Category Archives: American Psyche

Political and social problems that affect how Americans see America

Unreality Show I’ll Take Door Number i for $100, Alex

October 12th 2018

Who would have thought, three years ago, that we would have a black entertainer meeting with the President in the Oval Office and arguing for the repeal of the 13th amendment?
Trump has achieved the trifecta of crazy: Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent, and now Kanye West. A pity Charlie Manson is dead: he could have visited and argued for lowering the age of consent to six.

This spectacle would have been grotesque and awkward under the best of circumstances, but it occurred almost to the minute that a major hurricane was devastating the Florida panhandle coast, completely leveling one town and inflicting major damage from Florida to North Carolina. Even as the Trump administration was arguing that 4C increase was inevitable, so we all might as well get used to it.

At least this time touring Melania Trump didn’t show up wearing a coat that proclaimed her lack of concern; she was off in Africa, wearing a British RA-style pith helmet, recreating “Call Me Bwimbo”. Oh, wait, that’s Bwana. Second look. No, it’s Bwimbo. The woman has a gift for wearing “Fuck You” as a fashion accessory. After getting some light criticism over that, she flounced off, calling herself the most bullied person in America. Easy solution, babe: file for divorce.

Was it really just 23 months ago that people were saying in hopeful tones that Republicans in Congress could keep Trump in line and blunting his more egregious impulses?

Nah. They saw Trump apparently getting away with the most blatant lies and viciousness, and decided they knew a winning approach when they saw it. Now they’re all lying their heads off. As the election nears, it’s a race to the bottom.

You see campaign ads all over the place swearing up and down that Republicans want to protect Medicare, and that Democrats are goddless commie Muslims who want to allow billions of Mexicans to come in and take over the country. They boast about how Trump saved the economy by maintaining employment and growth trends previously seen over the past six years under Obama, and carefully don’t mention the trillions in new debt for the latest tax giveaways to the rich (including the additional $3 trillion last week that the same Republicans who voted for it last week aren’t mentioning now), or the fact that despite the fact that they are fracking and drilling the living shit out of America and working to turn national parks into oil reserves, the price of gasoline is a dollar fifty above what it was last year.

It got so bad that NY Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote a piece yesterday effectively calling the entire party liars. Such a column would never have seen the light of day a few years ago, but that was before the GOP went mad and abandoned all principle. At least the NY Times belatedly remembered they were a newspaper and what that meant.

Trump had an ‘op-ed’ in the disreputable USA Today that has to be read to be believed. The Washington Post stated that nearly every single sentence included a misstatement or flat-out lie.

In Georgia, the Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, is running for Governor, but as SS he retains the power to purge voter rolls. Which he is doing with a vengeance, some 26,000 names over the past few weeks, over such criteria as whether a middle initial is included on the written name but not in the signature. While African-Americans make up 32% of Georgia’s population (and a somewhat lower proportion of the voting population for obvious reasons) they make up 70% of the voters being purged. Oh, and the SS office isn’t bothering to tell the voters they have been purged. Let it be a surprise on election day. Similar, if less egregious stories abound in other states saddled with Republican rule.

Of course, Trump hates a free press, but isn’t above using the more whorish and lower segments of that press to attack the rest. The National Enquirer has been prostituting itself for him for years now, and Fox News is nothing more than the propaganda arm for the GOP. It’s a shameful thing to see in America, which once was proud of its free and independent press. Now the government has fascist whores pretending to be reporters to spread lies and stifle dissent.

It’s no surprise that news that Saudi Arabia lured a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, into the Saudi embassy in Istanbul and proceeded to torture, murder and dismember him. It’s widely believed that it was ordered by the vile despot Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who seized power last year with the somewhat clandestine help from the Trump administration (Chief Wastrel Jared Kushner was on hand to oversee the coup and possibly offer friendly advice and hidden funding).

Trump’s reaction to this was muted, partly because he doesn’t mind seeing journalists being killed for doing their job and partly because his business interests are heavily intertwined with bin Salman’s. Even as most of the corporate world pull away from the swinish and vicious Sauds, Trump is going ahead with another arms deal so Saudi Arabia can massacre a few thousand more Yemanis.

