Friday, May 25, 2018

All You Need to Know About trump Right Now, May 2018 Edition

I'm just gonna refer you to two different articles.

First up, David Frum with FIFTEEN Unanswered Criminal Law Questions about trump (I've Bold the questions I think are the most serious):


  1. Trump campaign aides and associates met with Russian agents in advance of the Russian hacks and releases of Democratic internal communications. Did these meetings lead to any form of coordination between the Trump campaign, the Trump family, or Trump supporters on the one hand and Russian intelligence and its proxy, WikiLeaks, on the other?
  2. Russia engaged in large-scale and illegal expenditures on social media to help elect Trump. Did the Trump campaign, the Trump family, or Trump supporters coordinate or assist in any way with these violations of U.S. law?
  3. Trump campaign aides reportedly met with representatives of Persian Gulf governments who offered to violate U.S. law to help elect Trump. What came of those meetings?
  4. How much Russian money has flowed into the Trump family and the Trump Organization since Trump suddenly and mysteriously became cash-rich in 2006?
  5. Did all the foreign funds flowing into the Trump family and Trump Organization comply with applicable U.S. laws on taxation and money laundering?
  6. Did the Trump family and Trump Organization themselves comply with all U.S. laws on taxation and money laundering?
  7. To what extent was Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort beholden to foreign entities? What services, if any, did he provide them?
  8. To what extent was Trump’s first national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, beholden to foreign entities? What services did he provide them?
  9. The same question applies to Sam Clovis, George Papadopoulos, and other figures on Trump’s campaign and foreign-policy teams.
  10. The family business then run by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was in desperate need of funds in late 2016. The record shows he approached entities in China, Russia, and Qatar for aid. What is the exact list of foreign entities solicited by Kushner? What pitch did he offer them in exchange for their prospective investments? Did his pursuit of these investments ever tilt the administration’s foreign policy?
  11. After the election, Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen obtained millions of dollars from foreign and domestic businesses in return for his promise to consult with them. Did Cohen share any of those payments in any way with the president, his family, or his businesses?
  12. Since the election, Trump’s companies have received millions of dollars in licensing fees from entities in Turkey, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, and other foreign countries. How much have the president’s businesses been paid by foreign persons and what portion of his total income originates in foreign payments?
  13. Is it true that Stormy Daniels’s daughter was threatened in order to coerce Daniels to sign a nondisclosure agreement with Trump? If so, who ordered and delivered that threat? Did any other women sign such agreements? Were any of them threatened?
  14. Was Trump in any way connected to the payment of $1.6 million to former Playboy model Shera Bechard, an agreement facilitated by Cohen—Trump’s personal lawyer—and using the same aliases and structure as the agreement Cohen struck with Stormy Daniels on Trump’s behalf?
  15. Elliott Broidy, the former deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee, told The Wall Street Journal that he had an affair with Bechard, and that she subsequently decided to terminate her pregnancy. He made the first installment of that payment on November 30; he had a private meeting with Trump on December 2, at which he pushed for a crackdown on Qatar, lobbying for which he expected to be rewarded by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. How did Broidy land that meeting—and why did Trump prove willing to follow his advice?

These are all legitimate questions that should not be evaded by trump nor his people.

Second, Washington Post's fact-checking by Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly:

