Excellent Read: “Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency”


 
Adam Davidson, disaster reporter, in the New Yorker:

This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth. I know dozens of reporters and other investigators who have studied Donald Trump and his business and political ties. Some have been skeptical of the idea that President Trump himself knowingly colluded with Russian officials. It seems not at all Trumpian to participate in a complex plan with a long-term, uncertain payoff. Collusion is an imprecise word, but it does seem close to certain that his son Donald, Jr., and several people who worked for him colluded with people close to the Kremlin; it is up to prosecutors and then the courts to figure out if this was illegal or merely deceitful. We may have a hard time finding out what President Trump himself knew and approved.

However, I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality…

… It has become commonplace to say that enough was known about Trump’s shady business before he was elected; his followers voted for him precisely because they liked that he was someone willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, and they also believe that all rich businesspeople have to do shady things from time to time. In this way of thinking, any new information about his corrupt past has no political salience. Those who hate Trump already think he’s a crook; those who love him don’t care.

I believe this assessment is wrong. Sure, many people have a vague sense of Trump’s shadiness, but once the full details are better known and digested, a fundamentally different narrative about Trump will become commonplace…

The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

Cohen, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka monetized their willingness to sign contracts with people rejected by all sensible partners. Even in this, the Trump Organization left money on the table, taking a million dollars here, five million there, even though the service they provided—giving branding legitimacy to blatantly sketchy projects—was worth far more. It was not a company that built value over decades, accumulating assets and leveraging wealth. It burned through whatever good will and brand value it established as quickly as possible, then moved on to the next scheme…

Of course Trump is raging and furious and terrified. Prosecutors are now looking at his core. Cohen was the key intermediary between the Trump family and its partners around the world; he was chief consigliere and dealmaker throughout its period of expansion into global partnerships with sketchy oligarchs. He wasn’t a slick politico who showed up for a few months. He knows everything, he recorded much of it, and now prosecutors will know it, too. It seems inevitable that much will be made public. We don’t know when. We don’t know the precise path the next few months will take. There will be resistance and denial and counterattacks. But it seems likely that, when we look back on this week, we will see it as a turning point. We are now in the end stages of the Trump Presidency.

201 replies
  1. 1
    Roger Moore says:

    Cohen: also I am recording this

    FBI wire tappers: So are we

  2. 2
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore: Estonian Intel, MI6, BGS, French Intel, Latvian Intel, Dutch Intel, Norwegian Intel, Swedish Intel, Italian Intel, Spanish Intel (you get the general idea): We, too!

  3. 3
    But her emails!! says:

    I suppose it’s the end of Trump’s Presidency one way or the other. either he’s out or it becomes something other than a Presidency, as Presidents are bound by the rule of law.

  4. 4
    Ryan says:

    Well, unless he goes full Windrip, which is slightly over the 5% chance that I consider to be grounds for countdown halt.

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:

    I believe this assessment is wrong. Sure, many people have a vague sense of Trump’s shadiness, but once the full details are better known and digested, a fundamentally different narrative about Trump will become commonplace…

    I agree with Davidson. The Trumpistas love him when he’s a successful guy who breaks all the rules. Being revealed as a pathetic grifter who can barely keep his “empire” above water is going to damage him with his base, because those guys hate “losers.”

    Once Trump gets that loser stink on him, his base will abandon him in droves and he’ll magically become a RINO.

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Roger Moore: Exactly. The idea that at this point the DOJ/FBI didn’t have a trap, trace, and record in place on Cohen’s phones is laughable. They disclosed in court that afternoon that they’d had almost all his email for months. From all his different email accounts.

    And that isn’t even before you get to the question of whether they DOJ/FBI had flipped Cohen between Monday and Friday.

    These are not the smartest of people.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    I believe this assessment is wrong. Sure, many people have a vague sense of Trump’s shadiness, but once the full details are better known and digested, a fundamentally different narrative about Trump will become commonplace…

    Trump ripped off Mom & Pop shops. He stiffed local contractors that employed people in the area. Just regular workers. People exactly like the people that agreed to vote for Trump. They aren’t going to give a shit if he cut side deals with Russians for financing or etc. They are fucking hate filled morons.

  8. 8
    Ryan says:

    @Corner Stone: Trump is a penny-ante operator.

  9. 9
    craigie says:

    …we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency.

    Let’s hope so. I can’t take any more of this foreplay.

  10. 10
    Hungry Joe says:

    If the Trumps had ever crossed the Sopranos they’d have all ended up like Big Pussy, Little Pussy, and a score of others. Tony was no genius, but Donald doesn’t have half his brains; Christopher would have made a fool of Jared and Don Jr.; and the Trumps have no Syl to call on when things get tight.

  11. 11
    Hawes says:

    Ohhhhh, I wish. But I keep thinking of John Oliver’s bit where he hits the celebration button because “we got him.”

    Then he remembers that nothing matters anymore…

  12. 12
    Brachiator says:

    I believe this assessment is wrong. Sure, many people have a vague sense of Trump’s shadiness, but once the full details are better known and digested, a fundamentally different narrative about Trump will become commonplace…

    Wishful thinking.

    Most people know exactly what they are getting with Trump. And there is a possibility that a great deal of the rot also infects the Republican Party. But his supporters are unmoved. Also, crucially, they back his agenda.

    However, those who oppose him are much more numerous. Always have been. They need to come out and vote in the midterms and in 2020.

    Town hall meetings and other forms of demonstrating may help as well.

    The Mueller investigation may help tip the balance. Trump may become increasingly more unhinged and spark the need for a 25th Amendment remedy.

    But we cannot leave anything to chance and must dismantle the political regime that supports him.

  13. 13
  14. 14
    Another Scott says:

    Speaking of “assessments”, I just noticed something about the Pentagon briefing this morning.

    Foreign Policy – take a look at the “N” arrows in the two pictures behind Lt. Gen. McKenzie, jr. They’re parallel. But the roads in the two pictures are clearly oriented differently. (On the left Before picture, the road above the buildings is pointing at 45 degrees or so, while on the right After picture that road is nearly vertical.)

    The image analysis people working overnight, and/or the people making his slides, were rushed, I guess.

    Sloppy. :-/

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  15. 15
    joel hanes says:

    I regretfully side with Corner Stone.

    Trump’s overt resentments, pathologies, and incompetence are exactly what make him attractive to the MAGA set: he “tells it like it is”, which is to say he’s an ignorant loudmouth and a damned fool, just like his supporters. That’s why they love him.

    Most of them will shrug off the truth about Trump’s criminality and feckless incompetence; they already know that, and don’t care. Many of them have chosen to live in an information bubble in which there’s no chance they’ll hear the truth in the first place.

  16. 16
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    Here’s the tricky thing — Trump may fall, but the white supremacists that make up Trump’s base aren’t going anywhere. They’ll just pick a new figurehead, and the next one may be more socially acceptable than Trump is, or at least less obviously corrupt.

  17. 17

    I have just the right sound track for this collapsing tower of cards!
    From Kaminey(Rascals)

  18. 18
    Hungry Joe says:

    So there’s no such thing as fixer-client privilege?

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne says:

    @joel hanes:

    Thing is, I don’t think they’re all that loyal to Trump as a person. They like what he represents, but if he tarnishes that image and makes them a public laughingstock, they will dump him instantly.

    The problem is not actually Trump as a person. It’s what he harnessed and unleashed and now can no longer control. That problem will continue even if he gets discarded as their figurehead.

  20. 20
    woodrowfan says:

    @Roger Moore: и мы тоже (SVR)

  21. 21

    @Mnemosyne: True, that’s why this ideology needs to be discredited thoroughly and T’s fall grace can only help.

