TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — A Real-Life Version of ‘Wag The Dog’

I had the goofiest dream last night. The president of the United States, in a panic, placed a call to the president of Russia seeking guidance. It went something like this:

POTUS: Sarah Sanders, get the Russian president on the line. Don’t call your daddy for permission to make the call. Just call!

Sanders: I’m calling on behalf of the president of the United States to talk to President Putin.

Russian operator: Which president?

Sanders: We only have one president.

Russian operator: What’s his name?

Sanders: President Donald J. Trump.

Russian operator: Oh, that one. Our president will accept your call, and he’s on the line.

(Sanders hands the phone to the U.S. president.)

POTUS: Good morning, Vlad, this is the Donald!

PO-Russia: You will address me as President Putin! OK, Little Donny what do you want now?

POTUS: Well, Vlad, err … President Putin … at the direction of Mr. Mueller, the telephone recordings and records of just about any type have been seized from my lawyer’s office.

PO-Russia: Well, what the heck do you want me to do about it, Little Donny?

POTUS: Did you happen to give my lawyer any of those pictures you’re blackmailing me with?

PO-Russia:  You mean the ones in the bedroom with the hookers?

POTUS: I mean any pictures of anyone anywhere that involve me but not Melania!

PO-Russia: No, no, I didn’t give anything to your lawyer … not that I’ll admit to, anyway. By the way, Donald, our informants tell us it was not Mueller who seized those records. It was a United States attorney in New York.

POTUS: How’d you know that?

PO-Russia: Because I read the newspaper headlines and watch CNN after I read your daily briefings. You ought to try it, too.

POTUS: Forget the advice crap, Vlad … err, President Putin. Seizing all of my attorney’s records is going to give my enemies way too much to talk about. I know you’ve allowed the Syrian people to be gassed a number of times recently. In this country, we don’t care if you burn, mutilate, disembowel and otherwise murder men, women and children, but gassing is just a bridge too far. If I give you a heads-up to move your troops and anything of significance out of the way, how about I blow up a couple of empty buildings over there? That way, people will think I give a damn. It’ll take the focus off my problems.

PO-Russia: OK, Donald, you can conduct a single raid … but do be sure to state you’re going to bomb the hell out of us before you don’t. We’ll let it pass this time, and you can claim you won. Gee, this sounds just like that capitalist movie “Wag the Dog”!

POTUS: Vlad … err, President Putin, what are you talking about? Never heard of it! I don’t go to movies, I don’t read, and I don’t listen to anyone but myself. I am my own best source of information. That’s how I can run this country a lot like a dictator. Just look — Congress lets me do anything I want. Maybe a couple guys whine a little. The rest do nothing.

* * *

Yes, it was a dream — or a nightmare — but it’s all too real in the light of day. The president ordered a single strike on Syrian targets, gave the Russians time to warn the Syrians to clear out anything of value and then bragged, “Mission accomplished.”

It speaks volumes that there was no military push back by the Russians after American, French and British missiles struck targets near Damascus. The Russians may not feel superior to us, but they are sure as hell are not afraid.

Why have so many people, including Trump’s official TV network, Fox, overlooked the multiple additional gas attacks on the Syrian people over the past year? Perhaps it’s because back then the U.S. attorney hadn’t just seized records from Trump’s attorney.

Some say it’s coincidence. The president says, “Mission accomplished.” I say, “Oh, crap!” Amen.

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — From Soup To Nuts

I had a pretty good week. My lawyer, Sly M. Ball didn’t get raided, and his paper shredder is working just fine. It’s powered by a V-8 Cummins, which gets terrible mileage, but thanks to the rollback of fuel efficiency standards, he won’t have to deal with a solar-powered model.

The problem there is twofold. First of all, most of the shredding takes place at night, and then there’s the issue of sun pollution. Solar panels attract way too much sun and are a major cause of global warming. If there is such a thing. And we know there isn’t because we’ve had a long winter in North Dakota. Case closed.

But I digress. This column is headed in more directions than a presidential tweet.

My point is, Sly is a great lawyer — the kind of guy who would reach into his pocket and pull out $130,000 or brass knuckles, whatever’s necessary, while performing the Art of the Deal. He’s a lot like a Boy Scout — always prepared, evolving on gay rights, and loves animals.

Take for instance the time I got a little behind on “insurance” payments. A lot of guys would have gotten rough, but you know what, Sly didn’t even bring it up. He just dropped off a fresh 5-pound carp wrapped in the fake New York Times and scratched Gus The Wonder Pug’s ears. “Nice pug you got here,” Sly said, “It would be a pity if something happened to him.”

Not many guys care that much. Anyway, the debt is settled. Mexico paid for it. And I’d like to say typing is not impossible without thumbs, butIdostrugglewiththespacebar.

Another big break I got last week was that I wasn’t mentioned in James Comey’s new book. He had a whole chapter on hand sizes, and I think I would have measured up if not for the absence of opposable thumbs.

