If people like conspiracy theories, why not look at real ones

Conspiracy theories abound and most do not bear repeating, for to do so is to give the one spewing the lies just what he sought: attention. However, there are some actual conspiracies, both past and present, as our friend Keith notes in his very excellent post this evening!

musingsofanoldfart

There has been a lot of press about Marjorie Taylor Greene, an advocate of the conspiracy theory website QAnon winning a GOP primary in Georgia. Unless the GOP finds its conscience, she will become a member of Congress. Getting less press is Madison Cawthorn who is the GOP candidate running for now Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ old seat. Cawthorn has some social media references to white nationalists and has bragged on visiting the Hitler bunker in Germany. In this case, the GOP leadership supported his opponent in the primary.

Some folks are unfamiliar with QAnon, but the president is not one of them. He often parrots conspiracy theories and it is nirvana for a conspiracy author to hear their words come out of his mouth. My favorite QAnon story is Hillary Clinton was running a Satanic child pornography ring out of a pizza parlor in Washington DC to raise…

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Discord & Dissension – Part II – “How did we get here? – Part 1”

As we promised last week, here is the first part of our project. We welcome all comments and suggestions and we hope you find this to be of value!

On The Fence Voters

Note to readers: This week’s post on our ‘Discord and Dissension’ project ended up being too long for a single post, and so it will be presented in two parts. This is the first part, the second will follow this afternoon. It seems we have a lot to say, and this is likely to happen from time to time. 😉

As my good friend Jill over at Filosofa’s Word pointed out in her excellent intro to this project last Friday, Wake Up America! 2020 is here, and if you thought 2016 was bad, buckle up your seat belts. Campaign 2020 promises to be one of the most divisive in history. As we speak, the current president of the United States is about to go on trial in the Senate for two articles of impeachment.

And he’s not happy about it.

But beyond the current chaos in Washington, our political…

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The Latest In Snarky Snippets

It took no time at all for Turkish President Erdoğan to begin implementation of his plan to attack the Kurdish troops in Syria.  Two days, I believe.  Today, Turkey launched airstrikes and fired artillery across its border into northeastern Syria.  This, Donald Trump, is what you have done …turkey_syriaturkey-syria-2Already, two civilians have been killed and others wounded.  There will be many more innocent people who will die or be injured, and the blood of those people is on the hands of Donald Trump.  These were people who were going about their lives, minding their own business, hurting nobody.  They were our allies, until Monday when Trump betrayed them.

It is a complex situation that Trump does not comprehend, that even those who are scholars in Middle-Eastern affairs often find confusing.  But, Trump sold out for some favour from Erdoğan and now the U.S. has sent a clear warning to all of our allies that we are not to be trusted, that we may turn on them any day, with no notice.


I really didn’t want to talk about or even mention the impeachment issue today, but to ignore it would be to ignore the elephant in the room, for it looms larger than life.  Yesterday, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the various committees conducting the investigations in the House of Representatives. An eight-page letter, as it were.  I have muddled through about half of it so far, and a more pompous letter I have never read.  What he had to say could have been said in a single paragraph.

In a nutshell, Cipollone, acting as Trump’s mouthpiece, says that the impeachment process is unconstitutional and that nobody in the Trump administration will cooperate in any way, shape, or form.  Duh … leave it to a lawyer to take up 8 pages to say that.  But, most of it was hateful, arrogant verbiage attempting to defend the indefensible and criticize all those who would wish to hold Trump accountable for his actions.

But wait … it gets even better.

Since there is precedent for impeaching a corrupt, lying, cheating president, the Department of Justice is now claiming that Nixon’s impeachment was unconstitutional and that the courts in 1974 were wrong to approve the release of Watergate documents to Congress during the impeachment inquiry.  This came when Beryl Howell, chief judge for the U.S. District Court, indicated that she may rule in favour of giving the House Democrats access to certain of the redacted parts of the Mueller report.  The judge asked the Justice Department to explain its “extraordinary position” of trying to block lawmakers from seeing the special counsel’s grand jury materials, which include testimony and evidence that has been kept private since the Mueller probe ended in March.