Iran is a vile theocracy, but it’s only the third worst in the region, behind Israel and Saudi Arabia. Guess which of the three the US condemns solely?

Kavanaugh, perjurer, liar and partisan ratfucker, has already established a new precedent, becoming the first sitting justice in Supreme Court history to be under active investigation for violation of judicial practices and ethics, based on his sworn Senate testimony. He managed this odiferous distinction on just the second day on the court. It will get worse.

Trump is submitting written answers to Meuller’s investigative team, about his only remaining constitutional recourse. His lawyers knew he can’t go a minute without lying, so spoken testimony under oath would be a legal death trap, and this at least gives the lawyers time to write and finesse the answers, in the hope they can make Trump at least technically not liable for perjury. We’ll know soon enough if these lawyers, not the most brilliant legal team over assembled, can come up with anything that won’t result in immediate indictments.

OK, admit it: after all that, Kanye West sounds pretty sane, doesn’t he?

At least harmless, right? Right?

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Trump Junior’s War – Sour grapes following a sour victory

Donald Trump Junior, vacuous moron, big game killer, child prodigy swindler and defender of the privileged class, rage-tweeted in the wake of the Kavanaugh vote, “Trump supporters – The fight isn’t over. You better believe that Democrats are going to do everything in their power to impeach Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court if they take control of Congress in November…This is war. Time to fight. Vote on Nov 6 to protect the Supreme Court!”

Just imagine how aggrieved and full of empty threats Donny the Lesser would have been had he lost this battle.

He’s right, of course. We won’t forget. Kavanaugh is a perjurer and a liar. He lied repeatedly to the Senate, committing the same crime for which he believed Bill Clinton should be destroyed. He was selected by the criminal Trump precisely because he believes now that no president should be subject to the kinds of legal persecution he inflicted on Bill Clinton. Even a president who is demonstrably a swindler and a tax cheat. One who assaults, rather than diddling consenting adults. One who is staging a coup against his own country. Even one who might be a traitor.

Kavanaugh’s demeanor made it clear that he is nothing more than what Charles Pierce memorably described as “a partisan ratfucker.” He would have been more at home as Rush Limbaugh’s color commentator than as a Supreme Court nominee.

He’s credibly accused of rape and sexual assault. The example he set, and the fact that he and his scumbag president got away with it by smearing and mocking victims, significantly increases the chances that his own daughters will suffer similar fates at the hands of entitled frat boys in the future. If they complain, perhaps Kavanaugh can asked Trump to mock them, so he needn’t suffer political embarrassment.

We will impeach Kavanaugh, and we will drive him from the Court and back under his rock where he belongs.

Then we will come for the moral and ethical abdicates, the criminals and fascists, and the traitors of the GOP. We will drive them from office.

People like Trump and Kavanaugh don’t see themselves as traitors. They don’t see themselves as liars and cheats. They believe they deserve to take what is theirs. Any woman. Any money. Any country. All of us. We aren’t citizenry to them; we are chattel.

Susan Collins only needed a sham FBI investigation to don a g-string and pasties and do a little shimmy for Trump and Kavanaugh. She knows a woman’s place. As long as she’s rich, what value is dignity? Her only remaining role is to demonstrate that when you sell out your own, you can never reclaim the mantle of being their champion.

The Eleven swine on the Senate Judiciary Committee who made such a joke of the Senate and the Supreme Court in their lust for power will never win another election. We will drive them out.

You know what kind of life you can expect if these fascists prevail. Ask the thousands of customers, investors and contractors that Trump has swindled. Ask the women he has raped and mocked.

Watch the tears stream down Kavanaugh’s flabby cheeks as the toy he was promised is held at arm’s reach. How can we take away that which he deserves?

Once he has it, he will give us exactly what he thinks he deserves. His won’t be the sullen rage of the post-turtle Thomas who never was able to convince himself he was anything more than a GOP token, the result of a cynical belief that the great Thurgood Marshall could be adequately replaced by a House Negro.

