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Pierce writes: "Eventually, though, the questioning got around to about Comey's testimony on Thursday. He opened his remarks with a dead-on Tonto imitation."

Donald Trump. (photo: Getty Images)
Donald Trump. (photo: Getty Images)

Everybody in Washington Knows the Disaster Is Coming

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

11 June 17

But no one looks equipped to stop it.

y credentialing request to the White House seemed to have blown off the cyber-porch, so, after a nice conversation with a polite young man carrying an automatic rifle on the sidewalk near the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, I had to watch the president* greet Klaus Iohannis, the president of Romania, to the White House, after which the president* answered a few questions.

It had been a busy day by his standards. He woke early to tweet some slander at James Comey, virtually accusing the former FBI director of committing perjury before the Senate on Thursday. Then, there was an event to conclude Infrastructure Week, at which he announced the birth of that most dreadful of all Washington critters: the blue-ribbon commission of experts.

Or, at least, a hypothetical one. From WKOW:

Trump announced that the administration was creating a new council to help project managers navigate the bureaucratic maze, and to help improve transparency by creating an online system where projects can be tracked through every step of the approval process. He said federal agencies that consistently delay projects by missing deadlines will face new penalties. Trump also said a new office within the Council of Environmental Quality will root out inefficiencies, clarify lines of authority and streamline federal, state and local procedures to help communities modernize aging infrastructure. At a roundtable discussion with state transportation officials before the speech, Trump said aging U.S. systems were being "scoffed at and laughed" and he pledged that they "will once again be the envy of the world."

But it was at his press availability at the White House where he really shined. Just as the event was starting, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was across town deploring the blockade of Qatar that has been put in place by the various emirates and petro-states in the region, including the president*'s new best friends, the Saudis. From the Times:

Mr. Tillerson has spent days on the phone with officials from the region, some of whom he has known for many years. Mr. Tillerson was the chief executive of ExxonMobil, which has extensive operations in Qatar. Mr. Tillerson said he had known Mr. Al Thani for 15 years and also knows his son, the crown prince. "It's clear to me based on these comments that the elements of a solution are available," Mr. Tillerson said on Friday. He said the United States supported efforts by the emir of Kuwait, Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, to resolve the dispute. But he called on countries in the region to "immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation."

Whew. That was close. But then Tillerson's boss stepped up to the microphone.

"The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, historically, has been a funder of terrorism at a very high level and in the wake of that conference, came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behavior. So we had a decision to make—do we take the easy road or do we take the hard and necessary action?"

Do these guys ever talk to each other? I will grant you that Tillerson and Trump may be playing a game of Oil Cop/Dumb Cop in this situation, and we may find out that their eleventy-dimensional chess game was just what that volatile region needed, but my money is still on the notion that somebody in this equation isn't up to his job.

(He also finally committed himself to Article V of the NATO Treaty, which is an announcement that, for a normal president in a normal time, would be approximately as significant as a promise to abide by the the terms that ended the War of 1812. This is not a normal time, etc.)

Eventually, though, the questioning got around to about Comey's testimony on Thursday. He opened his remarks with a dead-on Tonto imitation.

"No collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker."

He went on to wonder—glorioski!—wherever Comey could have come up with the notion that he'd asked for a kind of loyalty oath when they met in the White House. I mean, it's not like he's the king of the non-disclosure agreement or anything.

"I didn't say that, and there'd be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody I've read today…I hardly know the man. I wouldn't say I want you to pledge allegiance under oath. Think about it. I hardly know the man. It doesn't make sense."

When he was asked about the possibility that he had taped his private conversations with Comey, he replied with the standard Trump Organization line with which hundreds of sub-contractors have become painfully familiar.

"I'll tell you something about that maybe sometime in the very near future…I'll tell you about it over a short period of time. I'm not hinting at anything."

"Sometime in the very near future" can be fairly translated in TrumpSpeak to "The check is in the mail," or, "My lawyers will fight you for every dime I owe you."

But, while he was calling Comey a liar, he dropped in a line after which you almost could hear White House staffers and the president*'s lawyers reacquainting themselves with Friday morning's breakfast. He was asked if he would be willing to testify, under oath, to special counsel Robert Mueller.

"100 percent… I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you."

And that, children, is how lead stories get ripped up and replaced.

I am not standing on my head waiting for him actually to testify, but he sure as hell knows how to grab a headline. Look, he doesn't know how to be president and he doesn't care to learn. The pivot is never coming. If he even half-pivots, he'll pivot right back in the other direction momentarily. He's there to be entertaining while the congressional Republicans keep their heads down and work toward rolling the federal government back to the Coolidge administration.