Elizabeth Shapiro, a deputy director in the DOJ civil division, argued that if the same Watergate road map arose today, there’d be a “different result” because the law has changed since 1974. She said the judge wouldn’t be able to do the same thing absent changes to the grand jury rules and statutes.  The judge was stunned, saying only “Wow. Okay.”  Hopefully she will find her voice soon.

Let’s put this in context here.  President Bill Clinton was impeached because he lied to Congress about a consensual affair with a staffer.  Period.  Nothing more.  But Donald Trump has twice … not once, but at least twice that we are aware of … sought favours from foreign governments to unfairly influence our elections.  And, whereas Clinton lied to Congress, Trump has done something much, much worse:  he has lied to We the People … all 330 million of us.


And, on that note I find that I really don’t feel like writing any more, and so I will leave you with Stephen Colbert’s latest take on it all.

Oooohhhh … Scandals!!!

clintonIn December 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice.  The case?  He lied under oath about an affair … a single affair … with then-staffer Monica Lewinsky.

ReaganIn 1987, President Ronald Reagan admitted to selling weapons in exchange for hostages, a scandal that would become known as the Iran-Contra Affair, and for which 14 of Reagan’s cohorts were charged, some serving prison sentences.

NixonIn 1974, President Richard M. Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment for spying and sabotage, and later cover-up during the 1972 presidential campaign.   The scandal would forever be remembered as the Watergate scandal.

In 1922, President Warren Harding’s interior secretary, Albert Fall, was convicted of accepting bribes and loans in exchange for granting oil drilling rights in what would become known as the Teapot Dome scandal.

whiskey ringIn 1875, under President Ulysses S. Grant, it was determined that the IRS and Treasury Department had been “looking the other way” while distillers of whiskey kept tax revenues for their own benefit.  Grant’s aide and personal secretary, Orville Babcock, was also involved, though Grant gained him an acquittal by pleading on his behalf.  This became known as the Whiskey Ring scandal.

In 1868, President Andrew Johnson became the first U.S. president to be impeached.  His crime?  He went against legislation passed by Congress (the Tenure of Office Act) and attempted to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a Lincoln appointment.  The Senate fell one vote short of removing him from office.

Those are the biggest scandals prior to 2017 involving sitting U.S. presidents.  And then came Trump.  Take another look at the other scandals … they don’t really seem quite so bad now, do they?  So, now that we have a point of comparison, let us take a look at just a few of the scandals of the Trump presidency after a short/long 15 months …

  • Alternative facts – beginning on day one, with the administration’s attempt to portray Trump’s inaugural crowd as some 5 times larger than it actually was, and continuing on a near-daily basis ever since.

  • In February 2018, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, spent $31,561 for dining room furniture for his new offices.


  • In January 2017, Presidential Bimbo Advisor Kellyanne Conway referred to a “Bowling Green Massacre” as a justification for Trump’s travel ban against Muslims.  There was never any such event.


  • On 10 May 2017, during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Trump discussed classified intelligence information.


  • On 09 May 2017, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey after Comey refused to a) pledge an oath of loyalty, and b) agree to drop the investigation into Russia’s influence on the 2016 elections.


  • The FBI and other congressional committees have been investigating links between Trump, his family, and members of his campaign staff and the Russian government. There is already strong evidence of ties between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russian officials.


  • On August 25, 2017, Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, a known racist who had defied a court order to cease and desist racial profiling.


  • In March 2018, Trump’s Staff Secretary, Rob Porter, was credibly (with evidence) accused by his two former wives of domestic abuse. Porter resigned, but Trump ranted that he should have stayed.


  • In September 2017 it was discovered that Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, had spent more than $1 million of department funds for his own travel on private charter jets and military aircraft.


  • Donald Trump has been accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment, including non-consensual kissing or groping, by at least 19 women. He has bragged about following young contestants into the dressing room and groping them during the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contests.  And he is heard on tape claiming that a celebrity like himself “can do anything” to women, including “just start kissing them … I don’t even wait” and “grab ’em by the pussy”.  And Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about having consensual sex with Monica Lewinsky???


  • Lastly, Donald Trump has been credibly accused of having an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels shortly after Melania, his third wife, gave birth to their son. Trump, through his attorney, Michael Cohen, paid Ms. Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about their affair during the 2016 election.

