Steve Russell :
Truth in an age of post-factual politics

Since the arrival of The Donald, U.S. politics is a fact-free zone. The truth simply no longer matters.

Steve Bannon, back at Breitbart News, is backing convicted felon Michael Grimm for Congress. Caricature by DonkeyHotey / Flickr.

By Steve Russell | The Rag Blog | October 16, 2017

Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY) was not happy being questioned by a TV reporter for NY1, Michael Scotto, about a pending investigation into Grimm’s campaign fundraising. Grimm walked away and Scotto had signed off… but the camera was still running when Grimm returned, and told Scotto, “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again and I’ll throw you off this fucking balcony.”

He was speaking of the balcony in the United States Capitol and threatening the reporter with a 48-foot fall ending with a sudden stop on a marble floor. Survival would be chancy.

The video became confused with both men talking until Grimm ended the conversation, “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.” Apparently noticing the camera was rolling, Grimm hurried away.

Reached that evening, Grimm doubled down and blamed the reporter for what was unfortunately for his story on video. He apologized the next day.

The investigation led to a 20-count
federal indictment.

The investigation that touched off the reporter’s question and Grimm’s ire led to a 20-count federal indictment. He pled guilty to one count of tax fraud and signed a statement admitting to underreporting wages and sales in his restaurant from 2007 to 2010 and committing perjury in a lawsuit by his employees and filing false business and personal tax returns.

Judge Pamela K. Chen, suggesting that his moral compass needed some reorientation, sentenced Grimm to eight months in the Club Fed. He resigned from Congress and did his time. Released from prison in September of 2017, he now is running for his former seat.

Appearing to bless Grimm’s candidacy at the announcement was Stephen K. Bannon, until recently working in the White House as President Donald J. Trump’s “Chief Strategist.” Bannon’s proximity to the presidential ear is credited with cementing the support of the white nationalist movement, withdrawal from the Paris Accord on climate change, and Trump’s executive order excluding Syrian refugees from the U.S. Bannon emphatically denies being a white nationalist, preferring “economic nationalist.”

In Bannon’s first interview granted to any outlet but his former platform, Breitbart News, since the election, he famously told CNN:

Darkness is good: Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.

Bannon returned to the starboard ramparts of U.S. media at Breitbart News.

In August, Steve Bannon left employment at the White House, apparently the loser in a power struggle with new Chief of Staff John Kelly, who represents the GOP establishment’s latest attempt to place a grownup in the room with Trump. Bannon returned to his station on the starboard ramparts of U.S. media at Breitbart News, from which he declared war on the Republican establishment.

The first battle in Bannon’s war on the GOP was the U.S. Senate primary in Alabama for the seat formerly held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The primary pitted incumbent Luther Strange (supported by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and boatloads of money poured into the race by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) against former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore, supported by Bannon. Moore had been removed from the court twice for ethical lapses, failure to obey a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse in one case and instructing Alabama judges to ignore the Supreme Court’s opinion on gay marriage in the other.

Bannon’s candidate polled 54.6 percent to 45.4 percent for the candidate Trump went to Alabama to boost. The establishment spent $137.57 for each vote while Bannon’s insurgent only parted with $7.63 per vote. Incinerated in the bonfire of Republican money was $9 million out of McConnell’s super pac and another million dropped in Strange’s tin cup by the NRA.

Round one of Bannon’s revolution nominated a man removed from office twice over ethics violations. Round two has Bannon backing Michael Grimm, a convicted felon freshly out of prison. How in the world, sane people might ask, can Bannon hope to elect a man to Congress who threatened to maim a reporter for doing his job?

Perhaps Bannon — the architect of Trump’s war on the media — was watching another election this year, wherein Greg Gianforte got to be the Republican congressman from Montana after body-slamming a reporter for The Guardian, Ben Jacobs, less than 24 hours before the election. The Billings Gazette, the Independent Record, and The Missoulian withdrew their endorsements. The Crow tribe stuck with Gianforte, as did the “businessman and television personality” Donald Trump, Jr. President Donald Trump made a robo-call for Gianforte.

Bernie Sanders campaigned for the Democratic candidate, folk singer Rob Quist.

Bernie Sanders endorsed and campaigned for the Democratic candidate, folk singer Rob Quist. The Democrat could, I suppose, be accused of support from the Hollywood elite, because he was endorsed by Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Alyssa Milano, and Bill Pullman.

The attack on Jacobs was precipitated by a question about the newly released Congressional Budget Office scoring of the (late, unlamented) Republican health care bill. GOP leadership had insisted the vote be taken before the CBO scoring, but Gianforte was being asked his position at a time when he had the full story. Therefore, he could endorse the bill if he wished but if he chose to come out against it, the CBO had handed him cover.

Gianforte had gotten through the campaign without taking a position on the hottest issue in Washington at the time and apparently did not wish to give up that advantage a day before the election. His assault on Jacobs was on audiotape and within the presence of a Fox TV crew.

A spokesman for the Gianforte campaign, Shane Scanlon, released a statement that was transparently false. He claimed Jacobs is a “liberal journalist” who had grabbed the candidate and had asked “badgering questions.”

Alicia Acuna, a Fox reporter who saw the whole thing from “about two feet away” said “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.” She added, “at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte.”

Scanlon’s false statement stood until the votes were counted, at which time the new congressman withdrew the lie and apologized for the assault at a time when a criminal charge was pending. What he did not apologize for was the lie.

Do lies matter in post-factual politics?

Do lies matter in post-factual politics? Chris Hayes proposed that Shane Scanlon, who put his name to the lies, would not be effective if he went to Washington with Gianforte, because he will have no credibility.

With apologies to Hayes, his analysis makes some quaint assumptions about modern politics.

Both the legal profession (a common gateway for politics) and the rules of legislative bodies have — contrary to popular belief — cultural standards of truthfulness.

Lawyers understand that it’s hard to make money practicing law if you can’t make verbal agreements with other lawyers. Judges have short lists of lawyers that can’t be trusted and there is a monetary price to being on those lists when you have to reduce everything to writing and you have to show face to accomplish tasks trustworthy lawyers handle with a phone call.

Legislators disadvantaged by a reputation for dissembling have trouble accomplishing something as simple as amending a bill during floor debate. When you drop an amendment on a bill and there have been no lobbyists touting your amendment door to door, other legislators must trust your statement of what you are doing or, having a doubt, they will vote you down before taking a risk if you have lied in the past.

Selling legislation is not like selling used cars; everybody is a repeat customer.

I am reminded of what persons of all political stripes used to say about Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) when he was in the state senate: “He’s so honest you could shoot craps with him on the telephone.” Selling legislation is not like selling used cars; everybody is a repeat customer.

Born and raised in a small town, I come from a situation where you can’t be anonymous. Reputation always mattered. I’ll cheerfully admit that my background may predispose me to place an excessive value on truth, but I can’t believe my predisposition is the only reason I believe Donald Trump has led us to unfamiliar territory.

Reporting incorrectly or making a mistake will naturally create political problems, but I always thought an intentional lie uncovered would end a political career. I have been so wrong about that.

The New York Times only started trying to count Donald Trump’s lies on January 21, 2017. That choice of starting date sounds odd to me, but you can’t be influencing the election by telling the truth, right?

I’ve been trying to understand how lies got to be so normal. Bill Clinton famously claimed, “I did not have sex with that woman.” Clinton survived that and I have run across many college students since then who claim oral sex does not count. Did that come from resisting the idea that the POTUS would lie?

