Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Six)

41. Despite publicly predicting a future victory in Afghanistan, the Trump Administration’s private position is that it’s a lost cause.

From Chapter 31:

A “60-page strategy memo” was put together by the Defense Department in mid-August 2017.

“Buried in the 19-page section on integrated strategy was an admission:  ‘Stalemate likely to persist in Afghanistan’ and ‘Taliban likely to continue to gain ground.’

In the tradition of concealing the real story in a memo, ‘Win is unattainable’ was the conclusion signed by [National Security Advisor H.R.] McMaster.”

Then-CIA-chief Mike Pompeo:

“Are you going to take responsibility for Afghanistan?  Because we’re not going to win.  You understand we’re not going to win!”

From Chapter 27:

“‘Mr. President,’ [General] Dunford [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman] said, very polite, very soft-spoken, ‘there’s not a mandate to win…’ Under Obama, who had pulled out most of the troops–down to 8,400, from a high of 100,000—the strategy was effectively to achieve a stalemate.”

42. The Secretary of State let slip the reality of Afghanistan during a press briefing.

From Chapter 31:

“…Tillerson found another way to declare that a win was not attainable.  He addressed the Taliban at a press briefing:  ‘You will not win a battlefield victory.  We may not win one, but neither will you.’

Stalemate.”

43. Trump didn’t believe the American car industry was doing well or that the US government won most of its trade disputes with the WTO even though Gary Cohn had data evidence.

From Chapter 33:

“Cohn assembled the best statistics that could be compiled.  Trump would not read, so Cohn brought charts to the Oval Office.  The numbers showed that the American auto industry was fine.  One big chart showed Detroit’s Big Three were producing 3.6 million fewer cars and light trucks since 1994, but the rest of the U.S., mostly in the Southeast, was up the same 3.6 millon.

The entire BMW 3 series in the world were made in South Carolina, Cohn said.  The Mercedes SUVs were all made in the United States.  The millions of auto jobs lost in Detroit had moved to South Carolina and North Carolina because of right-to-work laws.”

[snip]

“Cohn had put another document, ‘U.S. Record in WTO Disputes,’ in the daily book that [Staff Secretary Rob] Porter compiled for the president at night.”

Trump “rarely if ever cracked it open.”  He claimed, “The World Trade Organization is the worst organization every created!…We lose more cases than anything.”

According to the aforementioned daily book, “The document showed that the United States won 85.7 percent of its WTO cases, more than average.”

Trump’s response:  “This is bullshit…This is wrong.”

Cohen’s rebuttal:  “This is the factual data.  There’s no one that’s going to disagree with this data.  Data is data.”

44. Lindsey Graham wanted China to assassinate Kim Jong Un.

From Chapter 34:

“Graham made a dramatic proposal to [Chief of Staff John] Kelly and McMaster. ‘China needs to kill him and replace him with a North Korean general they control,’…China had at least enough control so the North would not attack.  ‘I think the Chinese are clearly the key here and they need to take him out.  Not us, them.  And control the nuclear inventory there.  And wind this thing down.  Or control him.”

45. Chief of Staff John Kelly threatened to quit on at least two occasions.

The first involved an argument with ICE union leader Chris Crane.   According to Woodward, they “had an intense dislike for each other” because Kelly “blocked ICE agents from a hard-line crackdown on some immigration violations.”

Trump was livid that Kelly, who developed a controversial internal reputation for keeping certain officials away from the President, would not let Crane visit him in the Oval Office.  Trump watched Crane complain about this on Fox News.

That led to a confrontation after Trump invited Crane over “without informing Kelly.”

“Kelly heard Crane was in the Oval Office and strode in.  Soon Crane and Kelly were cursing each other.

‘I can’t believe you’d let some fucking guy like this into the Oval Office,’ Kelly told Trump.  If this was the way it was going to work, he said, ‘then I quit!’  And he stormed out.

Trump later told others that he thought Kelly and Crane were going to get into a fistfight.”

When Kelly “urged the president to select Kirstjen Nielsen” to be the next Homeland Security Secretary, Trump complained, “She’s a Bushie.  Everybody hates her.”  As Kelly’s defense of her went nowhere, Trump threatened to cancel her nomination.  (She was eventually confirmed.)

“Kelly threw up his hands.  ‘Maybe I’m just going to have to resign.’  And he stormed out.”

The hotheaded Kelly remains Chief of Staff as of this writing.

46. Trump proposed a more honest name for his awful tax bill.

According to Woodward, he wanted to “[c]all it the ‘Cut, Cut, Cut Bill’.”  Congressional Republicans went with “The Tax Cut And Jobs Act”.  But curiously, in the end, “it was finalized as ‘An Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018.'”

Yeah, that’s much better.

47. Bannon understood Trump’s enormous vulnerability as a philandering, rapey misogynist.

From Chapter 36:

“The #TimesUp And #MeToo movements of women and feminists would create an alternative to end the male-dominated patriarchy, Bannon believed.

‘Trump is the perfect foil…He’s the bad father, the terrible first husband, the boyfriend that fucked you over and wasted all those years, and [you] gave up your youth for, and then dumped you.  And the terrible boss that grabbed you by the pussy all the time and demeaned you.”

48. Afghanistan may reach the point of no return sometime early next year.

From Chapter 38:

“The DNI intelligence expert briefed Trump on Afghanistan in early 2018:  No gains by the U.S. in territory.  Nothing clawed back.  No improvement from last year; actually, some areas were getting worse.”

[snip]

“The coalition probably only had until the spring of 2019 to keep the status quo [a stalemate with The Taliban].  The political fabric seemed to be coming apart.  A perfect storm was coming, and a practical problem like weather might be the tipping point…A drought was coming, and with it a crisis of food insecurity…Some two million [Afghani refugees] had lived in Pakistan in decades [after their families fled during the 1979 Soviet invasion], never in their native Afghanistan, but they would be coming.”

49. Despite his constant, incessant ass-kissing, Trump’s new golf buddy Lindsey Graham wasn’t loyal enough in the eyes of the President.

At the end of 2017, the shameless South Carolina Senator played a round of golf with Trump at his International Golf Club in Florida.

After calling Trump’s course “spectacular” and telling Trump, “You’re a very good commander in chief,” Graham continued to brown nose:

“You’re cleaning up the mess that Obama left you.  You’re doing a damn good job of cleaning it up.  You’re rebuilding the military.  You’re taking a wet blanket off the economy.  You’re really unshackling the military and the economy.  God bless you for undoing the damage done in the last eight years.”

But Trump wanted more loyalty:

“You’re a middle-of-the-road guy.  I want you to be 100 percent for Trump.”

“‘Okay, what’s the issue?’ Graham asked, ‘and I’ll tell you whether I’m 100 percent for you or not.'”

“You’re like 82 percent…”

“Well, some days I’m 100 percent.  Some days I may be zero.”