Did the rules change in the twenty years between 1998 and 2018?  Does it, despite #MeToo, no longer matter if men use their power to abuse women?  Does it no longer matter how our elected representatives spend OUR money?  Have integrity, truth and honesty become archaic words that no longer have value in our lives?

Today we have the most corrupt individual in the history of this nation sitting in the Oval Office. Today we have people in towns and cities all across the nation saying that they are “good Christians”, that they hate abortion because it is ‘morally wrong’ … and yet … and yet, they find nothing … NOTHING … wrong with the man pretending to be president groping women, having multiple elicit affairs, lying, cheating and stealing.  Just this week, Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual abuse and faces a possible 30-year prison term, yet Donald Trump, who has done no less than Cosby, is applauded.

Let’s Talk Impeachment …

Impeachment: a word that is on everybody’s minds these days, both Republican and Democrat.

“Whispers about impeachment, the most familiar constitutional procedure for removing a president, began to circulate even before Trump had taken the oath of office. But two months into Trump’s presidency, those whispers – and the search for any other possible emergency exit – have grown into an open conversation …” – The Guardian, 22 March 2017

Dan Rather on the Trump-Russian connections: “We may look back and see, in the end, that it is at least as big as Watergate. It may become the measure by which all future scandals are judged. It has all the necessary ingredients, and that is chilling.”

nixon-resignsOn August 9, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon became the only U.S. president to resign from office, in the wake of the Watergate scandal.  After two years of investigations and scandal, it was time.  Nixon said, “By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.”  Nixon was guilty of a number of things, however I thought then, and I still think today, that he made a tough decision, the right decision, in the best interest of the nation.  Okay, granted, he had lost the support he needed in Congress, had lost the confidence of the nation, and would have likely been removed from office within a year, but still, I respect that he had the dignity to resign when he did. Had he not resigned, impeachment would have been the next step … a step that would have been costly and would have further divided the nation.  The House Judiciary Committee had already charged him with “high crimes and misdemeanors” in its bill of impeachment in July. There is no doubt that Nixon would have been impeached, but he might have, like Andrew Johnson before him and William Jefferson Clinton after, remained in office.

Nixon denied any wrongdoing, despite mounting evidence, until the bitter end.  Based on what we have seen thus far, I would expect no less from Trump when the investigations into his ties to the Russian government are eventually laid bare.  I suspect, however, that unlike Nixon, Trump will not have the grace to resign, but rather will force a full impeachment process, further dividing a nation that is already about as far divided as a nation can be without engaging in armed combat.

Article II, Section IV of the U.S. Constitution states, “The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The last of these, ‘high crimes and misdemeanors, is subjective and much would depend on how the 115th Congress decided to define it.  The process for impeachment is fairly simple, but by no means speedy:

  • Impeachment proceedings begin in the House of Representatives, once the Justice Department or an independent council investigates charges & presents them to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • The House Judiciary Committee then reviews the evidence, drafts the Articles of Impeachment, and debates the Articles, deciding whether to pass them to the full House.
  • The full House debates the Articles, then votes on whether to impeach. Only a simple majority (51%) is required for impeachment.  If 51% vote to impeach, the president is considered impeached, but is not yet out of office.
  • The Senate holds a trial to decide whether the president should remain in office. The House Judiciary Committee presents the evidence, acting as prosecutor, and the accused will have attorneys present to present his defense. The Chief Justice of Supreme Court acts as Judge and rules on admissibility of evidence, and the full Senate is the jury.
  • The Senate votes, and a two-thirds majority is required to remove the president from office.

Simple, right?  Well … yes … and no.  Think about the current composition of the 115th Congress and what, by their actions, they have indicated thus far.  We have 100 Senators, 52 of whom are Republicans, and 430 Representatives (there are currently 5 vacant seats), 237 of whom are Republicans.  Thus far, all bills have been voted on along almost strict party lines, with the Republicans throwing all their support to Trump.  What this means is that the Justice Department will need to have solid evidence of criminal acts committed by Trump in order to get the House to consider impeachment.  And the Justice Department is currently under the leadership of one Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III, a blatant racist who should never have been even considered, but who was hand-picked by Trump and then confirmed by the Republican-led Senate. See the conundrum?