Washington these days is stuck in a kind of Cassandra Syndrome. Everybody knows the disaster is coming but nobody knows how to stop it, and too many people don't want to because they figure they can get rich selling off the ruins. But everybody knows the disaster is coming. People talk about it matter-of-factly, the way they talk about rain when the dark clouds gather over the monuments by the river. They also talk about it in whispers while every institution of democratic government screams for help. The government of the United States is in the hands of feckless time-servers and coat-holders at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, and in the hands of an unpredictable and perilous clown show at the other. It is an altogether remarkable, if terrifying, place to be as summer comes on.

Jesus, won't somebody get the net? your social media marketing partner


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+47 # draypoker 2017-06-11 10:40
The Saudis should develop solar energy on a very large scale. They have huge amounts of empty desert and rarely obscured sunshine, during most of the year. Yes, there are occasional clouds and sometimes rain - but not every year, or even every decade. If they turn it into hydrogen they could sell it on the world market, and close down their harmful oil business.
+20 # librarian1984 2017-06-11 16:19
I think some article said the entire southern hemisphere could be powered by a six square mile solar grid in the Sahara Desert.

Solar panels are improving rapidly. Innovation is needed to improve storage and distribution. China and other countries are in the lead of the technology race, while the US remains content with propaganda and oligarch crumbs.
0 # draypoker 2017-06-30 16:50
We have to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and let the proportion fall to the pre-industrial level as soon as possible. That means getting our energy in some other way than burning fossil fuels, which should remain in the ground where they are preventing runaway climate change.

Solar is one of the best ways. Others are biogas - energy from living plants which will not increase the CO2. There is also wind and falling water.

Trump is an ignorant fool who doesn't understand - like all too many of his poorly educated countrymen - the basic principles of energy.
+76 # futhark 2017-06-11 10:47
In reading this article, the thing that impresses me most is how Donald Trump is possibly the most reactionary person on the planet. Not only are his policy proposals antediluvian, but his interactions with the public, press, and his subordinates seem to be chiefly reactions to what he is seeing and hearing. George H. W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992 largely because he could not articulate having the "vision thing", a plan and a purpose, unless you want to count his campaign for repeal of taxes on capital gains income a "vision".

Donald Trump is like the projectile in a pinball machine, having a strong initial impetus, but whose path involves a sequence of ricochets off various obstacles, each altering his path in a previously unanticipated way. Let's get him off the board before that damage he does is irreparable and get some political leaders willing to consider the world as it really is and develop plans accordingly.
+26 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-06-11 16:59
@futhark - Your arguments are well-reasoned with one flaw. Donald is dangerous but he is not the problem. A Republican party bent on overthrowing the United States is the problem.

The GOP has spent the last 50+ years plotting to overthrow the government of the United States. I don't mean they've been selling their policies to the American public. I mean OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT by seizing control and rewriting the Constitution. Were the former true, they would have remained within the framework of the Constitution. But they have not. They have been systematically eating away at the protections in that document with McConnell's usurping the President's right to appoint (NOT JUST NOMINATE) judges being the first major test of their power. It succeeded and no one blinked.

Trump was a wild card and his reckless narcissism has forced them to move up their time table. However, as soon as he is no longer useful, he'll be gone.

Right now, today, the Republicans are tightening their stranglehold on our Constitutionall y protected right to vote. 2018 will NOT be an honest election and 2020 will cement their illegitimate power. They need only 6 more state legislatures and they'll be able to rewrite the Constitution to convert the US into the plutocracy desired by the owners of the GOP.
+2 # WYThomas 2017-06-13 14:21
@tref We already suffer a plutocracy.
+1 # laborequalswealth 2017-06-14 15:27
Alas, I fear you speak the truth. Yikes.
0 # Depressionborn 2017-06-11 18:21
hey fut: dogs bark, the wagons roll on.
+1 # DongiC 2017-06-11 18:26
Yes, plan as if our leader is sane and has the full complement of his senses. The planet is demanding full attention from alll its leaders to meet the problem of global warming. Survival is becomming priority number one.
+1 # LionMousePudding 2017-06-12 13:49
nice simile!
+1 # CurtW 2017-06-11 14:20
Ignorance rules.
+2 # Femihumanist 2017-06-11 14:29
"The Fabricator".

I had polled many people to find the right adjective to use describing Trump. The word couldn't act to disparage anyone else because of various disabilities or illnesses or use "bathroom" words like first graders do.

Someone used the word "Fabricator" on RSN (I don't remember who--but thank you). I can now refer to him as "Fabricator in Chief Trumpy" or just plain "FICT."