That wasn’t good enough:

“I want you to be a 100 percent guy.”

50. John Dowd quit representing Trump because he knows he’ll be a terrible witness for Mueller.  Once he resigned, Trump informed the press.

After realizing during a test run, a preview of a potential Q&A with Robert Mueller, that Trump would be an awful advocate for himself in the Russia investigation (he blew up, continually insisting he was innocent and the victim of a “hoax”), attorney John Dowd pleaded with his client to remain silent:

“Mr. President, that’s why you can’t testify…When you’re a fact witness, you try to provide facts.  If you don’t know the facts, I’d just prefer you to say, Bob [Mueller], I just don’t remember.  I got too much going on here.  Instead of sort of guessing and making all kinds of wild conclusions.”

In the final chapter of Fear: Trump In The White House, Dowd reached his breaking point:

“I’m not happy, Mr. President.  This is a goddamn heartbreak…I’ve failed as your lawyer.  I’ve been unable to persuade you to take my advice…I wish I could persuade you…Don’t testify.  It’s either that or an orange jump suit.  If it’s decision time, you’re going to go forward, I can’t be with you.”

As soon as Dowd resigned in a morning phone call, the attorney presumed Trump immediately called the press.  Because “[t]wo minutes later”, he got calls from the Washington Post and The New York Times asking for comment.

As Woodward notes, “Trump always liked to be the first to deliver the news.”

51. Another Trump attorney Ty Cobb could be called as a witness, if he hasn’t already.

Dowd deeply regretted pushing Trump to hire the mustachioed attorney who went out on TV insisting that the President “was not afraid to testify.”

“‘He should have declined.  He’s a government employee.  And by the way, they can call him as a witness.  He has no [attorney/client] privilege with you.’

‘Jesus,’ Trump said, sounding worried.  ‘I’ve talked a lot with him.”

52. Dowd doesn’t think Trump will be impeached.

From Chapter 42:

“They’re not going to impeach you.  Are you shitting me?  They’re a bunch of cowards, the whole town. The media, the Congress.  They’re gutless.  What’s the impeachment going to be, for exercising Article II [of the US Constitution]?  Huh?  Hello?  Hello, I want to hear Speaker Ryan take that one up before the Rules Committee and the Judiciary Committee…We ought to tell them to go fuck themselves.

According to Woodward, “Dowd remained convinced that Mueller never had a Russian case or an obstruction case.  He was looking for the perjury trap.”  Which is why Dowd was insistent that Trump not submit to questioning.

53. The newest member of the Supreme Court recommended another abusive misogynist to work in the White House.

In the footnotes for Chapter 17, Woodward reveals that one of the many people who recommended Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who eventually resigned after revelations that he abused women he was romantically involved with, was none other than Brett Kavanaugh, who has faced his own accusations of harassment and assault.

54. A letter sent to Robert Mueller claimed Trump could fire him.  It also claimed he could free his criminalized staffers nabbed by the investigation.

Shortly before he quit, Trump attorney John Dowd convinced Special Counsel Robert Mueller to send him a list of topics he was pursuing to give The President’s legal team a head’s up.  If Trump had to answer any questions at all, Dowd preferred it be done on paper, not in person.

“The subject read ‘Request for Testimony on Alleged Obstruction of Justice.’

A raw assertion of presidential power was printed in boldface:  ‘He could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.'”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
8:37 p.m.

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Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Five)

25. Steve Bannon got into a screaming match with Ivanka Trump about her role in the White House.

From Chapter 18:

“During a meeting in Priebus’s corner office Bannon and Ivanka got into an altercation.”

“‘You’re a goddamn staffer!’ Bannon finally screamed at Ivanka.  ‘You’re nothing but a fucking staffer!’…’You walk around this place and act like you’re in charge, and you’re not.  You’re on staff!’

‘I’m not a staffer!’ she shouted. ‘I’ll never be a staffer.  I’m the first daughter’–she really used the title–‘and I’m never going to be a staffer!'”

26. Bannon and Jared Kushner both believed they leaked negative stories about each other to the press.

Meanwhile, the exasperated white supremacist accused Ivanka’s husband of telling the UK paper the Daily Mail, anonymously of course, “about Trump blowing up at him and Priebus and blocking them from traveling on Air Force One to Florida.  It wasn’t true they had been kicked off the trip.  Both declined to travel that day.  ‘You fucking set me up,’…You trashed Reince in this story.  And I know you did it.’

Kushner vehemently denied it, and seemed offended at the accusation.”

In turn, Ivanka’s husband accused Bannon of being the source for a 2016 New York Times story about Kushner’s “December 2016 meeting with the Russian ambassador, adding fuel to the allegations that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia.”

Curiously, Woodward doesn’t mention a denial on Bannon’s part.

27. Maybe it was Trump’s Commerce Secretary who wrote that anonymous “I’m Part Of The Resistance” NYT op-ed.

From Chapter 19:

“Several days later Wilbur Ross laid out the reasoning on the importance of trade deficits.  Echoing the president, Ross said trade deficits are the lodestar and were a mark of our economic instability and weakness.”

28. Trump showed his appreciation for Ross, who saved his ass nearly 30 years ago, by tearing into him over a new trade deal with China.

“In the spring of 2017, Ross negotiated a deal with China for the U.S. to import Chinese chicken and export beef.  He called it ‘a herculean accomplishment.’  But there was some criticism of the deal.”

“In a meeting at the White House, the president tore into Ross. ‘I can’t believe you made this deal.  Why didn’t you tell anybody?  You didn’t tell me about this.  You just went off and did it on your own.  And it’s a terrible deal.  We got screwed.  Wilbur, maybe you used to have it.’  As an investment banker representing casino bondholders angry at Trump in 1990, Ross had struck a deal with Trump that acknowledged the value of his famous name and allowed him to avoid bankruptcy.”

“‘I thought you were a killer…When you were on Wall Street, you made some of these deals.  But you’re past your prime.  You’re not a good negotiator anymore.  I don’t know what it is, but you’ve lost it.  I don’t trust you.  I don’t want you doing any more negotiations.'”

29. Steve Bannon warned Trump that firing Comey was a mistake and would not end the Russia investigation.

According to Woodward at the start of Chapter 20, Trump wanted then-FBI Director James Comey fired “at the beginning of” his first term.  As he planned to finally terminate him in May 2017, his soon-to-exit advisor Steve Bannon issued this prescient warning about such a move.

“The moment you fire him he’s J. fucking Edgar Hoover.  The day you fire him, he’s the greatest martyr in American history.  A weapon to come and get you.  They’re going to name a special fucking counsel.  You can fire Comey.  You can’t fire the FBI.  The minute you fire him, the FBI as an institution, they have to destroy you and they will destroy you.”