The evidence is mounting that there will be, after the FBI finishes its investigation, and an independent commission (hopefully) conducts an investigation, incontrovertible grounds for impeachment.  If it turns out, as I believe, that Trump had direct connections to the Russian government and was aware of their efforts to alter the results of the 2016 election, or if certain of Trump’s campaign staff had connections and Trump was aware of those connections, that would be grounds for impeachment on the grounds of treason.  Another, though less likely possibility is that charges may stem from Trump  allegedly violating constitutional bans on receiving certain gifts – a problem rooted in his failure to divest from his real estate, hotel and branding businesses.

I think that whether or not the Department of Justice is willing to bring charges and then whether the House of Representatives and later the Senate are willing to follow through with the impeachment process is a matter of timing.  There are signs that some Republicans in Congress are already tiring of Trump’s shenanigans, such as his baseless claim that Obama had wiretapped his phones during the presidential campaign, his bald-faced lies, his tirades, and the blame game he is so fond of playing.  While there are undoubtedly some who will ride his coattails regardless of his actions, I firmly believe there are men and women of good conscience in the Republican party in Congress, and when push comes to shove, I believe they will opt to do the right thing.  But as of today, they are still supporting Trump, no matter what.  So, maybe in a month, maybe in two months, impeachment charges would move forward, but if they were handed down today, I am skeptical. It is rather a matter of giving him enough rope, enough time to figure out how to tie the knot in the rope, to hang himself.

The other option is that, under the 25th Amendment, Trump could be declared ‘unfit to serve’, but in my opinion, that is even more of a long-shot than impeachment. In order for this option to be enacted, the Vice-President and a majority of the top 15 members of the cabinet must find the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.  Those people all owe their jobs to Trump, and I find it highly unlikely they would go against him, especially if there were a possibility they would lose the battle and then have to live with the consequences.

In the long run, it boils down to We The People.  We must make our voices heard … our Senators and Representatives must be made to hear our voices and realize that we are the ones who have the power to decide whether they return to Congress after the next round of elections in 2018.  We need to remember that they work for us, not the other way around. While having the president impeached and removed from office may be divisive and disruptive, it is rather like having a cancerous growth removed … it is painful, but life-saving.  I believe having Trump removed will be painful for some in the short-term, but life-saving for our democratic principles in the long-term.

Roger Stone … The Making Of The President … ???

roger-stoneRoger Stone … remember him?  A real piece of work.  He and his ex-wife jointly won Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award back in July 2016.  Well, guess what?  He has written a book … I should say another book, but since until tonight I wasn’t aware he had written previous books, it doesn’t really matter.  The title of his new book?  The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution.  It is touted as being “In the tradition of Theodore White’s landmark books, the definitive look at how Donald J. Trump shocked the world to become president.”  Trust me … Stone is no T.H. White!

I have read only the equivalent of about the first 20 pages, having downloaded a sample from Amazon onto my kindle, just to get a feel for the tone of the book, author’s writing style, etc.  A few excerpts:

  • “This [Trump’s electoral win] can only be attributed to the talent, energy, and foresight of Donald Trump himself.” And the Russians, and FBI Director Jim Comey, and the media …
  • “The increasingly vigorous alternative media, whose reporting standards are superior …” This is a joke, right?
  • “Trump’s skillful courting of the conservative media, like The Daily Caller, Breitbart News, WND.com, and InfoWars, made Trump the first presidential candidate to reach these disaffected … “ An apt description of what is wrong in this country
  • “American voters have finally become hip to the fact that the media and the political establishment work hand-in-glove …” Not all of us … in fact, not even most of us.