And no, he's not the most reactionary person around as Futhark thought; he may be the most FICTer but FICT's low yellow supporters are largely worse than he is.
+4 # LionMousePudding 2017-06-12 13:51
I prefer Destroyer in Chief. Or Corruption in Chief. His lies are the least of it. They just distract from his actions and worse, those of people he has put into place.
+1 # NAVYVET 2017-06-12 22:35
To me, he's the Unpresidented Unpresident.
+15 # Vermont Grandma 2017-06-11 16:29
It's interesting the DT didn't actually deny asking Comey for his loyalty. Instead, this article reports that DT said, "I hardly know the man. I wouldn't say I want you to pledge allegiance under oath." This is DT's attempt at obfuscation.

Comey did not state that DT asked him to "pledge allegiance under oath." What Comey said in writing and in his testimony is that on 1/27/17, after asking Comey if he wanted to stay on AND telling Comey how many people wanted Comey's job, a few moments later, the President said, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty."

AND near the end of their dinner, DT again stated to Comey, "I need loyalty."

Hopefully some reporter will point out that DT has NOT denied Comey's statement, but, instead DT stated that he didn't do something else not alleged. And that DT is hoping people aren't paying attention and read DT's statement "I wouldn't say I want you to pledge allegiance under oath." isn't a denial of DT asking for Comey's loyalty.

This is classic. Even while testifying in a court case, a witness will state something that's non-responsive, or not even pertinent. An alert attorney, had DT made this statement as part of testimony, would have drawled, "Now, Mr. Trump, the question I asked was, 'Did you tell Mr. Comey I need loyalty, I expect loyalty? Yes or no.' "

And if DT continued to give the same non-responsive answer, ask it again, then ask the judge to instruct DT to answer "Yes" or "No."
+4 # LionMousePudding 2017-06-12 13:55
He would say "no." But your point stands.

And in any case--

Trump's explanation makes the opposite of sense.

If Trump KNEW Comey (he was "one of his") he wouldn't NEED to ask for his fealty. He had to ask because he did NOT know him well enough to know WHETHER he was in his pocket or not.
+2 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-06-12 16:29
Quoting Vermont Grandma:
It's interesting the DT didn't actually deny asking Comey for his loyalty. Instead, this article reports that DT said, "I hardly know the man. I wouldn't say I want you to pledge allegiance under oath." This is DT's attempt at obfuscation.
Not obfuscation. 45's response was a straw man.
+1 # Time Traveller 2017-06-13 06:36
Best wishes for both you and Vermont Grandpa, Grandma Jane!
+6 # CDMR 2017-06-12 15:10
I certainly think the title of this article is correct. We all know a catastrophe is impending. The stock market is in a bubble again and it will burst someday. There are also bubbles of debt in student loans, car loans, and home mortgages. If those bubbles burst, higher education, the auto industry, and housing could crash.

Economic disaster is pretty normal in capitalism. It really causes a lot of pain, but now there is a serious crisis in democracy. Trump may be overthrown and then we will have a real rule by the intelligence community and their megaphones in the mass media. Eric Zuesse has a very interesting article on the crisis in American politics: "Gallup Finds Stunning Decline in Americans’ Respect for US Government."

This is not just Trump. Respect for government has been in steady decline for decades. The Trump fiasco is bringing things to a head; the mass media is stokin the fires of distrust for government.

Zeusse concludes: "No longer is it at all reasonable to characterize the United States as a stable democracy. It’s certainly not stable now; and, also, it’s certainly not a democracy. And the present long-term trend is in the wrong direction.

The United States is certainly a country that is currently heading into some kind of convulsive transition.

The new formation is likely to be some kind of military or corporate dictatorship. Maybe the CIA will just take control of government, as they have in 3rd world dictatorships.
0 # Depressionborn 2017-06-14 16:54
Yes, CDMR 2017-06-12 15:10. i think you are right. But we are supposed to be a republic.
-1 # Depressionborn 2017-06-14 16:48
I't an ice age again. Bring warm clothes.

University of Manitoba. It was planning to conduct the third leg of its research by sending 40 scientists from five Canadian universities out into the Bay on the Canadian Research Icebreaker CCGS Amundsen to study “contributions of climate change and regulation on the Hudson Bay system.”

But it had to be canceled because the scientists’ icebreaker was required by the Canadian Coast Guard for a rather more urgent purpose – rescuing fishing boats and supply ships which had got stuck in the “unprecedented ice conditions”.

“It became clear to me very quickly that these weren’t just heavy ice conditions, these were unprecedented ice conditions,” Dr. David Barber, the lead scientist on the study, told VICE. “We were finding thick multi-year sea ice floes which on level ice were five metres thick… it was much, much thicker and much, much heavier than anything you would expect at that latitude and at that time of year.”
0 # draypoker 2017-07-11 17:54
Actual measurements show that the world is indeed warming whether you think so or not.

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