Comey might be the next James Joyce, but because of his disloyalty to President Trump, he deserved to be fired. It’s like that time I got pulled over exhibition driving. “Where’s your sense of loyalty, officer?” I said. And then I fired him on the spot.

But there’s good economic news out of Washington, D.C. EPA Director Scott Pruitt is single-handedly driving down housing costs in the swamp by negotiating a condo rental from a lobbyist for less than the cost of a room at Motel 6. Motto: “We’ll leave the interrogation light on for you.”

Then, budget hawk Paul Ryan retired from Congress after the Congressional Budget Office calculated the nation could celebrate it’s first trillion dollar defecate in 2020, a celebration that could be bigger than the bicentennial. Instead of confetti, we’ll throw soybeans because we’ll have a lot of them. Said Ryan between squats, “My work here is done.”

Meanwhile in North Dakota, the Republican Deep State held an impromptu pillow party for Tom Campbell, who offended Gov. Burgum by trying to buy an election. He and Kevin Cramer were also upset about Campbell attempting to circumvent the sacred GOP convention process. I’m not saying things got swampy, but Campbell had to waterski home.

Campbell won’t be running, but there will be an ethics measure on the ballot, a concept so puzzling to Republicans not even Rob Port could come up with the definition. “It is a precipitous conundrum of the adjudication of the delineated hypotenuse of misanthropy,” he said. “And frankly, I am outraged, something … something … Heidi Heitkamp!”

Al Carlson was equally outraged when he heard about the measure. “And who’s gonna pay for that?” he demanded. Not Harold Hamm, that’s for sure.

© Tony Bender, 2018

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Amnesia, Anyone?

Do you still remember Sept. 11, 2001? That’s the day four planes were hijacked. Two were flown into the Twin Towers in New York and another into the Pentagon. The last crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania when its passengers overcame the terrorists who had planned to take out a fourth target.

The hijackers were 19 men affiliated with al-Qaeda. Do you remember that 15 of the 19 were citizens of Saudi Arabia? Two others were from the United Arab Emirates; one each came from Egypt and Lebanon.

In its infinite wisdom, the United States military was unleashed upon … Afghanistan. You know, a country that had nothing to do with the bombings. You figure that one out because I can’t.

The Trump administration has looked with favor upon the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates. Do you think it’s because, shortly after a meeting with the Saudis and the Emirates, U.S. firms signed enormous military contracts were signed with them? Do you also suppose it could also be because lucrative and much-needed financing was suddenly made available to the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to bail his family real estate company out of substantial, pressing debt?

We still have a large troop presence in Afghanistan. We talk about the serious opioid crisis in our country; what seems even more serious is that Afghanistan is the greatest supplier of opioids. Why isn’t our country attacking the supplier-growers on their own ground, rather than only concentrating on the cure for overdoses? With all of our electronic surveillance capabilities, including the use of drones, the military could greatly diminish the drug pipeline. They are already there. Why hasn’t their mission changed?

Perhaps if we were constantly reminded that 115 people die every single day from drug overdose, we would focus more clearly on the source of the supply.

In Syria, we have troops in harm’s way. The president has said we should get out “quickly.” No sooner had he said that when Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad authorized the use of chlorine gas against his own people.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the Russians benefit if we leave or are thrown out of Syria.

As we view situations such as the one in Syria, it reminds me of the days before and during World War II as the world, including this country, stood by and did little as the Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis. If you believe we didn’t know what was taking place in Europe during those times, I have some hot air to sell you from my backyard.

We all see the same news reports of the slaughter of men, women and children in Syria. Bombs, rockets and artillery shells are not selective when it comes to death.

To bring the bad news closer to home, think about Puerto Rico and Michigan. Puerto Rico has endured months without essential infrastructure, including electricity, because for some reason our leadership can’t or won’t make use of the National Guard or active-duty military and their combat engineers to assist them. Restoration would make a wonderful peacetime practice for war. Where else could they get better on-the-job training.

More than three years have gone by, and people in Flint, Mich., still can’t drink their lead-tainted water. Engineers from the military or the Guard could come in with supplies right now, but that hasn’t happened. The government talks a lot but the talk is not matched by action.

We need thinking men and women in Congress who can get it through their heads that they represent we, the people. That is not happening now. It’s hard to argue with that fact, notwithstanding your political affiliation.

The world is in turmoil. That includes our own country. We need meaningful, considered, thoughtful discussion. Then comes the hard part: prioritizing and acting first upon our actual needs, then upon our wants.

When so many people with so much money are running the country, the regular people are shortchanged. The rich get gigantic tax cuts, while the average person gets a pittance … and often thinks that’s just great.

If the wealthy were taxed like the average citizen, and if we stopped spending on military items we don’t need (as Dwight David Eisenhower warned us so long ago), we could develop a balanced budget. Some of these problems do predate the current administration, but the worst can be laid at its feet. Amen.

