2017 Retrospective

Hello there, it’s been a while. December has been a very rough month for me. I’ve had maybe 3 days this month where I haven’t been sick, and 2 of those were spent fighting a broken furnace.

But it’s that time of the year when everyone and their mother throws together a compilation list of the best and worst stuff that happened in the past 365ish days, then go on vacation for the rest of the year.

I hate those posts.

I don’t like nostalgia for nostalgia sake, and 2017 doesn’t deserve a “best of” send off.

I hate it when people talk about the “good old days” and wax poetically about a memory of a time that was a hell of a lot worse than their rose-tinted glasses made appear.

Instead, I want to talk about what changed in 2017, what stayed the same, what was learned, and why it’s worth fighting.

While this is mostly concerned with what has happened in the News, I’m also including personal change as well. I’m hesitant to call it growth, but change is accurate.

WHAT CHANGED IN 2017?

For anyone reading this after waking up from a coma that started the last week of October 2016, I’ve got some bad news. Trump won the Presidential election. But, as we’ve come to learn, he didn’t do it alone. He had a lot of help from his friends in Russia, and there were more than enough Americans that helped him as well.

2017 started off weird, as the Obama Administration has just instituted several major new sanctions on Russia. Trump didn’t seem to want to do anything to Russia, and evidence was still coming in about what happened in November. The MSM was still hoping that Trump, a 70 year old misogynistic, racist, ignorant fool would somehow not embarrass the country in front of the world, and that if we gave him a chance, he might actually not suck.

That hope lasted all of about two days.

After a small inauguration event, Trump’s team went into full-on propaganda mode by distributing false photos of the event where they photoshopped a much larger crowd, while going after anyone who spread the real photos. At the same time, his Administration went after the Parks Service, trying to erase any mention of climate change from Government sites.

That’s when the Resistance started.

The Women’s March. The Alt accounts. The March for Science. The Airport Protests. The March for Reason. More people had marched against Trump by April of 2017 than against Cancer all year long.

It’s also the first whispers that something wasn’t right in the White House. In between trying to undo everything Obama did and implement his Muslim Ban, word came around that Mike Flynn was in some serious legal jeopardy. (SPOILER ALERT: He’s now a convicted felon.) Trump’s team was told in late January by Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that Flynn had lied to the FBI. She was fired the next day. Flynn resigned 18 days later.

This is just up to February.

A couple things changed in February for me.

First, I found PostimusMaximus on Reddit, and read a lot of his posts. I assume it’s a him, but I could be wrong. Reading his work was eye opening, but insane. I saw many of the markers of old school conspiracy theories, but there was something different with his work. Instead of citing places like Coast to Coast, he cited real sources like the Washington Post and New York Times. I decided to keep an eye on him.

Next, I rejoined Twitter and started following a few people. Claude Taylor, Louise Mensch, and John Schindler. Eventually I followed a lot more people like Countercheckist, Tea Pain, Eric Garland, Rick Wilson, and more politicians, lawyers, and spooks than exist outside of D.C.

There was a weird feeling following these people on Twitter. It was sort of like joining a conversation halfway through and only catching small slivers, and then realizing that the slivers are in a different language. They were talking about indictments and grand juries and investigations by the FBI, the Steele Dossier, SIGINT from the Mayflower Hotel, while the rest of the world was still stuck on Trump and Twitter.

In March, that’s when Russia came roaring in to the picture. During a late night rage tweet, Trump said Obama had tapped his phones. Even though this was a horseshit claim, the House Intelligence Committee decided to hold a hearing about it and invited FBI Director James Comey to testify.

The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations confirmed, under oath, that the Trump Campaign was under a counterintelligence investigation that started in July 2016, and that grand juries had been impaneled to deal with that investigation.

Hole. Lee. Shit.

This confirmed that at least part of what the Rumor Mill was saying was true, and that it was worth looking into the rest of their chatter, if just to see if it was a case of a broken clock being right twice a day, or if there was something to this group fighting for Democracy.

Over the next few months, I noticed a few other changes. I stopped viewing the CIA and FBI as “the enemy.” I questioned the source of my news more often. I viewed what other people took as gospel and investigated it myself. I became more politically active. I started sounding like a complete nutter when I tried to describe what I was seeing and hearing about Trump and Russia. I was becoming more and more outspoken in my criticisms.

I also realized that these were historic times, and I should write down what happened so one day my kids could ask me “What The Fuck, Dad?”