Despite being told that “a special counsel” has “sweeping powers…to investigate everything a president touched,” Trump had already made up his mind:

“Don’t try to talk me out of it…because I’ve made my decision, so don’t even try.”

30. Rod Rosenstein wasn’t a Comey fan, either.

“Rosenstein told Trump that he thought Comey should be fired.  He had no problem writing a memo outlining his reasoning.”  It was a 3-page document entitled “RESTORING PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE FBI.”

Rosenstein opposed the way Comey handled the Hillary Clinton private server investigation.  In the memo, “He quoted five former attorneys general or deputy attorneys general agreeing that Comey had violated the rules,” announcing his own conclusions about the case “pre-empting the decision of the prosecutor”.

Trump now had the cover to do what he had already planned to do anyway before Rosenstein even walked into the Oval Office.

31. Bannon thought Trump fired Comey because he was concerned about his son-in-law.

“Bannon believed, ‘100 percent,’ that the reason for firing Comey was because the FBI was seeking financial records from Jared.  It was pure speculation.  Ivanka had complained to her father about the FBI.”

32. Trump lawyer John Dowd had previously investigated Pete Rose and defended John McCain.

“In the 1980s, he was special counsel to the commissioner of baseball.  He ran several investigations, the most prominent leading to the banning of Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds for betting on baseball games.  After that, as a defense attorney, Dowd represented Wall Street and political figures, including Senator John McCain in the Keating Five ethics investigation.”

33. Trump told an unnamed friend his personal philosophy on responding to accusations of philandering, harassment and assault.

From Chapter 21:

“Trump gave some private advice to a friend who had acknowledged some bad behaviour toward women.  Real power is fear.  It’s all about strength.  Never show weakness.  You’ve always got to be strong.  Don’t be bullied.  There is no choice.

‘You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women…If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead.  That was a big mistake you made.  You didn’t come out guns blazing and just challenge them.  You showed weakness.  You’ve got to be strong.  You’ve got to be aggressive.  You’ve got to push back hard.  You’re got to deny anything that’s said about you.  Never admit.”

34. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner played a major role in Steve Bannon’s departure.

From Chapter 23:

“Ivanka and Jared gave a newspaper story to the president with highlighted quotes from an unnamed White House source.  You know who this is?  This is Steve Bannon, they said.  In a West Wing filled with leakers, these tactics slowly but surely planted a distrust of Bannon with the president.”

35. Trump attorney John Dowd pretty much gave Special Counsel Robert Mueller anything he wanted with no objection from the President:

From Chapter 24:

“Mueller received 1.4 million pages of documents from the Trump campaign and 20,000 pages from the White House.  Dowd believed no documents had been destroyed.  In all, 37 witnesses gave interviews to Mueller’s team voluntarily.”

There was also a “six-page White House summary of the entire Flynn matter from contemporaneous recollections.  Dowd considered it the Bible on Flynn…”

36. The 2017 federal budget would not pass unless Trump instituted anti-trans military policies.

“In July, the Freedom Caucus, a bloc of 30 strong conservatives in the House, threatened not to vote for the budget unless President Trump instituted some prohibition on paying for gender reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments for transgender people serving in the military.”

37. Trump made a private transphobic remark.

“During the campaign, Trump had proclaimed himself a supporter of LGBT rights.  Now he told Bannon, ‘What the fuck?  They’re coming in here, they’re getting clipped’–a crude reference to gender reassignment surgery.”

38. Trump studied his own tweets to determine which ones were the most popular.

From Chapter 25:

“He ordered printouts of his recent tweets that had received a high number of likes, 200,000 or more.  He studied them to find the common themes in the most successful.  He seemed to want to become more strategic, find out whether success was tied to the subject, the language or simply the surprise that the president was weighing in.  The most effective tweets were often the most shocking.”

39. Trump is a deep thinker.

“Coming back from the [2017] G20 summit, Trump was editing an upcoming speech with Porter.  Scribbling his thoughts in neat, clean penmanship, the president wrote, “TRADE IS BAD.”

40. Why economic advisor Gary Cohn initially tried to quit before being convinced to stay on until a terrible tax bill was passed.

From Chapter 30:

“On Friday, August 18, [2017,] Gary Cohn flew by helicopter from East Hampton, Long Island, to Morristown, New Jersey, where it was raining heavily.  He had to wait on the tarmac to get clearance to Bedminster.  He was carrying a resignation letter.  This was too much.  Someone had put a swastika on his daughter’s college dorm room.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
8:01 p.m.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Four)

20. Barack Obama seriously contemplated bombing North Korea’s nukes and missiles.

Near the end of his Presidency, Barack Obama wondered whether a “surgical strike” against North Korea’s nuclear capabilities would be successful.  (There were no legal considerations, apparently.)  In September 2016, the Kim Jong Un regime resumed underground testing of its nuclear weapons.  Endlessly worried about the resumption of the still active Korean War (and with good reason), the North Korean leader wasn’t taking any chances even if his threats of striking America (if they attack his country first) with long range supposedly nuke-tipped ICBMs is highly unlikely.  (They would definitely reach the South and Japan, if they struck first, however.)

Obama was hoping to make his successor’s life a lot easier by finally dealing with this issue.

“From the outset President Obama had authorized several Special Access Programs (SAP), the most classified and compartmented operations conducted by the military and intelligence, to deter North Korean missiles.  One program pinpointed cyber attacks on the command, control, telemetry, and guidance systems before or during a North Korean missile test launch.  These high-risk cyber attacks had begun in his first year as president.  Their success rate was mixed.

Another highly secret operation focused on obtaining North Korean missiles.  And a third enabled the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds.  Officials have asked that I not describe the details in order to protect national security operations deemed vital to the United States.”

Obama asked his National Security Council if bombing North Korea’s nukes and missiles was doable.  In short, no.  It wasn’t clear if their ICBM’s were even nuclear.  (“Current intelligence assessments could not answer definitively.”)

“The intelligence assessment also showed that a U.S. attack could not wipe out everything the North had.  There would be lost targets because they did not know about them, and partial destruction of other targets.”  What about the deleterious effect on North Korean civilians?  That curiously goes unmentioned.

There were numerous other problems with the unwarranted attack.  But this was the biggest one:

“A single North Korean nuclear weapon detonated in response could mean tens of thousands of casualties in South Korea.”

The Pentagon noted the obvious.  There would have to be “a ground invasion” on top of the bombing which of course would justify North Korea retaliating “likely with a nuclear weapon”.

“Frustrated and exasperated, he rejected a preemptive strike.  It was folly.”

Too bad Obama didn’t feel the same way about drones.

21. James Clapper warned Obama that North Korea would not go for denuclearization and they want a peace treaty with South Korea.