  22. 22
    woodrowfan says:

    @Roger Moore: (so are we) in Russian. SVR

  23. 23
    piratedan says:

    @Corner Stone: you’re absolutely right in that the hard core (corps) folks that are in his corner DO NOT FUCKING CARE. He could have Stormy Daniels blow him on 5th Avenue in broad daylight during the Easter Parade and them yahoos would say look at him! so Presidential! Fucking her in the name of Christ! As he’s lifting their wallets and and kicking them out of their homes, they’ll say at least their property isn’t going to some damn lazy ass nigra or spic. This is who they are, the people of resentment, those left behind and they don;t want to hear about hard work, they’ve been busting their asses for a long time, but Donald, well, he’ll fix things for them alright.

    The thing is, all of these low information drive by conservatives are going to discover that they’ve been scammed and the the GOP aided and abetted and profited from it just as much as Trump did. Whether or not that will lead to a reckoning, I can’t say but if I didn’t have a job, I’d be out in the street carrying a sign and I sure as hell want there to be an election in 2018 and I think that its going to be a GOP bloodbath (if these fuckers don’t manage to pull off a fascist coup first) and we’re witnessing the implosion of a political party as they’ve come up bankrupt, of ideas, of reputation, ethics and morals, these fuckers don;t even have a love of country, just money and power.

  24. 24
    Corner Stone says:

    @joel hanes:

    I regretfully side with Corner Stone.

    Hey! And I was going to make a delicious pozole later, also too. Now you’ve ruined it and I’ll probably just binge on Frito’s and chocolate milk.
    Thanks a lot, joel.

  25. 25
    eemom says:

    Oh for fuck’s sake. I can’t BELIEVE anybody continues to spew the pathetic “this is the END” meme that we’ve seen HOW many times in the last miserable 15 months?

    There ain’t gonna be no end, Charlie Brown football kickers, unless and until (1) we elect a Democratic Congress, or (2) Dump vaporizes us all. Whichever comes first.

  26. 26
    Gremcat says:

    And the more desperate he will become. He is already declaring that as president he can launch any act of aggression and that Congress can’t even know why he did it.

  27. 27
    WaterGirl says:

    @piratedan:

    so Presidential! Fucking her in the name of Christ!

    okay, that was truly laugh out loud funny!

  28. 28
    Corner Stone says:

    @piratedan:

    and we’re witnessing the implosion of a political party as they’ve come up bankrupt, of ideas, of reputation, ethics and morals,

    We all thought the same thing after 2008/9.

  29. 29
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Brachiator:
    I don’t know. Do most of his supporters cultists understand how much of a small-time fraud he really is? If they did they might not support him any longer if all they value is his perceived ability to “win”.

    I do agree with your other points though. Gotta out vote the mouthbreathers at every turn.

  30. 30
    Mnemosyne says:

    To illustrate my point with a super spoiler, the final sequence of Curse of the Demon (don’t worry, it’s not graphic, and the Demon is a little too Godzilla-like to be truly scary).

    You can conjure these things up, but you can’t control them, and they’ll discard you as soon as they’re done with you.

  31. 31
    Barbara says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Well, Cohen could be in the unenviable position of being someone they don’t need or even want to flip.

  32. 32
    Chet Murthy says:

    @Brachiator:

    Most people know exactly what they are getting with Trump. And there is a possibility that a great deal of the rot also infects the Republican Party. But his supporters are unmoved. Also, crucially, they back his agenda.

    However, those who oppose him are much more numerous. Always have been. They need to come out and vote in the midterms and in 2020.

    That bit from Davidson, that’s new-fangled bothsiderism, isn’t it? “Oh those poor Trumpist voters, they were bamboozled, they wuz! Why, they’re decent salt-of-the-earth people!”

  33. 33
    ProudGradofCatLadyAcademy says:

    I have nothing other than Syria is a great tragedy for humankind. “surgically striking” is useless, but at least Haley got to channel her inner Hollywood bad ass.. anyone else throw up a little on her “Locked and Loaded” comment?

    Wallowing in personal stuff right now. Last Monday I against my better judgment accepted a job within my company as the Obamacare department I worked for at UHC was going away and layoffs were imminent. That Thursday my boss called me to read me the HR script of “thanking me for my service” and to tell me I was laid off, but not really since I had a job that was starting in two weeks and could stay working as the sole survivor of my workgroup for two weeks. Personally, I would have loved to have had a two week forced vacation as my purplish state of MN has generous unemployment benefits. Also too, they dumped a report on me that required moving people from one program to another and mandated it get done before I left. The problem was there were so many people on the report and it was a complicated process, and I am the sole remaining person who knew how to do it. I had scheduled two days of PTO prior to the start of my new job, but this report canceled that and I worked through the PTO and my Saturday. I finally finished a couple hours ago and am one glass past my limit on my daily alcohol intake. I also through my sheer dedication saved my company 3 million dollars, for which I will be lucky to recieve a 50 dollar gift card to Applebee’s, of which they with their “partnerships” probably only paid 15 dollars for.

    So, here’s to the close of Obamacare(with the exception of NY- and NV-with outsourced support) – at UHC. Here’s a shout out to my back office colleagues who saved countless from health insurance nightmares and were laid off due to UHC’s colossal greed and lack of planning when joining the ACA market. And here’s to me, and my favorite case I had in 3 years -Lily- Lily whose billing I fixed and was granted the rare permission to call to update her. (Back office people don’t CALL!) -Lily who listened to merramble about what the manipulations I maneuvered for her with quiet grace, and then said, “Thank you, knowing that I have coverage helps, because I just got home from the doctor and I have state 4 throat cancer, and knowing that I don’t have to worry about if I have insurance or not is a huge burden lifted from me.” Lily, thank you, thank you for teaching me that my “duct tape” efforts to make it work for you and countless others mattered and mattered a lot.

    Also, as long as I am overly tipsy- a giant Johnny Cash middle finger to UHC for failing at Obamacare, and firing a lot of good people and a GIANT Johnny Cash middle finger and f’ck you to Trump supporting American voters who made situations like LIly’s possible this year with their votes.

    I think I might pour another one after I eat something. Sorry guys, for the drunken rant. I live by myself and the cat doesn’t want to hear me rage again, after all, she listened to a lot of swearing this morning as I closed the report. I am just really sad about leaving this department. I LOVED Obamacare-while not perfect- and my job working to help people on the UHC ACA coverages ACA.and while I was not happy about working on the Death Star known as UHC, at least I knew was making a difference.

  34. 34
    Corner Stone says:

    Can we all agree to just stop posting comments in Cyrillic? Like three people here can read them, Google Translate fails about 90% of the time and it just chokes on the FYWP filter. It doesn’t enlighten anyone, IMO.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    @eemom:

    That’s kind of my point — even if Trump falls, another Republican asshole will just step into his place unless we prevent that by voting all of these jackasses out of office.

  36. 36
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Corner Stone:
    Nothing lasts forever. We have to do whatever we can to make them collapse.

  37. 37

    The hit on Syria may have split Trump’s base. Many of them believed him when he said he’d get us out of our wars.

    I don’t know if Davidson is right. He makes a good argument, and things are beginning to fray around the edges. The critical point will be congressional supineness, which may lead or follow public opinion.

  38. 38
    Barbara says:

    @joel hanes: You don’t actually need to persuade too many people to think of him differently in order to move the needle. But yeah, most of the people who voted for him are already either totally deluded or voting for other reasons that won’t change (abortion, taxes, etc.). It’s hard to say what the impact will be.

  39. 39
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Here’s the tricky thing — Trump may fall, but the white supremacists that make up Trump’s base aren’t going anywhere.

    America has always been a racist nation (which does not mean that all Americans are racist). White supremacists have been emboldened by Trump. However, he is a racist who is trying to implement his own nativist agenda. Stop him and get rid of his racist advisors and helpers and it will be a little easier to sweep many of his racist supporters back into their dank hiding places.

    I also note, though, that it is hard to know the extent to which the nation has been damaged by Trump’s open racism.

  40. 40
    trollhattan says:

    Trump’s presidency is one giant Jenga tower. Just keep pulling out blocks, no point in guessing which one makes the thing collapse, just keep pulling block after block after block….. The only thing we do know–it will be something stupid.

  41. 41
    Dev Null says:

    @Corner Stone: the implosion and death by suicide of the GOP, “we said this” …

    I sure thought this, and said so.

