No-Drama Obama was a master of self-control. He didn’t lose his temper, publicly. He couldn’t afford to. He couldn’t be seen as that “angry black man” – he was everyone’s president – but that wasn’t much of a problem. By temperament he was courteous and warm and thoughtful – or weak, as almost every Republican said. He’d listen. He’d think things over. He’d ask questions. That wasn’t action. Maybe he didn’t care. That was the word in Republican circles. He was Spock when the nation needed Captain Kirk. He was a mensch when the nation needed a golem – the monster created from nothing but mud, brought to life to fight the bad guys, but dangerous. No one can really control a golem. A golem might kill anyone, and eventually will. But a golem that can summon the dead and wipe out the bad guys can be useful.
America chose one of those, a golem, to follow Obama. Donald Trump may not be a subhuman dimwitted but dangerous mud-monster, but in September 2016, Josh Marshall noted how Trump seems to think:
Trump lives in a psychic economy of aggression and domination. There are dominators and the dominated. No in-between. Every attack he receives, every ego injury must be answered, rebalanced with some new aggression to reassert dominance. These efforts are often wildly self-destructive. We’ve seen the pattern again and again. The Khans, Judge Curiel, Ted Cruz, virtually every Republican presidential candidate at one point or another, half the reporters who’ve covered Trump. We can’t know a man’s inner thoughts. But we’ve seen action and reaction more than enough times to infer, or rather deduce, his instincts and needs with some precision.
And so Marshall deduced this:
Trump is injured by attacks and slights as we all are. But for Trump they create an inner turbulence which forces an almost peristaltic response. The inner equilibrium must be reestablished. The salient fact about Trump isn’t his cruelty or penchant for aggression and violence. It’s his inability to control urges and drives most people gain control over very early in life. There are plenty of sadists and sociopaths in the world. They’re not remarkable. The scariest have a high degree of impulse control (iciness) which allows them to inflict pain on others when no one is looking or when they will pay no price for doing so. What is true with Trump is what every critic has been saying for a year: the most obvious and contrived provocation can goad this thin-skinned charlatan into a wild outburst. He’s a seventy-year-old man with children and grandchildren and he has no self-control.
And two years later that’s still true:
Escalating his attacks on the special counsel investigation, President Trump said on Wednesday that a presidential pardon for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is “not off the table,” casting him and other subjects of the inquiry as victims of prosecutorial abuse.
Although Mr. Trump had not discussed a pardon for Mr. Manafort, “I wouldn’t take it off the table,” he said in an Oval Office interview with The New York Post. “Why would I take it off the table?”
He said that prosecutors for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, had poorly treated Mr. Manafort, who was convicted of eight felonies this summer and pleaded guilty to two more.
Trump won’t let this play out:
Though Mr. Trump is given to loose promises that go unfulfilled, the suggestion of a pardon was nonetheless remarkable. It came as his rhetorical attacks on Mr. Mueller have grown increasingly provocative – the president tweeted on Wednesday that prosecutors were “viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts and they will get relief” – and as leading Republican senators again thwarted an effort to protect Mr. Mueller from being fired.
Those leading Republican senators know that their golem will protect their ghetto, because their golem is clever:
The president’s declaration also capped a turn of events for Mr. Manafort, who was a cooperating witness for Mr. Mueller until prosecutors declared this week that he had lied to them in breach of his plea agreement. They were said to be frustrated in part because one of his lawyers was updating Mr. Trump’s legal team about the case.
Mueller got played. Manafort was a plant all along, sent in there to find out what Mueller was really after, so he’ll get his pardon, as will anyone who helps out:
By leaving open the possibility of pardoning a former aide whose lawyer was a source of inside information about an investigation into Mr. Trump himself, the president showed a new willingness to publicly signal that he will intervene to protect people who are in the special counsel’s cross hairs.
And the golem will continue to attack:
Despite prosecutors’ declaration that Mr. Manafort had lied to them, Mr. Trump claimed that Mr. Manafort had instead refused to make false statements that would advance the special counsel’s investigation. He said Jerome Corsi, a conservative author, had also been pressured to lie and defended Roger Stone Jr., a former Trump campaign adviser and longtime friend of the president’s whom the special counsel is investigating.
“It’s actually very brave,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m telling you this is McCarthyism. We are in the McCarthy era. This is no better than McCarthy.”
And he didn’t stop there:
President Trump on Wednesday morning shared an image calling for his opponents to face trial for “treason,” with many of them behind bars.
The image, which the president retweeted from a pro-Trump Twitter account, depicts a host of figures Trump has criticized, including former President Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, special counsel Robert Mueller, former FBI Director James Comey and former President Bill Clinton.
“Now that Russia collusion is a proven lie, when do the trials for treason begin?” the caption on the photo reads.
That’s how Trump is thinking. This is treason, and traitors should get what they deserve:
Several of the figures in the image were targeted with mailed explosives allegedly from a Trump supporter last month.