Around the same time in U.S. political history, there was the Newt Gingrich Congress. I remember lots of hyperbole and hypocrisy taken to a whole new level when many of those in Congress tut-tutting over Bill Clinton’s sexual impropriety were shown to be doing the same thing at the same time.

Hypocrisy is only lying by implication.

Hyperbolic speech is not lying. Hypocrisy is only lying by implication.

During the next presidential campaign, somebody mailed a selection of George W. Bush’s debate preparation materials to the Al Gore campaign. The materials came to former Congressman Thomas J. Dewey, who called the FBI. An employee of Bush’s media consultant served a year in prison and three years on probation.

While we were lied into the second invasion of Iraq, the lying was only chargeable to President Bush on the “captain of the ship” theory. Looking back on the deadly lies, they appear to have originated in the Vice President’s office, including the misrepresentation of classified materials and the planting of lies in The New York Times by cultivating Judith Miller.

Vice President Cheney has not stood for election again and most of his co-conspirators were not products of electoral politics. Scooter Libby, a Cheney person who turned out to be Judith Miller’s confidential source, was saved from the consequences of his felony conviction by presidential clemency.

Barack Obama is to my knowledge the only POTUS to ever have his State of the Union address interrupted by a shout of “You lie!” At the time of the shout, what Obama was saying was about the position of undocumented immigrants in the health care law he would sign.

It was not possible for Obama to lie about that matter. If memory serves, there were five bills at various stages. Obama was saying what he would sign when it came to his desk.

Later, Obama was called a liar for claiming that people could keep their health insurance even if it did not have all the coverage that was required by Obamacare. He was not lying. There was in fact a grandfather clause for non-conforming policies. He could not anticipate the lengths to which the insurance companies would go to get rid of the low dollar and low coverage and therefore low profit policies. Obamacare exempted existing policies from the minimum coverage requirement. It would have been difficult to require insurance companies to offer policies they no longer wished to have on the menu. So the insurance companies cancel — something they could have done anyway — and Obamacare gets blamed.

It became fashionable to say Obama lied, which, ironically, was a lie.

That’s an argument we could have, about whether forcing the issue would have been a good idea. We didn’t have the argument but it became fashionable to say Obama lied, which, ironically, was a lie.

Of course, the grandest accusation against Obama was the one adopted by Donald Trump when he was playing the birther. If Obama were not born in the U.S., then he had lied when he signed any number of forms that claimed otherwise.

Trump staked out turf on the other side of the question about Obama’s citizenship. “His people” were in Hawaii investigating Obama’s birth certificate. We “won’t believe what they are finding.” We are still waiting to experience this flush of disbelief.

The birther scenario always seemed to me to require superhuman abilities in Obama’s parents, but Trump never bothered to produce the evidence he claimed to have uncovered. In the end, there were not two sides to weigh. Why was that not the end of Trump’s political ambitions?

Since the arrival of The Donald, U.S. politics is a fact-free zone. The truth simply no longer matters. Looking back over the politics through which I’ve lived, there are lies here and there.

The sainted Dwight Eisenhower lied
about the U2 incident.

The sainted Dwight Eisenhower lied about the U2 incident and was proved a liar by the Soviets when they produced the pilot Eisenhower had claimed did not exist.

LBJ ramped up the Vietnam War based on the Gulf of Tonkin lie.

Richard Nixon tried to lie his way through the Watergate scandal.

The difference between then and now was that getting caught lying carried consequences. Ike’s lie blew an impending summit meeting out of the water. LBJ’s lie was one of the first dominoes to fall in a row that would destroy his chances for reelection. Nixon’s lies helped boost his articles of impeachment out of committee, an event that led to his resignation.

That was then and this is now and lies seem to have escaped political consequences. If truth no longer has value, how do we tell our kids to be truthful? I try to tell my grandkids what I was told about truth but they are not stupid and they will notice a gap between what I say and how the world acts.

My grandkids are not rude enough to say these things out loud but I am not stupid enough to miss what they must be thinking.

I tell them to keep their hands to themselves and they wonder if I noticed that Greg Gianforte didn’t do that and now they call him “Congressman” and Michael Grimm is following close behind.

I tell them not to lie and they wonder if I noticed Donald Trump riding to the presidency on a magic carpet of lies and that he appears to be governing without improving his relationship with the truth.

The only values I know to offer my grandkids are still found in the public libraries. They are just a bit harder to find now that they are shelved under “fiction.”


[Steve Russell comes to The Rag Blog after writing for The Rag from 1969 to the mid-seventies. He is retired from a first career as a trial court judge in Texas and a second career as a university professor that began at The University of Texas-San Antonio. He is now associate professor emeritus of criminal justice at Indiana University-Bloomington. Russell is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a ninth grade dropout. He is living in Sun City, just north of Austin, and working on a third career as a freelance writer. His current project is a book of autobiographical essays explaining how an Indian ninth grade dropout was able to become a judge and a professor without picking up a high school diploma or a GED.He can be reached at swrussel@indiana.edu. ]

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41 Responses to Steve Russell :
Truth in an age of post-factual politics

  1. Larry says:

    I think it’s the liar and not the lies that distinguish this political era. There have always been lies, tiny and mammoth, that have held sway. I even think that Trump being a pathological liar is not the primary part of his problem and ours. Add that he’s a pathologically lying sadistic sociopath in the middle of an exacerbated narcissistic rage – THE WORLD CAN’T DO RIGHT ENOUGH BY ME – and now ‘We have a problem, Houston and Puerto Rico’.

    The lying has come out of the shadows and become grossly manifest, partly due to the era of hyperextended mass communication, and Trump is schooling everyone in the only Trump University he could ever legitimately claim was teaching someone anything. He’s giving a Master Class in how to get away with lying. Now that to me seems to be what the problem is.

    Also, the lying that has been dragged and launched out of the shadows is bringing enough of the shadow with it to cast darkness on the truth. And that is the biggest part of the problem.

  2. It’s like walking through a pasture at night. I use the analogy almost reflexly at least twice a week. The full text is “40 years in Texas will make you learn how to instantly recognize bullshit, what it looks and smells like and how it sounds and feels when you step in it.” I didn’t believe, mistakenly, that Louisiana would vote republican again after Katrina, or a large minority of Americans would openly endorse “Klandidates” even though I had seen it election after election in El Paso and Ft Worth.

    I get a bit jaded. I don’t even wonder anymore why Halliburton, who consider Harris County and beyond as being their fiefdom… wouldn’t clean up their yard for free.

    I talked to Mom on the phone the other day, she’s in Euless, says there’s a second flood caused by Harvey, refugees from Houston who ain’t going back. They get told, by the same politicians who demand their votes every 2 years, that the OTHER proletarian neighbors “have the attention span of a goldfish and won’t remember events or statements 6 weeks after the fact” but they ‘politely’ exclude whoever is listening to them at the time. Hitler and his Big Lie theory comes to mind.

    I’m in Colorado Springs now, and every time I go to a store or just walkabout in the park I encounter fellow self-exiled Texans. Been that way all the time I’ve been here. Maybe it’s a cosmic field bringing us together like that.

  3. darms says:

    Yeah, I’m kinda blown away these days as I don’t see how ‘political rehtoric’ matters anymore, 50+ years of solid political discussion is blown away by 18 months of trump’s BS. Please tell what matters these days, whay woon’t he declare himself ‘el presidentete for life’ and what could stop him?

  4. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    Wow .. Steve. You had the misfortune of writing your piece just before the biggest bombshell news story in 100 years dropped about political lying, malfeasance, and perhaps treason.

