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Thursday, May 10, 2018


They love that dirty water

by Tom Sullivan

It is increasingly difficult not to make this morning post a compendium of scandal and political chicanery. Consuming the daily news is no longer like drinking from a fire hose, but a sewer line.

The political swamp Trump promised to drain simply got slimier. International corporations saw Trump's election as an invitation to a drunken pool party and jumped in to wallow fully clothed with Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. They poured cash on Cohen claiming payments to this fourth-rate attorney from the country's worst law school were for such transparently ludicrous services as "insights" on the administration (AT&T), health-care policy consulting work (Novartis), and "legal consulting concerning accounting standards on production costs" (Korea Aerospace Industries).

Naturally, Cohen funneled the payments through the very same LLC he set up to handle hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Some $500,000 arrived from Columbus Nova, a firm linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. The United states sanctioned Columbus Nova last month over the Kremlin's attempting to subvert U.S. elections and other western democracies. In a statement, Columbus Nova claims it paid Cohen $500,000 "as a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures.”

Lesser-known Trump donors and hangers-on set up lobbying shops in Washington after the election, reports Politico. Marquee Trump sycophants received Cabinet appointments.

Oleaginous is the sort of word that rolls off George Will's tongue. He deploys it this morning in describing Vice President Mike Pence. Will writes, "with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness," Pence is "America’s most repulsive public figure." No perhaps about it, in Will's view. Because Pence is "the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing."

That is, for Trump lackeys without a taste for red meat. Will's Washington Post colleague Dana Milbank offers a competing candidate for Washington's worst.

Sen. Tom Cotton's performance during the Gina Haspel confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee had Milbank thanking the deities Cotton was not the one up for confirmation to lead the CIA. The Arkansas Republican had been on Trump's short list for the post. Instead of questioning Haspel, Cotton used his time to take "gratuitous partisan swipes" at Democrats on the committee.

Cotton interrupted again as Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) gave closing remarks about former CIA director John Brennan's views on torture:

Warner winced and looked over at Cotton. “Excuse me,” he said.

Cotton kept on heckling. “That would be the same Mr. Brennan who supports her nomination!”

Chairman Richard Burr (N.C.) hammered the gavel to silence his fellow Republican.

“The senator will suspend,” he ordered.

Cotton ignored Burr. “We need the full record on the record!” he continued.

“No,” Burr repeated. “The senator will suspend.”

Cotton still refused. “John Brennan supports her nomination!” he said, before quieting.
"And I regret," Milbank writes, mocking a statement from Cotton as the embodiment of Trump's Washington, "that this rage-filled man can’t understand that his opponents are not his enemies."

The New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz "reported" yesterday that President Donald Trump plans to pull out of the United States Constitution, calling it “maybe the worst deal ever.” The whole branches of government thing has to go. But the Second Amendment can stay.

Plus, of course, the Fifth.

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.