Here is a guide to the various “scandals” about the probe that Trump has promoted since he became president — and what happened to them. For context, we will include the actions taken by federal investigators.
March 4, 2017: ‘Obama had my wires tapped at the Trump Tower’ - ...On Sept. 1, the Justice Department said in a court filing that the FBI and the National Security Division confirmed that they had no record that would support Trump’s tweets: “Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets. FBI again confirmed that they do not have any such records by consulting with personnel knowledgeable about Director Comey’s statements and the surveillance activities of the FBI.”
June 1: ‘The big story is the unmasking’ - ...Trump openly mused that Susan E. Rice, President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser, was in big trouble and may have committed a crime. “I think it’s truly one of the big stories of our time,” he told the New York Times on April 5. But the story did not have legs and faded from sight. Numerous former national security officials told The Fact Checker that Rice, as national security adviser, had every right to request the identities of U.S. citizens who were incidentally recorded or referenced in surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency. It turned out that Rice had unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan had arrived for meetings with Trump aides, but the UAE did not provide the customary notice about his trip to the Obama administration. Republicans on the committee decided she did nothing illegal.
Aug. 10: ‘The Democrats colluded with Russia’- Trump has repeatedly tried to turn the tables by claiming that the Democrats, not his campaign, colluded with Russia. The allegation never made much sense because the Democrats were the victims of hacking operations that transferred emails and other information to WikiLeaks through apparent Russian connections. ...The president gained some traction for his case when it was revealed that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee were the mysterious Democratic donors who paid a research firm, Fusion GPS, to collect information on Trump’s Russia ties... The White House began to argue that because Steele was getting information from Russian officials in part with funds provided by the Clinton campaign, the Russians were helping Clinton. Officials also suggested that the whole investigation was tainted because it started with the dossier. But that was undercut by the revelation that the probe actually started because of a report from an Australian diplomat that Papadopoulos appeared to know about the Russian hacking before WikiLeaks began releasing details...
Feb. 3: ‘The FBI was politically biased against me’ - The Nunes memo suggested that a group of politically biased law enforcement officials set out to sabotage Trump, with the Steele dossier as a key piece of evidence. The memo focused on the FBI application for a wiretap order that targeted Carter Page, a former Trump adviser, after he had left the campaign. The classified memo, which Trump ordered released, claimed that law enforcement officials had abused their powers by failing to make clear that one of the pieces of evidence was the dossier; they claimed it was tainted by political bias because of its Democratic origins... But the memo also confirmed that the investigation of the Trump campaign started with Papadopoulos, not the Steele dossier. The impact of the memo further faded with the FBI’s strong statement that it contained “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” as well as the release of a Democratic memo that sharply disputed the conclusions of the Nunes memo...
March 18: ‘The investigators are hardened Democrats’ - Eleven members of Mueller’s team have made political donations to Democrats, compared with five with no record of such donations. Five of the 16 known members contributed to Clinton’s 2016 campaign. The Department of Justice is legally barred from discriminating against career appointees based on political affiliation, so Mueller, a longtime Republican, is not permitted to ask about political affiliation. Mueller took action against Strzok when texts expressing anti-Trump sentiments were discovered. But he can’t inquire about political leanings before hiring. (unspoken in this tidbit is the fact that among lawyers and other legal professionals that would partake in a Special Counsel investigation, many of them ARE Democrats by choice. You can't find enough Republican lawyers to hire in the first place)

The most current trump excuse - that Obama planted a spy (SPYGATE!) in trump's campaign - is also a losing argument because of various points: 1) the informant (NOT SPY) was inquiring into making contacts with trump's campaign only because of Papadopoulos' big fat mouth, 2) human sources like the informant is a standard FBI practice (remember Donnie Brasco?) when investigating criminal activity such as foreign nations hacking U.S. computers, 3) the Justice Department and FBI are not about to give up the source to trump's Congressional lackeys because doing so sets a precedent of partisanship interfering with the Justice Department's mandate to uphold the law and the FBI's ability to investigate crimes.

If I could combine both articles together under one thought it would be this:

donald trump is a lying crook trying to disrupt the very investigations into his crooked behavior and we as a nation are going to be fucked if he gets his way.

There. That simple.

Gods help us.

WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN?!?!

WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN???

Federal officials lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children last year after a government agency placed the minors in the homes of adult sponsors in communities across the country, according to testimony before a Senate subcommittee Thursday.
The Health and Human Services Department has a limited budget to track the welfare of vulnerable unaccompanied minors, and realized that 1,475 children could not be found after making follow-up calls to check on their safety, an agency official said.
Federal officials came under fire two years ago after rolling back child protection policies meant for minors fleeing violence in Central America. In a follow-up hearing on Thursday, senators said that the agencies had failed to take full responsibility for their care and had delayed crucial reforms needed to keep them from falling into the hands of human traffickers.