The then-Director of National Intelligence made a trip to North Korea in late 2014 “to retrieve two U.S. citizens who had been taken prisoner.  From his discussions with North Korean officials he was convinced that North Korea would not give up their nuclear weapons.  Why would they?  In exchange for what?  North Korea had effectively bought a deterrent.  It was real and powerful in its ambiguity.”

Clapper “argued to Obama and the NSC that for the United States to say that denuclearization was a condition for negotiations was not working, and would not work.”

“Also, Clapper said, he understood the North Korean desire for a peace treaty to end the Korean War, which had been formally resolved with an armistice in 1953–a truce between the commanders of the militaries involved, not the nations at war.

The United States needed to understand how North Korea looked at the situation:  The U.S. and South Korea seemed permanently poised, dramatically at times, to attack and to do away with the Kim regime.”

Clapper noted that the North Koreans told him that America “has no permanent enemies” which gave him hope that it would be possible “to set up an interest section in Pyongyang” in order to establish “an informal” diplomatic “channel in which another government with an embassy in the North Korean capital would act as intermediary.”  There “would be less than full diplomatic relations, but it would give the U.S. a base, a place…they could obtain information and also get information into North Korea.”

Clapper’s view was a lonely one on the National Security Council:

“No one agreed.  Obama was hard-line:  North Korea would have to agree to give up its nuclear weapons,” a policy that has been stubbornly maintained by the Trump Administration.

22. Obama also thought about increasing cyber attacks against North Korea.

“Some” in the Obama Administration “viewed cyber [attacks] as the below-the-radar magic wand that might mitigate the North Korean threat.”

But there were two major problems, besides the clearly illegal and unwarranted plan of attack itself.

One:

“To launch broader cyber attacks effectively, the [NSA] would have to go through servers that North Korea had in China.  The Chinese would detect such an attack and could conclude it was directed at them, potentially unleashing a cataclysmic cyber war.”

Two:

“The use of cyber could trigger escalation and set off a round of attacks and counterattacks that could cripple the Internet, financial systems like banking and credit cards, power grids, news and other communications systems, potentially bringing the American or even the world economy to its knees.”

The foolish plan was thankfully abandoned.

23. Lindsey Graham urged Trump to bomb North Korea even if it meant killing a whole lot of South Korean civilians.  He also mended fences with John McCain during a private dinner.

Despite being humiliated by Trump during the 2016 primaries, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was urged by then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to forge a relationship with the new President.  (“You’re a lot of fun.  He needs fun people around him.”)

They ultimately bonded over North Korea, one of Graham’s pet issues.  At the same time, Trump was trying to make peace with another infamous warmonger John McCain who he derided for being captured in Vietnam (instead of committing war crimes by bombing civilians before that happened).

He invited McCain and his wife Cindy to a private dinner at The White House where he offered a “teared up” Cindy a job being “my ambassador at large for human trafficking”.

Trump than proceeded to kiss up to John who was “visibly touched” by the offer to his wife:

“I just want to get to know you…I admire you.  You’re a very tough man.  You’re a good man.”

“McCain again seemed touched…’We want to help you.'”

That led to a discussion with Graham about North Korea.  When Trump asked McCain’s opinion on what to do, he replied:

“Very complicated…They can kill a million people in Seoul [South Korea] with conventional artillery.  That’s what makes it so hard.”

To which Graham responded:

“If a million people are going to die, they’re going to die over there, not here.”

Even Trump was taken aback:

“That’s pretty cold.”

24. America is deliberating fighting a stalemate in Afghanistan to avoid conceding the rest of the country back to The Taliban.

Throughout Fear: Trump In The White House, the Republican President expresses outrage over the disastrous Afghanistan invasion.  (“We’ve got to figure out how to get the fuck out of there.”)  Launched a month after 9/11 with significant public support, the unpopular occupation has since faded into the background.  Almost 20 years old now, it is America’s longest ever war with no end in sight.

In Chapter 15, Woodward lays out the big problems with the current strategy.  The Taliban remain resilient and continue to rule over “significant” parts of the country.  The thoroughly corrupt puppet regime has no legitimacy.  The opium trade and illegal mining make up much of the otherwise struggling economy.  Having a permanent US military presence won’t solve anything.  There are numerous tribes at war with each other.

“A larger question loomed:  Should the United States be playing to win in Afghanistan, or merely not to lose?”

Despite protests from the soon to be departing Steve Bannon, Trump reluctantly agreed with a request to add more troops (just a few thousand) even though everybody in the government, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sees the occupation as a failure that needs to draw to a close.

Everybody except the perennially war hungry Lindsey Graham who tried to scaremonger Trump into keeping the ongoing quagmire going:

“Do you want on your resume that you allowed Afghanistan to go back into the darkness and the second 9/11 came from the very same place the first 9/11 did?”  15 of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi Arabian but I digress.

When Trump asked Graham, “Well…how does it end?”

“‘It never ends,’ Graham said. ‘It’s good versus evil.  Good versus evil never ends.  It’s just like the Nazis.  It’s now radical Islam.  It will be something else one day.'”

When Pence urged Graham to tell Trump “how this ends,” Graham would not budge.

“It would never end, Graham repeated.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
3:23 a.m.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 3:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Three)

12. Trump thought preparing for a transition would jinx him.

“Money questions ignited Trump.  When he learned that [Chris] Christie, who would be the head of his transition team, was raising money for the operation, he summoned him and Bannon to Trump Tower.”

A paranoid Trump believed he was being robbed.  (“I’m putting money in my campaign, and you’re fucking stealing from me.”)  Christie tried to reassure him that he wasn’t a thief, he was preparing “for the required transition organization in case Trump won,” even though the then-New Jersey Governor thought he had already blown the election.

“Trump said that Mitt Romney had spent too much time on transition meetings as the nominee in 2012, and not enough time on campaign events.  ‘That’s why he lost.  You’re jinxing me,’ he told Christie.  ‘I don’t want a transition.  I’m shutting down the transition…You’re jinxing me.  I’m not going to spend a second on it.”

When Bannon tried to back up Christie who he otherwise despised, Trump was inflexible:

“It’s jinxing me…I can’t have one.”

A compromise would eventually be reached.

“Trump agreed, finally and reluctantly, to a slimmed-down, skeletal version of the transition.  Christie would cease fundraising.

‘He can have his transition,’ Trump said, ‘but I don’t want anything to do with it.'”

13. During a corporate speech, Bob Woodward learned firsthand about the hidden Trump voter.

“Two weeks before the election, October 25, 2016, I was in Fort Worth, Texas, giving a speech to about 400 executives from a firm called KEY2ACT that provides construction and field service management software.  My topic was ‘The Age of the American Presidency.  What Will 2016 Bring?’  The group was mostly white and was from all over the country.

I asked for a show of hands.  How many expected to vote for Hillary?  As best as I could tell there were only about 10.  How many expected to vote for Trump?  Half the room raised their hands–approximately 200.  Wow, I thought, that seemed like a lot of Trump voters.”