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Current Events Quiz

AIR FORCE ONE ANNOUNCEMENT — “Ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing some … uh … turbulence. As we continue our steep descent into anarchy, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position and that your seat belt is securely fastened. Before we crash, we’d like you all to fill out this brief questionnaire, the results of which will be shared with Cambridge Analytica.

1. Song President Trump often sings in the shower:
A. Hotline Bling.
B. My Ding-a-Ling.
C. 50 Ways to Fire Your Mueller.
D. It’s the End of the World (And I Feel Fine)

2. A better choice for national security adviser than John Bolton:
A. John Belushi.
B. Michael Bolton.
C. Edwin Starr.
D. Dr. Evil.

3. Things John Bolton wants to blow up:
A. North Korea.
B. East Korea.
C. West Korea.
D. North by Northwest Korea.

4. Things Donald Trump wants to blow up:
A. The soybean trade with China.
B. Apparently the stock market.
C. An inflatable love doll named Chesty.
D. The prenup.

5. Where is Mike Pence these days?
A. Undisclosed location in The Swamp.
B. Not dining alone with Stormy Daniels, that’s for sure.
C. The bullpen.
D. Cowering in a dark closet repeatedly mumbling to himself, “Out, damned spot …”

6. Solution to a vexing political problem:
A. Tweet firing.
B. Build a wall.
C. Woodchipper.
D. Russian Agents and poison.

7. Things to expect in a brawl between Trump and Joe Biden:
A. A folding chair will be involved.
B. Kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.
C. Each touches the other inappropriately.
D. A sleeper, which everyone knows is really an illegal choke hold.

8. Why so many women voted against Hillary:
A. Pressure from their Republican husbands.
B. Believed they were voting against Sir Edmund Hillary.
C. Thought Trump was the Lesser of Two Weasels.
D. Tom Campbell bought their votes.

9. Why did hundreds of thousands of kids march in the streets on Saturday?
A. Late for Trump’s inauguration.
B. I dunno, but it’s a slippery slope.
C. Fox News: If we didn’t report it, it didn’t happen.
D. Practicing for the invasion of Iran

10. What President Trump offered Putin last week:
A. Congratulations.
B. Aid and comfort.
C. Jared Kushner’s security clearance.
D. What’s behind Curtain No. 3.

Bonus: The president is banning them from military service:
A. Transgenders.
B. Transformers.
C. Transients.
D. The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Answers: 1. C; 2. C; 3. D; 4. C; 5. C; 6. D; 7. C; 8. C; 9. B; 10. B; Bonus: D.

Grading: 11-9: Fine, smarty-pants, but how’s your March Madness bracket looking? 6-8 correct: It’s like you’re psychic. Or a member of the Deep State or something. 3-5 correct: Well, you did better than Kushner. 0-2 correct: Yes, Mr. President, you are a genius. The most bigly smart genius in the world.

© Tony Bender, 2018

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — In An Alternate Universe

SOMEWHERE IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE — White House Press Secretary Oprah Huckabee-Winfrey said today that President Barack Obama had won an arbitration case against porn star Stormy Daniels, who is suing the president to release her from a gag order.

Her attorney said a gag order wasn’t really necessary. “She gagged throughout the entire affair.” Daniels plans to return $130,000 she was paid to keep her mouth shut — a first in the industry — because the agreement with the president, under the pseudonym, Golden Schauer, was never signed. In a tweet, Obama denigrated Daniels for giving “lousy arbitration.”

Meanwhile, outraged Christian evangelicals across the country, led by Franklin Graham, staged a 17-minute walkout from churches across the country out of respect for the 16 women who have accused Obama of varying degrees of sexual misconduct, and another minute for Daniels, to represent the typical duration of her trysts with the president. Graham, a well-known cracker, said, “We want someone in the White House who represents our family values. Pretty much any white guy would do.”

Meanwhile, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Obama’s business records to examine possible ties to Russia that might leave him vulnerable to blackmail. So far, Mueller has indicted 19 people, including four of Obama’s advisers.

Former national security advisor Michael Flynn and campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Former Obama campaign aide Rick Gates agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and false statements. The president’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was indicted on money laundering among other charges related to dealings in Ukraine. At the party convention, the campaign sought to soften an anti-Russian party platform, which called for arms shipments to Ukrainians to fight against pro-Russian separatist forces.

Obama staunchly rejects any connection to Russia and his campaign. “There is no collusion,” he said. “Fake news! And why aren’t we talking about Donald Trump’s e-mails?” He has not addressed his reluctance to enact tough sanctions against the guy sitting on his bed who weighs 400 pounds and is believed to have meddled in the 2016 elections.

Weeks ago, the partisan U.S. House Intelligence Committee closed its investigation without exhibiting any. They declared the president to be “a really good guy once you get to know him,” sparking outrage across the aisle.