    And I am ceaselessly mocked by my friends, all one or two of them, assuming that they’re not mocking me by claiming to be friends, for my naïveté. (h/t M-W for the accents…)

    Once burnt, twice shy.

    Or in Sam Clemens parlance, “the burnt hand shuns the fire.”

  42. 42
    trollhattan says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    Do they even remember this is the second time? His base seems somewhat…malleable.

  43. 43
    jl says:

    @eemom: I kind of agree, at least for now. Maybe not in three months. The loyal GOP primary voters have been reduced to mostly a racist authoritarian xenophobic irrational rump of die-hard Trump fanatics. The vast majority of Congressional GOPers are afraid of pissing them off, so Trump can do anything he wants in the meantime and they won’t do anything meaningful to stop him.

    After the GOP primaries are over, the GOPers will have to think about winning the general. Then we have to see whether they will follow the lead of Ryan and just skip out on short notice, or hunker down and try to win with their base, or do something about Trump in an attempt to save themselves in November. But that is four to seven months of no real check on Trump, and they will be dangerous times.

    The article does make a one good point that is in tension with the ‘No, really, this is The End’ meme. Which is the question of whether Trump is capable of actively collaborating in any kind of organized scheme. It might be that Trump was very much the passive partner, so may be hard to get something on him definite regarding his involvement. Russia found it really could not coordinate with the Trump organization, so did stuff themselves, or went through his corrupt flunkies, or NRA, or sleazy GOP money back channels. So, Mueller might put a lot of crooks in jail without fatally damaging Trump.

    Might take a lot of digging to find that Trump was aware and consented to it, or maybe tried to collaborate but it all fell down into a confused heap of chaos before anything definite could be planned. I think those two scenarios are more likely than Trump actually focusing long enough to formulate a plan with somebody, and then, actually executing it, but we’ll see.

    Edit:OTOH, if somebody offered Trump something, no matter how loony or sketchy, he must have said ‘yes’ right away, with no clue about doing anything in return. Finding hard evidence of that might be The End. But, who knows?

  44. 44
    debbie says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I don’t get the feeling that they’ll care that he’s fucked over people like them. If for no other reason than that they’ll refuse to admit they misjudged him. They’ll go right off the cliff after him. Good riddance, I say.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    I also note, though, that it is hard to know the extent to which the nation has been damaged by Trump’s open racism.

    This is the part I’m most worried about. Even here in California we have white supremacists who have been happy to let their freak flags fly and attack people in public. It’s going to be very difficult to get that genie back in the bottle, particularly when the media is still in denial about what really put Trump over the top in the Electoral College.

  46. 46
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Another Scott: They were rushing to get the battle damage assessments story boarded. But if you notice, the image on the right is larger than on the left. It is likely the imagery is from a different angle.

  47. 47
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I doubt that useless pack of idiots in Congress (GOP) are going to be leading anything for much for longer the way things are starting shape up to.

  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Adam, in a reasonable scenario, how long would we really expect it to take to get a damage assessment and understand who may have been killed and what assets destroyed? 24 – 48 hours?

    ETA, I don’t mean final analysis, just an understanding of what happened on the ground.

  49. 49
    Hungry Joe says:

    @piratedan: When it comes to ” … all of these low information drive by conservatives are going to discover that they’ve been scammed and the GOP aided and abetted and profited from it just as much as Trump did,” well … no. They haven’t discovered anything yet, and there’s no reason the think they’re about to start.

  50. 50
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Barbara: His only hope is a deal. Especially one that takes NY state charges off the table. Almost everything they’re looking at him for can be charged by NY AG Schneiderman if the President pardons him. They may not need Cohen, but Cohen needs a deal.

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ProudGradofCatLadyAcademy:

    Ugh. I’m sorry. There a few things worse than a crappy job that manages to make your exit even more crappy by forcing you to work overtime just to get the hell out.

  52. 52
    Brachiator says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    The hit on Syria may have split Trump’s base. Many of them believed him when he said he’d get us out of our wars.

    The other side of this is that there are people, liberal and conservative, who deeply buy into the idea of the US as leader of the free world. That the UK and France actively supported Trump vindicates their faith in Trump. It greatly normalizes him.

    Also, people who simply want the US to stay out of wars refuse to acknowledge a greater truth. Regional powers and great nations don’t simply sit back and act properly just because the US is not acting in the world. Russia, Iran, China, Turkey, the Saudis and others pursue their own national interests, often with terrible results for the innocent and those who oppose them.

  53. 53
    p.a. says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Once Trump gets that loser stink on him, his base will abandon him in droves and he’ll magically become a RINO.

    Well they already used the TeaParty/No Step on Snek to cover the stink of W’s admin. What’s next, Shay’s Rebellion or the Whiskey Rebellion? They have flags?
    Given their-ah- proclivities– we know the fraud won’t be perpetrated in the name of Prosser, Vesey, Turner, or Brown.

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Hopefully part of the deal will be that if Trump pardons him on the federal charges, the state charges will be filed immediately, with no deal.

  55. 55
    FlyingToaster says:

    @Corner Stone: No.

    Ձեզ դուր է գալիս, որ ավելի լավ է:

  56. 56
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Depends on the battlespace. In this case 24-48 hours is plenty. We only struck 3 targets. The complication is that the 3 targets are in Syrian, backed by Russia and Iran, controlled areas. So getting intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) assets over them is difficult. As is infiltrating ground assets to make the assessments.

  57. 57
    tobie says:

    @ProudGradofCatLadyAcademy:

    That Thursday my boss called me to read me the HR script of “thanking me for my service” and to tell me I was laid off, but not really since I had a job that was starting in two weeks and could stay working as the sole survivor of my workgroup for two weeks.

    Your boss is a total douche. You, on the other hand, are a mensch. You did good by people who needed an extra hand.

  58. 58

    The people that you all think are “Trump fanatics” ain’t even. If and when Fox News tells them Trump is a crook and a loser, they’ll turn on him like the vicious stooges they are. It’s gonna be great, in a nauseating kinda way.

  59. 59

    @Mnemosyne:

    The problem is not actually Trump as a person. It’s what he harnessed and unleashed and now can no longer control.

    Cart before the horse. Obama unleashed this, in the sense that roughly half the whites in this country could not handle having a black president and went absolutely apeshit. They refuse to hide what grotesque abominations they are anymore, and they demanded a president who represents them.

    That problem will continue even if he gets discarded as their figurehead.

    Yep. Any defeat we hand to them at any time is a good one, but the real solution can only ever be outvoting them.

  60. 60
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: I would expect so.

  61. 61
    jl says:

    @p.a.: Some will suddenly discover that Trump is not the one, and will go seek another. Some prophet, like Alex Jones or Rush will point the way to the next savior. Those will suddenly remember Trump long tried to break into politics as a moderate conservative Democrat (but no one there wanted to put up with his BS). Fox will often have one of its oopsies and call Trump a Democrat.

    Others will never abandon the glorious lost cause, and spend the rest of their days running, and resenting, fantastical nonsense conspiracies through their heads. And some prophets will make some money off of them.

  62. 62
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Brachiator:
    You always do like to point out the negative side of things, don’t you? That’s pretty consistent about you.

  63. 63

    @Corner Stone: Here are some before and after photos. I’m seeing reports that there was enough warning that there weren’t casualties.

  64. 64
    NorthLeft12 says:

    Any idea who the schlub was that Cohen basically pushed out of his seat?

    I don’t know Cohen at all, but I dislike him intensely just for that.

  65. 65
    Barbara says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Sure, he might need a deal but the prosecutor might not and might prefer to have a trial for tactical reasons. I have no idea, of course, but Cohen strikes me as someone who is dense in the “too clever by half” way that he might have overreached a lot because he mistakenly thought he had covered his tracks. Could he honestly have believed that not having a passport stamp proved that he was never in Prague? And he never used his cell phone or his email account, etc.?

  66. 66
    Ninedragonspot says:

    @Corner Stone: 好的。

  67. 67
    Brachiator says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    I don’t know. Do most of his cultists understand how much of a small-time fraud he really is?