I toyed with the idea of doing this blog back in May when Trump fired Comey and Robert Mueller was named the Special Counselor. I was looking into it when news of the June 9 meeting broke, and Donnie Jr proved to be the Dumbest Mother Fucker in the history of Dumb Mother Fuckers. I eventually got around to it in July, and I’ve been here since.

WHAT STAYED THE SAME IN 2017?

This is still the United States of America, a country of laws, not men, or wealth, or personalities.

WHAT DID WE LEARN?

I learned not to take the press for granted.

There are quite a few people willing to sacrifice the future for small gains now, and those people must be dealt with. Unfortunately, there are quite a few more of them than I originally thought, and a lot of them have too much money. That doesn’t mean they’re invincible, it means the battle will be that much harder.

Sometimes conspiracies do exist.

A conspiracy is only as strong as the weakest person involved. It’s been 5 months since George Papadopoulos turned States Evidence against the Trump Campaign, and less than a month since Mike Flynn was convicted and flipped. George is a young man who doesn’t want to grow old in jail, and Mike Flynn just became a granddad.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Trump and Russia, but the evidence at this point leads to a conspiracy between them to steal the election in Trump’s favor. Nearly every member of his campaign and transition team either had contact with Russians, or knew about it.

Trump is a micromanaging asshole. No one in his circle does anything without his approval.

Donald Trump is unable or unwilling to change his ways.

The Trump Family is a crime family.

Some laws are easier to convince a jury about than others.

IS THIS WORTH FIGHTING FOR?

Absofuckinglutely. The moment we give in is the moment that everything this country was built on dies.

This is America. Churchill said it best when he said that we will always do the right thing, we’ll just try everything else first.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I want my kids to grow up in a world where the United States is still that shinning city on the hill where dreams can and do come true, where everyone is equal under the law, and a persons worth isn’t measured by their bank account, but the content of their character.

That’s it for today. I hope to be back up and writing on a normal schedule soon. Stuff did happen over the past couple weeks, including a confirmation of sorts that the RNC knew about the Trump Campaign colluding with the Russians, and that they actively took part in targeting specific zip codes, using information gained by Russians.

Thank you, and have a good one.

GTKYG – Chain of Succession

Welcome back to the “Get to Know Your Government” series.  Today, I want to talk about a subject that might not be known by too many people outside of history buffs and Constitutional Law scholars, but that I feel will be heading to the forefront of conversation in 2018.

The American Presidential Chain of Succession.

As I covered in GTKYG-Presidential Removal Processes, there are a few ways that a presidency can end prematurely.  When that happens, the Vice President assumes the role of President, and under the powers granted to them under the Second Section of the Twenty Fifth Amendment, they are allowed to nominate their choice for Vice President.  This happened when Gerald Ford assumed the presidency following Richard Nixon’s resignation.

But, how far does the chain of succession go?  What if there were a situation where multiple people died at once, or were removed from office?  What happens then?

In that case, it goes down the line to then person in the chain.

Following the President and Vice President, the Speaker of the House is third in line. The Speaker is the elected head of the House of Representatives.  That position is currently held by Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin.

After them, it’s the President pro tempore of the Senate.  This position is an honorary one, awarded to the Senator who has served the longest in the Senate.  Currently, that position is held by Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah.

If, by some chance, all four of these people are unable to assume the presidency, or turn it down, the chain of succession goes through the Cabinet, by order that the position was created, starting with Secretary of State, Treasury, Defense, Attorney General (the original four positions from Washington’s first Cabinet), then through the rest of the positions, in the order that they were added.

CHAIN OF SUCCESSION

Below is a list of those positions, those mentioned above and the Cabinet positions, along with who is in the position, and their party affiliation, if available.  OPEN represents that the position is not currently filled, or has an acting head who has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

  1. President Donald Trump (R)
  2. Vice President Mike Pence (R)
  3. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R)
  4. President pro tempore Orrin Hatch (R)
  5. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R)
  6. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin (R)
  7. Secretary of Defense James Mattis (I)
  8. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R)
  9. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (R)
  10. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue (R)
  11. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (R)
  12. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta (R)
  13. Secretary of Health and Human Services OPEN
  14. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (R)
  15. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (R) NOT ELIGIBLE FOR PRESIDENT
  16. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry
  17. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
  18. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin (I)
  19. Secretary of Homeland Security OPEN

If, and I mean IF, by some infinitesimal chance that everyone in the list above is not able to assume the office of President, then the chain would go through Congress, in order of the leadership bodies first (Majority Leaders, Minority Leaders, Majority Whip, etc.), then through each person in order of their tenure in office.