No, Kavanaugh’s will be an open rage, an aristocrat frightened by an aroused citizenry. Rush and Tucker and Donald will assure him, over and over, that he is the victim, and his persecutors must pay. He is damaged goods, and will inflict damaged decisions.

Kavanaugh is on the Court, and all it cost was the legitimacy of the Court and the Senate. A small price to pay when you think the country shouldn’t have that sort of nonsense when there is money to be stolen and women to be raped.

Yes, Donald the Lesser, you will get the war you so desire. If you are very lucky, you and your wastrel family will merely end up in jail for many years, and the country will emerge intact. That is the deepest wish of all who oppose you and your brotherhood of gangsters.

But don’t count on that desire for a peaceful solution. You’re merely fighting for an imagined right to shoot large animals. The rest of us are fighting for the right to a decent life, something you hold in contempt.

You will not win this war you want.

Weasel Alert

From the senior member of the Lying Socialist Weasels club:

Weasel Alert System

If you are interested in joining the Weasels, email me at thebigweasel@autistici.org

Fascism Rising – Trump and Kavanaugh aren’t bugs; they’re features

September 23rd, 2018

One of the many sub-plots in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s brilliant Maniac involves the character Jed Milgrim (played by Billy Magnussen) a “colorful douche” who is a scion of a vicious, powerful, wealthy family, and who stands accused of a heinous sexual assault involving urination. It’s nearly impossible not to think of the Trump family while watching this, not only because of the nature of the crime, or the resemblance Magnussen bears to one of the Trump scions, but because of the calm assurance of the family that in order to protect their power, prestige and wealth, it is perfectly reasonable to commit perjury, blackmail and bribe people (including family members), and stand well above the law in pursuit of their own interests. They are used to dismissing people who they have wronged and who want to fight back as greedy little scuttlers, and resent a legal system that doesn’t just let them destroy such rabble.

The haughty, self-assured mien Magnussen wears is one we have seen far too often, not just in this White House (including many of its nominees from the world of wealth and privilege) but in the faces of the broadcasters on the right-wing media, and the people who trot out endless columns of right wing think tanks to assure us that “identity politics” and “takers” are only showing resentment of their betters, and Americans should not believe people who profess to stand for the people when America’s ultra-wealthy stand ready to defend the people from the people.

Congruent with this, I’m presently reading a book by Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains – The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. I’ll have a full review of the book upon completion of reading it,

America has always had a class of aggrieved plutocrats who believe their property rights trump the civil rights of all other Americans. This dates back to John C. Calhoun and his vigorous defense of America’s biggest economic phenomenon prior to the civil war: slavery. MacLean notes that slavery made North Carolina the richest and most powerful state in the union prior to 1860, and created more one percenters in Mississippi than in New York.

The power of this elite was held in check by the Civil War and various economic crashes, culminating in the Crash of ‘29 and the Depression, resulting in the New Deal.

MacLean explains how a libertarian economist of the 1950s, James McGill Buchanan, created a reality in which vast sums of money could be spent organizing the plutocrat class and using propaganda and control of the media to convince Americans that they were incapable of self-governance and should let the natural leaders of society (the “businessmen”) run things.

It was fascism, pure and simple, although that is a word they never, ever acknowledge and attack all who use it. Governance through corporation.

The biggest problem with fascism is the same that one sees with other unaccountable forms of governments, such as theocracies and monarchies: corruption sets in quickly, and the rot spreads until it finally kills its host.

But as long as there is power and money to be accumulated, corruption isn’t seen as a bug—it’s seen as a feature.

The fascists have taken over the GOP, with the nightmarish and Kafkaesque results that we see in the paper every day, of people grimly determined to fight unions, civil libertarian groups, workers in general, women, and any group that can organize, collectivize and perhaps challenge their power.