    Poor Steve. He should have added LYING Hillary and John Podesta who commissioned, paid $9 MILLION for and then planted the hit piece dossier on the totally fabricated Trump Russia collusion story. Didnt expect that bombshell to drop right after you wrote your little essay . .did you?

    There are soooo many tentacles to the Uranium One story that are just now coming to light, the involvement of Lynch, Holder, Obama, Hillary, Comy, and Mueller in actual lying to cover up massive pay offs and collusion. How about lying journalists and late night comics who breathlessly reported on the fake story planted by the Democratic candidate and fed to the public by a complicit FBI director.

    How soon do you think it will be until Mueller has to recuse himself from his Independent Counsel gig because he is guilty of exactly what he WAS investigating Trump for? Sweet!

    I am getting some popcorn and sitting back and watching the shit storm brew over the next 18 months. No telling how satisfying it will be to see some of these people charged with crimes. And to see my man, The Donald, exonerated and vindicated. Oh yeah. Its gonna be classic.

    – Extremist2TheDHS

  5. Steve Russell says:

    Er…The Dems took over the dossier project from Trump’s GOP primary opponents. Seems to me that the truth value or not is the issue rather than who paid for it. We know who did the work and he in fact has connections in Russia. He just can’t go there anymore because of his time as a British spy.

    What law did you have in mind was violated by the dossier?

    Two things about the uranium nonsense. 1. Russia EXPORTS uranium, so it’s not like they need it for weapons and if the US needs it then it is still subject to eminent domain. No harm, no foul. 2. There’s been no allegation that Clinton had anything to do with the approvals, let alone proof of the allegations.

    You do understand that much of the Russia stuff is not a crime and not subject to controversy in the fact-based community…..but it still ought to be impeachable because of the quid pro quos Trump provided, starting with alterations in the GOP platform to suit Mr. Putin.

    Putin is not happy with Trump’s failures to deliver lifting of sanctions, but as far as I can see, he was never pro-Trump—he was anti-Clinton.

    • Extremist2TheDHS says:

      Lets do these one at a time …
      “Er…The Dems took over the dossier project from Trump’s GOP primary opponents. Seems to me that the truth value or not is the issue rather than who paid for it. We know who did the work and he in fact has connections in Russia. He just can’t go there anymore because of his time as a British spy. “

      There was NO dossier created by Trumps GOP opponents. Steele was not hired until AFTER the Perkins Coie law firm was engaged by the DNC and the Clinton campaign. Thats my understanding. If you have evidence to the contrary … bring it.
      Everyone who is successful in international business or national politics has connections to Russia. Saying that Trump has connections is a very vague statement. If you are claiming that the items in the dossier are true than I would ask you how you know this. Its certainly not proven anywhere. What is proven is this: The Democratic party and their candidate paid for an informant to partner with Russian officials to provide a hot piece that would influence an American election. They directed it, and paid for it, and ultimately used it. It turns out that paid informants will say whatever you want them to say as long as you keep paying. The dossier was so far fetched that the public and the intelligence services rejected it out of hand. It is now a huge liability for the Dems to be tarred with partnering with a foreign hostile government to influence an American election.

      – Extremist2TheDHS

    • Extremist2TheDHS says:

      What law did you have in mind was violated by the dossier?
      I am no lawyer, but I quote from politifact on May 31st, 2017 : ….
      Nathaniel Persily at Stanford University Law School said one relevant statute is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.
      “A foreign national spending money to influence a federal election can be a crime,” Persily said. “And if a U.S. citizen coordinates, conspires or assists in that spending, then it could be a crime.”
      Persily pointed to a 2011 U.S. District Court ruling based on the 2002 law. The judges said that the law bans foreign nationals “from making expenditures to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a political candidate.”
      Another election law specialist, John Coates at Harvard University Law School, said if Russians aimed to shape the outcome of the presidential election, that would meet the definition of an expenditure.
      “The related funds could also be viewed as an illegal contribution to any candidate who coordinates (colludes) with the foreign speaker,” Coates said.

  6. Steve Russell says:

    Maybe I’m dense, but I can’t see how a British national preparing a work for hire violates that statute. If that were the case, every campaign would have to pay attention to the nationality of all employees of every contractor.

    I was wrong about the intitial funding of the dossier. It had another level of deniabiity in addition to a lawyer rather than a client paying the bills. The client was a political publication that had a horse in the race not named Trump.

    What intelligence services rejected the dossier out of hand? It presents raw intel the former Brit spy got from his contacts i Russia. As such, it contains internal contradictions. If the DNC or any other recipient wanted a narrative the author would stand behind as fact, they would have to pay a lot more than changed hands.

    I’m not a Democrat but I’m not aware that the Clinton campaign used the dossier outside of stand-up comedy. It does contain allegations worth following up on.

    Trump, by the way, could have then blown all speculation out of the water by releasing his tax returns. That would not stop people from laughing at the story about the hookers, but that story has no value beyond comedy so nobody is going to hunt up the hookers.

    Except as a starting point for research–which is the use to which the special prosecutor is putting it—the dossier is for amusement only.

    The dossier is not an attempt by a foreign power to influence the outcome of a US election like, for example, planting stories on Facebook and Twitter. Or hacking into emails and publishing those that would hurt one side.

    Think this through. Read it out loud if you need to: there is no allegation that a foreign power is spending money to influence a US election in creation of the dossier. It was begun by a right wing publication and finished by a lawyer with ties to the DNC–neither is a foreign power.

  7. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    I will agree to disagree. Steve you are a very accomplished person. I dont have your pedigree.

    And I think the beliefs you hold are sincere. I dont doubt for a moment that you want the best for your family and your country and work to achieve that. Same as I. We will have to see how it plays out.

    – Extremist2TheDHS

  8. Steve Russell says:

    My PEDIGREE? Are you serious?

    When I came to UT, I was an American Indian kid born in the Muscogee Creek Nation and raised by my grandparents.

    I did have a significant advantage in being raised without TV until the 4th grade.

    I did not finish the 6th grade, which means I technically did not graduate from elementary school.

    I did not finish the 8th grade, which means I technically did not graduate from what they now call middle school but then was called junior high.

    After the 9th grade, I quit for good and did not return.

    Pedigree? My father was enrolled and that made enrollment a bit easier for me.

    I’ve never seen much advantage to tribal enrollment, though.

    I understand “agree to disagree” and I wish people did more of that. But there has to be something to disagree about.

    You have asserted that the same law that criminalizes Russians spending money to influence a US election would also criminalize a candidate hiring a foreign national to do oppo research.

    That assertion is manifestly incorrect on its face. I’ve tried to explain why.

    Agreeing to disagree about applying the law to very different facts makes as much sense as agreeing to disagree about whether the planet is getting warmer. There has to be some play for opinion before opinions can conflict.

    If you think the Clinton case presents a foreign national spending money to influence a US election please identify the foreign national and the expenditure.

    My purpose is not to give you a hard time. I’m just trying to maintain the traditional distinction between facts and opinions.

    I am not angry, but I must observe you are the first person who ever claimed I have a “pedigree” that anybody else might consider an advantage…….

    I guess another way to go at it would be to ask what it is you propose that we disagree about?

    • Extremist2TheDHS says:

      I know what your purpose is Steve, make no mistake about that.You think facts are unique to you and the other Rag Bloggers. Hardly remarkable given our little thought bubble. But school is in session for you and those who think like you, much as it was in 2016 for those who never saw that outcome happening..

      If you think that putting me in my place regarding the law accomplishes something, think again. I am no lawyer and any law school student can do the same. Congrats, you won a legal debate with a non lawyer. But Its not me that you need to worry about. There are plenty of actual lawyers involved that dont give a crap about your fact spinning and slanting arguments to support your points of view.