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.

WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN???

Every single person who had a hand in sending those kids into the black hole of darkest humanity should be in JAIL RIGHT FUCKING NOW. YOU DON'T DO THIS TO KIDS! YOU DON'T EVER DO THIS TO KIDS!

This is what the harshness of trump's anti-immigration rage is creating: A system ripe for exploitation and destruction and death. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THOSE KIDS???

Yes, these kids were part of families that were coming to the United States, but these were families looking for asylum and safety, and in rejecting that humane concept our own government pulled those families apart and sent 1500 OR MORE CHILDREN INTO GOD KNOWS WHAT HARM.

WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN???

Right now, I am totally on board with calls to abolish ICE outright. This is insane, and illegal, and evil.

WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN???


Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Long Frustrating Sunday Of Coping With the Shitgibbon

One of the things I hate about this Era of Eternal trumpism (trumpus Horribilis) is how the ongoing scandal that is his damnable corruption makes it IMPOSSIBLE to keep up with a political rant blog like this.

I was going to start out this day writing about the news report that trump's campaign people - through trump ally Erik "Blackwater" Prince - made connections in 2016 with nations Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate where those foreign powers offered to help trump win the election. Which is, by the by, illegal under 52 US Code.

This is serious stuff. As well as linking trump to even more corruption - the implications of Quid Pro Quos in that under trump's administration both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are getting exactly what they want - there is the likelihood Prince perjured himself before Congress when he was questioned about these type of meetings going on during the campaign. And while Russia's connection to all this - especially the interfering in the election itself - is still a part of the investigation, this revelation shows how eager trump and his people - especially his own son donny junior - were to make any lawbreaking deal they wanted.

But then this tweet from the Shitgibbon himself got out there (via Mock Paper Scissors):

I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!

As Tengrain himself notes: And game, set, and match: that sounds like Obstruction of Justice right there.

What trump is trying to do is call into question any investigation into the 2016 campaign, convinced that such digging is politically motivated as a revenge plot by Obama (and Hillary). Nevermind the evidence that such investigations began early in 2016 separate from any involvement from Obama's White House. Nevermind the fact that the Department of Justice and the FBI (and other intel agencies) are not motivated by partisan politics and are doing their jobs (which in this case is uncovering financial and political corruption). Read all these tweets collected on Anne Laurie's Balloon Juice article to understand better.

As what might happen tomorrow if trump does send his bullying command to Justice, there's a likelihood they will simply defer the request to their Inspector General (IG) office and let the IG investigate trump's claims (which are mostly based on wingnut conspiracy crap spewed via InfoWars and Fox Not-News). It won't defuse the argument - the wingnuts will never accept any finding that doesn't fit their fantasy Narrative - but it will keep this situation from escalating into a larger Constitutional Crisis.

Unless trump uses the "lack of urgency" by the DoJ to start firing people like Deputy AG Rosenstein to get the results he wants, in which case he IS trying to obstruct the investigation and IT WILL BE open warfare.

Even getting into Rudy Giuliani's claim that Mueller is promising to end his investigation by September is so small potatoes that I'm just going to link it here without comment. Except that WHY should we believe Rudy about Mueller's own plans?

So here's to seeing how Monday rolls out.

I don't want the world to end this week. Jewel Staite is coming to Orlando MegaCon this Memorial Day weekend...

fan art by Adam Withers. If he shows up at a comic-con, HIS SH-T'S GOOD GO BUY SOME.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Blood on the Streets of Santa Fe Texas (w/Update)

So this Friday, at a time in the year of late May when high schools are wrapping up exams and kids are getting ready to graduate, go to summer work, plan for family vacations, all the things you do when you're growing up... some angry guy with a gun showed up in Santa Fe Texas (between Houston and Galveston) and ruined life for the entire community.

Goddammit, gun nuts.

Wanna know how bad the school shooting problem has gotten in the United States?