MacLean writes, “Is what we are dealing with merely a social movement of the right whose radical ideas must eventually face public scrutiny and rise or fall on their merits? Or is this the story of something quite different, something never before seen in American history? Could it be—and I use these words quite hesitantly and carefully—a fifth-column assault on American democratic governance?…Pushed by relatively small numbers of radical-right billionaires and millionaires who have become profoundly hostile to America’s modern system of government, an apparatus decades in the making, funded by those same billionaires and millionaires, has been working to undermine the normal governance of our democracy. Indeed, one such manifesto calls for a “hostile takeover” of Washington, D.C.”

As you watch this week as the Republicans cling like grim death to the Kavanaugh nomination, hoping to push this vile corporatist down our throats to consolidate their power they way they have with Thomas, and Gorsuch, and you wonder how they can possibly continue to support Trump, reflect on the fact that they are no longer just an American political party: they are a fifth column, enemies to the Constitution and determined to finish a slow coup they have been conducting against America for 40 years.

They know Trump is a bad president. Even without the corruption, the sheer scale of his incompetence and inability to lead would, in a normal party, be enough to impeach him. They see the weirdness and chaos as inconveniences; the fact that Trump is utterly corrupt is what makes him so valuable to them. They know he’s a thief, a crook, a swindler, and possibly a traitor. But so are they, even if they dress it up in self-serving rhetoric, and as for being traitors, they are much closer in spirit to the most corrupt plutocrat of all, Vladimir Putin, then they are to anything readers might recognize as American values. Treason is betrayal against those you owe fealty. By their lights, betraying America is not treason.

Perhaps the saddest element of this is the people they have roped in to support them. The racists. The Evangelicals. The Xenophobes. The growling, disaffected population that feel they deserve a place at the table and the fascists are more than happy to promise them that place.

They’ve always been useful idiots for demagogues. Nothing new there. What is new is what will follow.

Should the fascists win, they will discard these people like used condoms. Not only are their beliefs and impulses bad for business, but they can reorganize and pose a threat to their masters. And they cannot be trusted: they’ve already betrayed America. It would only be a matter of time before they revolt against Trump’s New Order.

And the worst of all is that they would become our allies in a common cause.

If you can vote in November, vote like your life depends on it. It does.

We can avoid having to fight a Fascist Fifth Column again.

Fascism Rising – Trump and Kavanaugh aren’t bugs; they’re features

September 23rd, 2018

One of the many sub-plots in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s brilliant Maniac involves the character Jed Milgrim (played by Billy Magnussen) a “colorful douche” who is a scion of a vicious, powerful, wealthy family, and who stands accused of a heinous sexual assault involving urination. It’s nearly impossible not to think of the Trump family while watching this, not only because of the nature of the crime, or the resemblance Magnussen bears to one of the Trump scions, but because of the calm assurance of the family that in order to protect their power, prestige and wealth, it is perfectly reasonable to commit perjury, blackmail and bribe people (including family members), and stand well above the law in pursuit of their own interests. They are used to dismissing people who they have wronged and who want to fight back as greedy little scuttlers, and resent a legal system that doesn’t just let them destroy such rabble.

The haughty, self-assured mien Magnussen wears is one we have seen far too often, not just in this White House (including many of its nominees from the world of wealth and privilege) but in the faces of the broadcasters on the right-wing media, and the people who trot out endless columns of right wing think tanks to assure us that “identity politics” and “takers” are only showing resentment of their betters, and Americans should not believe people who profess to stand for the people when America’s ultra-wealthy stand ready to defend the people from the people.

Congruent with this, I’m presently reading a book by Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains – The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. I’ll have a full review of the book upon completion of reading it,

America has always had a class of aggrieved plutocrats who believe their property rights trump the civil rights of all other Americans. This dates back to John C. Calhoun and his vigorous defense of America’s biggest economic phenomenon prior to the civil war: slavery. MacClean notes that slavery made North Carolina the richest and most powerful state in the union prior to 1860, and created more one percenters in Mississippi than in New York.

The power of this elite was held in check by the Civil War and various economic crashes, culminating in the Crash of ‘29 and the Depression, resulting in the New Deal.