Woodward had “no explanation” and neither did the “flabbergasted” CEO of KEY2ACT.

14. The real, petty reason Trump hired those Russian sex workers to piss on his hotel bed.

One of Trump’s biggest ongoing pet peeves is the Steele Dossier, the secretly compiled document that isn’t entirely corroborated and yet still managed to leak into the media.  Originally funded by Democrats but later financially supported by Republicans, British spy Christopher Steele was hired to compile potentially embarrassing information that the Russians, who preferred Trump over Clinton, had supposedly acquired of their favoured candidate.

The most infamous story involved Trump hiring a couple of local sex workers in Russia to urinate on his hotel room bed during a trip in 2013 and that it was surreptitiously captured on tape by the Russians.  When the story came out, comedians had a field day.  Trump denied it ever happened, saying he’s a well-known germophobe.

But in Chapter Eight of Fear:  Trump In The White House, there was a very specific reason why this all happened:

“On the second page it said:  ‘According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s (perverted conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.  The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.”

15. Hope Hicks’ description of the press sounds more like President Trump.

During the campaign, Trump had hired Hope Hicks to do PR for him.  During the transition, he hired her to run the communications department which would allow her to avoid directly dealing with the media, her preference.

According to Woodward, Hicks “felt that he had lost some of his leverage with the media by being overexposed during the campaign.”

“Hicks was convinced the media had ‘oppositional defiance syndrome’, which is a term from clinical psychology most often applied to rebellious children.  ‘Oppositional defiance syndrome” is characterized by excessive anger against authority, vindictiveness and temper tantrums.  As far as she was concerned, that described the press.”

She was really describing Trump.

16. Trump worried that the pee tape story would piss off Melania and admitted to one of his lawyers he was a philanderer.

The 45th US President has a long history of womanizing which already cost him two marriages.  Clearly worried about losing a third, especially after his famous private encounter with then-FBI Director James Comey who he later fired:

“Trump later told his attorney that he felt shaken down by Comey with the presentation about the alleged prostitutes in Moscow.  ‘I’ve got enough problems with Melania and girlfriends and all that.  I don’t need any more.  I can’t have Melania hearing about that.”

17. Trump’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis is an Islamophobe.

In Chapter Ten, Woodward recounts a classified meeting on February 25, 2017 regarding the military’s battle plan against ISIS, a plan that essentially remained Obama’s “but with bombing and other authorities granted to the local commanders.”  Conducted by Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis, at some point there was a discussion about Iran:

“Mattis was worried about Iranian expansion,” a recurring paranoid unfounded obsession with the Trump Administration.  “At one point he later referred to ‘those idiot raghead mullahs.'”

18. FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe told Priebus a New York Times story was “bullshit” and “grossly overstated”.  But he refused to say so publicly.

On Valentine’s Day 2017, The New York Times published this story about Trump campaign officials contacting the Russians the year before the 2016 campaign.

The FBI’s deputy director Andrew McCabe called Trump’s then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to insist the reporting was wrong:

“‘It’s total bullshit,’ McCabe said. ‘It’s not true, and we want you to know that.  It’s grossly overstated.'”

Woodward doesn’t report any actual inaccuracies, if there were in fact any to be found.

When Priebus pleaded with the FBI’s number two to publicly discredit the story:

“‘Call me in a couple of hours,’ McCabe said.  ‘I will ask around and I’ll let you know.  I’ll see what I can do.'”

After waiting impatiently for two hours, the freaked out Chief of Staff called him again.

“‘I’m sorry, I can’t…There’s nothing I can do about it.  I tried, but if we start issuing comments on individual stories, we’ll be doing statements every three days.’  The FBI could not become a clearinghouse for the accuracy of news stories.  If the FBI tried to debunk certain stories, a failure to comment could be seen as a confirmation.”

McCabe asked for more time (“Give me a couple more hours.”).

“Nothing happened.  No call from the FBI.  Priebus tried to explain to Trump, who was waiting for a recanting.  It was another reason for Trump to distrust and hate the FBI…”

CNN reported this inside wrangling a week later.  (“Priebus was cast as trying to manipulate the FBI for political purposes.”)

“The White House tried and failed to correct the story and show that McCabe had initiated the matter.”

Again, it’s not made clear what was supposedly erroneous about the NYT story.

During his sworn testimony on June 8 that same year, in a moment of bitter irony, the now fired Comey finally did what McCabe wouldn’t do.  He asserted that the Times’ story “in the main was not true.”

19. Steve Bannon prepped soon-to-be National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster on how to deal with Trump during his job interview which didn’t go well.

“Don’t lecture Trump.  He doesn’t like professors.  He doesn’t like intellectuals.”  McMaster wrote a critical book about the botched Vietnam War.  “Trump was a guy who ‘never went to class.  Never got the syllabus.  Never took a note.  Never went to a lecture.  The night before the final, he comes in at midnight from the fraternity house, puts on a pot of coffee, takes your notes, memorizes as much as he can, walks in at 8 in the morning and gets a C.  And that’s good enough…Show up in your uniform.’

McMaster wore a suit.”

The planned two-hour interview was much shorter.  According to Bannon, “McMaster ran his fucking mouth for all of 20 minutes giving his theories of the world.”

Trump said, “He’s dressed like a beer salesman.”  He still gave McMaster the job.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
12:50 a.m.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 12:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Two)

8. Kellyanne Conway attended the Democratic National Convention and knew the Clinton campaign was in trouble.

Trump replaced the doomed Paul Manafort with longtime Republican operative Kellyanne Conway.  In July 2016, she attended the DNC event to see what the Democrats were offering their supporters.  According to Woodward, she came away unimpressed:

“Their message is Donald Trump is bad, and we’re not Donald Trump.  The rest of the message was race, gender, LGBT…She doesn’t seem to have a message.  Now if I’m her, I’m going to find a message.  I’m going to buy a message.  And it’s going to be very positive and uplifting and optimistic.  All I can see from her so far is not optimism.”

An odd assertion to make when Clinton was foolishly arguing that “America was already great” (one of the many dumb things she said during the campaign) and when Trump’s own address during the GOP convention was so relentlessly dark and negative.  (“The American Dream is dead.”)

At any event, Conway would go on to talk about “the hidden Trump voter” which was met with much cynical snickering from the media.  Undeterred, Trump’s new campaign manager observed, “There’s not a single hidden Hillary voter in the entire country.  They’re all out and about.”

Besides her message, Clinton had another big problem.  With regards to pre-election polling, she “had not cracked 50 percent in eight key states that Obama won twice with over 50 percent” in the 2008 election.  The Trump camp, led by Conway and Bannon, realized that as long as they focused on Clinton’s weaknesses, “they would win with those hidden Trump voters.  If the race stayed about Trump, ‘we’ll probably lose.'”

