and wanted to somehow end it. He thereby confessed to committing Obstruction of Justice.
  2. The President of the United States then tweeted a veiled threat about having recordings of his discussions with Comey before Comey was to testify before Congress.
  3.  The President of the United States is now bragging about not actually having any such recordings after all, but being successful in his attempt to influence Comey’s testimony (by “keeping him honest”), thereby committing Obstruction of Justice. Again.

The President of the United States appears to be a bit clueless about some of the basics of what is and is not appropriate for him to say. Actually, he appears to be a complete jackass.

As always, though, the people who need to understand this don’t care and aren’t listening.

 

trump blather

You can’t stop free enterprise

Trump’s proposed budget includes steep cuts for many programs designed to help low-income Americans, the homeless, and others who need shelter. It keeps one program, though, and of course that program benefits Trump personally.

It’s a housing subsidy that pays landlords directly, and Trump has a 4% stake in a Brooklyn building that’s part of the largest subsidized housing development in the country. According to his recent financial disclosures, this position earned him $5 million between January 1, 2016 and April 15, 2017.

It doesn’t matter whether Trump is still personally involved with this investment in any way or whether he personally saw to it the subsidy wouldn’t be cut, though I would imagine that both are true given his long track record. What matters is that this is the very definition of “the appearance of a conflict of interest”, and the reason it is so important that elected officials avoid it by divesting such holdings. Except Trump, who has divested nothing.

starrett

Starrett City, Brooklyn

I simply do not understand why this one crazy bully is immune from standards that everyone in this country has been held to for years, irrespective of political affiliation.

Some prescient fretting about Trump’s “divestment” strategy in this WaPo piece from just before inauguration.

Another potential boost for Trump’s revenue could come if HUD reverses a 2007 decision in which the agency blocked owners from selling the property as Brooklyn’s real estate market boomed.

Trump clashed at the time with Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other opponents of the sale, who accused owners of seeking to make money at the expense of poor tenants. “You can’t stop free enterprise,” Trump told the New York Daily News. “This is not Communist China.”

pockets

Trump now more popular than Obama!

It’s the weekend and Trump just woke up. You know what that means, kids – right? It’s crazy-tweet time!

So at about 7:00 A.M. today, the man-baby started tweeting about accomplishing all those fantastic accomplishments he’s already accomplished – more than anyone else ever has. It’s historic! And it’s all happened “despite the distraction of the witch hunt.”

And, best of all, his popularity is now higher than Obama’s!

trump tweet

Except, of course, that it isn’t true.   After the same amount of time as President, on June 18th 2009, President Obama had an average approval rating of 59.8. This is 9.8% higher than Trump’s Rasmussen approval, and 19.8% higher than Trump’s overall average approval rating this week.

But the story here isn’t Trump’s crazy-tweets or his tenuous connection to the world of facts, much less “truth”. No one takes seriously anything the President of the United States says or tweets anymore. Everyone has already accepted that and moved on.

The real story here is that our President is obsessed with his poll numbers, and with Barack Obama, to the point where doing the actual work of governing has been pushed aside. There’s just no time for it. Making up stuff to brag about and watching TV to see how you’re doing is a full-time job.

“The evil that men do lives after them.”

Stewie invited me to add my comments today, so here goes.

Thoughts about the Shakespeare in the Park controversy:

Donald Trump’s behavior is disrespectful, vicious and mean spirited. He is delighted to sink to the lowest level, demeaning former presidents, former candidates for president, government officials and helpless private citizens.

He selects his victims randomly for ugly attacks that inflame and infuriate. The bar for civilized behavior no long includes “civilized” and is so low that even reasonable, ethical people jump into the fray and begin mimicking his despicable behavior. He has crossed the line so often that he has taken the rest of us firmly with him.

When he dismembered our government, did he take our common sense and respect for others away too? I think so.

A case in point is Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Julius Caesar. Delta Airlines and Bank of America have withdrawn their sponsorship because the current presentation “depicts the assassination of a Trump-like Roman ruler.”

If this is a metaphor for our times, and I believe it is, portraying Julius Ceasar as Donald Trump is unnecessary. I haven’t seen the production, but perceptions can often be more powerful than reality.   Creation of a violent image of a sitting President of the United States being assassinated is never appropriate. There are arguments on both sides of the question, “Does art inspire behavior?”, but the question I have is whether our society wants to own this image and whether it will be too late to leave all this behind A.T. (After Trump).

shakes

Rubber-necking the Trump-train

Everyone knows that Trump is a “ratings machine”, and he is very proud of that. Whatever show he appears on gets great ratings, and whatever event he attends becomes the center of news coverage, obscuring any other that might be happening at the same time, even a Presidential Primary debate.

It’s always struck me that he is discounting the “rubber-necking” effect. Have you ever been in a traffic jam on an Interstate, wondering what’s going on and speculating that there must an accident up ahead, only to find out that there was indeed an accident, but on the other side of the road that shouldn’t have impacted you at all? Everyone on your side slowed down to gawk. or rubber-neck, as they drove by, creating an annoying delay.

Well, I often tune in to see Trump as well, just to see what kind of accident he’ll cause, or to get my adrenaline going if I’m feeling lethargic. I’m contributing to his great ratings, but not in the way he thinks.  I’m just rubber-necking.

This Quinnipiac Poll, done on May 10, has a lot of interesting information about the man-baby’s approval ratings, for example:

  • 61 – 33 percent that he is not honest, compared to 58 – 37 percent April 19;
  • 56 – 41 percent that he does not have good leadership skills, little change;
  • 59 – 38 percent that he does not care about average Americans, compared to 57 – 42 percent April 19;
  • 66 – 29 percent that he is not level-headed, compared to 63 – 33 percent last month;
  • 62 – 35 percent that he is a strong person, little change;
  • 56 – 41 percent that he is intelligent, compared to 58 – 38 percent;
  • 64 – 32 percent that he does not share their values, compared to 61 – 35 percent.