And add this:
Trump on Monday lashed out at Mueller as a “conflicted prosecutor gone rogue” following a new filing from the special counsel that claims Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, violated a plea agreement by lying to federal prosecutors.
In a series of tweets, Trump accused Mueller of causing “tremendous” damage to the nation’s criminal justice system and “only looking at one side” in his investigation.
Why isn’t Hillary Clinton a target here? She’s the one who should be impeached, the one forced from office in disgrace.
And he didn’t stop there:
President Trump explained to the New York Post Wednesday that his decision to walk back plans to declassify sensitive Russia-probe related investigation documents was at least in part based on a calculation that he could use the documents as leverage against Democrats seeking to investigate him.
“I think that would help my campaign. If they want to play tough, I will do it. They will see how devastating those pages are,” Trump told the Post, referring to applications for surveillance warrants and other sensitive documents related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
He said that if Democrats “go down the presidential harassment track” it would be “the best thing that would happen to me.”
“I’m a counter-puncher and I will hit them so hard they’d never been hit like that,” Trump said, according to the Post.
In short, if they investigate him, he’ll hit back ten times harder:
Trump earlier this year said he would declassify certain documents related to the Russia investigation, as well as messages sent among Justice Department figures he has sought to vilify. He backed down on that promise, ostensibly to allow for further review of the national security concerns involved.
Now, according to what Trump told the New York Post, he was also advised by Emmet Flood, a top White House lawyer, that waiting made sense politically too.
“He didn’t want me to do it yet, because I can save it,” Trump said.
CNN has a bit more:
If Democrats “want to play tough” when they control the House of Representatives next year, he will declassify documents that will be “devastating” to them.
“If they want to play tough, I will do it,” Trump told the New York Post in an interview Wednesday. “They will see how devastating those pages are.”
It’s an escalation of what Trump told reporters on November 7 after Democrats had retaken control of the House during the midterm elections.
During that post-midterm news conference, Trump said that if Democrats start investigating his administration then he would be moving to “a warlike posture.”
When asked by a reporter if he would show Democrats that he could “play that game and investigate” Democrats, Trump said, “Oh, yeah. Better than them.”
And it’s all attack now:
In Wednesday’s wide-ranging interview with the New York Post, Trump also said he plans to return to New York City when his time in the White House is up.
He claimed that he would be denied a Nobel Peace Prize in the same way that his TV show, “The Apprentice,” was denied an Emmy award in 2004 and 2005.
“‘Amazing Race’ got it because ‘Amazing Race’ was the establishment,” Trump said.
And he took aim at several potential 2020 challengers, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) as well as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Of course he did:
“I’d love to run against Little Michael,” Trump said of Bloomberg.
He falsely claimed that while Booker was mayor of Newark, he had “decided not to live there, which was illegal.”
In 2013, Booker provided property records and documentation to BuzzFeed News showing that he did in fact live in Newark, after the Daily Caller published a piece quoting residents who said they had never seen him at his property.
Of Gillibrand, Trump noted that he “supported her early on” but that she’s “not going to make it,” citing her position on gun control.
The president last year prompted criticism with a tweet describing Gillibrand as someone who had previously come to him “begging” for donations and “would do ‘anything’ for them.”
Yeah, imagine her on her knees, mouth open. Maybe he is a subhuman dimwitted but dangerous mud-monster after all, our golem in the White House.
But maybe he’s not that effective. Spencer Ackerman reports that the secretaries of state and defense went to Capitol Hill to shore up support for Saudi Arabia and that backfired:
The White House blocked CIA Director Gina Haspel from attending a highly anticipated Senate briefing on Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis told senators on Wednesday.
“The most persuasive presence at this briefing was an empty chair – a chair that should have been occupied by Gina Haspel, head of the Central Intelligence Agency,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters. “We were told at this briefing that it was at the direction of the White House that she did not attend.”
That was a mistake:
Several senators confirmed that Mattis and Pompeo told senators at the classified briefing that the White House prevented Haspel from attending. Lawmakers, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had specifically asked for Haspel to brief senators on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment about the murder of Khashoggi. Thanks to the Turkish government, Haspel reportedly has heard a gruesome audio recording of Khashoggi’s final moments.
The CIA, for its part, contradicted Mattis and Pompeo’s account.
“While Director Haspel did not attend today’s Yemen policy briefing, the Agency has already briefed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Congressional leadership on the totality of the compartmented, classified intelligence and will continue to provide updates on this important matter to policymakers and Congress,” CIA spokesman Timothy Barrett said in a statement.
The CIA is certain that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered that murder of the Washington Post columnist in Turkey. They’ve said that before. They’ll say it again. Mattis and Pompeo can say anything they want – that no one knows for sure – but the CIA is standing pat on this, and that’s the problem:
Haspel’s absence fueled the exact opposite result their briefing was meant to accomplish – to shore up support for the bloody U.S.-backed Saudi-Emirati war in Yemen. As Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are set to force a vote on ending Washington’s support for the conflict, previously undecided senators left the briefing indicating they will join an effort that would deliver a forceful rebuke to President Donald Trump and two key authoritarian Mideast allies.