    A good number of his supporters love him because he thinks just like they do. They would be happy to be a small time con artist who is sticking it to the man.

    Even if Trump ain’t a real billionaire, he is richer than most of his chumps, and living the life they want to live.

    And let’s be blunt about his scandals. How many ordinary guys would love to have sex with a Playmate of the Year or one of the all time favorite adult film actresses?

    And there are despicable men who would love to be able to treat women badly. And it is just strange to see how many conservative women stand by Trump.

    And no, this is not the majority, but still a sad segment of the public.

  68. 68
    woodrowfan says:

    @eemom: remember “Fitzmas”??

  69. 69

    @Brachiator: Whether or not they acknowledge that truth is not the point. Will they support Trump? Trump’s troubles are making him more and more toxic to more and more people. The cable news praise for his presidentiality with this strike seems to be less than the last time around. People may think it’s a good idea to hit Assad, but this reminds them that Trump also can order nuclear strikes.

    It’s not all one way or another. I think that Davidson is right that public opinion is moving away from Trump, and it’s going to be hard to turn that around.

  70. 70
    Ruckus says:

    @Brachiator:
    I don’t think a lot of them actually did know. You have to sort of be tuned in to know that he was a fake and a racist all along. And a lot of his supporters don’t give a negative damn about his racism, that’s what they like about him. He touted his billions, no one publicly doubted his claims until he ran and then the worst was that Forbes said he was worth 3 1/2 billion. And no one has been able to dispute that amount, even if we seriously doubt that it’s close to true. And there are a lot of people who didn’t want to know if he’s the real deal, they wanted a racist to be their leader. The rich thought that he’d sign any bill that gave the rich more money, even if they knew that he’s a useless fuck. So there is his support, extremely selfish people didn’t care or didn’t want to know if he’s an asshole. Hell they are assholes so he’s one of them and in a way they can all relate to.
    @Mnemosyne:
    This has been a problem for republicans for decades. They unleashed their id and it keeps coming back to bite them on the ass. Of course that lasts long enough for enough people to forget that their id is a real issue and the cycle starts all over. I have no idea if this is a fixable situation but it can’t go on for too many more cycles without completely blowing up, which it may have already done. There aren’t any safeties in place in this design of government for this much outright political failure. Most of the democratic types of government around the world have better safeties, and even then they don’t always work.

  71. 71
    Brachiator says:

    Before and after images of locations hit in US/French/UK airstrikes on Syria, via Digital Globe h/t @mikegruss https://t.co/vrgJSZsO0T

    Wow. I haven’t seen bullshit like this since the run-up to the Iraq War.

    It’s not to say that the destruction is not real, but it lacks context.

  72. 72
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlyingToaster: I keep forgetting how cool you are.

  73. 73
    Brachiator says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    It’s not all one way or another.

    I absolutely agree with this. But I don’t see Trump’s core support dwindling yet. And the GOP and the plutocrats are increasing their support for Trump. Seeing the UK and France strongly back Trump should trouble anyone.

    And yeah, I will say it. If Trump can stay stable and secure some agreement with North Korea, he will easily win re-election.

  74. 74
    Ruckus says:

    @Barbara:
    That’s got to hurt if you are Cohen. They aren’t going to offer him squat, they have him for so much that he wouldn’t be creditable if he flipped. They wanted his info but him? He’s a penny anti grifter with more exposure than Kodak ever managed.

  75. 75
    bemused says:

    @Ruckus:

    Deliberately not tuned in. As you said, they love his bullying. If Fox News got knocked off the air, it might help some kick their addiction but most of them would be lost without their supply…for awhile

  76. 76
    The Ancient Randonneur says:

    I say DeNiro gets the part of Mueller in the movie.

  77. 77
    Corner Stone says:

    @Ninedragonspot: אני מסכים לחלוטין

  78. 78
    Ruckus says:

    @Chet Murthy:

    Why, they’re decent salt-of-the-earth people!

    It might just be me but I read that as shit of the earth people.

  79. 79
    Anotherlurker says:

    @Mnemosyne: One of my favorite films!
    Tidbit: one of the vehicles, a small sports car, has a 666 license plate.
    Yes, I have wateched this film a few times.

  80. 80

    @Brachiator: You are ignoring all the legal troubles. As someone admonished me and Adam the other night, you are analyzing Trump as though he were a normal politician. He’s not.

  81. 81
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Brachiator:

    And yeah, I will say it. If Trump can stay stable and secure some agreement with North Korea, he will easily win re-election

    Bullshit he will.

  82. 82
    Mike in NC says:

    On the day that Trump leaves the Oval Office — could be in a straitjacket or strapped to a gurney — I’ll celebrate by popping open a chilled bottle of Trump Champagne. Oh wait, I can’t.

  83. 83
    rikyrah says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Their vessel for White Supremacy is an INTERNATIONAL embarrassment.

    They must never be allowed to weasel out from their vote for him, which showed THEIR lack of character.

  84. 84
    germy says:

    @Mike in NC: Trump Vodka is stronger.

  85. 85
    father pusbucket says:

    The first three paragraphs is the most concise damnation I’ve seen of the foolishness of Bush and Rumsfeld’s war.

  86. 86
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Can we all agree to just stop posting comments in Cyrillic?

    Я полностью согласен с тобой.

  87. 87
  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    But I don’t see Trump’s core support dwindling yet.

    I’ve already seen it dwindle a lot just by keeping Facebook tabs on my Trump-voting cousins in Wisconsin. She never brings up his name anymore.

    Where it hasn’t dwindled much is in the MSM. They’re still dedicated to the proposition that the Emperor’s new clothes must be minutely critiqued lest people realize he isn’t wearing any.

  89. 89
    zhena gogolia says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    You’re a guy? Should be согласна. (Just messing with you to annoy CS.)

  90. 90
  91. 91
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Anotherlurker:

    Tourneur got his start working for Val Lewton in the 1940s and directed classics like Cat People. He was also the director of Out of the Past, one of the seminal films noir.

  92. 92
    Mnemosyne says:

    @rikyrah:

    They must never be allowed to weasel out from their vote for him, which showed THEIR lack of character.

    Absolutely. I’m willing to accept a simple apology and I was wrong, but they don’t get to pretend it never happened.

  93. 93
    Another Scott says:

    @tobie: +1

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  94. 94
    Corner Stone says:

    @zhena gogolia: Sometimes I bother to google translate it and sometimes I don’t give a shit. Just seems mainly pointless, but meh.

  95. 95
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @germy:
    Can’t remember if it was here or on another blog (or maybe WaPo comments to Fahrenthold’s article) that someone pointed out how odd/hypocritical it was for Trump, a rabid anti-drinker, to profit off of TRUMP branded wine and vodka.

    Doesn’t surprise me in the least, but evidently some were quite taken aback. Silly people.

  96. 96
    Brachiator says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    You are ignoring all the legal troubles. As someone admonished me and Adam the other night, you are analyzing Trump as though he were a normal politician. He’s not.

    To the contrary. Trump has steamrolled normal politics since he began his presidential campaign and his supporters love him all the more for this. He also bent the GOP to his will and continues to do so.

    Reaction to his legal troubles? I noted elsewhere that evangelicals were sending Facebook messages asking for people to pray for Trump.

    A good chunk of his supporters don’t want democracy if it means including non-white people and gays. Members of his cabinet attend Bible study meetings that emphasize that women must be subservient to their men. Whether the men must be morally worthy remains unclear.

    How likely is it that people like this will be moved by more lurid revelations about Trump.

    Also, the bottom line is that Trump’s legal problems will not endanger him unless the Republicans are willing to act. This is true even if Democrats sweep the mid-terms.

    But yes, a massive change in public opinion, along with stinging defeats in November, might make a huge difference. And I would never say that this cannot happen.

    But voters who despise Trump now matter far more than those who might turn against him in the future. Fortunately, there are a lot of these people.