Watch this:



A video interview with one student, Paige Curry, spread across social media, an artifact of a moment when children have come to expect violence in their schools.
“Was there a part of you that was like, ‘This isn’t real, this is — this would not happen in my school?’” the reporter asked.
The young girl shook her head: “No, there wasn’t.”
“Why so?” the reporter asked.
“It’s been happening everywhere,” she said. “I felt — I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”

So immediately the gun nuts rose up to defend their pagan god of death - I am not joking, some nearby gun nut showed up with a big American flag and a piece strapped to his belt just to fucking pose for the cameras - to blame everything BUT the easy availability and access to military-grade rifles.

People blaming violent video games - the same games they play in Japan and Korea and Europe and everywhere else that doesn't have mass shooter incidents every other week.

People blaming social media - despite the fact that millions use Facebook and Instagram and AREN'T violent gun-toting assholes. And you wanna complain about your Second Amendment right to shoot anybody you want? Regulating social media will go against everyone's First Amendment right to share cat videos and podcast about lame episodes of Grey's Anatomy.

People blaming architecture - I SHIT YOU NOT - with the Lt. Governor of Texas openly claiming that schools shouldn't have so many entrances and exits, as though fire safety for buildings is an outdated concept... Not to mention the fact that if we did create just one way in or out of a school just makes it easier for shooters to bottleneck his victims at one location, great way to think that problem through, Mister Lt. Governor sir.

People blaming everything BUT THE ONE THING THAT TIES ALL MASS SHOOTINGS TOGETHER: THE GODDAMN GUNS.

Well, people should be blaming the one thing that is allowing all this gun violence to continue in our workplaces and gathering places and our homes.

Political cowardice.

Our elected leaders - cough Repubicans cough - are doing NOTHING except stand there offering "thoughts and prayers" because the goddamned NRA and other pro-gun lobbyists - all wonderfully financed by gun manufacturers profiting off each mass shooting like those incidents are free advertising - buy them off with campaign funds. Given a choice between doing the right thing and passing sensible gun safety laws that 80 PERCENT OF AMERICAN - gun owners included - are asking for, or kissing the ring of their lobbyist overlords... our Congress and our White House just sit back and pretend nothing is wrong until the next mass shooting.

It's been three months since Parkland, when the current mood of the nation towards guns has turned sour and angered, and despite all the promises by the likes of trump and Ryan and McConnell NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE in our halls of government to reduce the risk of gun violence the way a majority of us wish to be.

So here's the solution to gun violence in America, everybody. It's a very simple process.

1) Find out which elected officials and which candidates for office at the Federal and State and even County/City levels are getting campaign funds from the NRA. Since this is a 2018 Midterms for Congress and a lot of state offices, this should be easy to do.

2) MAKE GODDAMNED SURE YOU DO NOT VOTE FOR ANY CANDIDATE WHO RECEIVES NRA BLOOD MONEY. You might agree with that candidate on perhaps every other issue, BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ANYONE IN THE NRA'S POCKET DESERVES TO GET KICKED OUT OF OFFICE NOW AND FOREVER. (considering the massive number of candidates in the NRA's pocket are Republicans, now might be a good time to remember my constant call to NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN)

3) Make damned sure the officials you DO elect into office know the key reason they're there: YOU want effective and sensible gun safety laws - starting with Universal Gun Background Checks - passed as soon as possible (Day One would be nice).

This is on us, America. If anyone is going to save our schools, save our malls, save our concerts, save our movie theaters, save our public places, save ourselves it's going to be the voters. All of us need to stand up with this single purpose to stop gun violence. All else that is essential - our prosperity, our education, our economy, our happiness - flows from this single issue.

Get the vote out, America. Vote AGAINST the NRA. They made their choice, long ago. The NRA chose to worship their guns.

WE need to choose now to protect our families and our friends and our communities from their false idols.