THE DESIGNATED SURVIVOR

I’m not talking about the ABC show with Keifer Sutherland, but the idea that the show is based off of.

Before any joint session of Congress where the President, Vice President, and Cabinet get together, one member of the Cabinet is chosen to spend the event in a bunker somewhere.  They’re taken to a non-disclosed, secure location, where they’re kept under guard.  This is in case the unthinkable happens.

In case the Capitol is attacked, and everyone inside is killed.

If that were to happen, then the Designated Survivor would be sworn in as President, and they would be tasked with restaffing and rebuilding the government.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

It’s important to understand how things work, especially the government.  If something falls apart, we need to know how it can be fixed.

Really?  Ok, here’s why…

We are in uncharted waters with the Russian Investigation.  I’ve written many times about how many people are tied up with Russia, or have their own looming legal troubles.  There is an above zero percent chance that multiple people in the chain of succession could be indicted at once.

Here’s the list again, along with why they might not be able to, or interested in, taking the presidency.

  1. President Donald Trump (R) – Russia, RICO, Obstruction Investigations
  2. Vice President Mike Pence (R) – Russia and Flynn
  3. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) – Russia, Money laundering at RNC
  4. President pro tempore Orrin Hatch (R) – Clean, but REALLY OLD
  5. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) – NY Fraud Investigations, Russia
  6. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin (R) – Abuse of Public Trust, Taxpayer Funded Trips
  7. Secretary of Defense James Mattis (I)
  8. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) – Russia
  9. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (R) – Abuse of Public Trust, Taxpayer Funded Trips
  10. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue (R)
  11. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (R) – Russia, tied to Putin family in Paradise Papers, Money Laundering ties with Paul Manafort
  12. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta (R)
  13. Secretary of Health and Human Services OPEN
  14. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (R)
  15. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (R) NOT ELIGIBLE FOR PRESIDENT – Immigrants are not eligible for the Presidency.
  16. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry – Abuse of Public Trust, Taxpayer Funded Trips
  17. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos – Russia.
  18. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin (I) – Abuse of Public Trust, Taxpayer Funded Trips
  19. Secretary of Homeland Security OPEN

The craziest of the rumors I’ve heard have Trump, Pence, and Ryan all being indicted and/or removed from office at once.  If that happens, then Orrin Hatch would be the next in line, but he’s 83 years old, has hinted at retirement, and reportedly might have dementia or Alzheimer’s.  After him, the next clean person in the list is Jim Mattis, Secretary of Defense.

Is it likely that we end up with President Jim Mattis?  No.  It’s not impossible, but highly unlikely.  This is one of those crazy scenarios that just isn’t likely to happen.  Then again, I said the same thing about Trump becoming President.

BREAKING THE CHAIN

There is one other part to keep in mind.  Remember when I said earlier that if the Vice President becomes the President, they get to choose their own Vice President?

That could come in to play, and could be used to elevate someone up the chain, especially if there is some kind of Quid Pro Quo in place to provide a stable transition of power.

Let’s face it, Mike Pence is likely to become the 46th President of the United States, and it will happen before 2020.  If it has to happen, I’d rather it happen late next year.  Under the 22nd Amendment, if a Vice President serves more than half of their predecessors term, they can only run for election once.  If they serve less than two years of a term, then they could run for two terms.  If it’s late enough in the year, he won’t be able to cause too much harm, and will be stuck in his own legal quagmire with Russia.

Assuming Mike Pence comes to power, he would get to choose his own Vice President, pending approval of both houses of Congress.  One of the rumors I’ve heard would have him choosing a “safe” choice that would serve as a place holder while he’s going through his own legal mess.  Someone who’s integrity isn’t under question, and knows the lay of the land.

And that’s how we could possibly end up with President James Mattis.

Screwing Up Turkey Day

In the United States, this week is Thanksgiving. It’s a time to stand back and give thanks for what one has. This is immediately followed by Black Friday, a day where people covet what their neighbor has, and they go out to buy unwanted things for people they don’t like with money they don’t have.

Part of Thanksgiving Week is the Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. This includes the Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon. It’s a ceremony where the President selects a turkey to be spared from butchers block.

It’s a very lighthearted affair, and is literally the easiest thing that a President does all year. Only a complete and total idiot with no sense of empathy or social mores could fuck this up.