  97. 97
    germy says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Especially after he has said repeatedly to his offspring “Don’t drink” citing his deceased brother as the reason why. “Okay to profit off it, though” I suppose.

  98. 98
    jl says:

    @Brachiator:

    ‘ Seeing the UK and France strongly back Trump should trouble anyone. ‘
    Do we know for sure which way that went? I thought UK and France were going ahead regardless of US.

    ‘ And yeah, I will say it. If Trump can stay stable and secure some agreement with North Korea, he will easily win re-election. ‘
    Some agreement? We’ve had agreements with NK in the past, didn’t seem to have much impact on anything. What kind of agreement would make much impression on anyone, short of NK letting international inspectors crawl all over the country and witness destruction of its nukes and nuke capability? That ain’t going to happen. And hey, is that big talk between Trump and Kim Jong-un scheduled yet? Trump said he had a very def invite? What happened?

  99. 99
    germy says:

    I imagine a world where drumpf is asked to leave a Starbucks because he didn’t order anything. “But I’m waiting for Cohen” he’d tell them, but they’d call the cops anyway.

  100. 100
    Ruckus says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    I don’t spend more than about 5 minutes a week on FB any more and often not even that much. But friends who post liberal stuff are getting a lot less pushback these days and that pushback came from people that I know who are right wing assholes. So I’d say yes the general level is down. And you can see that in that a lot of special elections have gone against repubs. So I’d say at least the tide has stopped coming in at as rapid a rate and possibly has turned. In political time it’s an eon till Nov so who knows what the mood will be like then. But if enough motivated people show up and enough disenchanted stay home………..

  101. 101
    Brachiator says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Can we all agree to just stop posting comments in Cyrillic?

    Я полностью согласен с тобой.

    I guess that means no.

  102. 102
    Mnemosyne says:

    @germy:

    He thinks that people who drink alcohol are weak and stupid. Why wouldn’t he want to profit off them?

  103. 103
    jl says:

    @Brachiator:

    ” But voters who despise Trump now matter far more than those who might turn against him in the future. Fortunately, there are a lot of these people. ”

    I do agree with that completely. Better for Dems to focus on energizing Dems and Dem leaning independents for the election than going passive in order to not offend GOPer voters. Anyone who walks around these days volunteering they are a GOP voter is very unlikely to vote for any Democrats.

  104. 104
    germy says:

    I am tired of stating this but there are no better words: You can’t make this stuff up! Instead of being in Fed Ct last Friday, Mr. Cohen met with his Russian associates. #bastahttps://t.co/ZdQ8wAH40N via @TPM— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 14, 2018

    Rule No 1 – if you are not going to show up for Fed Ct, don’t be photographed with your boys looking like you don’t give a damn at the same time the judge is asking why simple questions cannot be answered. #basta https://t.co/LQLQEKLaH9— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 14, 2018

  105. 105
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @germy:

    Yes, zackly. A perfect example of “Do as I say, not as I do.”

  106. 106
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    He was also the director of Out of the Past, one of the seminal films noir.

    “Out of the Past” is one of the all-time greats. Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer are outstanding. Paradoxically, Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas are both manly enough to execute the homoerotic subtext of the drama.

    The remake, “Against All Odds,” with Jeff Bridges and a smoking hot Rachel Ward, wasn’t too shabby, either. James Woods in the Kirk Douglas role is good, but not quite great.

  107. 107
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    You’re a guy? Should be согласна. (Just messing with you to annoy CS.)

    Google Translate makes any number of gender-biased assumptions.

    P.S. There is a short story by Dorothy L. Sayers in which the clue to the solution of the mystery depends entirely on a gendered pronoun or adjective.

  108. 108
    Calouste says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Not to mention what kind of fool you must be to buy wine from someone who doesn’t drink.

  109. 109
    Corner Stone says:

    @Brachiator:

    I guess that means no.

    I’m pretty sure it translates into something like, “The umbrella opens whether the bear is in weather or not.”

  110. 110

    @Brachiator:

    If Trump can stay stable and secure some agreement with North Korea, he will easily win re-election.

    Trump gotta Trump. He will continue to be the same lunatic. I expect (although I can’t say I’m sure) that we will soon learn something about the air strikes that will make them an embarrassing loss for him.

    But really, that and any agreement with North Korea are beside the point. Trump’s people are not going to suffer worse than a little demotivation. What will matter is our motivation. Given that Trump squeaked an incredibly tiny technical victory with a perfect storm of every cheat possible thrown in his favor and still lost the popular vote by 3 million, I’m not seeing any ‘easily’ for him.

  111. 111
    Brachiator says:

    @jl:

    Do we know for sure which way that went? I thought UK and France were going ahead regardless of US.

    There’s May emphasized that she was consulting with Trump. France and even Germany, which did not join in on the attacks, strongly backed the idea that some response was required. So far, France and the UK have been content to let Trump brag about being team leader.

    Some agreement? We’ve had agreements with NK in the past, didn’t seem to have much impact on anything.

    Yep. Some agreement. Trump will play up any agreement, no matter how weak, as the greatest ever, and as long as North Korea stays quiet up to election day, 2020, the GOP will mark this down as a win.

    And voters do not do nuance. If North Korea is not testing missiles, people will be happy.

  112. 112
    Ohio Mom says:

    @ProudGradofCatLadyAcademy: Like everybody else who has ever gone to a doctor, I’ve had my share of um, billing issues.

    My favorite was spending six months trying to get my first asthma test paid for; everyone at the insurance company I spoke to kept insisting they didn’t cover durable equipment. I kept saying, I took a test in the hospital, there is no durable equipment!

    Finally someone, someone just like you, fixed it and I was freed. I thanked her but probably not enough.

    You are helping people. It is merely an unfortunate side effect that UHC also benefits.

    Anyway, good to see you around these parts again.

  113. 113
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I’m pretty sure it translates into something like, “The umbrella opens whether the bear is in weather or not.” “My hovercraft is full of eels.”

    FT etc.

  114. 114
    germy says:

    Interesting observation by @sarahkendzior, "Trump needs to be a brand because he’s terrified of being a person." https://t.co/ciayVTaMjD— Tal Herman (@seralat) April 14, 2018

  115. 115
    Brachiator says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    And yeah, I will say it. If Trump can stay stable and secure some agreement with North Korea, he will easily win re-election

    Bullshit he will.

    I laid down my challenge. I will be deliriously happy if events prove me wrong.

  116. 116
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    Tourneur also directed I Walked With A Zombie for Lewton, which is a critique of colonialism and the ongoing oppression of African-Americans in the guise of a zombie movie.

  117. 117

    @Corner Stone: नहीं हम दूसरी भाषामें बोलना बंद नहीं करेंगे

  118. 118
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    So far, France and the UK have been content to let Trump brag about being team leader.

    Of course they are — if/when the whole thing goes to shit, they can point to Trump and say, “Don’t blame us, that guy did it.” It’s a win/win for them.

    And I think the odds of Trump being able to keep his shit together and appear to be normal for the next 6-1/2 months are way lower than you seem to think.

  119. 119
    BroD says:

    @ProudGradofCatLadyAcademy:
    Awesome rant–well done!

  120. 120
    Corner Stone says:

    @schrodingers_cat: That’s not really the fucking point.

  121. 121
    Corner Stone says:

    गोबेटी गोब गो गू

  122. 122

    @Brachiator:

    And yeah, I will say it. If Trump can stay stable and secure some agreement with North Korea, he will easily win re-election.

    Neither are going to happen, even if you say it.

  123. 123
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    P.S. There is a short story by Dorothy L. Sayers in which the clue to the solution of the mystery depends entirely on a gendered pronoun or adjective.

    Love that short story! Thanks for the reminder of what a joy it is.

    For indeed, Subaru Diane had been (and still is, fortunately for us!) notable in her day.

  124. 124

    @Corner Stone: Ok got it, people are writing gibberish in other languages. I support your anti-gibberish stance.

    ETA: I was just teasing you.

  125. 125
    Booger says:

    @Another Scott: THAT’S HOW MUCH DAMAGE WE DID!!

