Trump Meets Putin: What You Need To Know

Wrastler-in-Chief Donald Trump will be meeting with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin face-to-face for the first time tomorrow following the G-20 summit.

Here’s you need to know.

Actually… hold on. What does anyone need to know? Can anyone truly know anything removed from their sensorial experience? These are, at thier core, epistemological questions. Some may maintain they possess a special, even gnostic, knowledge, but such assertions are sufficiently unprovable as to be worthless.

How do any of us know what we need to know? Even the best-prepared among us may find, to their infinite horror, an oversight has waylaid their best-laid plans.

A further wrinkle to this claim of “needing to know” comes to mind. Will your knowledge of the intricacies of the personalities involved, the complex geopolitical machinations or circumstances leading to the meeting in any way affect the outcome? Save for Putin, Trump and their advisers, the answer seems to be a firm “No”.

But don’t take my word for it. What do I know?

(Year Zero/Day One Hundred and Sixty-Eight)

An Open Letter To The Stressmonger in Chief

Donald. Donnie. Don. Do.

We’ve heard some troubling news that you’ve been stress eating and feelin’ real lonesome.

On one level, we can empathize. It can be difficult to truly connect to other human beings. We are all islands of mind. And loneliness, compounded by stress, can lead to some poor deitary choices.

On the other hand: Oh, YOU’RE stress eating? We’re all stress eating thanks to you, champ. You’re the one creating the stressful environment in the first place. “Send me to Washington,” you said, “even though I literally have no idea how to govern.” “Those people who are not white and elderly and culturally regressive must be made to suffer.” Et cetera.

Regarding your loneliness, I say tough shit. You know who else is lonely? The families that have been torn apart by your ruthless expansion of ICE apprehensions. Survivors of bombings by American war planes. The loved ones of those who have been killed in the hate crimes that have spiked across the country because you created an atmosphere that emboldened them – people who knew Timothy CaughmanRichard Collins IIIRicky John Best or Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche. The survivors of white supremacist terrorists. Everyone who’s afraid and isolated because of you.

If you weren’t pushing for the re-implementation of your vile travel ban, if you weren’t intent on maximizing the punishment the carceral state can offer, if you weren’t constantly making people afraid for their safety and their lives, if you weren’t a bitter, demagogic, volatile, deeply unpleasant sack of shit? Loneliness would be less of an issue.

There’s nothing wrong with gaining weight. There’s nothing wrong with feeling alone. There is something very wrong with you.

(Year Zero/Day One Hundred and Thirty-Five)

There’s Something Deeply Wrong Here

I wish I’d had more time to enjoy Spicer in the bushes. In the hectic days since president Trump dispatched his praetorian bodyguard to FBI headquarters to do away with a man who wouldn’t pledge his undying loyalty, the absurdity of  Sean Spicer’s flailing about brought some levity to the situation.

The problem is the emergent public record around the firing of James Comey doesn’t need our mirth. It needs to raise our hackles. Alarms should be ringing in our heads. Lights should be flashing and instructing us to exit the building without trampling each other. As Jonathan Chiat put it yesterday: “Trump is trying to control the FBI. It’s time to freak out.”

Trump, in fact, is trying to bend every useful organ of the federal government to his will. Some, like the Keebler Klansman Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department, are not only happy kowtowers but directly involved in the move to muzzle another agency’s investigation. Dwelling too long on the imperfect parallels with Richard Nixon in the hope that Comey is what leads to impeachment misses the heart of the matter. The president has had some success in making departments either subservient to his will or has understaffed/underfunded parts of the government that could stand in the way of whatever it is he wants at any given moment.

To put it another way: we can dismiss what’s going on as another Trumpian shitshow and continue to talk about how many scoops of ice cream the president gets, or we can acknowledge the erosion of democratic norms is accelerating. It’s not much fun to admit something deeply wrong is underway, but there isn’t much that can be done for that.

Then there’s the question of 45’s mounting paranoia. When Donald Trump accused Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower over Twitter, it was shocking and bizarre. Now that the American public has had a chance to contend with this repeated and unfounded claim, it’s just bizarre. He is obsessed with the idea that someone’s listening in. Given all we’ve learned about the man and his associates since November, there’s a good chance this is an existential concern. They’re coming for me. They know what I’ve done. Rumor has it he also makes recordings of his own. His paranoia could also be projection. If I do it, so does everyone else.

Whether one or both are true, this morning saw Trump lashing out like a cornered animal.