As you can see, this is not much more than a 408-page propaganda missive, though admittedly there is some interesting historical context.  As my blogger-friend Keith has mentioned before, Trump was groomed in his early years by none other than Roy Cohn, the “legendary mob and celebrity lawyer, who was an attorney and advisor to the young real estate mogul.”  Cohn was also former Senator Joseph McCarthy’s right-hand man during the era of the McCarthy communist witch hunts.

nixon-stone

Richard M. Nixon with a much younger Roger Stone

There are numerous comparisons throughout the brief bit of the book I read that compare the Trump campaign to Richard Nixon’s 1972 campaign, which may be quite apt:  Nixon – Watergate; Trump – Russia.  At any rate, turns out that Roger Stone was actually an advisor to Nixon’s campaign. In 1972, he joined Nixon’s “Committee to Re-Elect the President”, and while I find no evidence that he was directly involved in Watergate, he played dirty pool, bragging, “By night, I’m trafficking in the black arts. Nixon’s people were obsessed with intelligence.”

After Nixon won the 1972 presidential election, Stone worked for the administration in the Office of Economic Opportunity. After Nixon resigned, Stone went to work for Bob Dole, but he was fired after columnist Jack Anderson publicly identified Stone as a ‘Nixon dirty trickster’. Here is an interesting article from 1986 about Stone and his shady dealings.

Stone began his political career early … in his junior year of high school, he manipulated the ouster of the class president, then succeeded him.  “I built alliances and put all my serious challengers on my ticket. Then I recruited the most unpopular guy in the school to run against me. You think that’s mean? No, it’s smart.” (This is reminiscent of the day Trump said his manipulations of the IRS code to avoid paying taxes was “smart”.)

At age 12, Stone read Barry Goldwater’s book, Conscience of a Conservative, and volunteered with the Goldwater campaign (1964), deciding that he was “a staunch conservative but with libertarian leanings.” In 2007 Stone, a top adviser at the time to Joseph Bruno (the majority leader of the New York State Senate), was forced to resign by Bruno after allegations that Stone had threatened Bernard Spitzer, the then-83-year-old father of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer. Interestingly, when Trump learned of the incident he said it was “ridiculous and stupid”.  But that was then, and this is now. And in the here and now, Stone advised Trump that he must run his campaign like a dictatorship, that trying to run his campaign as a democracy would only lead to divisiveness and rivalries. Trump listened to Roger.

Roger Stone has not changed since then, either. During the 2016 Republican National Convention, he threatened to send supporters to delegates’ hotel rooms if they switched from Trump to another candidate, a move that then-RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said at the time was “just totally over the line.”

As mentioned in an earlier post, Stone was initially a campaign advisor to Trump, but was soon fired for the same racial, sexual and ethnic slurs that got him banned from CNN & CNBC. But the man continues to make the rounds, as he is a regular on Alex Jones’ radio show, and a frequent guest of Sean Hannity. That should tell you something right there. Though not officially a part of Trump’s White House staff, there is little doubt that Stone is an advisor to Trump in an unofficial capacity.  Just last night, in fact, Stone tweeted the following:

“The buck stops here. Obama responsible for illegal surveillance of @realDonaldTrump – must be charged, convicted and jailed.”  Link to The Week article

In mid-January, Stone claims that he was poisoned with a radioactive agent, Polonium, in order to keep him from “exposing the “Russian Hacking” LIE b4 the Congressional Investigation”.  Comic book stuff?  Spy vs Spy? Interestingly, he claims that his book contains the evidence to dispel the Russian hacking “lie”.  Since his book was released on January 31st, why would somebody try to poison him at that stage of the game?  Methinks this was an ‘alternative fact’, probably a ploy to gain attention a week before the book came out.

As for the book, no, I do not intend to buy or read it.  Just reading the sample in bed last night was enough to cost me some sleep.  Interestingly, it garnered pretty good reviews … 4.5 / 5 stars from 194 reviewers on Amazon.  But then, likely Trump supporters are the only ones who have any interest in reading it.  In the past, T.H. White’s “The Making of the President” accounts of the 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1980 presidential elections have been historical documents, well-written and certainly credible.  Stone’s book falls far short, as it is a piece of propaganda, though there is some historical context, but presented from a thoroughly biased viewpoint.

I think we have not seen the last of Roger Stone.  It is interesting to note that the aforementioned Idiot of the Week post from July, featuring Roger and Ann Stone has been viewed 40 times in the past week!  Apparently people are still interested in him.  Like a bad penny, or a nightmare … he just won’t go away!