Update: As always, Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station brings the big hammer to the argument, going after the cowards who refuse honest responsibility for gun control. Read every word, and add Stonekettle to your blogs worth following.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

And Like All Bad Liars, trump and His People Are Trying to Erase The Truth

This part of the ongoing investigation into trumpWorld ought to scare the crap out of everybody (via the New Yorker):

...Last week, several news outlets obtained financial records showing that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, had used a shell company to receive payments from various firms with business before the Trump Administration. In the days since, there has been much speculation about who leaked the confidential documents, and the Treasury Department’s inspector general has launched a probe to find the source. That source, a law-enforcement official, is speaking publicly for the first time, to The New Yorker, to explain the motivation: the official had grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen’s financial activity in a government database. The official, worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement, released the remaining documents.
The payments to Cohen that have emerged in the past week come primarily from a single document, a “suspicious-activity report” filed by First Republic Bank, where Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, L.L.C., maintained an account. The document detailed sums in the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Cohen by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, the telecommunications giant A.T. & T., and an investment firm with ties to the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.
The report also refers to two previous suspicious-activity reports, or SARs, that the bank had filed, which documented even larger flows of questionable money into Cohen’s account. Those two reports detail more than three million dollars in additional transactions—triple the amount in the report released last week. Which individuals or corporations were involved remains a mystery. But, according to the official who leaked the report, these SARs were absent from the database maintained by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. The official, who has spent a career in law enforcement, told me, “I have never seen something pulled off the system... That system is a safeguard for the bank. It’s a stockpile of information. When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.” The official added, “That’s why I came forward.”

Consider who has access to that enforcement network, maybe Treasury, maybe Justice Department, maybe the White House. Someone in one of those offices - now under sway of donald trump and anybody else tied to Cohen - was actively scrubbing evidence out of a database nobody should be tampering with in the first place.

Remember the words from All The President's Men - the line itself was never directly spoken by Mark Felt, AKA Deep Throat, but Woodward condensed the warnings from Felt into a coherent phrase - about "Follow the Money." The one constant in every real scandal is the money. In trump's case, it's money coming from his questionable ties to foreign businesses and oligarchs looking to launder money and buy favors.

This is serious criminal shit here, folks.

Whine all you want about whether or not trump got help from Russia to steal the 2016 elections - by the by, HE DID - but you can't hide from the reality that trump and more and more of his fellow Republican toadies are selling themselves and this nation out to corrupt powers on a global scale.

We are so very royally goddamn fucked.

Update (5/19/18): Apparently the disappearance of those two SARs didn't mean they were deleted, they were placed under more restrictive access. This is still troubling as this may be an attempt to hide these documents from investigators. I may have jumped the gun about the possibility of trump's people destroying evidence, but the threat is still there...

Monday, May 14, 2018

Short Answer: Too Late, Already Gone Mad

Just saw this title on Slate.com, an article by Dahlia Lithwick that says

How to Survive Trump’s Presidency Without Losing Your Mind

My response?


Too late.


When the Electoral College broke down and the haters kept crawling out of the woodwork, I sank into a deep and terrible and angry depression.

BUT I'M MUCH HAPPIER NOW BHWHAHAAHAHAHAAHAAHAHHAHAHHAHHAHAHA (drinks tea) HAHAAHAAHAAHAAHAAHHAAHAAAHHEHEHAHAHAHAAHAHAAHAAHAAHAAHAAHAAHAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHHHHAAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Ahem.

Just buy my books, especially the upcoming Strangely Funny V anthology published by Mystery & Horror LLC due out later this month!

MADNESS!!!!!


Friday, May 11, 2018

But For Supporting Robbers

(Update: Thanks again to Batocchio for providing a link to Crooks & Liars' Mike's Blog Round Up this Tuesday May 14th. I wanna thank all of checking in here, and if any of you are up for some summer reading I am part of an upcoming humor/horror anthology Strangely Funny V that should be out later this month! (I should be crowing aboot it when it gets released) Also, take a moment to - okay, maybe a month of reading by now - check out the rest of the blog! Now, back to the grindstone...)

It's hard to write something other than just a screaming rage at the Gods both Old and New about the ongoing revelations into trump's malignant racism, corruption, incompetence, and greed.