  126. 126
    OldDave says:

    @Brachiator:

    If Trump can stay stable

    Argues facts not in evidence.

  127. 127
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Trump’s crew is way stupider than The Worst and the Stupidest. Can’t blame Trudeau for not seeing this coming, decades away.

  128. 128
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Tourneur also directed I Walked With A Zombie for Lewton, which is a critique of colonialism and the ongoing oppression of African-Americans in the guise of a zombie movie.

    I think there is too much white paternalism and sensationalism of Afro Caribbean religion for this to be convincing as a critique.

    I think this was one of the first depictions of Calypso music in an American mainstream film.

  129. 129
    Corner Stone says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Come right the fuck on. If someone says, “That phrase or statement means ‘ABC’ but really probably means ‘XYZ'” That has value. It allows non-native speakers to evaluate what they think is going on. But when a post does not contain context and can’t be accurately translated 9 out of 10 times then what is that? For fuck’s sake I got chastised for using a fucking acronym that was explained completely in a link I included at the very top of a comment I made.
    I really don’t care all that much about this. Just seems kind of fan boy/girl ish. So what the fuck ever. Easy peasy to arrow down.

    ETA, I see the ETA but I have pozole to make at some point. Even though joel broke my heart earlier.

  130. 130
    germy says:

    The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2013

  131. 131

    @Corner Stone

    :For fuck’s sake I got chastised for using a fucking acronym that was explained completely in a link I included at the very top of a comment I made.

    Who chastised you? I haven’t read the entire thread. I didn’t mean to pile on. I am sorry.

    ETA: Enjoy the pozole (sp?)

  132. 132
    Corner Stone says:

    @Corner Stone: It’s going to be 42F here tonight! I may perish without a hearty soup/stew to tide me over!

  133. 133
    Another Scott says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Reuters: Trump blurs the ‘red line’:

    […]

    “A large body of information indicates that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the U.N. Security Council on Saturday.

    Sarin had previously appeared to be the threshold for intervention. A sarin attack triggered Trump’s decision last year to strike a Syrian air base. A sarin attack in 2013 was also what nearly brought then-President Barack Obama to strike Syria.

    Chlorine, in contrast, has been used more widely in Syria’s conflict without past U.S. reprisals, and the chemical itself is far easier to find and weaponize, experts say. That makes degrading it through military strikes far more difficult.

    […]

    As of Saturday, it was unclear whether another chlorine attack would be enough to trigger more U.S. strikes, or whether the death toll would need to be high enough or whether – as was the case on April 7 – sarin use would also need to be a possibility.

    Or perhaps there would need to be a series of violations, as was the case before April 7, prior to any U.S. action.

    […]

    A 2015-2017 joint inquiry of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had found the Syrian government used sarin in an April 4, 2017, attack and has also several times used chlorine as a weapon. It blamed Islamic State militants for mustard gas use.

    That inquiry ended in November after Russia, which backs Assad, blocked three attempts by the U.N. Security Council to renew its mandate. Moscow slammed the joint U.N. and OPCW inquiry as flawed.

    Ahead of the latest strikes, Haley signaled in the Security Council on Friday that any action by Washington would not be in response to just the attack in Douma.

    “The United States estimates that Assad has used chemical weapons in the Syrian war at least 50 times. Public estimates are as high as 200,” she said.

    On Saturday, she hinted the United States would strike again if Assad used chlorine, but stopped short of specifying which chemical agent she was referring to.

    “If the Syrian regime uses this poison gas again, the United States is locked and loaded. When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line,” Haley said on Saturday.

    Expect a lot more chlorine gas attacks, by more actors than just Assad, in an attempt to goad Donnie into attacking Assad again, and in an attempt to broaden the war (so that Russia and Iran are even more invested in Assad’s survival).

    (sigh)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  134. 134
    Brachiator says:

    @germy:

    The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!

    Gee, if only we had a Republican Congress that held the president accountable…

    But I still love the idea of using this dope’s own past Twitter messages to show what a bullshit artist he is. And he can’t claim fake news.

  135. 135
    Cermet says:

    @Brachiator: Saying the word “deal” is like saying you are ‘rich’. Utterly meaningless without parameters that clearly define what a deal is. If it remove all nukes in a verifiable manner from the north, yes, that is a deal. Otherwise, it will be a useless agreement that means less than nothing and no, the media will not call it as a good deal. Please, trying writing as if you know what you are saying – the orange fart cloud could exchange the south to the north – that too, is a deal – then call himself brilliant for it and you think that will guarantee his re-election (of course not but the point is you left the interpretation wide open.)

  136. 136
    Brachiator says:

    @Another Scott:

    Expect a lot more chlorine gas attacks, by more actors than just Assad, in an attempt to goad Donnie into attacking Assad again, and in an attempt to broaden the war (so that Russia and Iran are even more invested in Assad’s survival).

    Don’t think so. Are their other actors who have and can effectively deploy chemical weapons? It ain’t that easy.

    Russia, Iran and Turkey do not want a broader war. They want the US out so that they can more easily wield influence.

  137. 137
    Brachiator says:

    @Cermet:

    Saying the word “deal” is like saying you are ‘rich’.

    I think I said agreement, not deal, but no matter. And I didn’t say how substantive any agreement had to be.

    I admit this is a wild ass speculation. And I don’t say it just to be contrarian or to upset sensitive souls.

    But I laid down my prediction. We will see what happens.

  138. 138
    philbert says:

    @ProudGradofCatLadyAcademy: A righteous rant. Thanks for all your work, None medical thankfully, but how many times I have had to go thru layers of people until finally deep in the bowels of the organization, I finally get someone in the back office (always a lady) who can answer/fix it. Regarding saving $3 million, I suggest documenting this in your exit to your management with copies to any who are good and may be references in the future. Said as s a veteran of being laid off every way they can to keep one from getting anything beyond a current paycheck,

  139. 139
    Washburn says:

    I read through the Davidson article looking for how, exactly, the think the Trump presidency is going to end.

    Resignation?
    Death?
    Impeachment and removal?

  140. 140
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    @Corner Stone:

    stop posting comments in Cyrillic? Like three people here can read them

    You can’t blame people for preparing for the future when the Republican party declares Russian to be the language of government.

  141. 141
    MoCA Ace says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The problem is not actually Trump as a person. It’s what he harnessed and unleashed and now can no longer control. That problem will continue even if he gets discarded as their figurehead.

    It’s what the republicans harnessed and unleashed… including Trump

  142. 142
    Another Scott says:

    @Brachiator: The Reuters story I excerpted says that Daesh used mustard gas. Chlorine is easy in comparison.

    Sure, Russia, Iran and Turkey don’t want a broader war, but Assad will do anything to survive in power. Getting a 1-2 hour ‘bloody nose’ from Donnie that kills a bunch of Russians and Republican Guards and Hezbollah commanders and who knows who else, and gets their patrons all riled up, and causes them to go after the ~ 2000 ‘non-troops’ Americans in Syria, and ships in the area, and who knows what else, well, I’m sure Assad would take that tradeoff without a second thought.

    We can’t expect that Trump’s actions won’t make things worse, that Russia and Iran and Turkey and Hezbollah and the Kurds and all the rest won’t be goaded into expanding the war. It’s what he does – he makes things worse.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  143. 143
    Washburn says:

    @eemom:
    What she said.

  144. 144
    Citizen Alan says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    There’s also an Agatha Christie novel in which the solution turns on a murder victim’s use of a pronoun without an antecedent.

  145. 145
    Felanius Kootea says:

    @Washburn:
    Oh there’s many more options, since we’re just randomly speculating:

    Suicide
    Assassination by irate Trumpistas mad about Syria
    Serving out first term and not running for re-election
    Going on a permanent golf vacation and asking Kelly to run things
    Stroke that requires months of recovery and handing over power to Mike Pence
    Heart attack after watching a negative rant by Alex Jones
    Dying peacefully in his sleep after watching a particularly laudatory episode of Jeanine Pirro’s show

    I mean we could go on and on or just wait and see what happens

  146. 146
    Brachiator says:

    @Another Scott:

    Sure, Russia, Iran and Turkey don’t want a broader war, but Assad will do anything to survive in power.

