We got through a weekend that I had been awaiting with a fair old bit of dread. Yes, we attacked Syria, but apparently managed to do so in a way that didnít spark a general regional war, let alone a thermonuclear war with Russia. Tactically, at least, the missile strikes apparently hit the intended targets, resulted in no casualties, and of America propaganda is to be believed, set the Syrian chemical production of such weapons back by months.
That the US exercised such restraint is down to a fellow named Mad Dog Mattis. If that alone doesnít illuminate what lunatic times we live in, I donít know what would. The Hunter S. Thompson Memorial Temperance Society, perhaps?
Trump, like far too many Americans, believes the way to earn respect and cooperation from people is by bombing the shit out of them. History has endless examples of how well this worked: Britainís surrender to Germany in 1941, North Vietnamís surrender to the US in 1967, and Iraqís decision to abhor and abjure any fanatical Islamic groups in 2005.
We managed to get through the week without the worldís two main nuclear powers deciding to show us their love and concern by incinerating us. We arenít out of the woods, of course, but we managed to step past a land mine in an awfully big mine field.
But as Kathleen Parker over at the Washington Post noted, ďThe Dogs of War are Howling.Ē Trump is still frantically searching for a way out of his scandals and know Americans go all glassy-eyed and subservient if there is a good-sized war to distract them. Israel and Saudi Arabia still want the US to come in and destroy countries they donít like so they donít look like the bad guys. And Putin is still playing his long game, backing Assad and Iran and very much aware that his puppet president in Washington is imploding.
Thereís a lot of people who are skeptical that Assad conducted the gas attacks earlier this month, and they make a good case. Assad simply has nothing to gain from such attacks, and a fair bit to lose. Thereís no sensible set of events that could result in a positive outcome for him.
Nonetheless, we know the attacks did occur. The most obvious evidence is the victims themselves; 43 dead and several hundred hospitalized. Because it is easy to detect and can be done so with ammonia, we know for sure that chlorine gas was used. We suspect Sarin as well, but UN and other western agencies have been blocked from testing by Assad and the Russians.
Why the Russians? They have nothing to gain other than weakening an ally who was already a political liability (Assad) and strengthening the hand of their other ally in the area, Iran. And we know Putin doesnít hesitate to use chemical weapons to further his aims. While making pro forma denials, Putin is usually pretty cavalier about such use, because while he doesnít want to take responsibility for such ploys, he doesnít mind reminding Putinís enemies that Russia will be coming for them one day. Wipe your door knob before turning, beware people in London with umbrellas, and donít drink the tea.
I think Putin was behind the attacks. He stands to gain, and it matches his MO. He needs to be careful, though: despite what American and Israeli propaganda claim, Iran is steadfastly opposed to the use of such weapons and he needs Iran.
On the home front, things were equally chaotic, although with the redeeming feature of being a whole lot loonier.
Itís a helluva note when you have one scandal in which a presidential candidateís fixer paid off a porn star to keep her mouth shut and thatís just kind of a sideshow. Another scandal has the president in a public pissing match with the FBI director that he fired for refusing to obstruct justice on his behalf, and each are calling the other morally unfit and stopping just short of calling one another traitors to their country. In todayís America, thatís a side show, too. The two, combined, sound like a bad 1950s torch song by some night club knock-off: ďStormy DanielsĒ by James Comey. Thank you, folks, Iíll be here all week.
In the background, the Mueller investigation is ticking away quietly. Think of the scene in ďA Quiet PlaceĒ where the egg timer begins ticking. Thatís what it feels like, and you just know something interesting is going to happen when the ticking stops.
The main event this week is the Michael Cohen saga. Cohen is described as Trumpís Ďpersonal lawyerí although he matches the description in much the same way as Godzilla is a Formula One racer. Heís often described as Trumpís Ďfixerí, and he fixes things in much the same way that the Vet fixed your cat.
Trumpís other lawyers, many of whom are actual lawyers, are fighting like hell to keep Cohenís records (including, supposedly, tape recordings) out of the hands of investigators.
The court overseeing this had some reservations about whether Cohen was acting in the capacity of a real, actual lawyer, or that of a Mafia torpedo, so they asked him if, since he was a lawyer and presumably had a client list, he might produce it.
Cohenís lawyers admitted he had three clients. Three. Just three. One was Donald Trump, a client he shelled out $130,000 for, mortgaging his house in the process, in order to shut Stormy Daniels up. I donít think they taught that in law school. They sure donít teach it in business school. Mike, the client is supposed to give you the money for your services, and not the other way around.
Another client was Elliott Broidy, a real jewel who had an affair with a Playboy Bunny, knocked her up, and gave her $1.6 million to take care of the matter as she saw fit. Oh, and to shut her up. Guess who the money funneled through.
The third client didnít want to be identified, but the Judge in the case promised Cohen a lollipop if he showed the District Attorney where the third client touched him, and he fessed up. It was Sean Hannity, Moral Oligarch of Faux News.
If they ever make a movie about Cohenís life (with an abridged, ďRĒ rated version for commercial sales) they are going to have to call it ďDances with DouchebagsĒ.
In the meantime, itís believed that the State of NY, as a result of the Cohen raid, now has, among other things, Trumpís tax returns. And his nuts, assuming he has any.
Yes, we survived this week. But swirling chaos continues.
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Posted: April 24, 2018