President Trump on Friday warned James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director he fired this week, against leaking anything negative about the president …

In a series of early-morning Twitter posts, Mr. Trump even seemed to suggest that there may be secret tapes of his conversations with Mr. Comey that could be used to counter the former F.B.I. director if necessary. It was not immediately clear whether he meant that literally or simply hoped to intimidate Mr. Comey into silence.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Trump appeared agitated over news reports on Friday that focused on contradictory accounts of his decision to fire Mr. Comey at the same time the F.B.I. is investigating ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Trump also threatened to halt daily press briefings if… he doesn’t get more favorable coverage? Russia is never mentioned again? It doesn’t seem like much on its face other than hunkering down, but given all that’s happening more extreme measures could taken to try to maintain his grip on power.

One thing is certain in this strange and labyrinthine tale: If Donald Trump is going to threaten Comey on Twitter and intimate he has recordings of the conversation, sooner or later people are going to want to take a listen to his audio library.

(Year Zero/Day One Hundred and Thirteen)

Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before

You might think Donald Trump would have had plenty of time to absorb the lessons of Watergate, but the president seems determined to follow a Nixonian path. It’s not exactly an obscure connection (and I’ve noted the similarities before), but the fact that my social media feeds are blowing up with the below New York Times front page indicates the more politically aware among us are seeing shades of Tricky Dick in Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Comey is no innocent. His eleventh hour chicanery may have tilted the election just enough to give Trump the keys to the White House. But he can at least be useful as a martyr in Trumpworld’s increasingly frenzied attempts to stop the mounting investigation into unsavory business connections, ties to Russia and inexplicable bulk spray tan purchases.

(Year Zero/Day One Hundred and Ten)

Daily Melange

I can’t stop thinking about Sean Spicer.

America’s newest patron saint of live-televised fuck-ups elevated his game to historic levels this week.

After incorrectly saying that Hitler did not use chemical weapons in WWII, President Trump’s thumb-headed mouth piece referred to a concentration camp as a “Holocaust center.”

I’ve wondered about the actual intelligence level of Spicer for some time now.

I get it.

Not everyone in the Trump Administration is stupid, but surely that doesn’t disqualify Spicer from being a few fries short of a happy meal.

This is a guy who’s used the height of two separate stacks of paper as a core talking point.

Remember his first interaction with the press?

It’s gotten to the point where one can easily argue that Spicer at the very least is grossly incompetent.

And I don’t want to hear about him being a diversion. Likening concentration camps to giant Nazi Targets with “Holocaust Center” in block letters emblazoned on the front of the building is so laughably absurd that I literally had to make sure I was not tripping acid before accepting what he said as reality.

Personally, I think Trump has kept Spicer around to appease GOP brass and not look weak by firing his administration’s senior media White House official.

There’s also the possibility that Spicey’s clung to the gig so long because his gaffes are distractive explosions across all platforms of media.

Remember when Neil Gorsuch was sworn in to the Supreme Court?

Will this outrage override the revelations regarding Paul Manafort?

Regardless, I think if you have to call Sheldon Adelson and try to apologize to the entire Jewish people, you are probably going to be fired.

My guess is Trump gives him the axe within the next week.

Heads are already rolling and you might as well cut ties and distance yourself from a guy who you already are concerned looks too much like Melissa McCarthy anyway.

I will miss those sketches though.

Then again, the spice must flow.


Can You Imagine A President With Ties To Organized Crime?

Well, yes. JFK. And the Bush family had some extremely shady connections, and — without making this a litany, it’s likely few get into the White House without unsavory associations.

Given this, it’s no shock Donald Trump has connections to the Russian mafia, or as he lovingly refereed to them in 2013, “the oligarchs”.

The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.

Among them:

• A member of the firm that developed the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York is a twice-convicted felon who spent a year in prison for stabbing a man and later scouted for Trump investments in Russia.

•  An investor in the SoHo project was accused by Belgian authorities in 2011 in a $55 million money-laundering scheme.

• Three owners of Trump condos in Florida and Manhattan were accused in federal indictments of belonging to a Russian-American organized crime group and working for a major international crime boss based in Russia.

•  A former mayor from Kazakhstan was accused in a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles in 2014 of hiding millions of dollars looted from his city, some of which was spent on three Trump SoHo units.

•  A Ukrainian owner of two Trump condos in Florida was indicted in a money-laundering scheme involving a former prime minister of Ukraine.

We all probably know a few people who have broken the law (whether we know they’ve done this is a different story), but they’re by and large small fish. It’s appalling that Trump is hording so many of the world’s big fish. What about us plebes, Donald? How are we supposed to make connections with shady yet influential and unimaginably wealthy businessmen if you’re taking up so much of their time?

Frankly, I’m jealous. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to make good money. Where’s an alleged crimelord when you need one?

(Year Zero/Day Seventy-One)