    Assad is Russia’s client. Trump has redefined the mission. He supposedly doesn’t want Assad to use chemical weapons. He is not committed to removing Assad, only “defeating” ISIS.

    Americans focus on war or no war. Russia, Iran and Turkey want to be the major powers in the region.

  147. 147
    Washburn says:

    @Felanius Kootea:
    Death by incurable priapism?

  148. 148
    Cermet says:

    @Another Scott: What? No russians or anyone really doing chemical work was killed. We told them well in advanced and we even struck at night – not exactly a time workers are in the plant. So, no russians were harmed in the making of this movie – lol.

  149. 149
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Washburn: As if he can get it up. With or without medical assistance.

  150. 150
    Another Scott says:

    @Cermet: There’s always next time. That was my (unclear) point.

    Assad will keep using the weapons he has as long as (he thinks) it’s necessary for him to maintain power and make the population cower. If the barrel bombs of chlorine + X stop working well enough, then he’ll add more. Maybe Theresa and Emmanuel and even Donnie won’t be so amenable to giving Bashir a warning next time. If getting a few foreigners killed is the result, well, any price so that Bashir keeps the family business going is a price worth paying, eh?

    Yes, it’s all speculation. But military conflicts rarely go according to plans…

    FWIW.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  151. 151
    chris says:

    @Brachiator:

    If Trump can stay stable

    Yup, sure, that’ll happen.

  152. 152
    joel hanes says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I regret not having stated my position more clearly.

    Finding myself in agreement with Corner Stone is fine with me in general.

    In this case, I’m sorry that I agree that the Donald’s MAGA supporters will not be swayed by any of the impending revelations of criminality, fecklessness, and incompetence.

    Enjoy your pozole.

  153. 153
    Washburn says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Sorry, I thought that was a given. I’m not sure about the morality of Viagra – I wonder what percentage of those pills are consumed by predator old farts prior to burdening hookers, employees, defenseless teenagers with their pathetic power trips.

  154. 154
    Another Scott says:

    @Brachiator: I wouldn’t take anything Donnie says at face value, myself. He always contradicts himself within hours or days, remember? Remember the 2013 Tweet that Germy found?

    Putin is in Syria because he has to support Assad. He’s a prisoner of something like the old Soviet doctrine that “communism can never be reversed”. Putin’s the BMOC in Russia and can’t appear to be weak or he risks losing power at home. He only moved in to Syria in a big way when it looked like Assad was about to lose the war. Russia needs the port there, and to save face to have any hope of expanding its influence in the region, and Assad isn’t strong enough on his own to maintain power, so Putin had to save his neck. Having done so, he can’t let him lose in the near future, so even though he announced with great fanfare in December that they won and his troops were coming home, lots and lots of them are still there.

    Putin being in Syria is a sign of Putin’s and Russia’s weakness, and Assad is taking advantage.

    An article at FTFNYT makes similar points:

    MOSCOW — Sitting down with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria late last year, a senior Kremlin envoy described the benefits to come as Moscow shepherded the Syrian conflict toward a political settlement, particularly in rebuilding the war-ravaged country.

    But Mr. Assad cut the Russian off, asking why, with the Syrian government so close to victory, a political solution was necessary at all, according to a senior Arab diplomat who was briefed on the meeting.

    Nearly two and a half years after he intervened militarily to prop up Mr. Assad, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia finds himself stuck in Syria, not quite able to find a solution despite having declared “mission accomplished” on at least three occasions. While Mr. Putin’s military intervention established the Kremlin as a major player in the Middle East for the first time in decades, extricating Russia from Syria is proving far more difficult than he envisaged.

    The problem is that Moscow has effectively tied its fortunes to those of Mr. Assad, with limited room to maneuver.

    […]

    (Of course, Putin having a larger presence in Syria causes problems for the US, and if Assad survives and wins all the various conflicts in Syria, then Putin will be sitting pretty. But there are lots and lots of bridges to cross to get to that future…)

    FWIW.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  155. 155
    Sab says:

    @Corner Stone: Why do you keep bringing up pozole, which I love, when I am not allowed to make it because my spouse hates it?

  156. 156
    joel hanes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    but if he tarnishes that image and makes them a public laughingstock

    With respect, I’d say that the MAGA set already knows perfectly well that they’ve long been a public laughingstock, and, again, that’s why they love The Donald : he’s a sharp stick in the eye of those who have long been laughing at them.

    They may not be able to find Syria on a map, but I’m guessing that most of them clearly remember the phrases “basket of deplorables” and “clinging to their guns and their religion”.

  157. 157
    Shalimar says:

    @Corner Stone: It was obviously meant as a joke, and Google Translate does just fine with cyrillic with a little interpretation of the results.

  158. 158
    Waratah says:

    @Corner Stone: Thank you for reminding me to find an instant pot recipe for pozole using dried pozole. The dried makes the best pozole ever. I was able to get one for red and one for green chili.

  159. 159
    Corner Stone says:

    @Shalimar: желтая собака лает при лунном свете

  160. 160
    Corner Stone says:

    @joel hanes: *sniff* *sniff*….hooo hoo hooo…*sniff*
    It’s ok. I understand. I’m making verde pozole so it’s al….oh, wait. I mean “green” sauce pozole. Oh, shit. I mean green chili soup or stew with pork and hominy.
    What have I done?! ARRRRGGGHHH!!!

  161. 161
    Corner Stone says:

    @Sab: This is an easy call.

  162. 162
    Bupalos says:

    @Brachiator: they aren’t “strongly backing trump.”

    They are enforcing NATO policy and global norms. It’s actually trump that was more or less caged into this one, with his need for distraction and to try and portray independence from vlad.

    Trump ain’t winning shit.

  163. 163
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Christie was exceptionally clever with that kind of hidden-in-plain-sight clue.

  164. 164
    TriassicSands says:

    This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth.

    Sigh. Wishful thinking.

    @Corner Stone:

    They are fucking hate filled morons

    The “fucking” is optional but not all Trump supporters are hate-filled. Not long ago I got a call from a high school classmate I hadn’t spoken to since the sixties. She voted for Trump. After all these years, she still seemed like a “nice” person. She definitely isn’t filled with hate. But she is a “moron.” Although I prefer idiot out of deference to the original classification scheme of mental deficiency. An idiot is dumber than a moron. If you’re dumber than an idiot, you’re probably in a coma. Her stupidity (coupled with laziness) has left her profoundly ignorant. That’s the case with many Trump supporters. At least, I believe that’s the case.

    Trump’s base. It is their stupidity, laziness and resulting ignorance that make me think they won’t abandon Trump no matter what charges, if any, are ever filed against him. Some may. But not most. I’m not sure why people keep expecting members of Trump’s base to behave rationally.

    If Trump is either forced from office prematurely or indicted after he leaves office, and Cohen is the instrument that leads to his downfall, it will be the most fitting end imaginable. Trump’s main claim to fame (at least prior to an illegitimate election to the presidency) was “The Apprentice” in its various forms. (I refuse to watch reality TV and I’ve never seen “The Apprentice.”) In it, he apparently weighs the talent and effectiveness of various contestants. In the end, the most competent and talented survives. His presidency has shown — in the real world — that Trump is probably the worst judge of character and talent in the history of the presidency. His selections for posts are almost all disastrous. From DeVos and Carson to Flynn and Tillerson. It would be perfection itself if the incompetence of his choice for personal attorney led to his removal from office or indictment for crimes. (I don’t use the word conviction because all it will take is one ignorant idiot on the jury to allow Trump to escape. One in twelve? The current supply of idiots in this country is much closer to one in two or three.)

  165. 165
    JR says:

    @Brachiator: A good number of Trump’s voters don’t want democracy, period.

    One of the fears in the early days in the French revolution was that conservative voters were going to elect royalist old guard nobility to the legislature, thus beginning the process where the whole thing is disassembled and the Ancien Regime was put back into place. This was in fact a pretty reasonable fear. That same “legitimist” strain continues today.