      Neither of us know much of anything for fact about the myriad of scandal and intrigue that occupies Washington. I enjoy a few perks from the work that I occasionally do for conservative operatives. Perhaps the same is true for you. But the stench coming the growing pile of evidence of corruption and malfeasance from the crime family called Clinton Inc and its enablers in government and the media is impossible to ignore. .

      What is a new fact, is that Hillary tried to influence the primary elections through highly suspect actions and decisions regarding the DNC. She succeeded there. She tried to influence the general election by partnering with Kermlin connected sources to produce fictional information. She failed there.

      I think, Donald Trump will still be standing in two years. Finally free from the efforts to demonize him. I have my reasons to suspect that Hillary Clinton and her top generals will be fighting legal charges.

      We shall see. I will be happy to revisit this topic with you in the future.

      – Extermist2TheDHS

  9. Steve Russell says:

    NO, I don’t think you understand my purpose. This is not about winning a debate. Maybe I gave you the wrong impression because of that “pedigree” remark. That really set me off because I’m writing autobiography right now and it’s the hardest writing task I’ve ever undertaken and therefore always on my mind.

    My purpose is to stand up for fact-based reality.

    There is a governor race voting in Virginia today.

    Economists consider 5 percent unemployment to be “effectively full employment,” by which they mean it’s a level at which employment can no longer be meaningfully moved by policy at the top and that the Fed should be satisfied with the unemployment rate at that point and turn attention to the other end of the see-saw: inflation.

    The Donald inherited an economy that had been at effective full employment since September of 2015, although he denied it.

    Now, by reference to the same BLS figures, I’m sure he would be proud to claim credit for the current unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. Veterans unemployment is at 2.7 percent, which is low as I’ve ever seen it.

    This comes up because of a tweet The Donald wafted into the Virginia governor’s race: “The state of Virginia economy, under Democrat rule, has been terrible. If you vote Ed Gillespie tomorrow, it will come roaring back!”

    The unemployment rate in Virginia is currently 3.7 percent.

    Trump’s candidate, Gillespie, has run saturation ads against “sanctuary cities.”

    There are no sanctuary cities in Virginia.

    “Saturation” is an advertising term of art that represents a big chunk of money. If you have been attacked in this manner the day before the election, and your war chest is not bottomless, how do you allocate your advertising?

    It strikes me that at least a third of the voters will not pay attention the truth.

    I would advise the candidate to let the ads go and spend the money on GOTV. But I’m not involved in the Virginia governor’s race and I’m not a Democrat. If I were up there, I’d be raising hell with the Democrat when he cut his running mate’s pic out of some advertising because the light gov candidate is black.

    Odious as the Democrat’s tactic is, at least it’s tethered to fact-based reality. The areas where he made the cut are higher in racism.

    Compare what I did as a pol. I was not the only one to seek the endorsement of the Lesbian-Gay Political Caucus, but that had historically meant that your name got quietly slipped on a slate card distributed in the gay bars. I used my endorsement in a radio ad.

    My small point is that you don’t always change things by going with the flow but my larger point—and why I’m talking to you—is my perhaps naive faith that facts will eventually matter. Pols lie now and they have always lied. What has changed is there are no consequences for getting caught.

    If we can’t tug the debate back within fact-based reality it will make no difference who’s right.

  10. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    Thank you Steve. I appreciate that you are engaging with me. I know know you are a thinker, and I appreciate your thoughtful responses. I don’t really care about Virginia or Bannon’s lunacy pushing a child molester in Alabama. Not that they are unimportant, but there are far bigger fish to fry. Here is a fact pattern for you to consider.

    I had some information a while ago. I referenced it briefly in our earlier discussion. With considerable effort, some of that information is slowly bubbling up even into the general media. I feel certain that more information, and far more damaging information is coming. Timing matters.

    Assume for a moment that the Trump Russia hype is a red herring and the Special Counsel investigation was ordained on nomination day to ensure that Trump did not serve out his term. That the leadership of the FBI, DOJ and other agencies and actors undertook concerted efforts to damage one parties nominee expressly to help the other parties nominee. That the true effort to influence the election, and collude with both foreign powers and domestic organizations to affect the 2016 election was not Russia, but Obama administration intelligence and justice agencies. And failing to throw the election, this group attempted to sabotage and entangle the new President to ensure their efforts were never brought to light.

    Keep track of these names. Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Andrew McCabe, Bruce and Nellie Ohr, Rod Rosenstein, James Comey. Those are not the last of the names and other names on the list may eventually include other very senior Obama administration DOJ and FBI leadership.

    Perhaps it is me that must now rely naively on faith that facts will eventually matter to you. This group of people, named and not yet named, did not bother to cover their efforts as they were certain that their efforts meant that Hillary Clinton would win and there would be no “getting caught” and no consequences to their actions.

    It didn’t work out that way. And when its shown what actions were taken and by whom, the biggest constitutional crisis in the history of our country will be upon us. I am pretty sure 2018 will be a very interesting year.

    I don’t care about political winners and losers. They are all losers in my book. But I do care that the institutions of our government can be trusted to serve the elected leaders of our country faithfully without letting political bias or personal animosity undermine their oaths of office.

    I will end by repeating a sentence I said to you a month or so ago … “I think, Donald Trump will still be standing in two years. Finally free from the efforts to demonize him. I have my reasons to suspect that Hillary Clinton and her top generals will be fighting legal charges.”

    I will check in with you from time to time and see if these facts eventually matter to you.

    – Extremist2TheDHS

  11. - Extermist2TheDHS says:

    Hey Steve,
    I hope you are still interested in post-factual politics. I hope that you still have faith that facts matter. For my own belief in our nations future, I have to trust that they do matter to you, especially to you given your background.

    I hope you have been paying attention to the little list of names I gave you. You will be hearing a lot more about them very soon. That constitutional crisis that I mentioned?? Its brewing. Should be fully brewed in about six more months.

    I cant say that people will be going to prison. Because if you can corrupt the DOJ and the FBI and other agencies to be named later, then you can certainly corrupt (or perhaps “further corrupt” is more accurate) the courts. But I do know that some very senior officials and former officials are gonna find themselves in legal jeopardy. Washington lawyers are going to have a bang up year in 2018!

    – Extermist2TheDHS

  12. Steve Russell says:

    A lawyer who worked for Mueller bad-mouthed trump in a private email to his girlfriend.

    There is no such thing as a “private” email on a government server and so it came to Mueller’s attention. He took Strzok off the case because of the appearance of bias.

    Bad on Mueller. There is no such standard for prosecutors, although there is for judges based on their differing roles. So Mueller reassigns a guy for no lawful reason and the right wing echo chamber puts that forward as evidence that Mueller is biased. Say what?

    I don’t see the constitutional crisis. It’s probable there will be a replay of the Saturday Night Massacre, but it does not appear to me that Trump will have much trouble finding somebody to take on the role of Robert Bork.

    If that happens, the political crisis remains, but how does it get to be constitutional? Trump has the lawful authority to engineer the firing of Mueller–he just lacks the authority to do it directly.

    A constitutional crisis would be if, for example, Trump failed to obey a court order. The same crisis Dwight Eisenhower would have caused if he let Orval Faubus prevent the integration of Little Rock HIgh School.

    While it’s true that Trump has lobbed verbal hand grenades at the judiciary, I don’t think it’s obvious that he will have a chance to violate a court order.