That being said, I’m wondering how will Donald Trump fuck this up?

Now, I don’t hope that he embarrasses himself, he does that enough every day. I just want to list as many ways that I think Trump can screw this up. Of course, I will miss what actually happens because, even with as vivid as my imagination is, I’ll miss what actually happens.

There is no order to this list, just how it comes to mind.

HOW DONALD TRUMP WILL FUCK UP THE TURKEY PARDON

  • He cancels the event because he’s not feeling good.
  • He confuses Turkey the bird with Turkey the country.
  • He pardons a series of turkeys, that are actually his family, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Mike Flynn dressed in turkey costumes.
  • He screws up that, and his family eats Paul Manafort for dinner.
  • He names a turkey Hilary, then is caught on a hot mic saying “I’m gonna eat that bitch.”
  • He makes some disparaging and borderline racist comments about Native Americans.
  • The comments aren’t even remotely borderline.
  • He makes some racist comments about Senator Elizabeth Warren.
  • He bitches about Indian Casinos.
  • He confuses Indians with Native Americans. This involves jokes about casinos and tech support.
  • He answers questions from reporters about Al Franken, Russia, or Nazis.
  • He answers those questions honestly.
  • He tries to pardon his co-conspirators.
  • He uses the Turkey Pardon to initiate his own version of the Saturday Night Massacre in an attempt to fire Robert Mueller.
  • Someone gets arrested at the ceremony.
  • Trump makes a bunch of “gobble, gobble” noises.
  • He says something about eating reporters or children.
  • He casually confirms some of the worst rumors from the Steele Dossier.
  • Bonus points if it’s the pee tape.
  • Double bonus points if he admits that the girls in the tape were underage.
  • Triple bonus points if he then follows that up with defending Roy Moore and/or condemning Al Franken.
  • Quadruple points if he says “so what”.
  • He casually makes reference to cannibalism.
  • He says that Turkey is his third favorite food behind human flesh and McDonalds.
  • Human flesh is second to a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
  • He goes on a rant about Mexicans, saying that tacos don’t belong in a Thanksgiving feast.

And the absolute worst thing to happen…

  • Trump doesn’t screw this up, and the media trips over themselves congratulating him on a job well done and saying he’s finally acting presidential.

Trump vs. Bernie

This is a story I’ve wanted to write for a while, but I’ve never gotten around to it, and since it’s going to take me some time to wrap my head around the Mike Flynn stories and the release of the Paradise Papers, or Panama Papers: The Sequel, I decided that I would write about Vladimir Putin’s Wet Dream.

Donald Trump vs. Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.

As I discussed way back in Horseshoe Theory, parts of the Left Wing refused to follow Hilary Clinton for any reason, and the damning emails released as part of the DNC hack, which many of them were faked, helped cement the narrative that the “fix was in.”  These people would speak up during the many times that Trump did something stupid since he “won” the election, and proclaim, in the dankest of memes and most hipsterish voice possible, “Bernie would’ve won.”

No, he fucking wouldn’t.

He would’ve lost, and I doubt it would have been close.  Hell, Trump might have even won the popular vote against Bernie Sanders.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually like Bernie and voted for him in the Democratic Primary, but in retrospect, if he had won the primary, it would’ve been ugly.

Why?  If America wasn’t “ready” for a woman President, what about an Atheist Socialist Jew?

Let’s take a look at Bernie Sanders.

An Independent Senator from Vermont, he’s been in the Senate since 2007 after serving as their Representative in Congress from 1991.  He’s a former Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and has been a political outsider and champion of human rights most of his life.  He protested for Civil Rights back in the 1960’s and was even arrested.  He was there for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington.  The only time he was a member of the Democratic Party was when he ran for President in 2016 against Hilary Clinton.

THE NARRATIVE

The story that spread through the news like wildfire was that Bernie was kept from receiving the nomination for the Democratic Party because he wasn’t an insider, and that the system was rigged from the beginning to prevent him from winning, and had he ran, he would’ve beaten Donald Trump, and none of our problems would be taking place, because there would have been a “Blue Wave” through the Congress and Senate as well.

Let’s break that down, point by point.

First, Bernie is not, and for most of his life, was not a member of the Democratic Party.  Unlike Clinton, he hadn’t spent the last 30 years raising money for them, or campaigning for them.  So this part that he’s an outsider is true.

Second, that the system was rigged against him.  If by that they mean, “he lost to Hilary by millions of votes” then yes, it was rigged.