  166. 166
    Bupalos says:

    I’ve stopped wishing for some kind of intervention to artificially end this shitheel’s reign of shit. The best and only exit from this thing is showing this shit for the small, cheap, frightened grifter he is, and having the American polity stand up and say no. If trump isn’t running in 2020 and doesn’t lose decisively, this thing won’t end. It will just mutate and grow a new head.

    Once trump is rendered ridiculous and a political loser, then and only then is it safe to inflict pain on him. I’m dreading the possibility that this ends with trump a martyr for those sad, bored, racist dead enders that comprise ever more of the polity.

  167. 167
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    Me prends-tu pour un imbécile.

  168. 168
    James E. Powell says:

    @Brachiator:

    However, those who oppose him are much more numerous. Always have been. They need to come out and vote in the midterms and in 2020.

    Agree completely. Been saying the same since November 9, 2016.

  169. 169

    I’m feeling envious that Michael Cohen got to go to Prague.

    I seriously want to go myself, but I can’t afford such a trip.

    Should I start a GoFundMe to go to Prague for a week? Maybe make it a professional trip to visit where Cohen went to document the atrocities?

  170. 170
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @Sm*t Cl*de:
    My comment, as usual, got lost in moderation and showed up long afterwards as #123… this is just to say that I’m so pleased to run into two other fans of that story.

  171. 171
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bupalos: is there something that you can do to get him out? Volunteer? Talk to people you know and encourage them to vote? Donate? It won’t come from others; it must come from us. Mueller will keep chugging along. More importantly though, we need to do our part.

  172. 172
    Gvg says:

    Well his base should have deserted him and the GOP for any number of logical self interred reason in the past, but they haven’t. Now I read some of them are really upset with Trump over Syria for reasons I can’t really understand and it’s clear to me they thing very differently than I do and I will never understand them.
    I do think they will abandon his at some point that I will never understand.
    The ones I know seem kind of fickle. They need new sensations to fall for. trump is chaos but I think he may be starting to be boring. Also I recall that conservative media and preachers and gun stores do better when someone they hate is President. I wonder if that’s why some of the rabble rousers are turning on him.
    I think there I’d going to be enough evidence to put a bunch in jail. I don’t care if his supporters stay loyal. Once I would have worried about it. I have burned past that point. Not jailing some of our Presidential ally crooks in the past has lead to this and I am through coddling them. Jail for guilty ones. Stupid reactionary voters can suck on it.

  173. 173
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gvg: That may have verged on the slightly deranged, but I am willing to co-sign. Harrumph!

  174. 174
    Manxome Bromide says:

    @Bupalos: Yeah, the strangest thing about this for me has been that France is involved.

    Macron doesn’t owe Trump anything. All the people in Trump’s orbit were pushing Le Pen. What did they contribute and why?

  175. 175
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @PaulWartenberg: I have been to Prague. I would be a good guide. Please add my expenses to your GoFundMe.

  176. 176
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Manxome Bromide: France is up for just about any war ever. That was one of my biggest clues the Iraq was a stupid idea. If the French decline a war, it is a really, really dumb war.

  177. 177
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Manxome Bromide: Was Trump the one who pushed this attack?

  178. 178
    Brachiator says:

    @TriassicSands:

    Trump is probably the worst judge of character and talent in the history of the presidency. His selections for posts are almost all disastrous. From DeVos and Carson to Flynn and Tillerson.

    There is a perverse logic to his choices. I don’t think Trump is strongly ideological, but he is a better Republican than I at first thought he would be. He is plugged into the conservative wet dream of dismantling the federal government, and his choices either share his vision, or cripple their agencies through sheer ineptitude.

    It would be perfection itself if the incompetence of his choice for personal attorney led to his removal from office or indictment for crimes.

    I agree with you. Trump’s great weakness is that he values fawning ass kissing and unquestioning personal loyalty over competence. This never works out in the end.

    What is strange is the degree to which all of the GOP leadership has also fallen in line. Maybe the simple answer is that they, too, are owned by the Russians.

  179. 179
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    @H.E.Wolf:

    For indeed, Subaru Diane had been (and still is, fortunately for us!) notable in her day.

    +une.

  180. 180
    andy says:

    Holy crap, that jacket. This mook dresses like a small-town newspaper ad rep ca. 1982…

  181. 181
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @Sm*t Cl*de:
    Merci!

  182. 182
    frosty fred says:

    @H.E.Wolf: I’m not as much a fan of Sayers’ short stories (the novels I read over and over), but that one definitely has its points.

  183. 183
    H.E.Wolf says:

    @frosty fred:
    I re-read the novels pretty much yearly, and a few of her short stories are right up there with “… the Article in Question” (for me, anyway) — and my favorite of her biographers includes part of a comment she wrote “On Bedworthiness”, which always makes me chortle when I re-read it.

    And now, mes camarades, bonne nuit et dormez bien.

  184. 184

    Let’s go w/ Winnie the C. on this & call it the end of the beginning, if not the beginning of the end.

  185. 185
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Corner Stone: Nobody would use לחלוטין in that sentence. לגמרי is the right word.

  186. 186
    Vhh says:

    @Corner Stone: but sometimes Googling in Cyrillic turns up important stuff. When the Trump Tower meeting news broke I googled Veselnitskaya in Russian and got (in Russian) “well known Kremlin fixer”. A few days later, that link was gone.

  187. 187
    thalarctosMaritimus says:

    @Corner Stone: អត់​បញ្ហា​ទេ

  188. 188
    Gretchen says:

    @ProudGradofCatLadyAcademy: Thank you for what you’ve done. I’m sure that when this deplorable administration is over there will be space for people like you to step back in and keep doing what needs to be done. Please keep the faith. You and what you do matter, a lot.

  189. 189
    Vhh says:

    @germy: Trump only cares about himself.

  190. 190
    kattails says:

    @H.E.Wolf: I had a full set of Sayers’ fiction, which I’d re-read several times. Last week I got into a fit cleaning out the bookcases and bagged all of them to donate to the local historical society sale. Dammit! I knew I’d regret it, but not quite this quickly, maybe I’ll just go buy them all back…

    And yes, the “bedworthiness” comment was perfect. I did save her “Are Women Human?” pamphlet but it now seems small compensation (sniff).

  191. 191
    James E. Powell says:

    @andy:

    Herb Tarlek, WKRP

  192. 192
    Corner Stone says:

    @Joey Maloney: completely or Completely. Thanks, though.

  193. 193
    Corner Stone says:

    @Vhh: Clearly not the point. But that’s great. I guess.

  194. 194
    Corner Stone says:

    @thalarctosMaritimus: When the tire is full, he turns it into a new one.

    Words to live by.

  195. 195
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    @kattails:

    I had a full set of Sayers’ fiction, which I’d re-read several times.

    Reading “Have His Carcass” at an impressionable age introduced me to the works of (1) Thomas Lovell Beddoes, and (2) the incomparable and inimitable Kai Lung.

  196. 196
    Temporarily Max McGee (He's a Dancing Machine) says:

    We have, I believe, identified Trump’s Jess Smith.

  197. 197
    Vhh says:

    @Another Scott: in short, Putin now has in Syria a problem like what LBJ had in Vietnam.

  198. 198
    Svensker says:

    @ProudGradofCatLadyAcademy:

    Sending you a hug. And thanks for helping out Lily. That was a good thing.

  199. 199
    Vhh says:

    @Corner Stone: You don’t have to read Cyrillic (or anything else) if you don’t want to. I never read Rich Sparkles Lowry and only rarely Google Translate Chinese.

  200. 200
    matt says:

    My theory – Cohen did that weird stunt to send a message to Trump about the need for a pardon.

  201. 201
    Catatonia says:

    Great clip, but it is somewhat of an insult to Tony to compare him with Cohen.

    On a sadder note, today it,s been a week since we had to say goodbye to our sweet beagle Stella. She had 17 great years, but that doesn’t do much to mitigate the grief.

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