    Nixon was stopped by public outcry. I’m not sure Trump can be stopped by public outcry. But the inquiry has to get to a place where that matters first.

  13. - Extermist2TheDHS says:

    Thanks for keeping informed. Just keep watching, its all I can say.

  14. Steve Russell says:

    I’ve been playing the pundit all of my adult life. I expect to be judged by how my predictions play out and therefore I have every reason not to turn away after commenting.

    I just wish the Faux Noise gang were held to the same standard.

    Trump is unpredictable in several ways, but the biggie is that he has no ideology. He makes decisions for the moment rather than for history. I guess he thinks since he’s gotten along fine without any historical knowledge, nobody important will read the history he makes, either.

    He could violate a court order on impulse, but I expect Mueller to avoid having courts order Trump to do anything until the investigation is almost complete.

    • Extremist2TheDHS says:

      Perhaps one of the things you might consider is that the majority of the voting public is also short on ideology in many areas. That may account for Trumps success.

      We just want problems solved. For example, the majority of Americans, me included, are perfectly happy to provide amnesty for Dreamers, as long as the problem with illegal crossings of our border is resolved once and for all. We dont want the problem to recreate itself in a decade. Hence, coupling building the wall, an end to chain migration, and eVerify, with amnesty.

      That was NOT the position of either the (R) or (D) parties for the last 50 years. But Trump has dragged republicans to that position and will bash the democrats until they accept that position.

      Love him or hate him, the man is a problem solver.

      – Extremist2TheDHS

  15. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    Its interesting that you offer examples of things Trump might do or fail to do when I mention a constitutional crisis.

    You might want to think about how (D) congressional leaders, (D) executive branch partisans, their pet Special Counsel, and the violent activist base of the (D) party might spark a constitutional crisis if former (D) cabinet members and high level leaders, (D) party officials and perhaps even a former (D) president are implicated in or charged with serious crimes … especially just before an election.

    – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

    • Steve Russell says:

      You don’t provoke a constitutional crisis—no matter how outrageous your political goal, no matter how unfair you are–as long as you color within the lines. The whole point of “constitutional crisis” is that the system of checks and balances was set up to account for a little light treason now and then and for people who just don’t care about the rule of law. When you come up with misconduct that places established values in tension with each other and tramples democracy (we may be a republic but we are a republic with established democratic norms) and the system offers no remedy THAT is a constitutional crisis.

      Nixon could have gone there if he had defied the SCOTUS order to release the tapes. Most people would agree that he broke the law by monkeying with one of the tapes, but he did turn them over and so the tapes did not rise to the level of a constitutional crisis.

      When you make up some fantasy crimes by Trump’s adversaries, I say let your fantasies be true–what you say cannot be a constitutional crisis because you are assuming that the law still exists as a force that acts upon the situation.

      When Trump, for example, tries to turn the FBI or the DOJ to political uses, that is not directly against the law but it’s very much contra our political norms and outside the constitutional order. Should that attempt result in an institutional clash that the Constitution cannot resolve, you then have a constitutional crisis.

      There is a concept called separation of powers, of which Mr. Trump is apparently innocent. That is what brought President Reagan to the edge, but nobody had the stomach to pursue an old man with obvious dementia beyond his term of office and he pardoned everybody else. Iran-Contra might have gotten to a constitutional crisis just as Watergate might have but neither did because of the way the chips fell.

      Only Trump is acting in ways not accounted for in the constitutional paradigm. When Nixon stared into a possible historical footprint as the man who shook loose the constitutional order, he chose not to go there. He observed limits imposed by law and by custom. Trump does not.

      A major decision point for Nixon (one of several) was what to do after the Saturday Night Massacre, and Nixon chose to pick up and dust off what he had broken rather than trash everything he swore to protect.

      It’s very easy to picture a new Saturday Night Massacre if Trump starts trying to remove Mueller and people in DOJ start resigning rather than follow his orders. It is much harder to picture Trump responding to the institutional tension in any manner other than putting the pedal to the metal.

      • Extremist2TheDHS says:

        Yeah .. whatever. If the real world only cared about all that word salad you just wasted words on. I think the coming crisis happens from the kitchen table up, not from the the ivory tower down.

        – Extremist2TheDHS

        • Steve Russell says:

          I forgot to mention that you can’t offer amnesty to the dreamers because they have committed no crime.

          I’ve said many times that I’m a practicing elitist and I’ll plead guilty to having been tenured twice at universities and to being a gatekeeper for the PhD in spite of not having one of my own

          “Yeah…whatever” is a response my children would give briefly at around ten years old but quickly gave up when they determined that an appeal to ignorance does not travel far in my home. It also does not help much in crafting policy.

          Word salad? I’ve been publishing in popular media all of my adult life and in professional media most of my adult life. If you cannot read my writing, you are proving that you lack fluency in the written form of your native language and I would suggest that should not be a matter of pride.

          I am proud of my language fluency and that of my children and I’m also proud to be one of those people Frank Erwin called “dirty nothings” and George Corley Wallace called “pointy-headed intellectuals who can’t park their bicycles straight.”

          The Founders of this nation were, as a group, highly educated. I admire their handiwork and I value education. When a knowledge of history and a capacity for abstract thought become handicaps, the country is doomed.

          HIstorically, social movements in fact happen from the Ivory Tower down, although some of the ideas arrive at kitchen tables half baked.

          I gather you would not have put Lenin on that train? Have you considered the counterfactual enough to think about the result of that decision?

          And when the American revolutionaries drafted someone to tell the world what they were doing and why, they picked Thomas Jefferson.

          Very elitist. Also very correct.

  16. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    Thanks Steve. Been a fun discussion. I have probably already said too much. Gonna be quiet for a few months. I am sure this topic will be revisited again.

    – Extremist2TheDHS

  17. Extremist2TheDhS says:

    And so it starts tomorrow, or maybe Friday. The first marker that begins to expose just how corrupt our justice and intelligence agencies became under Obama. Perhaps more info to will be released or leaked. Lets see how many former administration officials are under indictment by the end of the year. Be careful Mr Schiff, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones! Wonder what you’re going to be doing after you’re not around to subvert the FBI Mr Rosenstein. This memo should be renamed the DC Trial Lawyers Full Employment Memo!

    – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDhS

    • Steve Russell says:

      Would it be asking too much for you to get just elementary facts straight?

      Which is it over there in the echo chamber? Is it the “deep state” or is it that the DOJ is full of Obamaites?

      Those two things cannot go together because if the myth of the deep state were not a load of crap, then all the bureaucracies would turn over like they used to before federal civil service laws.

      You remember the echo chamber having kittens over Bill Clinton visiting with the AG on the tarmac when they were both in the same airport?

      What happened to the outrage when The Donald felt the need to personally interview candidates for US Attorney, but just in certain districts? If you do not know which districts, I’m not sure you pay enough attention to have an opinion on corruption.

      Do I believe that the stupid memo will compromise national security? It’s possible. I’m not sure why the procedures to approach the FISA Court should be public, but since I was opposed to the creation of the FISA Court I probably should not make too big a deal of that. Worst possible scenario: somebody who provided information for the affidavit is a double agent and while there’s no way that fact would get out it could be surmised from how it’s presented in the affidavit and the timing.

      Please write this down and come back to it: the memo, when the full facts are allowed to come out, will not even show anything that appears improper–let alone a crime. Nobody is going to be prosecuted and the FBI (an outfit I am prone to criticize under different circumstances) will come up smelling like a rose. It may take a while because Captain Transparency engineered a vote to prevent the Dems from divulging the context, but the context will come out eventually….and it would HAVE TO come out if there were any prospect of bringing criminal charges.