From the text:

“There is no way to spin or sugarcoat these sagging numbers,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“The erosion of white men, white voters without college degrees and independent voters, the declaration by voters that President Donald Trump’s first 100 days were mainly a failure and deepening concerns about Trump’s honesty, intelligence and level headedness are red flags that the administration simply can’t brush away,” Malloy added.

approval

But of all the information in the poll, my favorite is the answers to the question, “What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?”

Before you check the result below, let’s play a quick game of “Family Feud”. Think about how you would respond to this question. How does your guess compare to the most popular ones in the survey?

poll1

Trump “charity”

CNN is really milking this Comey testimony thing. For days, they’ve had a permanent “countdown” displaying how many seconds are left before the Big Show.  Ratings! Revenue! Spectacle!

countdown

It’s pretty pathetic. I’m going to risk my reputation as the present-day Nostradamus and predict that when we finally hear what Comey has to say, it will be absolutely nothing you don’t already know. Yes, the “news” outlets will go crazy all day tomorrow and for a few days after, assuming the man-baby doesn’t come up with some huge distraction, wilder even than “tapped my wires”. But, as for Comey,  there’s no there there.

First of all, Comey’s primary concern is his reputation for being incorruptible, non-partisan, fair,  and, above all, not vindictive. This requires him to make no overtly anti-Trump statements or statements that could be deemed to be self-serving in refuting what the man-baby has spammed us with for weeks, even including the made-up exculpatory verbiage in the termination letter he sent to Comey. Remember that stuff about having assured Trump on three occasions that he wasn’t under investigation?

Second, we already know Comey’s version of events from various other sources. And it’s a highly believable, even obvious, account. Trump tried to influence him to drop the Flynn/Russia investigation, thereby committing the crime of Obstruction of Justice, an impeachable offense. Shocker.

And last, his testimony can never live up to the absurd advance hype it’s getting, no matter what. Maybe it won’t be as disappointing and deflating as Rachel Maddow’s “We’ve got Trump’s tax forms, tune in at 10:00” debacle, but I can promise you it won’t be worth the wait. Stop licking your chops. You’re going to remain hungry after this feast.

But this doesn’t mean there isn’t a little red meat for you in today’s news to keep you satisfied, at least until lunch. Let’s try this one from Forbes: How Donald trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business.

The ABC News version says:

According to IRS filings, the Eric Trump Foundation in 2012 spent $59,085 on its annual Golf Invitational fundraiser held at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York — money that skimmed from donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Those expenses ballooned to $230,080 in 2013 and to $242,294 in 2014, according to the filings. It is unclear from these tax forms how much of those payments went to the Trump Organization.

Forbes reported that in 2011, costs for Eric Trump’s golf tournament fundraiser tripled because his father realized that the organization had not been charging for the event and there were no bills to prove it. The Foundation declined to provide Forbes with an itemized list of expenses for the tournament.

Charity experts told Forbes that the amount paid to the Trump Organization for a golf tournament fundraiser for St. Jude’s “defy any reasonable cost.”

This, of course, is further proof of the value of seeing Trump’s tax returns, but I guess that ship has sailed. No one who understands this needs to see this new evidence, and anyone who does need to see it isn’t listening and doesn’t care.

It does remind me once more of what Michael Bloomberg, someone who certainly knows,  said about Trump: bloomberg

Trump is who he is. He wants and needs to stiff everyone. Even kids with cancer.

Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride

It had to happen.

covfefe

Is there no one who can get Trump to stop tweeting? We’ve been asking this question since long before the election, and for a long time the answer has been quite clear. No, there is no one can who convince the man-baby that he would be much better off, and even enjoy higher approval ratings, if he could just control himself a little better. Not Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, or Sean Spicer.  Not even Jared or Ivanka, those two phantoms who allegedly have the strongest influence on him.

But he just can’t do it. Saying that he’s “impulsive” doesn’t describe what we’re seeing here. It’s more like a schizophrenic toddler with Tourette’s.

It’s often been noted that his tweets are craziest when he’s alone. At night before bed or when he’s just woken up in the morning is the real danger zone. There’s no one around to stop him then. Maybe it would be different if his spouse lived with him. Who has a greater interest in keeping your foot out of your mouth and the power to do it? Remember the strong and effective influence exerted by  Rosalynn Carter or Nancy Reagan?  It wasn’t a bad thing.

Sooner or later, Trump was going to make an international joke out of himself (and, thereby, all the rest of us), with some completely incoherent or accidental tweet. Last night was the night.

covfefetweet

Obviously, he hit “Send” before he meant to, probably while trying to correct what he’d written, but that’s exactly the point. He’s the President of the United States. Every word he says has the potential to move markets, dominate the international news, impact global alliances, or even start wars. He can’t be carelessly, accidentally, or even impulsively hitting “Send” any more than he can “Launch” or “Strike” or “Detonate” or whatever it actually says on that red button on the “nuclear football”.

nfootball

And he didn’t delete it for hours, prompting speculation that maybe he’d had a medical episode of some sort.

Almost immediately, #COVFEFE was trending on social media and all kinds of great jokes and memes were speeding around the internet. Check some of them out here. Trump is an international laughingstock. Again.

Coincidentally, the talent pool for new hires is also running dry. No one wants to work for this guy. Would you? Not knowing whether what you say today will be contradicted or undermined tomorrow? Knowing for sure that you’ll be fired at some point? The number of people who are willing to sign up for Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride now is tiny, and few competent pros are among them. Trump only really trusts family members, and they’re already all on the payroll.

What a mess.