Even members of the president’s own party were willing to speak up on the condition of anonymity. “Wasn’t there a time when Russia was the enemy and we were the party of fiscal responsibility?” asked a senator, speaking from the shadows in a parking garage. “We need to boldly stand up against this tyranny.”

Turnover in the White House has far exceed that of any previous administration, because, explained Huckabee-Winfrey, “The president is sick and tired of having to take advice from his advisers.”

Last week, the president fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by tweet, and then, because he was on a roll, he tweet-fired Parks and Recreation supervisor Amy Poehler.

Twenty six members of Obama’s administration have been fired, canned, let go, resigned, forced out or surreptitiously poisoned to death by Russian agents. In another tweet, the president called them all “loser sons of bitches.”

CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow has been hired as Obama’s top economic adviser to replace Gary Cohn, who, as a free trade advocate, opposed the president’s burgeoning trade war with every country except Russia. Because Kudlow is so consistently wrong in his predictions, it is believed the president’s strategy will be to listen to Kudlow and then do the exact opposite thing.

Despite the turmoil, Obama’s support among his base remains unshakable. “If you want to drain the swamp, you’ve got to break a few eggs,” said Odie McDonald, a North Dakota farmer, who remains solidly behind the president despite indications the president intends to slash farm subsidies for rugged individualists like himself who are staunchly against socialism.

McDonald said in spite of a looming trade war that could further decimate commodity prices and increase the cost of machinery, he would continue to vote the same way his daddy did. Like his father, McDonald drives a 1962 Buick and has a rotary dial phone.

Senior citizens who wanted a president who golfs less and supported Obama because “they wanted something different” also continue to pledge unwavering support to him despite rumblings about cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps and heating assistance programs, to pay for a tax cut that will add $1.5 trillion to the national debt.

“We all gotta die from something,” said Ina Notting, from Nottapottapissin, Mississippi. “It might as well be from lack of health care.”

“People should stop being such snowflakes,” she added, gasping for breath between words because of a persistent cough that is probably nothing. She plans to vote the same way she always has for as long as she lives.

© Tony Bender, 2018

TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — You’re Fired!

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired this week. Being fired in the Trump administration has become commonplace, but the means by which Tillerson was “let go” was new. Secretary Tillerson learned of his dismissal by reading a @realDonaldTrump Tweet. Seems a little distance for someone whose television catch phrase was “You’re Fired!”

I was fired only once, from a television job in Bismarck. The year was 1975. The time and place were a little odd. The news director had asked me to join him at a Mandan, N.D., coffee shop. It was about 10:30 on a Sunday night.

After more than two years on the air, I was told the owner of the station “didn’t like the way I looked.” That is a direct quote. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I didn’t particularly like the way I looked either, but what can you do?

Years later, a friend said, “You should have sued their asses. You could have owned the station.” I don’t know about that. But I don’t think that line, or that line or reasoning, would work today.

In light of the Tillerson tweet firing, I asked some Facebook friends if they’d ever been fired in any odd ways. Oh, yeah. A few examples follow.

As one story goes, once upon a time there was a television station manager in Fargo who fired reporters by taping dismissal notices to the windshields of their cars, which makes my TV firing kind of lame.

One Facebook friend was fired by memo.

After 10 years of employment, another friend writes he was seen on a date with another guy by a worker who immediately informed his foreman. He picks up the story. “The next night I was called to the office and told ‘your being fired for unethical, immoral, indecent and inappropriate behavior, and you, are violating my religious right by even existing.’ Then the man proceeded to out me to my welder co-workers, and my family, some who did not know.”

And yet, another. “I was fired from my waitress job at a piano bar. They took me off the schedule but no one told me. I went to work at my regular time and someone else was doing my job. Turns out I was fired for not sleeping with the bartender. I guess my replacement had lower standards.”

A large number of FB friends say they have never been fired. To which I would say only, sorry you missed out on so much of the “fun.”

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — Conflict Of Interest

Thomas Jefferson had many opportunities to speculate in western lands. Many of the Founding Fathers, including George Washington, were engaged in land speculation beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Jefferson quietly refused because he knew that at some point he might have to “legislate” for the public domain, and he did not want to be guilty of conflict of interest or even to give the appearance of possibly being guilty of conflict of interest.

An exaggerated image of Jefferson’s Mammoth Cheese.
An exaggerated image of Jefferson’s Mammoth Cheese.

Jefferson needed the money that such speculation might have brought to his always troubled finances, but he chose to stay aloof from such temptations.

When Elder John Leland of Massachusetts sent President Jefferson the world’s largest cheese in 1802 — 1,235 pounds, 4 feet wide, 15 inches thick — Jefferson immediately sent the pastor a check for $200.

Not the largest, but world’s dumbest cheese.
Not the largest, but world’s dumbest cheese.