MacLean explains how a libertarian economist of the 1950s, James McGill Buchanan, created a reality in which vast sums of money could be spent organizing the plutocrat class and using propaganda and control of the media to convince Americans that they were incapable of self-governance and should let the natural leaders of society (the “businessmen”) run things.

It was fascism, pure and simple, although that is a word they never, ever acknowledge and attack all who use it. Governance through corporation.

The biggest problem with fascism is the same that one sees with other unaccountable forms of governments, such as theocracies and monarchies: corruption sets in quickly, and the rot spreads until it finally kills its host.

But as long as there is power and money to be accumulated, corruption isn’t seen as a bug—it’s seen as a feature.

The fascists have taken over the GOP, with the nightmarish and Kafkaesque results that we see in the paper every day, of people grimly determined to fight unions, civil libertarian groups, workers in general, women, and any group that can organize, collectivize and perhaps challenge their power.

MacClean writes, “Is what we are dealing with merely a social movement of the right whose radical ideas must eventually face public scrutiny and rise or fall on their merits? Or is this the story of something quite different, something never before seen in American history? Could it be—and I use these words quite hesitantly and carefully—a fifth-column assault on American democratic governance?…Pushed by relatively small numbers of radical-right billionaires and millionaires who have become profoundly hostile to America’s modern system of government, an apparatus decades in the making, funded by those same billionaires and millionaires, has been working to undermine the normal governance of our democracy. Indeed, one such manifesto calls for a “hostile takeover” of Washington, D.C.”

As you watch this week as the Republicans cling like grim death to the Kavanaugh nomination, hoping to push this vile corporatist down our throats to consolidate their power they way they have with Thomas, and Gorsuch, and you wonder how they can possibly continue to support Trump, reflect on the fact that they are no longer just an American political party: they are a fifth column, enemies to the Constitution and determined to finish a slow coup they have been conducting against America for 40 years.

They know Trump is a bad president. Even without the corruption, the sheer scale of his incompetence and inability to lead would, in a normal party, be enough to impeach him. They see the weirdness and chaos as inconveniences; the fact that Trump is utterly corrupt is what makes him so valuable to them. They know he’s a thief, a crook, a swindler, and possibly a traitor. But so are they, even if they dress it up in self-serving rhetoric, and as for being traitors, they are much closer in spirit to the most corrupt plutocrat of all, Vladimir Putin, then they are to anything readers might recognize as American values. Treason is betrayal against those you owe fealty. By their lights, betraying America is not treason.

Perhaps the saddest element of this is the people they have roped in to support them. The racists. The Evangelicals. The Xenophobes. The growling, disaffected population that feel they deserve a place at the table and the fascists are more than happy to promise them that place.

They’ve always been useful idiots for demagogues. Nothing new there. What is new is what will follow.

Should the fascists win, they will discard these people like used condoms. Not only are their beliefs and impulses bad for business, but they can reorganize and pose a threat to their masters. And they cannot be trusted: they’ve already betrayed America. It would only be a matter of time before they revolt against Trump’s New Order.

And the worst of all is that they would become our allies in a common cause.

If you can vote in November, vote like your life depends on it. It does.

We can avoid having to fight a Fascist Fifth Column again.

Calexit – Maybe Russia wants California Back

September 16th, 2018

Secession movements in California are nothing new. There have been some 220 different schemes to divvy up the state, 27 of which either made it to the state legislature floor, or were put up for referendum. Most of latest ones would have the effect of taking a big blue state and making one or two blue states, and three or four red states.

There have been at least four different secession movements since 1975, the most recent of which is the resurrected Calexit movement, run by a shady character named Louis Marinelli.

It’s a mistake to assume that everyone who wants to break the state up or secede from the Union is seeking partisan advantage, or working for a foreign power. One of the most famous secession movements of the 20th century, for the State of Jefferson, was sparked by a desire for decent highways through the region and a widespread perception that Sacramento had reneged on promises to provide such. Some secession schemes were idealistic in nature: Ecotopia and Cascadia were proposed with an eye to creating an environmental paradise. Most of these movements sought to improve things, one way or another. Even the ones that sought to gain were self-serving, rather than villainous.