      I may be overly confident, but the dude who oversaw the creation of the memo is the same idiot who did the midnight run to the White House with what he said were urgent facts….and instead came back with documents he acquired there and tried to peddle them as news. Then, caught red-handed, he claimed to recuse himself from the Russia matter but he remained involved right up to the memo.

      I have not read the thing, but I understand he will try to make the so-called Trump Dossier (actually a series of memos) part of the conspiracy. That will be a hard rap to hang on Christopher Steele, who conducted himself better than the proponent of the memo.

      You have hitched your wagon to a load of bullshit.

      I have called bullshit.

      One of us is right and one is wrong. Do you agree?

  18. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    You are always a step behind my friend. This isnt the end, its just the end of the beginning.

    You can try to obfuscate all you like. But there are numerous people who now have “felon” as part of their CV, for lying to the FBI. In the Mueller probe alone two people have been charged and pled guilty to lying to the FBI. Apparently its a crime to lie to the FBI. Unless you are the FBI and then you feel empowered to lie to judges and to Congress because “the ends justify the means”. Its the old double standard. People saw it in Hillary emails and the laughable investigation into them, and were so disgusted by the uneven tiers of justice that it helped get Trump elected. People are getting a glimpse of it again and will get a deluge in the not too distant future.

    Now its possible that no one in the FBI or DOJ gets prosecuted, but that just adds to the stench.

    Indeed one of is right. Unfortunately for you, its you!

    – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

  19. Steve Russell says:

    The customary response to obfuscation is to expose it with pointed questions not bleat like a confused goat.

    You are still on the “yeah, whatever” level.

    The memo is out now, and, leaving aside the credibility problems, it does not even say what Nunes claims.

    He offers a partisan assertion about what is in a document that is 50 pages long, give or take, that he admits he never read.

    Trey Gowdy, who has just as much crazy right wing cachet as Nunes, did read it and he does not agree with Nunes

    As I was saying, one of us is right and one of us is wrong. The memo was advertised as a bomb and it does not rise to the level of firecracker.

    What to you see in it that’s of any use beyond (here’s that word you like) obfuscation?

  20. Extremist2TheDhS says:

    I am sure you can keep spinning for a few more months. Anything except talking about what IS in the document. As if by making the case that something, anything related to the document or its preparation is amiss, it can be dismissed.

    You enjoy your fantasy for a while longer. The avalanche of shit that is going to come out over the next few months will convince fair minded people, even those who are not Republicans that something was/is terribly wrong at DOJ and a few other agencies. You, I doubt, will ever get it nor will fairness ever matter to you unless it helps your “cause”. I will be happy to return and give you a hug after the dam breaks.

    – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

  21. Anonymous says:

    Steve, you and the rest of your comrades at TRB have a decision to make. History is being made at this very moment.

    You have to decide which side of that history you want to be on. The side of “lets just get to the bottom of this”. The side that says “officials and politicians (and ex-officials and ex-politicians) are going to be gored along the way .. (on both sides of the spectrum, but to be fair, far more on the left than the right), but we as a nation are strong enough to endure” The side that wants to deal fairly and expeditiously with the crimes and criminals and the traitors and restore the legitimacy of the DOJ and FBI and indeed of American governance as a whole.

    Or, you can be on the side that is spinning the latest bad news only to be buried by more bad news tomorrow .. until you just look as farcical as Baghdad Bob.

    My suggestion is that you locate your intellectual honesty and your fair minded curiosity and your thirst for fairness and justice. In the end, this is/will not be about D vs R or left vs right. It is/will be about who runs the country .. the peoples elected (and I say that with reservation based on our current two party system) representatives .. or the entrenched administrative and intelligence gathering shadow state.

    The bottom line is that you are wrong. You will know this with undeniable certainty in the coming months. You just have to decide if you want to admit you’re wrong and join in the effort to fix the problem. Or are you just gonna continue to provide cover for criminals who happen to agree with your politics. Shouldn’t be a hard choice.

    – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

  22. Steve Russell says:

    I await evidence of a crime before worrying about who did it.

    Did you note that Nunes admitted–ON FOX, NO LESS–that his assertion that the FBI did not tell the FISA court which facts were paid for partisan political stuff?

    I knew the FBI had in fact told the FISA court that without Nunes admitting that for the flaming obvious reason that FBI agents are repeat players in the FISA court and the elaborate procedures set up in the DOJ to mollify guys like me who opposed creation of the court require the mucky-mucks in the FBI to sign off on stuff they did not prepare so they can be held responsible on the “captain of the ship” theory if there is something wrong with the application.

    Did you notice, by the way, that Nunes and his chorus had just gotten though voting down reforms to the operation of the FISA court a week before they claimed the FISA court signed a warrant it should not have signed?

    Leaving aside that you have not, I have not, and Nunes admitted that he had not read the 50 plus pages of the FISA application, can you seriously claim the FBI did not need to tap Carter Page just based on information that is public knowledge?

    I can have no opinion on your predictions re the FBI, the DOJ, or the government as a whole because you have yet to point out anything any of those named did that was improper let alone illegal.

    My history re the FBI involves heavy duty criticism over decades. I don’t recant any of the negative things I wrote about the FBI but don’t understand why it follows that I should not call out other FBI critics who are lying.

    Nunes is lying and he has admitted as much.

    Trump is lying but he never admits anything.

    You dare to talk about good government?

    We are coming off one of the least corrupt administrations since WWII. Obama is beat out by Carter unless you stick Carter with the Ham Jordan fiasco, but the only ranking officer from the Obama administration prosecuted was a holdover from Bush 43.

    Trump has been in office only a year and he has left an unprecedented number of high positions unfilled. Among those he has filled, they seem to either get caught and bail or catch on that staying will destroy their reputations. No other POTUS ever even comes close to this much turnover in a first year:

    Fired
    Sally Yates. Deputy attorney general. Days with administration: 11. Refused to enforce Trump’s entry ban.

    Preet Bharara. U.S. attorney. Days with administration: 51. Part of purge of U.S. attorneys.

    James B. Comey. FBI director. Days with administration: 110. Allegedly pressured by Trump to scale down investigations.

    Rich Higgins. Director, NSC. Days with administration: 176. Fired after writing a conspiracy-filled memo.

    Derek Harvey. Senior director, NSC. Days with administration: 182. Fired following power shift under national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

    Anthony Scaramucci. Communications director. Days with administration: 11. Fired by Kelly after giving an obscenity laden interview.

    Ezra Cohen-Watnick. Senior director, NSC. Days with administration: 188. Fired following power shift under McMaster.

    Resigned under pressure
    Michael Flynn. National security adviser. Days with administration: 23. Ostensibly fired for having misled Vice President Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

    Katie Walsh. Deputy chief of staff. Days with administration: 68. Moved out of administration to work for a pro-Trump PAC.

    K.T. McFarland. Deputy national security adviser. Days with administration: 118. Pushed out following power shift under McMaster.

    Tera Dahl. Deputy chief of staff, NSC. Days with administration: 166. Reassigned following power shift under McMaster.

    Michael Short. Assistant press secretary. Days with administration: 185. Scaramucci told media that Short would be fired.

    Reince Priebus. Chief of staff. Days with administration: 188. Resigned in favor of Kelly.

    Stephen K. Bannon. Chief strategist. Days with administration: 209. Bannon left after giving a negative interview to American Prospect.

    Sebastian Gorka. Deputy assistant. Days with administration: 211. Butted heads with Kelly.

    William Bradford. Director, Energy. Days with administration: About 120. Past racist comments were made public.