Next, things get interesting.  Let’s assume for a moment that Bernie had won the nomination, and he’s going up against Donald Trump, who rode a wave of racist, isolationist, populist voters to the nomination of the Republican Party.

It would have been a candidate in his 70’s, of questionable long term health, who had refused to release his tax records before the campaign started, and was elected by the fringe elements of one of the main parties in the United States, with some dubious ties to Russians…

Versus Donald Trump.

Yep.  Bernie has his own skeletons, many of which mirror Trump.  Bernie didn’t release his taxes, his wife is under investigation for fraud, he has historically not supported sanctions against Russia, and was elected by the fringes of the Left Wing, which, it turns out, was astroturfed by the Russians during the Primary, and even the General Election in 2016.

PUTIN’S WET DREAM

Why do I keep saying that?  For anyone that forgets Junior High Health Class, a nocturnal emission, or wet dream, is when a person orgasms in their sleep, usually from a sexual fantasy.  A good cure for it is jerking off.  Although that does make this analogy fall apart, unless one considers his work screwing with Ukraine and Brexit as foreplay for the United States.

Anyway, Putin’s ultimate fantasy is to make himself the most powerful man in the world.  He can’t do that with a strong United States aligned against him.  What’s the fastest way to erode the standing of the United States?

Make it look like Democracy and Laws don’t work by staging an election with two extremes against each other, leaving the vast majority of people out of the conversation, and twist the argument further by stoking both sides against each other.  This would create even further divisions in an already divisive situation.

RACISM AND RELIGION TAKE FRONT STAGE

So, go back to the point of “Bernie would’ve won.” Remember all of the crap that Hilary went through in the campaign?  Every move of hers was examined through a looking glass, as though she couldn’t do anything right, meanwhile Trump committed so many blunders on the trail, yet still got a free pass from the media, giving him an air of legitimacy.

Ignoring the fact that she’s a woman, Hilary Clinton was the most qualified candidate for President in a very long time.  She was an established lawyer, former First Lady, and the first First Lady to actually use her position as a political one.  She was a Two-Term Senator from New York, ran for President once before, and was Secretary of State for 4 years.  The only two nominees since the 1980’s who were more qualified were George H. W. Bush and Al Gore, and they were each Vice President for eight years.

Several dog whistles were made at Hilary because she was a woman.  Everything from “Does she have the stamina” to the Nasty Woman comments, and that was from Trump during the debates!  The vile online was hundreds of times worse.

So, imagine what the reaction from the Alt-Right and Neo-Nazis would have been to an Atheist Jew from New England.  Think they would’ve treated him with kid gloves?

Hell no.

And the media wouldn’t have given him a fair shake, either.  Atheists are historically some of the least-trusted people, simply because they don’t believe in any god.  Polls have gotten better over the years, but they’re still ranked lower on the general trustworthiness scale than pedophiles and terrorists.  Apparently, people in the Bible Belt would rather their children be left with a child molester that believes in their god than with someone who is neither religious nor touches kids inappropriately.

A lot of this came around during Barack Obama’s run with talk that he was somehow both a Muslim (a member of a religion) and an Atheist (a non-religious person).

Bernie would have been dragged through the mud for being a Jew (a person with Jewish ancestors) and an Atheist.

WHY TALK ABOUT THIS NOW?

This past week, there was a concerted effort to bring up the DNC story, and try to have that take center stage to deflect from the negative stories coming out, and that it would distract the public from the other DNC story that came out Friday.  I covered this a little bit in Daily Check-In 11/3/2017.  What I didn’t cover were some of the reactions on Twitter.  I wasn’t on Twitter that much last year, and the few times I did use it, I wasn’t following former spies, journalists, and politicians.

The spies don’t like Bernie.  Not one bit.  They’ve seen more than a few people connected to his team that were connected to Trump’s actions, and they report that there were more than a few communications between known Russian agents and Bernie’s team. One of the more damning things that they point to was that Bernie and some of his closest surrogates were pushing the DNC Mail story the day before Wikileaks released the mails.  I think that there could be a better explanation for all of this, but then again, I try to find the simplest explanation all of the time, and “The Russians Did It” only works when it is the best answer to fit the evidence.

Then again, I’m reminded of how much Russia played both sides of every argument in the last couple years.  They would organize events for both sides of a divisive issue at the same time, and many of the people who pushed Pro-Bernie propaganda would join the Trump Train.