9. After the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, the RNC threatened to pull their funding and demanded Trump drop out of the race. They wanted Mike Pence paired with Condoleezza Rice instead.

Every Presidential candidate fears The October Surprise.  And sure enough, Donald Trump got a doozy in 2016.

On October 7th, an unreleased clip from a 2005 Access Hollywood shoot was released.  Trump was bantering with host Billy Bush on an AH bus headed to the set of Days Of Our Lives.  There was lots of talk about women and how Trump can’t resist them.  Then, the moment of infamy:

“…Trump [was] bragging crudely about his sexual prowess.  He said he could grope and kiss women at will.  ‘When you’re a star, they let you do it,’ Trump said.  ‘You can do anything.  Grab them by the pussy.'”

The very next morning, according to Woodward, there was an emergency meeting in Trump’s Trump Tower penthouse:

“Priebus told Bannon, ‘The donors are all out.  Everybody’s dropped.  Paul Ryan’s going to drop this afternoon.’  The loss of the money people and the Republican house speaker signaled the end.  ‘It’s over,’ Priebus said.

“Everybody’s pulling their endorsements.  I don’t even know if Pence is going to be on this thing.’  The fastidiously loyal Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, was doubting.”

After Trump arrived, Priebus read Trump the riot act:

“You have two choices…You either drop out right now or you’re going to lose in the biggest landslide in American history and be humiliated for life.”

Priebus revealed that “every leader, every congressman, every senator” even members of the RNC were “telling me you’re either going to lose big, in a massive way, or you need to drop out of the race.  I can’t make it any better.”

To salvage what he believed was a sinking ship, Priebus proposed an alternative ticket:

“Pence is prepared to step up, and Condi Rice will come in as his VP.”

Bannon protested.  “That’s never going to happen…That’s ridiculous.  Fucking absurd.”

As Woodward notes of Bannon’s efforts, “In less than two months as campaign CEO they had cut the polling gap in half with endless rallies.”  Dropping out now would’ve been the real disaster.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appealed to Trump’s business sense:

“This is not about the campaign…That’s over. This is about your brand.”

Regarding Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, “You need to save the brand for them or the brand’s finished.”

Rudy Guiliani claimed Trump “had less than a 50 percent chance of winning. ‘Basically you’ve got 40 percent.'”

Once again, only Steve Bannon was convinced Trump wasn’t going to lose.

“‘One hundred percent, metaphysical certitude you’re going to win’…Your supporters will still be with you. ‘They are worried about saving their country.'”

But Priebus was insistent:

“You guys don’t know what you’re doing.  You’re going to go down.”

According to Woodward, “Prominent Republicans began to call for Trump to step aside for Mike Pence” who had “gone to ground when the news broke about the Access Hollywood tape.”  After putting out a statement condemning Trump’s remarks (“I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.”):

“Stories circulated that Pence had given Bannon a sealed letter urging Trump to drop off the ticket.”

When the meeting adjourned, Christie started scolding Bannon in private:

“You’re the fucking problem…You’ve been the problem since the beginning…You’re the enabler.  You play to every one of his worst instincts.  This thing’s over and you’re going to be blamed.  Every time he’s got terrible instincts for these things, and all you do is get him all worked up.  This is going to be humiliating.”

“Christie was in Bannon’s face, looming large.  Bannon half-wanted to say, You fat fuck, let’s throw down right here.”

No fists were thrown.  With a trip to the second Presidential debate looming in Missouri the next day, Bannon simply gave the then-New Jersey Governor an ultimatum:

“Governor…the plane leaves tomorrow…If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.”

Christie was a no-show.

“‘Fuck this guy,’ Bannon said, and the plane took off.”

In the end, Trump refused to quit and proved Bannon right.

10. Trump almost did an ABC interview to do damage control after Melania dismissed the idea of appearing on 60 Minutes with him and Ivanka.

While everybody but Bannon was urging Trump to quit in that emergency Trump Tower meeting, there was also a spontaneous plan to save face.  Kellyanne Conway suggested a joint appearance with daughter Ivanka and wife Melania on the long running CBS News program 60 Minutes which was immediately dismissed by Melania.  (“Not doing that…No, no, no.  No way.”) After Bannon’s proposal to do an impromptu rally with supporters to cut a harsh promo on the media was rejected despite Trump’s enthusiasm for the idea, Conway had another proposal:

“Conway would call ABC and arrange for David Muir, the ABC anchor, to helicopter in.  Guiliani and Christie would write an introduction for Trump and Muir could do a 10-minue interview.

Political suicide, thought Bannon.  This would make the campaign over for sure, and Trump would lose by 20 points.”

When Trump was handed his prepared remarks, he balked:

“‘I can’t do this,’ he said.  ‘This is bullshit.  This is weak.  You guys are weak.'”

A quick revision was made.  It made no difference:

“I’m not doing this.”

Ultimately, Trump ended up not doing the interview.  Instead, the GOP candidate went downstairs and outside Trump Tower to greet a “roaring crowd of Trump supporters in the street”.  When a reporter asked if he was going to continue campaigning, he replied:

“One hundred percent.”

11. Despite being the only campaign official to defend him on all the Sunday political talk shows, Rudy Guiliani was brutally admonished by Trump in front of colleagues for doing a terrible job.

“Everyone on the Trump campaign refused to appear on the Sunday morning talk shows except Rudy Guiliani.  Priebus, Christie, even the reliable, thick-armored, never-say-no Conway had scheduled.  All cancelled.”

“Guiliani gave, or tried to give, the same spiel on each show:  Trump’s words had been ‘reprehensible and terrible and awful,’ and he had apologized.” Trump was “changed” because of his “transformational” campaign.  Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton’s problems instead, her no longer suppressed Goldman Sachs speeches, her “private coziness with Wall Street that clashed with her liberal public positions.”

Surely by accident because he didn’t think Trump would win, Guiliani nonetheless astutely predicted, “The country would view that much more harshly.”

When he arrived on the campaign plane “seeming punch-drunk” because of the exhausting TV apology tour he just completed, Trump wasn’t pleased:

“‘Rudy, you’re a baby!’  Trump said loudly.  ‘I’ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life.  They took your diaper off right there.  You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed.  When are you going to be a man?'”

“He can’t defend me.  I need somebody to defend me.  Where are my people?”

“It was a mistake.  He shouldn’t have gone on.  He’s weak.  You’re weak, Rudy.  You’ve lost it.”

According to Woodward, “Guiliani just looked up, his face blank.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 6, 2018
10:52 p.m.

Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part One)

Last month, legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward released his latest insider account of a sitting US President.  Fear: Trump In The White House tells the story of how the fraudulent New York hustler conned the electorate into voting him into the White House.

