Take the Cheese, Donald! Take the Cheese!


A propos of l’affaire Lewis, many pundits of a progressive bent have made these points:

  1. President Elect Birther lacks standing to complain of attacks on the legitimacy of his presidency.
  2. If anyone does have standing to make such an attack, that person would be John Lewis.
  3. Trump is a lout to attack a civil rights hero on MLK day.

Aardvark agrees, though his agreement is bootless.

What strikes me about this affair is that Congressman Lewis played Trump like a violin. Mixing the metaphor, the good congressman put a large and smelly piece of cheese on a large and lethal mousetrap. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he knew why he was doing it and when he was doing it. Rep. Lewis exhibited no particular subtlety or finesse, nor, plainly, did he need any subtlety. He just put the cheese on the trap and the mouse pounced, right on time, utterly heedless of the consequences.

To follow up on the previous post, if my name were Vladimir Putin, I would be scared shitless to have a guy this childish as my agent.

Buyer’s Remorse in Moscow?

This morning Nicholas Kristof asks, trenchantly discusses, but does not answer the question whether Trump is “Kremlin Employee of the Month”—concluding, “We can’t afford even the perception that our president is the Kremlin’s man in Washington.”

Well, that’s right. We can’t afford it, but it looks as if we have bought it anyway.

Meanwhile, from the Washington Post we learn that “There’s no joy in Moscow after tough talk from Trump appointees.” This comes amid other reports of possible buyers’ remorse at the Kremlin.

Which would you want, a stable, predictable enemy, or an unstable, mentally challenged tool? Hmm … That would depend on how unstable and how mentally challenged, wouldn’t it?


Why is Trump Publicly Infatuated with Putin?


Many are wondering. I don’t know the answer. But I did take a shave with Occam’s razor this morning and determined that the explanation that best fits the known facts is that old Vladimir has Trump by the short and curlies.

Whether the blackmail involves golden showers in a Moscow hotel is another matter. Probably it’s something else.

And here’s another puzzlement: if Trump doesn’t want to be perceived as Putin’s bitch, why does he go to so much trouble to act like Putin’s bitch?



Did the Russians Elect Trump? Or, We have Met the Enemy, and He is Us


It is January 14. As we count down toward Doomsday, the public conversation is dominated by two questions:

  1. Is it true, as Rep. John Lewis has claimed, that Trump would not have been elected but for Russian interference, and is his presidency therefore illegitimate?
  2. Why is Trump so publicly in love with Putin?

This post addresses the first of these two questions. By the way, Trump attacked Lewis this morning and Lewis has just responded by emailing the Aardvarks to ask for a monetary contribution. Dr. Aardvark and I are considering whether to click the $50 button or one of the others.

That said, Aardvark agrees with Kathleen Parker, who wrote today that we will probably never know whether Russian influence actually tipped the scale.

The fundamental question about the election is not does not involve the source of supply of fake news, it involves the source of demand for fake news. Think of it like this. Just up the road from Happy Acres, conveniently located, lies the Humongous Booze Barn, which offers a wide selection and highly competitive pricing to complement its geographic convenience.

Does the convenient location of the Humongous Booze Barn contribute to Aardvark’s consumption of strong drink? Yes, maybe a little. But despite the enticing selection of alcohol they offer, no one at the store forces Aardvark to buy the stuff. He buys it because some evenings sobriety is too painful to endure.

For many millions of our fellow citizens, reality itself has become too painful to bear. I suspect that a lot of them are aware, at least dimly, and in the back of the mind, that they are consuming fake news. But they go on pouring it down their gullets because it makes them feel good. And if they can’t get it from one source, they will get it from another.

What would happen if the Humongous Booze Barn ran out of Jack Daniels? Won’t happen, but what if it did? Would Aardvark be disappointed by the temporary absence of his favorite tipple? Yes, he would. Would he say to himself, “It’s Jack Daniels or nothing,” and leave the store? Or would he buy another brand? You know the answer.

If the National Enquirer runs out of fake news from Pravda it will get fake news somewhere else, and its customer base will keep on consuming the product.



The Manchurian Candidate


As Aardvark writes on the evening of Friday the 13th of January, the gyre keeps widening, and we remember Nixon’s integrity, patriotism, and trustworthiness with increasing fondness.

Senator Burr, Republican of North Carolina, and Senator Warner, Democrat of Virginia, have released the following statement, and I quote:

Joint Statement on Committee Inquiry into Russian Intelligence Activities

WASHINGTON – Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today issued a joint statement regarding the Committee’s inquiry into Russian intelligence activities:

“As part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s oversight responsibilities we believe that it is critical to have a full understanding of the scope of Russian intelligence activities impacting the United States.