Just this year a scheme to split California into three (Cal3, backed by venture capitalist Tim Draper), creating two red states and one blue died when the State Supreme Court ruled that the proposition constituted a “major revision” to the state constitution. Such changes can be placed in front of voters only by the state Legislature or a constitutional convention. The Court concluded, “because significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity, and because we conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election.” That would suggest that unless future initiatives specified that the existing state constitution be grandfathered into the mini-me states, such initiatives would be considered invalid.

Mind you, it was unlikely that two thirds of the state voters would turn the state water supply over to the thinly populated northern California, where the rain and snow like to congregate.

Which brings us to the Calexit movement. A year ago, it was moribund. The leader of the movement, the aforementioned Louis Marinelli, had suddenly fled the country, writing a manifesto that said, among other things, “I have found in Russia a new happiness, a life without the albatross of frustration and resentment towards ones’ homeland, and a future detached from the partisan divisions and animosity that has thus far engulfed my entire adult life. Consequently, if the people of Russia would be so kind as to welcome me here on a permanent basis, I intend to make Russia my new home.”

OK, good riddance. Turned out that unbeknownst to most voters and even most of his supporters, he had moved to Yekaterinburg the previous September, and was surreptitiously running Calexit from there.

He set up a bullshit embassy in Moscow, supposedly representing the “Republic of California.” Putin, of course, isn’t daft enough to grant recognition to this endeavor, but in a land where he viciously suppresses demonstrations he finds embarrassing, Putin seems oddly tolerant of Marinelli.

Russia did once have a colony in California from 1821 to 1841, what is now Fort Ross. (The “Ross” was for “Russia”). Nearby Sebastopol was not part of the Russian Empire, but got its name from the winners in a bar fight in a mysterious and largely unknown process. Northern California has the best history…

I had heard that Calexit was still a Thing, even without the Tsar of Yekateringburg, and assumed it basically gave the Teabagger crowd something to play with to distract them while the GOP imploded. While a lot of liberal and progressive Californian also fantasize about escaping from Trumpistan, they give Calexit a wide berth, knowing that it’s where venture capitalists, sagebush rebellion zanies, religious whacks and baby authoritarians go to die.

The Santa Barbara News Press is one of three papers that endorsed Trump in 2016 (and has its own remarkable story of takeover by a self-absorbed plutocrat) and so it’s not unusual to find Op-Eds saying that Lincoln was widely condemned during his presidency, just like Trump, so therefore Trump is just like Lincoln, or (today) that Trump must be honest because he refused to accept the presidential salary.

Even so, yesterday’s headline was a bit startling: “Secessionists hope ‘hatred’ of Golden State will aid cause.” The article, from Foxnews’ website, elaborates that the Calexit people want ‘deep hatred’ from at least twenty-five state legislatures, Not just hatred; deep hatred. I guess that means the sort of hatred people have for pink Capri pants, or Justin Beiber, or Barney the Dinosaur. Rip-your-teeth-out-and-throw-them-at-it type hatred.

The rationale is that if twenty five state leges vote to ask California to leave, that they will have the constitutionally required consent, and Calexit will tell the California voters that they now have legal permission from the country to leave.

It’s utter nonsense, of course. But Marinelli clearly hopes that the resounding rejection would make California all butt-hurt and they would leave in a huff, taking 12% of America’s economy and 15% of their tax base with them. The new Republic of California anthem could be, “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.” It would be only fitting.

“Disentanglement” could cost California a cool trillion, and the rest of the country even more, and both would take massive hits in wealth and power.

Happy birthday, Vladimir. Stand by to pick up the pieces.

Maybe Louis Marinelli would be president-for-life. “Medals for Everyone!”

It’s not going anywhere. Yes, Trump is widely hated in California, but it’s a lot easier and far more productive to get Trump out of office than it is to break up the United States.