Those expecting a brilliant account of Trump’s long journey to his highest level of incompetence will be sadly disappointed.  The book feels premature (Trump’s not even halfway through his first term), it leaves out a lot of potentially interesting details (there’s next to nothing about Trump’s embattled communications team or the child separation border policy among other inexcusable omissions) and too much of it is the overly dry “he said this, he said that” pro-imperialist insider access accounting that is often taken as Gospel instead of being routinely scrutinized for the self-serving bullshit it is.

Regardless, there are still some revealing passages worth highlighting:

1. Donald Trump doesn’t think The New York Times is “fake news”.

In Chapter Two, Bob Woodward recounts an encounter in August 2016 between the GOP Presidential candidate and his then-campaign manager Paul Manafort at the Trump National Golf Club. Trump was pissed about this New York Times article which noted the failed collective effort to keep the orange one’s worst public impulses in check:

“Citing the New York Times story about the failure to tame his tongue, Trump asked Manafort how such an article could appear.  It was one of Trump’s paradoxes:  He attacked the mainstream media with relish, especially the Times–but despite the full-takedown language, he considered the Times the paper of record and largely believed its stories.”

When Steve Bannon attempted to discredit the report (“the story had a lot of these unnamed sources, we don’t know the veracity.”), Trump was adamant:

“No, I can tell…They’re leakers.”

As Woodword notes, “He knew the quotes were true.”  And so did Bannon despite his repeated attempts to calm Trump down:

“Bannon continued his full-body, opposition party pitch, though he knew the story was true.”

“Trump wasn’t buying it.  The story was gospel, and the campaign was full of leakers.”

2. Like the left, Steve Bannon knew two of Hillary Clinton’s biggest vulnerabilities: wars and free trade.

In that same meeting, a frustrated Trump, who was on the verge of firing Manafort (“He’s not really running the campaign.  I only brought him in to get me through the convention.”), listened intently to Bannon’s thematic pitch for his struggling campaign:

“Number one…we’re going to stop mass illegal immigration and start to limit legal immigration to get our sovereignty back.  Number two, you are going to bring manufacturing jobs back to the country.  And number three, we’re going to get out of these pointless foreign wars.”

Bannon argued persuasively that the Democratic Presidential nominee was extremely vulnerable on two of these issues (“…she’s part of the thing that cut the bad trade deals…and she’s the neocon….She’s supported every war out there.”).

Indeed, Clinton was a major champion of her husband’s soon-to-be-defunct NAFTA deal and the abandoned TPP which were both vehemently opposed by labour and leftists including her primary opponent Bernie Sanders.  And one of the reasons she didn’t get the Democratic nomination in 2008 was because she voted for the doomed Iraq invasion, a position that cost her big time in five crucial battleground states where numerous anti-war military families live.  She also supported the war against The Taliban in Afghanistan and was one of the chief architects of the Libya debacle.

3. Bannon urged Trump to continue being as off-the-cuff as possible to distinguish himself from Clinton.

At the end of his August 2016 pitch at the Trump National Golf Club, the then-Breitbart head made one last suggestion to the future President:

“Bannon added that Trump had another advantage.  He spoke in a voice that did not sound political. This was what Barack Obama had in 2008 in the primary contest against Clinton, who spoke like the trained politician she was.  Her tempo was overly practiced.  Even when telling the truth, she sounded like she was lying to you.

Politicians like Hillary can’t talk naturally, Bannon said.  It was a mechanical way of speaking, right out of the polling and focus groups, answering the questions in political speak.  It was soothing, not jarring, not from the heart or from deep conviction, but from some highly paid consultant’s talking points–not angry.”

Trump immediately hired Bannon to help run his campaign.

4. Paul Manafort showed Bannon an advanced copy of a New York Times article that marked the beginning of his downfall.

In Chapter Three, shortly after the meeting at the golf club, Trump’s then-campaign manager invited his new advisor to visit him in his Trump Tower apartment:

“‘I need you to look at something for me,’ Manafort said, handing him a copy of a draft story coming in from The New York Times headlined:  ‘Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief.’

Bannon read, ‘Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort’ from the pro-Russian political party.”

A startled Bannon wondered if Trump knew this was coming (“Manafort said no.”) and asked how long Manafort himself was aware of the Times’ investigation (“Two months…”).

“Bannon read about 10 paragraphs in.  It was a kill shot.  It was over for Manafort.

‘My lawyer told me not to cooperate,’ Manafort said.  ‘It was just a hit piece.'”

Manafort protested his innocence (“It’s all lies…I had expenses.”) but Bannon wasn’t buying it and knew that Trump would flip his lid once he read the story.  Despite being advised by Bannon to warn the Republican candidate of his coming shitstorm, Manafort never told Trump about what he was up to in Ukraine.  He was later convicted on multiple felonies.

5. Anthony Scaramucci was right about Bannon.

From Chapter Three:

“As Bannon later remarked with his trademark profanity, ‘I reached out and sucked Reince Preibus’ dick on August 15 and told the establishment, we can’t win without you.'”

6. Trump wouldn’t have won without the RNC’s Obama-inspired big data operation.

Also from Chapter Three:

“Priebus had spent the last years overseeing a massive effort to rebuild the RNC into a data-driven operation.  Borrowing from Obama’s winning campaign strategy, the RNC started pouring vast sums–eventually more than $175 million–into analytics and big data, tracking individual primary voters, and using that information in areas divided into neighbourhood ‘turfs’ staffed with armies of volunteers.

All along, the expectation had been that once the Republican nominee was selected, the RNC would hitch this massive shiny new wagon to an already fairly robust and large campaign apparatus.”

Despite candidate Trump’s constant bashing of the RNC during the primaries (“a ‘disgrace'”, “a scam”, “Priebus ‘should be ashamed of himself'”), “the RNC was effectively the Trump campaign staff.”

From there, the RNC targeted the most likely Republican voters.  Top of the list were those who “scored a 90 or above on a scale of 0 to 100 in the national database.”

“In Ohio,” one of the important battleground states, “out of perhaps 6 million voters, approximately 1 million would score 90 or above.  Those 1 million would be targeted for early voting ballots, and the field staff and volunteers would hound each one until the ballot was sent in.”

“Next, the field staff would move to persuade those who scored 60 or 70, trying to convince them to vote for Trump.  The system was designed to reduce the randomness of voter contact, to make sure the volunteers and field staff concentrated their efforts on those most likely to vote for Trump.”

How specific were the details on individual Republican voters in the RNC database?  It gave the GOP “insight into almost everything about every likely voter–what beer they drank, the make and color of the car they drove, the age and school of their kids, their mortgage status, the cigarettes they smoked.  Did they get a hunting license every year?  Did they subscribe to gun magazines, or liberal magazines like The New Republic.”