 

That’s it for tonight, I think.  I’ll try to find out more about the Paradise Papers.  This is like the Panama Papers, but also directly implicates Wilbur Ross in a deal where he owns a substantial stake of a shipping company with Putin’s son-in-law.  Also, the Paradise Papers show that Yuri Milner, a friend of Jared Kushner, was possibly a go-between for the Russian Government and investments in Twitter of $191 Million and of $1 Billion in Facebook.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

Indictment Eve

I’m writing this on Sunday, October 29th, 2017, at around 8pm EST.

On a Sunday Night.

Normally, on Sunday Night, I would write about one of the hundred or so ideas I’ve got on the list, like about the red herring of voter fraud or life in the echo chamber, but tonight is different.

On Friday, just as I was wrapping up the Daily Check-In 10/27/2017, news came that indictments were coming in from Mueller’s team, and could be executed as early as Monday.

That’s tomorrow.

Tonight is the night before indictments could be served.  Indictment Eve.

Quick refresher:  an indictment is when a Grand Jury returns a recommendation that there is probable cause that a crime was committed.  This recommendation is then given to the prosecutor of the case, usually a District Attorney or Assistant DA, and they’ll coordinate either with Law Enforcement to arrest the target of the indictment, or work with the target themselves to broker a deal, like a plea bargain or become a witness in a larger crime.

There are indictments, as a direct result of the Russian Investigation.

But what’s going to happen?  Let me run through a few ideas, about what I think will happen, what won’t happen, and why things are about to get really fucking weird.

OPTION 1: NOTHING HAPPENS TOMORROW

I don’t think this will actually be the case, but I’ve gotten used to disappointment in my life.  When my hopes get raised, they have a bad habit of getting crushed.

I’m afraid that this could be a repeat of the Dan Rather Disinformation Op that ended his career at CBS.  He had a sure-fire story about how George W. Bush abused the system to avoid going to combat in Vietnam, but it turned out that the story he ran with was a fake.  That fake killed any and all chances of anyone else reporting on W’s Vietnam history, even though there was a legit story there.

OPTION 2: ONE OR TWO KNOWN NAMES GET TAGGED

There’s been talk for months about Paul Manafort being indicted, and Mike Flynn was the first name to get everything going with his Turkish and Russian connections.  Roger Stone completely lost his shit on Twitter this weekend, resulting in a ban, and Carter Page is the Sheldon Cooper of treason.

In a traditional investigation, arrests would be made of the small fish, and they would be turned to get the bigger fish.  While those names are some pretty big fish, they are bass.  Mueller wants a whale.

OPTION 3: TRICKLE-DOWN INDICTMENTS

Notice what I said in that last paragraph, “In a traditional investigation.”  This is nowhere near traditional.  There is a good chance that Donald Trump will try to pardon those around him, try to pardon himself, and fire the team bringing the indictments.

One way to prevent those from happening is to indict Donald Trump right off the bat for Obstruction of Justice.  Multiple indictments can be unsealed at different times, but there’s more than enough evidence, just from Open Source Intelligence (OSINT, think the press and what can be Googled), to bring Obstruction charges against him.

Doing this would not only tie his tiny little hands on using pardons, and give Congress a reason to bring Impeachment charges immediately, but any actions taken to fire Mueller would be immediately seen as criminal.

OPTION 4: THE FLOODGATES OPEN

Louise Mensch has a great write-up on many of the actors involved, and what they’re being investigated for.  And that’s not even a complete list of all the rumors, whispers, and stories that have floated around that I’ve seen over the last several months.  That’s not including staff members who are in hot water like Hope Hicks, Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, or Wilbur Ross, or half the cabinet members who are up to their necks in their own scandals.

Serving indictments to the President, VP, SecState, SecTreasury, Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, two White House staffers that are children of the President, and several staffers and support personnel at once would be completely unprecedented.

Then again, so is a person winning the Presidency with the help of the Russians.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

If anyone takes any unexpected trips or travels this week, Like Jared Kushner taking an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia, should have an eye kept on it.  Might be nothing, but then again, it’s Indictment Eve.  The night of the year when emergency trips are made, passports are frozen, and warrants for arrest are made to people leaving their families behind.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an early morning raid on Monday.  This whole investigation has looked like a crime family going down, not like a bunch of bank executives going down for embezzlement.  @lauferlaw and @Alt_Spicerlies brought this idea up a few moments ago, and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.  Scooter Libby didn’t get a perp walk, and most of the people arrested in Watergate were given the chance to turn themselves in.  I doubt that same courtesy will be given to most of the members from Team Trump.