In the meantime, reflect on this: Calexit and Marinelli want to stoke hatred to their ends. That rarely involves benign intent, and the Russian influence is, as they say, clear and present.

To the Trumperdoos who hate California and want us gone: There is no such thing as a “California.” Never was. It’s just something ginned up by Hollywood and the Fake Liberal Media.

Just ask your President. Nothing here except illegal voters. Who you want to vote for Calexit.

Or something like that.

Cooperation The Manafortress has Fallen

September 14th, 2018

Paul Manafort has flipped. He’s going to give Bob Mueller everything he knows; about that Trump Tower meeting, about any and all other contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and the exact degree each played in subverting the Clinton campaign and forced propagandization of the public discourse.

It’s a devastating blow for Trump, le coup de grâce, and it’s now becoming very unlikely that he will still be president six months from now.

It’s bad enough for a president when his campaign manager pleads guilty to two counts of conspiracy against the United States. (Trumperdoos, “Conspiracy” is the legal term for “collusion”).

Trump, when Manafort’s going to spill the beans, rat you out, sing like a canary, give it up to the G-men, telling them every thing you did as a part of that, you have a pretty sizable problem.

Mueller has a death grip on Manafort’s throat. In addition to the two guilty pleas and promise of cooperation, Manafort has agreed to give over nearly all of his personal wealth, some $145 million including four mansions, to asset forfeiture. It leaves just enough so his wife and kids won’t starve while he rots in jail. Manafort is clearly a man with no options and no bargaining chips, other than to give over Trump and many others close to Trump. This way, his family isn’t destitute, and he might actually live long enough to get out of prison, something not in the cards last week.

Shortly after Cohen decided to plead out and turn evidence, Trump got asked about ‘flippers.’ His answer was characteristically weird, in that he said he knew a lot of flippers and they were just part of his regular environment.

You have to wonder what other crime lords would have made of that statement. James Cagney’s characters would have prefaced any remarks made to suspected flippers with “Youse doity rats” and ended up with escapades involving cement overboots and the East River. Real mobsters would have arranged for brake failures, or skiing accidents (“Both legs”). For a man who supposedly demands absolute personal loyalty from all the people he’ll eventually betray, it was an oddly tepid response.

If America had to elect a mafia don president, at least they picked one that was profoundly incompetent and abjectly stupid. Trump can’t even call his little friend and arrange for Manafort to have an adventure involving ricin, polonium or novichok. It’s too late.

Manafort has already given everything he has to convince Mueller to let him off with just a decade or two and $145 million. All he had to do was sign the paperwork, and all that evidence were there for Mueller to do with as he pleased.

It’s too late for Trump to pardon his way out of it, too. A lot of the evidence will go to the State of New York Southern District, who will use it for state charges. Trump can only pardon federal offenses.

A lot of that evidence stands to implicate Trump himself. Even with Trumpenstooge Kavanaugh on the court (not a foregone conclusion at this point) the Court is unlikely to rule that a president indicted for criminal conspiracy against his own country (which is now quite likely) can pardon himself. Even Dead Tony would have trouble arguing that this came under the aegis of original intent.

I suspect that it wasn’t for their damp lust to get Kavanaugh on the court, thus assuring a corrupt corporate majority, the Republicans would have dumped Trump by now. Unfortunately for them, they need to maintain the few remaining tatters of presidential legitimacy Trump possesses for them to get Kavanaugh confirmed.

But it’s costing them massively, since the American people, Republicans in particular, are beginning to realize that this isn’t a witch hunt or a librul conspiracy; this is real, and Trump’s position becomes less defensible by the day.

A lot of Republican Senators, even those in safe states, are wondering what the real costs may be of forcibly rubber-stamping a man to the highest court in the land by a president facing indictment for criminal conspiracy against the United States. For Republicans, the question is no longer, “How badly will we lose the mid-terms?”

They have to ask if they can survive at all as a party, or even a movement. They’ve bet all their political, ethical and moral legitimacy on this one last toss of the dice.