It's a little easier to link to articles like Conor Friederdorf's shaming of Republicans who applaud or ignore the train wreck that is trump:

This betrayal of the American public warrants more attention. Trump voters who wanted to rid Washington of sellouts should be most upset, but no one wants to admit that the person they voted for was misrepresenting his intentions. And those who rely on commentators like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, and Tucker Carlson for information lack many relevant facts.
Here’s what Trump voters should know. Michael Cohen was the president’s personal attorney. He stepped up when someone was needed to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels on the eve of the election, even using a shell corporation created under a pseudonym to hide the matter.
But that corporation wasn’t just for paying off the pornography actress. He also used it to receive huge sums of money from folks with powerful interests in influencing the U.S. government...
Remember when Trump told you that he would release his tax returns and then never did? Remember when he said that if he won the election he would put his business interests aside? “Ever since Trump and his family arrived in Washington they have essentially hung a for-sale sign on the White House by refusing to meaningfully separate themselves from their own business interests,” Bloomberg’s Tim O’Brien notes. “That’s certainly not lost on the companies that do business in or with Washington. They know that in Trump’s swamp, you pay to play.”
Much of this will surprise folks who get all of their news from Fox commentators and talk-radio hosts, with whom they are in a dysfunctional relationship.
The GOP base is drawn to media figures who support their president and quickly turn on those who criticize him as if they are guilty of a betrayal; for that reason, many populist-right pundits are reluctant to criticize the president or to delve deeply into the behavior of the swamp creatures he has enabled. Instead, they pander to the GOP base, keep them in the dark about important corruption—and so fail to keep the president and his associates accountable...

And yet you tune in to listen to the rallies trump still holds to keep his enraged base hooked, and yes they are still obsessed with the fantasy that Hillary and Obama are the "real" crooks. The trump crowd boos Obama and cheers Kim Jong Un. They hoot and holler as they mock John McCain for daring to speak against the Cheney torture regime that's staging a comeback.

The goddamn wingnut voter base doesn't care for the facts. They only care to kick libruls early and often as though that solves all ills.

The horrifying truth is that even if Mueller is able to complete his investigations, and even if he proves on a legal level that trump sold the nation out to Putin by teaming up with Russians to hack and subvert our elections, and even if the New York District's investigations into Cohen prove massive money laundering and bribery, all of that will never convince the Far Right. They'll buy the fantasy narrative from the conspiracy blowhards like Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh that this is all a "Deep State" revenge coup against a "noble and honest" trump who's defending them from godless baby-killing Fascist Liberal un-American Muslim Hill-bots.

Never mind trump using his political office to pull off financial scandals on a scope not seen since Teapot Dome. trump's voters knew he was a viper when they voted for him. That's WHY they voted for him, because he was the giant middle finger to the rest of the world for them.

Even if we can get trump out of the White House before he can cause more damage than he already has, this nation is already lost to a civil war between the Reality Based Community and the Far Right Narrative. We can't deal with a segment of the population that refuses to deal, ever.

We are so very royally goddamned fucked.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Summer Blockbuster Season 2018

It's May. That means one thing: SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER SEASON.

Although technically it started in late April because of the early release of AVENGERS INFINITY WAR OMG YES I SAW I HAVE FEELS AND KAREN'S BLAND-ASS POTATO SALAD CAN'T COVER IT.

So anyway here's AMONymous with his Annual Trailer Mash-Up of Summer Blockbusters!


I am psyched for Deadpool 2, Incredibles 2, and while people are looking to diss the Star Wars prequel Solo I have hopes that Danny Glover as Lando will fucking rock.

Where Zero Sum in Breaking Treaties Leaves The United States At Zero

So for my birthday today, the Shitgibbon decided to shit on international relations by having the United States drop its commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that severely limited Iran's capability to build nuclear weapons.

This is in spite of lack of evidence that Iran is cheating on the deal (whenever they came to a point of breaking one of the rules, they reported the problem and complied), in spite of the evidence that trump and his hard-line foreign policy "experts" (cough Bolton cough) want war regardless of the facts or the cost, in spite of how our nation's most prominent allies (France, Germany and the UK) are against this move.