Also, here’s my weirdest prediction for this whole affair.  Someone, I’m not sure but I’m thinking Carter Page or one of Pence’s staffers, will pull an will pull an R. Budd Dwyer at a press conference, and it won’t even be the craziest thing that happens that day.

Don’t be surprised if this whole thing spreads across all of Washington.  People all over the place are going down.  2017 has been pretty fucking weird so far, and the people I mentioned above inferred that others might be implicated that we never heard of, especially some Democrats in power.

Finally, expect Trump to try to fire Mueller in some kind of Hail Mary move to save his ass.  And it expect it to fail.  There are two ways he can try this.  The first would be to fire Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney General, Dana Boente, and all the way down to Rachel Brand, or further if she won’t fire Mueller.  The second way would be to fire Jeff Sessions, and immediately try naming a current member of the Cabinet to replace him, bypassing the Senate confirmation process.  I highlighted that here in Lateral Movement, but I don’t think it would work.  Any chance that Trump has of even trying this end around has to be done before the indictments are served.  Any actions taken after Monday Morning will likely be interpreted as criminal.

This is a nation of laws, not of men, or wealth, or personality.  Laws and Justice.  There’s a phrase that I heard a while back, Fiat Justitia Ruat Caellum.  It’s Latin for “Let Justice Be Done, Though the Heavens Fall.”

Sounds like someone’s yelling “TIMBER!”

 

Good night, sleep tight.  Take a deep breath, things are about to get really fucking weird.

Keeping Hope Alive

Sometimes, this gets difficult. Really freaking difficult.

Not just the writing, or the research. Not keeping track of all of the things that happened each day.

The hardest thing is keeping hope.

All around us, on the news, on Facebook and Twitter, is nothing but negativity.

Hatred, violence, bigotry, misogyny.

That’s not even counting the incompetence, paranoia, and fear emanating from politics.

The fear that this country, our society, our civilization, might be coming to an end.

But, there is hope.

Everyday, people are out and about doing good deeds, whether or not they’re seen.

More people are speaking out against the hatred and bigotry than ever before.

People are finally bringing truth to power, forcing corruption from it’s safe spaces in the shadows, into the light.  Corruption cannot exist in the light.

Dozens of Neo-Nazis show up to a rally, only to be met by THOUSANDS who say NO MORE! NOT HERE! NOT ANYWHERE!

More people are getting involved than ever before to raise their voices against corruption and greed.

And then, there are those in the shadows fighting shadows.

They’re crawling through the muck and the grime to bring those dirty secrets to light.  Secrets of grift, corruption, vice, and avarice.  Every dirty little secret, they make it their mission to make sure the world knows.

And they make sure that these secrets get out for everyone to see.  Whether through their own efforts, or the efforts of journalists, they tell the story.

But it’s not just the bad news that these warriors release.  They release good news, too.

They tell people how far along investigations are, who’s being looked at, and who’s in a big world of hurt.

Most of them will never be known.  Sometimes, years later, they’re known, but not often. Most of them have too much at risk to tell the world what they did.  Even if they are known, they’ll deny it.

These are some of the people I think about when I’m low on hope and optimism.  The people risking themselves in this information war, to bring down a corrupt administration, and let justice prevail.

Fiat Justitia Raut Caellum.  Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.

This is not a country of political parties, or personalities, or of men, or wealth.  This is a nation of laws.  Nobody is above the law.  Sometimes as Americans, we need to relearn this lesson from time to time.

Winston Churchill once said “Americans will always do the right thing.  They’ll just do everything else first.”  I honestly believe that.  We will do right, we will fix this, and then we will take steps to prevent this from happening again.

That’s what helps drive me, what helps me to keep hope.  Because we’re Americans.  We’re not going to let this fall apart.  We do a lot of stupid shit, but we also can be brilliant at the same time.  Sometimes, at the exact same thing.

We’ll get through this.  Of that, I can be optimistic.

The Multi-Party System

This article is almost complete hypothetical, and is the result of a twitter discussion with @justapedn from Saturday 10-7-2017. Since I’m a little too verbose for 140 characters, I decided to write a blog post about it.

What would a multi party political system look like in the United States?

Like I said, this is all hypothetical, based off of what’s known, what’s being reported, and what’s being rumored.

THE SET-UP, OR WHAT’S ASSUMED FOR THIS EXERCISE.