    Tom Price. Director of Health and Human Services. Days with administration: 232. Under fire for taking expensive charter flights.

    Jamie Johnson. Director, DHS. Days with administration: About 230. Past racist comments were made public.

    Carl Higbie. Chief of external affairs, Corporation for National and Community Service. Days with administration: 153. Past racist comments were made public.

    Taylor Weyeneth. Deputy chief of staff, Office of Drug Control Policy. Days with administration: About 340. Questions about experience and details on résumé.

    Rob Porter. Staff secretary. Days with administration: 385. Allegations of spousal abuse became public.
    Resigned

    Michael Dubke. Communications director. Days with administration: 89. Personal reasons.

    Walter Shaub. Director of Office of Government Ethics. Days with administration: 181. Concern over ethics rules.

    Mark Corallo. Legal team spokesman. Days with administration: 59. Apparently concerned about handling of Trump Tower story.

    Sean Spicer. Press secretary. Days with administration: 181. Uncomfortable with hiring of Scaramucci.

    Elizabeth Southerland. Director, EPA. Days with administration: 193. Disagreement with direction of department.

    Carl Icahn. Special adviser. Days with administration: 211. Resigned in advance of an article about conflicts of interest.

    George Sifakis. Public liaison director. Days with administration: 204. Sifakis was an ally of Priebus.

    Maliz Beams. Counselor, State. Days with administration: 97. Reported differences with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

    Elizabeth Shackelford. Political officer, State. Days with administration: 323. Disagreement with direction of department.

    Paul Winfree. Deputy director. Days with administration: 330. Returning to Heritage Foundation.

    Dina Powell. Deputy national security adviser. Days with administration: 304. Personal reasons.

    Omarosa Manigault. Director of communications, Office of Public Liaison. Days with administration: 364. Resigned to “pursue other opportunities.” Now stars on CBS’s “Big Brother.”

    Jeremy Katz. Deputy director, NEC. Days with administration: About 340. Personal reasons.

    Thomas Shannon. Under secretary of state for political affairs. Days with administration: 385 and counting. (Resignation announced but not yet in force.) Personal reasons.

    John Feeley. Ambassador to Panama. Days with administration: 385 and counting. Disagreement with administration.

    Rick Dearborn. Deputy chief of staff. Days with administration: 383 and counting. Joining private sector.

    There hasn’t been a recent administration that’s seen so much turnover particularly among members of the senior White House staff. (Nor, it’s safe to say, have there been so many appointees who were fired after past racist comments were made public.)

  23. Steve Russell says:

    I presume y’all know that the list above became obsolete this week, and the new departures involve the aide who was closest to Trump and a couple of lawyer who departed under circumstances that to this recovering lawyer appeared to be avoiding unethical to criminal behavior if they stayed on.

    If you’ve troubled yourself to read the indictments handed down since you were blowing hard above, you know that without the Steele memos, we would still be exactly where we are right now.

    Do you wish to place a small wager on whether the Trump princelings will take the Fifth?

  24. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    Hey Steve. Not sure why your list matters. I am sure you are making some incoherent musing about the number of departures that ends like this .. Trump horrible .. Trump bad … Trump terrible. Blah Blah Blah.

    How about focusing instead on the fact that the DOJ just said that the number 2 (numbah 1 for a short time) at the FBI behaved so badly that they recommended he be fired and the OPR agreed and the AG executed that recommendation. That is exceedingly rare. A criminal referral will be made. Everyone who tried to destroy trump in 2015-2017 is starting to sweat. This is the tug on the string that starts to unravel the whole vile nasty ball. McCabe will take everyone else down with him when he goes. Remember the constitutional crisis i mentioned in mid-January? Clock is ticking. tick-tock.

    – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

  25. Steve Russell says:

    When you were in kindergarten, didn’t somebody read you the story of Chicken Little?

    I have three quick comments.

    1. The list I posted has gotten much, much, much longer in the last week. If you don’t think it’s significant, please cite the name of any other POTUS in history with a high level staff turnover even in the ballpark and even toward the end of a term.

    2. While these comments have gotten pretty far afield from what they are supposed to be commenting on–to wit, what I originally wrote and still stand behind—please print out the entire string of point-counterpoint .

    Hint: you can make it a lot shorter by cutting out everything that translates to “blah blah blah” or “Says who?” or “whatever” or “neener neener neener.” Put all that juvenile crap to one side with the name of the person who posted it as a label.

    Take what’s left and make a list of matters shown since they were posted to be either lies or mistakes that show a level of ignorance that ought to disqualify the person being quoted from any rational conversation. Don’t forget to label those with your name or mine.

    3. So far, the only accusation against Mr. McCabe is lying during an internal investigation. He denies it.

    It’s a felony to lie in that circumstance, so those who think he’s guilty should charge him. If he is guilty, I agree it’s a firing offense. I don’t agree that it justifies firing within hours of a 20 year retirement vesting.

    4. Make that four comments. Mr. Trump keeps attributing ethical rules to prosecutors that simply do not exist and would be unworkable if we wanted to make them exist. As political science, they are dumb in that they ignore centuries of data on how similar rules that do apply to judges play out. Trump tramples law and common sense in this manner while ignoring ethical limits on executives that are not in the law because they are so flaming obvious that making a law would seem redundant.

  26. Extremist2TheDHS says:


    3. So far, the only accusation against Mr. McCabe is lying during an internal investigation. He denies it.

    It’s a felony to lie in that circumstance, so those who think he’s guilty should charge him. If he is guilty, I agree it’s a firing offense. I don’t agree that it justifies firing within hours of a 20 year retirement vesting.

    He has been referred for charges. Apparently the DOJ thinks he is guilty. And And if my sources are accurate, he is not the last, not even close. Comey has been under investigation for a while. And why do you think John Brennan is on TV so much trashing Trump? He knows what he did and is furiously spinning to try and divert attention anyway he can.

    FBI deputy director, FBI director, Director of the CIA, and potentially the former Attorney General. At what point does this begin to call into question the actions (or inactions to be more precise) of President Obama?

    While the narrative that Trump only won because he was in doing the bidding of Putin unravels faster than a kite strong in March, the question that gets louder and louder is simple: why is 90 percent of the investigative effort heading in only one direction? Especially when the mountain of evidence for actual crimes and actual efforts to influence the election pile up higher than garbage after a hurricane.

    Eventually, the tide will turn. And when it does, given how much information has already been uncovered, especially after the all-out effort to hide it, the change, the unraveling will happen rapidly.

    – Extremist2TheDHS

  27. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    That “Constitutional Crisis” i mentioned back in February .. its baking in the oven. What do you call it when the FBI/CIA plant a spy into a political campaign? (actually in this case, even before the campaign began) What do you call it when cabinet members and even a former President engage in illegal acts to influence the outcome of an election for President?

    I call it a powder keg. As the intelligence services work ever harder to protect their dirty little secrets and save their own, they create a situation that can be, likely will be, explosive. When their guilt finally meets the light of day, millions of people, just like me, will demand retribution, vengeance, the swift administration of justice. And when that is delayed or denied, as it inevitably will be, some of my less articulate and less self-controlled fellow travelers are going to act. When there is no justice, then rage at least makes you feel less like a victim .. less like a dupe..

    – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

    • Steve Russell says:

      You will have to say it in English.

      The Russian attempt to turn Trump into an asset goes back long before he dived in as a candidate.

      How does the latest news in the real world comport with what you have been saying over the past year?