Jefferson understood that the so-called “mammoth cheese” was an innocent and lovely gift, a kind of gimcrack or prodigy, and that Leland had no political agenda (unlike today’s American Dairy Association, for example), but he wanted to maintain his principle of not accepting gifts, however whimsical or harmless, because A, it would set a bad precedent, and B, accepting such gifts might constitute a slippery slope. Integrity and republican virtue were the very basis of Thomas Jefferson’s Idea of a republic.

These are just two examples of Jefferson’s lifelong habit of ethical high-mindedness as a government official. He understood what is at stake in a republican society.

So:

  • President Trump’s hotels, including the Trump International in the District of Columbia, are bustling with guests, banquets, receptions and barroom meetings. His Mar-a-Lago resort is bringing in record profits. These facilities are filled with foreign diplomats, princes and foreign government representatives who could just as easily stay at any one of the hundreds of hotels in Washington, D.C., or the scores of five-star resorts in Florida. This in spite of the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution: “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” — Article I, Section 9, Clause 8.
  • The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, we have learned, has conducted meetings in the White House with bankers and business groups from whom he has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars for his personal business holdings in New York City.
  • The president’s daughter, Ivanka, has a product line that was granted several trademarks in China on the same day that she sat in on a meeting between President Xi Jinping of China and her father at Mar-a-Lago. Hmmm.

This list could be much longer.

Even if these transactions could be interpreted as “perfectly innocent and/or coincidental,” the appearance of conflict of interest, of the president’s smug indifference to ethical norms and the laws of the United States, including clauses of the U.S. Constitution itself, puts PresidentTrump at the far other end of the spectrum from President Jefferson, and virtually every other president in American history.

The only thing worse than these improprieties and (perhaps) crimes is the steadfast refusal of the Congress of the United States to hold the president and his family accountable.

To those who wish to argue that President Trump’s bombastic and narcissistic style is a wise strategy to “shake up the dysfunctional world of Washington, D.C.,” I ask, what is the beneficial purpose of this brand of ethical negligence? How does the republic benefit from the Trump family’s determination to use their time in the White House to line their own pockets and increase the profits of their businesses?

RON SCHALOW: Cramer Can’t Worship Trump And God

Well, he has been, so I guess it’s possible, but it doesn’t seem proper to a hyena-fearing person like me. Maybe “shouldn’t” is a better word.

Kevin Cramer’s intoxicating “piousness cologne” doesn’t quite overwhelm the stench of the $#itholes that Donald Sr. dug here and there and has been filling with “Trump Tators™” for most of his life.

From the best-selling Decalogue, found in the Ark of the Covenant: “You shall have no other gods but Me.” Also: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything.”

Those are the FIRST two!

“I really see the vocation of politics like I see every vocation — whether it’s being a reporter or serving in public life or being a plumber — as an extension of ministry.” — Kevin Cramer

But that’s not how it works. Mixing religion with government, and whatever the depraved Trump is, sounds good to some people, but the citizens of North Dakota, and the country, come first. It’s not optional.

If Cramer wants to minister, he can build a fire and brimstone proof church and go to town.

And the word “hypocrite” is being stretched like Trump’s golf khakis. Golly. St. Cramer might be a fraud — and a willing participant in the unholy shenanigans of the unvirtuous Trump. Collusion! Collusion!

Donald Trump, America’s Silvio Berlusconi, is not a good man. He is not a mediocre man. His claim to religion is fake. It’s more likely that a cross-eyed badger, with a drinking problem, has read the Bible than has ol’ collagen lips.

He’s deceitful, mean-spirited, small, vane, racist and a misogynist, just to name few of his better qualities. 45 is of such low quality in so many ways that thesauruses have been scraped clean of fitting synonyms for doofus nimrod.

A number of normal humans and other bipeds have accused the odious Trump of species appropriation. They think the painted pansy might be of the superfamily Muroidea, which would explain the missing Cheddar from the White House rodent traps.

Do you think Trump ever killed or had anyone killed? Had to think about that for a second, didn’t you? I don’t know the answer. Is there anyone encased in the cement of a Trump building? It almost seems probable. We know he never killed anyone in war, though, since he avoided Vietnam like it was exercise or a blister.

“We have in the person of Donald Trump a very Lincolnesque president,” Congressman Kevin Cramer said, just Feb. 23, after a year corrupt presidential hijinks.

Hasn’t Cramer been reading the papers? Is he literate? Is he void of perception? Is he talking about Orville Lincoln from Maxbass? Or is he just a tool who votes 98.5 percent with the Trumpskunk?

Regarding the biggest of stuff, our jumbo lump of clean-coal president refuses to engage an old enemy waging a war against our country. Helloooo? Bungling Commander-in-Chief. Wake the eff up! There are foreigners messing with our stuff, and some fine brains, on both sides. High crime.