From my perspective, this is really happening because:

1) trump is obsessed with destroying Obama's Presidential accomplishments. Not just by eliminating Obama's executive orders and turning back regulations set by Obama's administration, but by decimating every foreign policy success Obama gained. The JCPOA deal Obama worked out - despite heavy Republican interference - was an international accord that signaled America's strength and the nation's commitment to reducing nuclear conflict, and did so sharing our stance with our allies in a way to keep those alliances healthy.
2) trump despises any deals made that he thinks he can get a better deal out of it. he's convinced by making this move it could force Iran back to the table with him, at which point he can bully out of them a sweet deal for himself - trump Towers in Tehran! - and make himself look good for the Nobel Peace Prize at the same go.
3) trump got talked into this - either directly or indirectly - by his Russian handlers working for Putin. Because getting trump to balk at international cooperation and deal-making gives Putin more political sway and prestige on the global stage. Who do you think Iran is gonna deal with now? Everybody BUT the United States, and in terms of military and foreign aid that means getting it from the likes of Russia and China more than the Western European nations struggling to get out of ties with a U.S. that's no longer sane.

Don't listen to me on this. Here's Adam L. Silverman at Balloon Juice providing better foreign policy insight:

Iran’s stated strategy here is to continue to comply with the agreement, keeping it in place with the other signatories – China, France, Russia, the UK, Germany, and the European Union. By doing so Iran intends to isolate the US. As future IAEA reports of compliance are reported, and as Iran maintains the deal with the other signatories to mitigate the reimposition of US sanctions and the imposition of any new ones, Iran will have positioned itself as the good citizen of the global system and the US, under the current President, as the rogue nation...
The US withdrawal from the JCPOA, despite the IAEA certifying Iran’s ongoing compliance because the President and his enablers don’t understand the agreement and how it works or because they’d rather go their own way and threaten military attacks and war, is another example of the devolution of the US from a superpower, the diminution of its power and influence within the international system, and the end of the American century. Here America First clearly means America Alone...
Despite the President’s zero sum, hyperbolic style of negotiation, the Trump Doctrine isn’t in play with the Iranians. They don’t care if the President feels as if he, and by extension the US, is being treated fairly. They’re not going to invite him for a summit, roll out the red carpet, and schedule a military review for his edification. They’re also not going to empower someone close to the government to do business with his companies... The Iranians are not concerned with a reimposition of US sanctions because they’ve decided that if they stay in compliance with the JCPOA that France, German, the EU, China, and their strategic partner in the region Russia will not reimpose their own sanctions or go along with reimposed US sanctions. Moreover, because the leadership of our British, French, and German allies personally intervened to ask the President to stay in the JCPOA and he disregarded their entreaties, he has further isolated the US from its traditional allies...

This is the end result of today's move: The United States can't be trusted to keep its deals, especially under a deal-breaker like trump. As a result, few if any nations will actively deal with us on any foreign policy or trade issue. We're already getting kicked around Asia for ignoring earlier trade pacts, and China's rebuffing any outreach because of trump's earlier tariff war maneuvers.

The United States is no longer a superpower nation. We used to be the only one standing after the end of the (First) Cold War in the early 1990s. Now we're crawling in the gutters screaming "America First" and wondering why no one's taking our calls.

And let's hear from David Frum. You know, the guy who NAMED the "Axis of Evil" that included Iran as a major threat in Dubya/Cheney's Global War on Terror. He's not happy about trump at all right now:

President Trump has just pushed the plunger on a sequence of crises...
...China has emerged as Iran’s largest trading partner. Its trade with Iran jumped 30 percent in the first six months of 2017. China has extended credits to Iran totaling some $35 billion, a significant sum for the shaky Iranian economy. Who will make China stop?
America’s European allies have been more cautious about expanding trade with Iran. Yet will their publics allow their governments to follow the despised and distrusted Trump administration into an escalating confrontation with Iran? Fifty-six percent of Germans describe relations with the United States as bad or very bad...

trump was going into this with bad footing to begin with: On bad terms with an angry China and on worse terms with European nations we used to rely on. And the insane thing, trump won't care:

Trump has never valued allies or partners. The only relationship he understands is one of power: He commands; others obey. But on Iran, the most relevant partners are precisely those who cannot be compelled to obey. Perhaps he imagines he can blackmail them: Join me in imposing new sanctions or else I’ll start a war that you will like even less. That is a bluff at serious risk of being called...
Frum also points out that Iran's no longer as isolated as it was, by having complied with the treaty on their own terms they have become a greater risk in the Middle East, but one that can't be stopped by bullying anymore:

The second is a crisis with Iran itself. One bad consequence of President Obama’s 2015 deal is that Iran is now a better-armed, better-financed adversary than it was then. Thanks in great measure to Trump’s own decisions, Iran has also gained a big victory for Assad’s client regime in Syria. It can retaliate against U.S. interests in all kinds of ways. It can escalate its terror campaign against Israel by using Hezbollah and Hamas. It can green-light a hot war against Israel in Gaza. It can also accelerate its drive for outright nuclear-weapons-state status...

While noted earlier that Iran promises to stick to the JCPOA - it profits them better as a public relations coup to stay away from nukes at the moment - if things do get dicey they can rebuild their weapons program... and with Russia and China as trading partners at this moment they can rebuild faster than expected (and in ways any bombing attacks by the U.S. or Isral can't stop). I don't think Frum's fears of a nuclear Iran is a major concern: What's more dangerous is just more instability in a region that's been unstable since the fall of the Ottomans.

The third crisis—the most ominous of them all—is a potential crisis with North Korea. Trump admirers are debating whether he should display his Nobel Prize at Mar-a-Lago or Trump Tower. On the evidence of his Twitter feed, Trump has convinced himself that the Kim regime has been subdued, ready to surrender its nuclear weapons at a grand summit with Trump. He may soon face the rude shock of discovering that the Kim regime believes instead that it has bested him...

This is a side story I hadn't been mentioning often because it was too unstable to get any hopes up. Recently, North Korea has opened up to the possibility of stopping its nuclear buildup altogether, something that has gotten all the pro-trump hardliners crowing about their big stick of bullying tactics to get Kim to the table. Thing is, so far all the deals have been between North Korea and SOUTH KOREA, and it has more to do with South Korea terrified of the fallout (literal) of any U.S. plans to invade the NK. And where Kim Jong Un is talking about "denuclearization", some observers note he's talking more about "getting the U.S. out of Korea altogether" instead of unilaterally quitting his nukes. That means trying to get trump to agree to something - troop withdrawals from a war zone his hardliners feel they can win - that would play bad back home.

And that's just one possibility. Jong Un may be willing to talk, but for all intents it'll be hot air and making jokes at trump's expense while he sits there without a Korean translator to help him out. And it'll catch trump in a situation where he'll be forced (by his own twisted Id) to wage two wars - against Iran and North Korea - at a moment where the United States can't afford to wage even one.

And it'll be at a moment when the United States will have few if any allies to come to our aid. Western Europe won't help in either case. Japan and Asia will refuse to back an invasion of North Korea (and South Korea might balk fearing NK reprisals). The only nations we could count on against Iran would be Israel and Saudi Arabia, and even then those nations would likely get tied down by uprisings at home. We could even face dire reactions across the globe - at the U.N. level - of having nations impose sanctions on us for trump's transgressions.

What the hell happened to a nation that twenty years ago was the most powerful on Earth? We squandered it all, chasing demons in the Iraqi desert we had no sane reason to chase. We succumbed to a massive military budget demand that spent and spent on junk that won't work while wasting our manpower on lousy pay and soul-breaking endless battles between Iraq and Afghanistan.

We let our jingoism and fear of Other drive half our nation into a drunken rage against the rest of the world.

And now that drunken rage is lashing out in ways that even our allies find repugnant and dangerous.

We're no longer a superpower. We're a wrestling has-been, tossed over the ropes onto the announcers' table, forcing Jim Ross to scream BAH GAWD at the devastation collapsed onto the floor.

This is definitely not going to end well.

I once noted the Republican Party was dead. Well, here's the zombie, come back for the United States, and we're getting bitten and there's nothing stopping us from becoming a shambling ghoul ourselves...