  • Assume that at some point between 2018 and 2022, the Republican Party as it exists today ceases, likely due to implications from the Russian Investigation.
  • Also during this time, the Democratic Party also has its own problems, and falls apart.
  • The Green Party goes through a reorganization. Jill Stein goes to jail.
  • Major campaign reforms are enacted, all the way from a Constitutional Amendment overturning Citizens United down to shortening campaign season.

COLLAPSE OF THE TWO PARTY SYSTEM

So, how do I think the current system dies?

In fire. And a whimper.

During the investigations over the next couple years, the ties of Dark Money will come to the forefront. The RNC leadership laundered Russian money into their 2016 campaigns, and the DNC will be involved in some other shenanigans.

In the fallout, both major parties fracture. Whether any piece of them survives is up in the air, but for this piece, I’ll assume they both die.

THE NEW PARTIES

The names are placeholders. Actual party names may vary.

  • Nationalist Party. Made up of the Deplorables, the Alt-Right, and hard liners on immigration.
  • Religious Party. The “Religious Right” get their own party.
  • Conservative Party. For fiscal conservatives who aren’t as hung up on social issues.
  • Moderate Party. Made up of a mix of centrists from both Democratic and Republican Parties.
  • Liberal Party. For the more left-leaning members of the old Democratic Party, but not radical by any definition.
  • Socialist Party. The fringe left. Over time, their policies become the platform of the Liberal Party.
  • Libertarian Party. This party sees a new age as those that labeled themselves as Libertarians all of these years join this party.
  • Green Party. This party reorganizes into one that focuses on environmental issues.

CHANGES TO THE ELECTION SYSTEM.

For the most part, I don’t see too many changes at the state and local levels in the Primary elections. It would be the same as today, just more party options.

Where I see changes taking place would be in the General election.

With 7 or 8 options for an office, there’s a good chance that none of them get a majority. There are two ways this can be handled. Either have the top two contestants take place in a run-off, or use ranked voting.

I prefer ranked voting, as there wouldn’t be a need for a separate day of voting. Each voter would rank their choices from first to last. If no one claimed a majority, whomever had the most last place votes is eliminated. Then, the numbers are recalculated, removing the eliminated candidate from the new count. This continues until someone has a majority.

For example, let’s say Al, Bob, Chuck, Dave, and Ed are running for Congress. Al received 35%, Bob 30%, Chuck 20%. Dave 10%, and Ed 5% out of 100 votes. No one won the majority, so it goes to the rankings. Al had the most votes, but was last in more than half the ballots. Most people said “anyone but Al.” Al is eliminated. Bob now has 30/65 votes. Still not a majority, so another round of eliminations. The next worst one was Dave. Since Dave had 10% of the original vote, that gives Bob a majority.

Bob wins the race, and it’s all done in a night.

CHANGES TO CONGRESS

Surprisingly, there wouldn’t be much change to Congress.

At least, as far as the structure goes.

Unless a party has a full majority, then get ready for coalition governments and a lot of deal making and compromising.

For example, let’s say the Moderates win 200 out of 435 House seats. That’s not enough for a majority. They’re still 18 seats short. All of the other parties could combine against them, or the Moderates could make a deal with one of the other parties that has at least 18 seats to confirm that they maintain the leadership. They could join with the Liberals to institute new health care reforms, or the Conservatives to enact a new jobs program.

CHANGES TO THE PRESIDENT

This is where things get weird.

Assuming the Electoral College is still in use, we might see some interesting deals come out of the Presidential Election.

If a candidate does not receive a majority of the Electoral College, the House of Representatives then decides the President, while the Senate chooses the Vice President.

However, there is a month between the General Election and when the Electoral College meet. That’s more than enough time for either a run-off or some kind of deal.

Let’s say the Moderates have the most assumed EC votes after the General Election, but not a majority. They have 230, but need 40 more. The Socialists won California with 55 electoral votes. To avoid this going to the House, the Moderates and Socialists strike a deal. Maybe the Socialists will endorse the Moderates if they adopt a particular platform and name their candidate to a cabinet position.

Similar deals would happen at or after the Electoral College as well.

WHAT DOESN’T CHANGE?

Hopefully, nothing negative changes with the judiciary. Local races will still be based off of local interests. And, in some areas, running on a particular ticket would be a bad idea.

That’s it for today. I’ll get back to the normal posts tomorrow. By the way, if you’re on Twitter, follow @justapedn. He’s a pretty cool cat.

Thank you, and have a good one.