Remember Don’s pal, Vladimir Putin, who has accepted being hairless on top. Well, the Russians have been waging a cyber war against us, and Einstein didn’t want to believe it. Having a walk-in closet full of pasty-faced guys just chattering away in an Eastern Slavic tongue would make Trump look stupid(er), and he doesn’t like being teased. So, it’s Obama’s fault.

Hell, we usually blow up an extra country, just for good measure, when provoked. But Trump is more worried about covering his own prodigious ass than his country, so he tweets, as the fire rages.

Possibly, excessively painted clown face is getting shook down by Putin. Or duffle-bag-of-spuds butt could be cleaning money for some other crooks or getting money funneled to Trump University from Russia through the NRA. Or perhaps something serious.

This punchline of a president is juggling more scandals than he has hairs on his head. 45 might be looking at jail time, if Robert Mueller keeps digging and finds a few slight peculiarities in the books, like a missing skyscraper, not on the balance sheet. They don’t serve KFC and McDonald’s in the klink. It’s tough being a criminal when president. People watch, listen, film, write and tell everyone, the blabbermouths. The stable genius must not have thought of that.

Obama didn’t bug the Trump Tower, he’s not from Kenya, and there were way more people at president Obama’s Inauguration.

Donald Trump’s hijinks go back decades. Most of it was documented or recorded, since the dip couldn’t stand to stand, or sit down, without a cameraman in attendance. He has been breaking Commandments, and laws, at a clip that would make Charles Manson blush.

He’s adulted, stolen and coveted like crazy. Donnie doesn’t pay his bills, cons whoever he’s looking at and counts the alt-right as most of his base. The Tiki tykes warm one of his internal organs. Hookers, porn stars, assaultin, and looking quite oily.

Envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath. Which one doesn’t fit?

Then, 17 people are executed in Florida, and he rails against his own FBI and gives the big grin and thumbs up at the hospital.

Blah, blah, blah. Everybody knows this stuff. There are documentaries about the sleazeball, for crissakes. He’s left an endless trail of disgruntled workers and violated women.

Yet, most of state and federal lawmakers from North Dakota still support this pimple, and they’re never going to admit that lancing the orange cyst would be the healthy thing to do for the lot of us.

If 3M orders a new mop handle, some legislator will attribute the transaction to the tax scam. See? See? Oh, shut up. Most of the 1.5 trillion in borrowed dollars has probably ended up in warm climate hidey holes. Trump has earmarked his winnings for slippery lawyers.

In North Dakota, legislators are most excited by Trump’s racist xenophobic efforts to stymie the inflow of refugees, Muslims and legal immigrants. They’ll deny it, but one of the representatives offered legislation to determine what he called the “absorptive capacity” of refugees coming to Fargo. Uh, huh. We’re talking hundreds trying to escape dangerous places. We can spare a potato field.

When thousands descended on the west, to poke holes in the earth so the oil could be siphoned out, nobody asked about the absorptive capacity of Williston. Nor did they fret about price gouging, real North Dakotans being priced out of their homes or homeless job seekers sleeping in their pickups in minus 20 weather.

Free market, dude. Personal responsibility. Alabamians should have put on a few pounds, and added a layer of insulating blubber, before being lured north of the Mason-Dixon line. It will take five more minutes to freeze solid, if a Southerner can get up to Trump’s fighting weight of 239.

Now, we have the alt-right Cramer stepping up because he’s a patriot, doggonit, to run against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who did something the Cramer surrogates in the media were able to spin into maybe a high five after an anti-abortion vote. Then, she slam-dunked a basketball and made aggressive gestures towards the Republican bench. Pure evil. Rumor is, Heitkamp once knelt during the Beer Barrel Polka.

Heidi offends Cramer. Alt-right Trump doesn’t.

Everyone can see that the poor orange man cannot ride the bike. And he falls, falls and falls. And not necessarily accidentally. And lies, lies and lies. He obviously can’t help it, or doesn’t care.

Cramer claims to serve God. Donnie is the least moral man who ever bragged about assaulting women without suffering any repercussions. Kevin can’t credibly worship two Gods, when one of them would gut you like bluefin tuna for a Big Mac.

Yet, Cramer glommed onto the billionaire early in the process, when a child could plainly see that the man was crooked and shouldn’t be left alone to watch your plants or trusted with a guy’s wife. It was obvious.

“Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are,” said someone. Trust me.

Kevin hangs around with a bad hombre, and another billionaire, Continental Oil CEO Harold Hamm, who volunteered to handle the finances for Cramer’s faceoff with Heidi. He’s no angel, either. Our boy will be a senator, or a board member of a huge oil company. His patriotic flip-flop is a lie. Cramer is a blatant opportunist, but Trump won’t remember his name — he may not, now — should he lose. He’ll just be another Eric.

