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The Golden Commode Era of American Decline Is Upon Us

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

A good friend and mentor of mine once wrote that the only true blasphemy is that which attempts to make the profane sacred. He was talking about the deleterious, ego-boosting ceremonial aspects of the presidency of the United States, which served, he believed, to imbue whoever the president was with quasi-mystical qualities that prove extremely useful in the grubby political parts of the president’s job. I wish he’d lived long enough to watch the second night of the Republican National Telethon. He would have seen El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago demonstrate vividly what he’d written decades before. He would have seen a grifting, heathen president* garishly—and not entirely legally—use all the ceremony and trappings of the office as though they were the gold leaf in which he encrusted his commode.

He treated the pardon power as though he were a cut-rate game-show host bestowing the Grand Prize (“A complete living room suite!”) on the contestant who’d remembered the name of Lake Titicaca. He turned a citizenship ceremony, one of the few truly uplifting things government does anymore, into what Norman Mailer would have called an advertisement for himself. He arranged to have his Secretary of State deliver a psalm of praise over the darkened streets of Jerusalem, thereby profaning the entire American diplomatic corps, even those members of it untouched by his personal corruption. (Hi there, Woody Johnson!).

And he treated the White House worse than anyone has since the Royal Marines torched the joint in 1814. He turned it into his personal soundstage, and then handed it over to his wife, who delivered an overripe speech about nothing while dressed like Fidel Castro. [TTPT: My thought exactly!] Back before he became a threat to American democracy, the president* was notable for the baroquely bad taste with which he accessorized his various properties. Now that he has become a threat to American democracy, he’s still the same nouveau riche clown who believed that you class up the joint by dropping a white grand piano down in the lobby.

That was the only real impression worth having on Tuesday night. Oh, there was bullshit a’plenty, even without the Protocols of the Elders of Zion lady whom they cancelled at the last minute after she’d gone all Henry Ford that afternoon. Eric Trump, last seen taking the Fifth in front of New York prosecutors, lied three times before he got to his first punctuation mark, and wrapped it up by giving us a dinner-theater rendition of the “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” scene from Yentl. Tiffany Trump expressed solidarity with her fellow kidz in their struggle to find work.

In an act of pure chutzpah of a sort one thought the human mind incapable of, Pam Bondi, once the attorney general of Florida, gave a fantastical account of the Biden family’s corruption that came straight off the factory floor in the St. Petersburg that isn’t in Florida. This one had some extra tang to it because it was Bondi, during her time as Florida AG, who declined to pursue a state fraud case against Trump University, an action that coincided with a $25,000 contribution to her campaign from the Trump Foundation. Even the hypocrisy was in bad taste. Even the lies were tacky. The Golden Commode Era of American Decline is upon us.

The Art Museum That Offered Donald Trump a Solid Gold Toilet ...

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Trump Marked the National Prayer Breakfast By Reading From Paul’s Second Epistle to the Hannitites

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

He arrived at the event waving a newspaper with the banner headline “ACQUITTED” over his head and, when Dr. Arthur Brooks, the conservative religious leader in charge, made the mistake of referring to the obscure Christian concept of loving your enemies, the president* had a ready response to that heretical notion.

Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you.

At which point, the president* brought out the hammer and drove the nails into his own palms with his usual alacrity.

As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people. They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.Weeks ago and again yesterday, courageous Republican politicians and leaders had the wisdom, fortitude and strength to do what everyone knows was right.

As dozens of attendees stared into their fruit cups and longed for the sweet release of the Rapture, the president* continued to read from Paul’s Second Epistle to the Hannitites.

I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that’s not so. So many people have been hurt and we can’t let that go on. We have allies, we have enemies, sometimes the allies are enemies but we just don’t know it. But we’re changing all that.

 

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Donald Trump Is a Vengeful Man

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

“Remember when you were writing a term paper in eighth grade, and you realized that it was supposed to be 1,500 words, and you only had 1,200 in you on the DEW Line or Quemoy and Matsu? You reached for the poetry to pad it out, didn’t you? And your poetry owed far too much to Rod McKuen, didn’t it? Admit it, you slackers.

‘You have come from the rocky shores of Maine and the volcanic peaks of Hawaii, from the snowy woods of Wisconsin and the red deserts of Arizona, from the green farms of Kentucky and the golden beaches of California.’