In the course of its regular work, the Committee conducts oversight of the Intelligence Community’s collection and analysis related to Russia; however, the October 7, 2016, joint statement on election security from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), combined with the declassified Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” raise profound concerns.

The Committee will, therefore, conduct a bipartisan inquiry of the intelligence reporting behind the Intelligence Community assessments from January 6, 2017 on this subject.

The scope of the Committee’s inquiry will include, but is not limited to:

  • A review of the intelligence that informed the Intelligence Community Assessment “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections;”
  • Counterintelligence concerns related to Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns;
  • Russian cyber activity and other “active measures” directed against the U.S., both as it regards the 2016 election and more broadly.

The Committee plans to:

  • Hold hearings examining Russian intelligence activity;
  • Interview senior officials of both the outgoing and incoming administrations including the issuance of subpoenas if necessary to compel testimony; and
  • Produce both classified and unclassified reports on its findings.

The Committee will follow the intelligence wherever it leads.  We will conduct this inquiry expeditiously, and we will get it right.  When possible, the Committee will hold open hearings to help inform the public about the issues.  That said, we will be conducting the bulk of the Committee’s business behind closed doors because we take seriously our obligation to protect sources and methods.  As the Committee’s investigation progresses, we will keep Senate leadership, and the broader body, apprised of our findings.

We have received assurance from the Director of National Intelligence that the Intelligence Community will fully and promptly support our requests for information related to the investigation, and we have every reason to believe that commitment will be honored by the incoming administration.

Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer have made it clear they expect any investigation into Russia’s involvement in our nation’s elections to be conducted in a bipartisan manner.  It is a charge the SSCI takes seriously, as bipartisanship—in fact, non-partisanship—is at the very core of the Committee’s charter and is essential to preserving the intelligence equities involved.”

In addition to the joint statement, the Senators offered additional comment separately.

“As I indicated in my December statement, the SSCI has focused a great deal of attention on Russia’s behavior around the world,” said Chairman Burr.  “Over the last two years, we have held more than ten hearings and briefings on these issues, with four reviewing Russia’s so-called ‘active measures.’”

“The SSCI was established to oversee the intelligence activities and programs of the United States Government, and to ensure that the appropriate departments and agencies provided informed and timely intelligence to our nation’s leaders,” Burr added, “and part of our inquiry will necessarily be focused on what happened, and what didn’t happen, in this case.”

Of the investigation, Vice Chairman Warner said, “This issue impacts the foundations of our democratic system, it’s that important. This requires a full, deep, and bipartisan examination. At this time, I believe that this Committee is clearly best positioned to take on that responsibility, but whoever does this needs to do it right. If it turns out that SSCI cannot properly conduct this investigation, I will support legislation to empower whoever can do it right.  That is my position now, and it will be my position for the duration of the investigation. I look forward to working with Chairman Burr on this tremendously important matter.”

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And now, our national anthem.

Morning BLO and the Power of Horseshedding


On Morning BLO this morning they played a  clip of Trump’s cabinet nominees systematically rejecting all of Trump’s foreign and defense policy positions. Following which, Morning Joe delivered the Morning BLOviation along these lines: Well, all those witnesses were prepped for their testimony by the Trump transition team, therefore what they said must represent the true Trump position on foreign and defense policy—not the bullshit Trump was peddling in the campaign and the bullshit he continued to spew in his press conference—and therefore, per Morning BLO, it follows as the night the day that we all can and should all breathe a great sigh of relief.

Joe was implicitly addressing a broader question: how much of his own bullshit does Trump actually believe?

Joe’s line of argument this morning was too much even for the sock puppets. They pushed back, arguing in words or substance that we still don’t know how much of his own bullshit the man believes. Joe was reduced to arguing that, well, at least you have Mattis and Kelly, not Bolton and Giuliani, and isn’t that better? And so it is.

Joe was wrong for an additional reason not addressed during the Morning BLOviation session. It is this. As a retired shyster, Aardvark well knows that, when they take the stand, witnesses are frequently unwilling or unable to spit out the words that you forced down their throats during the horsesheddinig session the night before. What the witness actually says at the deposition is a pretty unreliable indicator of what he was told to so–especially where the witness is a strong individual with strong views on the topic of his or her testimony.

* * *

And one more thing. Many have commented on Rex Tillerson’s lack of credibility regarding what he knows and what he remembers. As a retired shyster, Aardvark thinks Mr. Tillerson was applying what he thinks he learned about how to bullshit his way through a deposition.