Cramer is also a first-out-of the-gate Trump apologist and pantsuit critic. When he felt the networks were being too tough on his guy, Kevin sent questionnaires to the broadcasters, to put them on notice, I guess. Reporting accurately about old obese Don is going to be harsh because he’s incompetent — and proud of it. You just have to face it.

Cramer hoots during State of the Union speeches, tries to sanitize stupid Nazi remarks by the administration and lies about whatever is on the menu for the day. Kevin has denigrated the FBI, which has been successfully ferreting out Russians and their pawns. Why? Simply to protect the president.

National security versus Trump. Cramer chooses Trump.

A guy could go on forever about Trump, so a summary is futile. He has dug a copious number of $#itholes over the decades and sunned his belly in scores of swamps. It is all on Google. But Kevin looked down into the seven circles of greasy putrid Trumpiness and did a belly flop fully pantsuited, pulled himself onto the back of a croc and smirked. Infowars was on the big screen.

Now, I understand that some people say he is a nice person as a friend. And Cramer may do good things in the neighborhood and have a tremendous family. Someone else can write about that.

Politician Kevin can be mean, nasty and deceitful. He will lie. He has to me. Cramer has put big oil and the NRA over public safety. Everybody knows it. He isn’t as smart, or as hard working, as Heidi Heitkamp, if it mattered in this state. Our smarmy congressman does as he’s told. It’s a good pastime, if you can get it.

“In three years (maybe seven), Donald Trump will no longer be president,” Richard Brookhiser, a conservative scholar, wrote in National Review a few days before the (CPAC) conference began. “But conservatives who bent the knee will still be writing and thinking. How will it be possible to take them seriously? The short answer is, it won’t.”

And Congressman Cramer is no Trump. No one comes close. But he has his own kook going on.

“But by the way, did you notice how poorly several of them were dressed as well?” he asked. “It is a syndrome. There is no question, there is a disease associated with the notion that a bunch of women would wear bad-looking white pantsuits in solidarity with Hillary Clinton to celebrate her loss. You cannot get that weird.” — Kevin Cramer (Silly and inaccurate).

“(Trump is) a president who values communicating directly with people,” Cramer continued. “It confounds many people in ‘the swamp,’ particularly the elite media, who just don’t understand why he doesn’t filter his message through them.” — Kevin Cramer (Prime $#ithole bull$#it)

President Trump, Cramer added, is a political and communications genius. (Sixty-five percent disagree.)

“Forty years ago, the United States Supreme Court sanctioned abortion on demand. And we wonder why our culture sees school shootings so often.” —Kevin Cramer (Oh, my)

“As a non-Native man, I do not feel secure stepping onto the reservation now.” — Kevin Cramer (He’s not popular with the Natives, but the statement is pure prime $#ithole bull$#it.)

Asked if he was scared by Trump’s recent comment that ozone-depleting compounds don’t hurt the environment, Cramer responded, “No, it doesn’t scare me, because frankly, it gets back to his blunt talk. He speaks so plainly, and yes, it may not seem sophisticated, it may not seem hyper-intellectual, but it’s plain enough for everybody to understand. The problem, of course, is that plain enough for everybody to understand should not be a synonym for patently false. — Kevin Cramer (Speaking plainly is not the same thing as lying.)

“These mandates and these wind farms are all based on this fraudulent science from the EPA, meaning their claim that CO2 is a pollutant and is causing global warming.” — Kevin Cramer (Big lie.)

“Yes!” the third-term lawmaker shouted from the House floor when Trump noted his administration had cleared the way for construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. “That was me, yes it was,” Cramer, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and a backer of both pipelines that will carry oil through his state, told E&E News after the speech. He called Trump’s speech the best before Congress since President Reagan’s addresses three decades ago. (He’s stable, though. Really.)

“I Love the NRA” — Kevin Cramer

“They should be greatly relieved,” Congressman Kevin Cramer told me of Democrats reacting to his decision not to run for the U.S. Senate. (Boastful, like his bud.)

“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” — Kevin Cramer (Empathy-free.)

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — The Revolt Has Begun

When the current president of the United States calls someone a coward, he speaks as an expert on the subject.

A coward is defined in a number of ways, each fitting him to a T.

The dictionary says it’s a person who lacks the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things; one who is excessively afraid of danger or pain; and, as in the case of an animal, afraid and depicted with its tail between the legs.

The president — who claims to know more than all the generals and who claims his military high school class was equivalent to serving in the military, the man with the biggest mouth and emptiest head that has ever occupied the Oval Office — calls officers who responded to the Florida shooting cowards!

Apparently, if he had a pistol and no bulletproof vest, he’d still have charged into the school and shot the mentally ill young shooter himself. He claims anyone would have done that — charged a gunman armed with a semiautomatic high-powered rifle. It didn’t occur to him that protocol might have suggested a delay until the armed and trained SWAT team arrived. Nope, he’d have run right in … and he’d have been shot on the spot.