      Just in the last two weeks we’ve found out that the shell corporation Michael Cohen to covey cash to Trump’s girlfriends took in half a million bucks from a Russian oligarch. John McCain has ‘fessed up to being the one who sent the Steele dossier to the FBI, having gotten it from British intelligence along with a reference for Steele as reliable. Other big bucks for “Essential Consultants” came from Novartis and ATT.

      Stormy Daniels only got $130,000. What happened to the rest?

      I doubt that you even know what a Russian oligarch is even though you understand “oligarch” and you understand “Russian.” You will never admit that you did not know what I’m about to tell you but it’s critical to understanding what has happened to the US government and having enough sense to be alarmed.

      When the Soviet Union dissolves all business assets of any size were in the hands of the government. Those assets were sold at auction at prices no individual could bid.

      Small groups of people who had been part of the Soviet government were the bidders and the lion’s share of the assets were bought by groups from the KGB headed by a fellow named Putin.

      All of the folks who became instantly wealthy by acquiring Soviet asset have sorted themselves into two groups.

      One group has kissed Mr. Putin’s ring and is rewarded with a little power and a lot of money.

      The other group has had an incredible run of bad luck. They are all in exile, in prison, or dead.

      The upshot is that when you deal with a Russian oligarch in our time you are dealing with Putin and when you deal with Putin you are dealing with the Russian government.

      The number of Russian oligarchs named in the witch hunt so far are in double digits. All of these contacts are Russian government contacts.

      These contacts are why the Attorney General recused himself from overseeing the witch hunt–he lied to Congress twice about his own contacts with Russians.

      These contacts are what have caused Jared Kushner to amend his security clearance application times in the double digits….and all the contacts that slipped his mind were Russians.

      Mike Flynn, at least, offered a little variety when he failed to register as a foreign agent WHILE SERVING AS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR. He was serving Turkey as well as Russia and his Russian contacts mostly cut out the middlemen and went directly to Putin. His Russian contacts also slipped his mind, just like they did Sessions and Kushner….man, those Russians are hard to remember, no?

      Right now, we have a geopolitical adversary with assets in the White House. Gen. Flynn has pled guilty and is no longer there but Sessions is still serving and Kushner is family.

      Trump personally has done deals with Russian oligarchs that are public record. We don’t know what else because we’ve not seen his tax returns.

      So we got all these Russians inserted into the Trump campaign and you are worried about US intelligence assets keeping an eye on them? While I don’t know who you are talking about, I would be concerned if all of this could happen and our intelligence services not know about it.

      And I’m still puzzled about “constitutional crisis.” Nobody is refusing to comply with court orders yet and nobody has even threatened to do that. If you recall, NIXON did not do that.

      The Constitution contains checks and balances and safety valves. They work slowly but, so far at least, they work. I worry about the swath of destruction Trump has cut though our institutions. The tradition of revealing tax returns was dented by Romney but smashed by Trump. The tradition of disclosing medical problems is gone. The State Department is a hollow shell, hollowed out by a man who thinks diplomats are supposed to represent him personally. The POTUS has said on many occasions that he thinks the AG is his lawyer and the FBI is his personal police force. His idea of US relations with any country is his relationship with the head of government. He gets along fine with Putin. Angela Merkel, not so much.

      So could you explain where this constitutional crisis is brewing? Trump might get into one after he fires Mueller, but it’s not inevitable.

  28. Steve Russell says:

    I think I figured out what you mean. You are talking about the latest Trump fallback position about the FBI “planting a spy” in his campaign. Actually, he said “Obama’s Department of Justice.” Which is it? Does the POTUS control the FBI or does the “Deep State?”

    Spy?

    I know you slept through the Civil Rights Movement, but you should get a good history and notice how many really awful things happened when an FBI informant was present.

    After you learn that, then you might study up on an operation called COINTELPRO.

    The FBI was investigating at least four workers on the Trump campaign before they came to work for the Trump campaign, leading me to wonder if you think the FBI has to turn loose of a spy if the spy joins a political campaign?

    George Papadopoulos emailed Trump campaign policy director John Mashburn in early 2016 offering Russian help to beat Clinton, according to Mashburn’s congressional testimony.

    Paul Manafort had an email exchange on April 11, 2016, with Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik announcing his hiring as Trump campaign manager and asking that Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska be informed.

    Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, traveled to Moscow July 7-8, 2016 and met with Andrey Baranov, head of investor relations at Rosneft, and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. In 2013, Page passed documents about the US energy industry to Russian spy Victor Podobnyy, who went to the Club Fed with two other members of his spy ring while Page was an unindicted co-conspirator.

    Gen. Michael Flynn worked for the Trump campaign and the Trump White House was on the payroll of two foreign powers, Turkey and Russia, and under a legal obligation to report that, which he did not do.

    I agree with Trump that the US is better off if we get along with Russia, but I do not agree with his admiration for the autocratic ways of Vladimir Putin.

    I challenge you to count the contacts with Russians during the campaign that Trump has denied but have now been proven beyond any doubt.

    I challenge you to list the nations which had such contacts with the Trump campaign that slipped the mind of the people in the Trump campaign.

    Now tell me how how much faith you put in coincidences.

  29. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    Oh my gosh Steve. I know that all of us conservatives are terribly lacking in discernment, intelligence, insight, critical thinking skills. If it weren’t for my dear progressive colleagues on this site, I might still be wearing a tiger skin and trying to make fire with stones. But thankfully you so completely fulfill the stereotypical “Elitist Progressive Intellectual ” that you compensate for my lack of intelligence in this ongoing discussion.

    If any of you are still wondering why Hillary lost, just imagine Steve in a pantsuit and you will know why middle America turned out in droves for a womanizing drama queen named Trump.

    Tick Tock my clueless friend. You are like the guy sitting next to the volcano and upon seeing its ash cloud and lava vents you opine that its nothing really … no way that thing will explode.

    The explosion is underway Steve. I am going to sit back over the next few months and enjoy the show. You may have to get someone to interpret my comments for you. I cant speak English no better 🙂

    – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

    • Steve Russell says:

      Oh, and one more thing.

      You are not a conservative.

      William F. Buckley was a conservative.

      George Will is a conservative.

      Peggy Noonan is a conservative.

      Max Boot is a conservative.

      Bill Kristol is a conservative.

      Mary Matalin is a conservative.

      Not only do they write about a shared factual reality, they write within traditions every educated person understands as forming the universe of discourse–and that includes ideas with which we are in near-total disagreement.

      Everyone knows that “liberal” has switched meanings from the time it first came into political discourse.

      Everyone knows that there are deep and serious differences between socialism and communism.

      Those who advocate supply side economics understand it has down sides and ditto the majority that works in demand side economics.

      Even when our rhetoric is cut, slash, and burn, the cutting and slashing and burning all takes place in a familiar landscape of ideas on which we all agree.

      If this offends you, you are free to construct an alternative universe of ideas just like you have constructed an alternative universe of facts.

      I predict you will have even less luck with the former than you have had with the latter.

  30. Steve Russell says:

    I am an elitist and never claimed otherwise.

    You are an idiot but you claim otherwise off and on. It’s during the times you claim to inhabit fact-based reality that we can talk. This is not one of those times.

    If you have any doubt of what I just said, read over this thread and ask yourself who brings up facts and whether the facts have held up over time.

    I never thought I’d see the day when living in fact based reality and adhering to Aristotelian logic made you elite, but we are living in that day. We’ve gone from a POTUS who caused a fad by taking up speed reading to a POTUS who does not read.

    I do hope those elitists who criticized JFK for pushing a method that threatened perfect comprehension are dining well on their words.

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