Corker, who has historically backed U.S. involvement in Yemen, said he was inclined to vote to advance the Sanders-Lee resolution in the absence of a sufficient White House response to the Khashoggi killing.
Our nasty golem wasn’t going to get his way:
U.S. intelligence has reportedly concluded that one of the Yemen war’s key architects, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is the crucial figure in Khashoggi’s grisly October murder and dismemberment inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
“I think the administration would do well by figuring out a way to respond to this because… we’ve got an imbalance here where something has occurred that has not been addressed,” Corker told The Daily Beast. He said he asked Mattis and Pompeo to “share with us what they’d like to see Congress do,” but “they could not.”
“The White House can fix this this afternoon. They can fix it in an hour. The secretary of state can fix it in an hour,” Corker added. “It’s like we’re dancing on the head of a pin to keep from – look, MBS is responsible for this death.”
But no one will say that:
Pompeo, who was photographed laughing with the crown prince in Riyadh shortly after Khashoggi’s execution and dismemberment, previewed his message in a defiant Wall Street Journal op-ed that defended the Saudis as a regional bulwark against Iran.
Pompeo’s op-ed portrayed Yemen, where U.S.-provided bombs from Saudi warplanes have brought 14 million people to the brink of starvation, as a key locale in “rooting out Iran’s destabilizing influence.” He claimed that the U.S. has “exerted effort to improve Saudi targeting to minimize civilian casualties.” According to Pompeo’s prepared remarks, the secretary told senators the administration’s efforts “have actually made the Yemen war less ugly.”
On Wednesday, Pompeo maintained his confrontational tone. According to prepared remarks released by the State Department, he told senators, “I know many of you think it’s time to pack up and abandon the role in Yemen we’ve been playing since the previous administration. I’m here to tell you why that’s a bad call.”
They listened. They thanked him. He left, and then they voted:
The Senate on Wednesday delivered a historic rebuke of Saudi Arabia and President Trump’s handling of the fallout over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing last month, as a decisive majority voted to advance a measure to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
The 63-to-37 vote is only an initial procedural step, but it nonetheless represents an unprecedented challenge to the security relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The vote was prompted by lawmakers’ growing frustration with Trump for defending Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s denials of culpability in Khashoggi’s death, despite the CIA’s finding that he had almost certainly ordered the killing.
They wanted a good guy in the White House, not a subhuman dimwitted but dangerous mud-monster, our very own golem. Forget Obama. Not even Ronald Reagan would defend this new Saudi crap, although there’s this:
President Trump claims in a new book that he is “far greater than Ronald Reagan” and says conservative columnists don’t get him enough credit for his accomplishments.
The president told the authors of “Trump’s Enemies: How the Deep State is Undermining the Presidency” – his allies Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie – that he would be considered the greatest president in U.S. history if his name weren’t Trump.
“The amazing thing is that you have certain people who are conservative Republicans that if my name weren’t Trump, if it were John Smith, they would say I’m the greatest president in history and I blow Ronald Reagan away,” Trump said, according to the Washington Examiner.
Why? This is why:
Trump reportedly pointed to his judicial nominees, “environmental stuff” and his regulation cuts in making the claim.
That’s it? This is a dimwitted but dangerous mud-monster, but he can be stopped:
During a very special episode of The Late Show on Tuesday night, Stephen Colbert reminisced with his old friend Jon Stewart about their time on The Daily Show and Colbert Report. The trip down memory lane continued on Wednesday thanks to a conspicuous comment from President Trump in a new interview with the Washington Post.
“I’m doing deals, and I’m not being accommodated by the Fed,” Trump told the Post. “They’re making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”
“I totally agree,” Colbert said in response. “That quote about trusting your gut over the brains of the experts reminded me of someone I used to know: Me. Because when I played a conservative pundit on my old show The Colbert Report, I talked about that on the very first episode.”
The real Colbert then cut to a clip of the fake Colbert delivering his first-ever edition of “The Word” on October 17, 2005.
“That’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentleman, the gut,” Colbert said in his debut. “Do you know you have more nerve endings in your stomach than in your head? Look it up! Now somebody is going to say, ‘I did look that up, and it’s wrong.’ Well, mister, that’s because you looked it up in a book. Next time try looking it up in your gut.”
Back to the president, Colbert exclaimed, “Trump stole my bit! Knock it off!”
This can be stopped:
“That’s copyright infringement,” he continued. “He is stealing my anti-intellectual property. So tonight, I am officially announcing that I am suing Donald J. Trump for stealing my old character. You better lawyer up, buddy! And somebody better than Rudy Giuliani, too.”
That was a joke, unless it wasn’t a joke. Who can tell anymore? The United States has elected forty-five presidents. The first forty-four were men of various sorts and various talents, with quite human flaws. And the forty-fifth was straight out of Czech-Jewish folklore, that dimwitted but dangerous mud-monster, the golem, called into being to protect the people – but really dangerous. This won’t end well.