That came at the end of what seemed to be an endless State of the Union address by the President* of the United States. We were told in advance that his main theme would be unity, which was hilarious enough in theory, but which turned out to be downright depressing in practice. A lot of attention will be paid (justifiably) to this passage in which the president* seemed to be threatening to stop being president* if Congress kept doing its job.

‘An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.’

And if it fits, you must acquit.

‘It just doesn’t work that way. we must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad. This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate, in some cases years and years waiting, not right.’

OK, put aside the fact that his administration* hasn’t seen fit to put people up for something like 21 percent of the jobs in the government, or that it seems like half the Cabinet is there on temp jobs. This mendacious little stanza was belied by a spectacular denial of the political reality that has existed ever since El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago came down the escalator in 2015.

‘But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.’

Quite simply, if it weren’t for the politics of vengeance and/or retribution, this guy wouldn’t have got any closer to the White House than the afternoon tour.

This is a president* who revenged himself on the Khan family, on everybody who ran against him in the Republican primaries, and who kept Michael Cohen on retainer to threaten to destroy anyone who crossed him. This is a president* who was taught about politics by Roy Cohn, who reinvented the politics of vengeance and/or retribution for the television age. This is a president* who slow-danced with Roger Stone, the master of the dark arts of vengeance and/or retribution, and the man who embedded “his time in the barrel” in the political encyclopedia.

Vengeance and/or retribution is the central animating force in this president*’s life. Without vengeance and/or retribution, he would be a lifeless lump of pasty goo in the middle of a fairway in Florida.

The rest of the speech was lost on me after that moment. That was the gaslight that blinded me to all the others—the horrible and fantastical border porn, the grotesque misinformation regarding the abortion laws passed in New York and proposed in Virginia, the pumped-up disinformation campaign about the glories of his administration*. All of these were awful, but they were predictably awful. They were awful things that have been awful in his awful speeches for two awful years.

That business about the perils of the politics of vengeance was astonishing in not only its brass-balls-i-ness, but also in its barely disguised threat to bring the temple down on his own head if he thinks the hounds are baying too loudly in his ears. If he’s going down, he’s going down bloody, and he’s going to take a lot of important elements of the government down with him. And that, my fellow Americans, will be his final exercise of the politics of vengeance.

Oh, and Stacey Abrams was great.”

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Some Thoughts From My Favorite Political Writer, Charles P. Pierce.

From Esquire:

“In plain terms, for all his spleen and outrage, Judge Kavanaugh lies about everything. In his earlier hearings, he lied about his judicial philosophy, and he lied about his days as a Republican operative, both in and out of the White House. On Monday, he lied to Martha McCallum of Fox News. On Thursday, he lied about his entire adolescence and his college days.

He lied even when he didn’t have to lie. He lied in preposterous ways easily disproven by common sense. (The “Devil’s Triangle”? “Renate Alumnius”?) He lied like a toddler, like a guilty adolescent, and like a privileged scion of the white ruling class, which is a continuum with which we all are far too familiar. He lied and he dared the Democratic members of the committee, and the country, to call him on his lies. And now, he is a couple of easy steps away from having lied his way into a lifetime seat on the United States Supreme Court. This guy is going to be deciding constitutional issues for the next four decades, and the truth is not in him.

The ballgame pretty much ended when Jeff Flake’s endlessly tortured conscience led him to the completely predictable conclusion that, while Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was “credible,” he would have to vote in favor of putting Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because, as his official statement said:

“What I do know is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence. That is what binds us to the rule of law. While some may argue that a different standard should apply regarding the Senate’s advice and consent responsibilities, I believe that the Constitution’s provisions of fairness and due process apply here as well.”

Lord, what a putz this guy is. Before the committee began its meeting on Friday, Flake was confronted by a group of women who had survived sexual assault. He tried to hide in an elevator. They followed him in there. This should happen to him every time he climbs into an elevator for the rest of his life.

All that’s left in this sorry epic is to count the votes. We will have the next 40 years to count the cost.

And, an update: Intriguingly, the scheduled Sunday debate between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz in Houston has been postponed. The stated reason? Cruz “will be in Washington, D.C. for weekend votes.” The railroad is picking up steam.”