But never mind. He didn’t have to make the choice himself. No one can get in the head of those lightly armed officers who waited the two or three minutes for backup, but nope, it is easy for him to shout “coward!” from his bunker in the White House.

Maybe, just maybe, he and the NRA might want to review the reports of the physicians who treated the 14 teenagers and three teachers wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Perhaps he should consult those who observed the wounds of the mortally wounded to see just what type of damage the AR-15 caused. They said the victims’ bodies were damaged in ways that can only be described as war injuries. I read that, and I was stunned.

The president and his NRA and Russian supporters want little to no change in the gun laws. That’s notwithstanding the fact that he is always safe behind his Secret Service protectors, and the NRA does not allow weapons of any type at its own conventions.

His suggestion that teachers be armed shows his total disconnect from reality. Moorhead Chief of Police David Ebinger got it right in a newspaper interview last week: Arming the teachers is not a good idea.

Since the president knows little to nothing about what teachers actually do, I can enlighten him (since I know he reads my column). Teachers educate our children. Teachers have to purchase supplies out of their own pockets for the kids because of funding cutbacks. Teachers have the toughest job in the world without the pay such a vital job requires. Teachers do what they do because they love their work and they love their students. But 45 is too out of touch to understand that.

Mr. President, have you ever so much as set foot in a public school?

With his thoughtless comments, the president has accomplished one thing I find very positive. He has caused our young people to issue a call to arms, so to speak, not seen since the protests of the 1960s. He has created an atmosphere in which the youth of America have joined the women’s movement to demand action and accountability.

If the politicians ignore this combined movement, they will be looking for new jobs after the next election. The figures that name the names of the politicians the NRA has bought and paid for have been published again and again. If you want to see the whole list, Google it.

The late Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger called the National Rifle Association leadership “pernicious liars.” He, too, was an avid hunter and owner of guns; but he was outraged at the NRA’s lies and misrepresentations about the Second Amendment.

What Justice Burger said in the past is certainly still true today. Now, as always, the NRA is pushing back against even the most sensible gun regulations. Thankfully, by doing so the extremist group is losing corporate sponsors. Just as it has purchased politicians, it understands that when its own revenue is cut, its leaders will have hell to pay.

For its weak-kneed response so far in response to what’s happening in this country, I say to the politicians: Suck it up … or go find another job. And to the NRA: Go to hell.

Here’s what I suggest in the meantime, while these important political discussions take place: Install metal detectors in all schools. Mark some doors “exit only,” with alarms that sound if someone tries to prop them open, and leave it to local law enforcement and the school administrations to decide the protocols if alarms go off.

Let teachers teach! Amen.

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — Big Military Parades

President Trump wants a big military parade, the kind one saw in Stalin’s Soviet Union, the kind one sees today in North Korea.

It might be useful to compare that notion with the republican dignity of the third president, Thomas Jefferson.

President Jefferson in his White House Office with Meriwether Lewis.
President Jefferson in his White House Office with Meriwether Lewis.

Jefferson broke with the habit of his two predecessors and sent his annual messages by courier to Congress. He believed that appearing in person before Congress smacked of monarchy, European court culture and a false aggrandizement of what an American president should represent in a free society.

He walked to the Capitol in Washington to deliver his first inaugural address March 4, 1801. He wore plain gentlemen’s clothes, eschewed all pompous ceremonial rituals and delivered his address so nearly inaudibly and with such meekness that those who gathered to hear his vision of America had to go out on the street afterward to buy printed copies of the speech. When he finished his address, Jefferson walked back to the boarding house where he was staying and took his seat at the foot of the table, farthest from the fire, in his accustomed way.

Jefferson met White House visitors in plain, sometimes slightly shabby, clothes.  In fact, he caused an international incident when he greeted British Minister Anthony Merry in his house slippers, his linen “none too clean,” wearing an ill-fitting great coat.

Jefferson rode his horse freely and without a military escort around the District of Columbia, often stopping at greengrocers to inspect their fresh vegetables. He corresponded with average Americans in a frank and thoughtful manner. He called the presidency “splendid misery” and on the eve of his voluntary retirement after two terms, he wrote, “Never did a prisoner released from his chains feel such relief as I shall on shaking off the shackles of power.”

Jefferson understood political theater, but rather than use his office to puff himself up or compensate for a lack of understanding of the constitutional process, he carefully shaped his public life to remind himself and those around him that while he was perhaps the first citizen of the country (for a limited time), he was not king, dictator or high priest. To his Postmaster General Gideon Granger, Jefferson wrote, “our general government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very unexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants.”

That’s what it means to live in a republic.

Jefferson knew how much discipline it takes to maintain a free society. He knew that “the tendency of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” He understood that the genius of America is undermined whenever our leaders forget that sovereignty resides in the people, not in their own persons or their short tenures as stewards of the people’s will.