7. Bannon was the only Trump campaign member that believed he would win.

Throughout Fear: Trump In The White House, Steve Bannon is stubbornly steadfast in his staunch support for the GOP nominee, despite everybody else in the campaign openly espousing significant doubts especially after receiving bad press.  In Chapter Three, after reviewing their campaign strategy:

“Bannon assured Trump, I have ‘metaphysical certitude you will win here if you stick to this script and compare and contrast’ with Hillary Clinton. ‘Every underlying number is with us.'”

“Bannon said he had seen data suggesting that Ohio and Iowa could be winnable.  Also they had to win Florida and North Carolina.  Then Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota could come back to the Republicans.  It all seemed like a giant fantasy.”

For the most part, he was proven right on election day.  Trump carried every one of those states except for Minnesota.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 6, 2018
10:33 p.m.

Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

50 Things I Loathed About 2014

1. The Ultimate Warrior died.

2. Despite pulling out of the race for Mayor with just six weeks to go before the election & being diagnosed with a rare cancer, Rob Ford is once again a Toronto city councillor.

3. Gitmo is still open.

4. Israel’s heartless genocidal attacks on Gaza, The West Bank and the rest of the Occupied Territories.  Will long suffering Palestinians ever see justice?

5. Julian Fantino’s pitiful performance as the Minister of Veteran Affairs.  How does he still have his job?

6. Robin Williams & Philip Seymour Hoffman died, two superb talents killed by serious depression.  Can we please take mental illness more seriously now?

7. Boko Haram’s ongoing terror campaign in Nigeria which led to the kidnapping of hundreds of girls, only some of whom have managed to escape and reunite with their families.

8. Monday Night Raw is still 3 hours, has consistently terrible commentators, and remains unworthy of weekly consumption.  Ditto the 2-hour Smackdown.

9. Brock Lesnar ending The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak.  Dreadfully boring match & the absolute wrong creative decision.  The Beast Incarnate didn’t need the added heat.  The Streak had to come to an end at some point, yes, but not like this.  Horrible & infuriating.

10. Morrissey’s World Peace Is None Of Your Business.  I waited 5 years for this forgettable, mean spirited piece of shit?  Maybe he’s already written his strongest melodies.  God knows I don’t care about his upcoming Ramones tribute.  Ugh.

11. CBC’s Terry Milewski’s strange refusal to cooperate & collaborate with Glenn Greenwald on Canadian mass surveillance stories.  A completely blown journalistic opportunity.  Milewski should be ashamed of his timidity.

12. ISIS’ decapitation videos.  Only Saudi Arabia & the US are allowed to be this barbaric, right, Barack Obama?

13. The Nut Job.  Poorly animated, sluggishly paced, almost completely unfunny.  Its only redeeming quality:  the guilty pleasure dance anthem Gangham Style playing over the end titles.

14. England couldn’t even get out of their group at the World Cup.  A depressing performance for a talented squad that needs a big kick in the shorts.

15. Robin Thicke’s Paula.  That’s not how you reconcile with your wife.  No wonder she wanted out.

16. GamerGate.  A stupid name for a stupid scandal started by assholes who care nothing about “ethics in video game journalism”, only their unjustified hatred for women.  Despicable.  All the feminist targets of their childish scorn deserve full apologies, restitution & their regular lives back.

17. Alberto Del Rio was fired for defending his ethnicity.  He is much missed in the WWE.

18. The retirement of CM Punk.  WWE blew this one big time, as well.  Let’s see how he does in the UFC next year.

19. The unfortunate injuries of Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns.  The lost possibilities because of their long absences.

20. CNN’s embarrassingly excessive coverage of that missing Malaysian Airlines plane.  Despite weeks of breathless anticipation of its recovery & endless, pointless speculation, it remains completely unaccounted for.  A low point in the channel’s 34-year history.  Also pitiful at times were their on-the-scene reports during the Ferguson, Missouri protests & Israel’s illegal invasion of Gaza.  “Fuck CNN”, indeed.

21. A Haunted House 2.  Disgusting, sexist, slut shaming garbage.  Mark Henry, you should be ashamed of yourself.

22. Republican Congressman Michael Grimm’s scary threat to a NY1 reporter caught by a cameraman who had just finished shooting a quick on-camera interview with him.  Grimm eventually apologized.  He should resign, especially now that he’s a convicted felon.

23. Shaker Aamer & 63 other innocent, tortured men remain trapped in Gitmo, the American gulag.  All the rest have yet to have their day in court, a real court, not these fucking kangaroo “military tribunals”.  That’s not justice.

24. The heartbreaking fire that destroyed a senior’s home in L’Isle-Verte, Quebec in the middle of a bitterly cold winter which resulted in 32 deaths & 15 injuries.

25. Eden Alexander’s health scare & the nonsense she had to deal with while trying to raise money for her expensive medical bills.  The good news is, despite some rough months, she’s almost completely recovered now.  Very nice lady.  May she never be this sick again.

26. War Machine’s obscene assault against former girlfriend Christy Mack.  He belongs in prison for the rest of his life.  She deserves the full restoration of her health.

27. Megan Trainor’s All About That Bass.  An annoying song that will haunt wedding receptions for years to come.  I prefer Baby Got Back.

28. Michael Coren’s phony “apology” to the gay community in The Toronto Sun.  Until he publicly & privately supports full equality, don’t believe for a second that he’s changed because he hasn’t.

29. The Polar Vortex.  Whoever loves all this supremely cold weather is an emotionless psychopath.  I’ll stick with summer, thanks.

30. Sony cancelling The Interview’s wide Christmas Day theatrical release because of a bogus, empty threat from clever hackers.  Although they ultimately changed their mind & let independent theatres exhibit the film, and also made it available online, they looked incredibly stupid capitulating like this.  If it happens again, here’s hoping other studios are less cowardly.

31. The celebrity nude photo hack.  Unless these women want me to see them naked, I’m not going to invade their privacy without their permission.

32. The disturbing elevator video of Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancé Jenay with one punch.  How is he not in prison?

33. Devil’s Due & Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.  Two more compelling reasons to declare the “found footage” genre dead.

34. The Edmonton Oilers.  They’re so bad now I’m glad I stopped watching them play the few games that air on TV.  Time to resign, Craig MacTavish.  2006 is a distant memory.

35. The persecution of Matt Dehart.  Are you ever going to write about his case, Glenn Greenwald?

36. Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou, Jeremy Hammond & Barrett Brown are all still in prison for opposing Obama’s growing, illegal National Security State.  Along with Dehart may their vengeful persecutions be over soon.

37. All the other terrible movies I saw this year:  Movie 43, 21 & Over, Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie, Cheech & Chong Still Smokin’, Goon, Fool’s Gold, 13 Ghosts (2001), Little Man, Mannequin, Mannequin: On The Move, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, What A Girl Wants, 21 Jump Street, My Bloody Valentine (1981), Nuns On The Run (it hasn’t aged well), Silent Hill: Revelation, Nightflyers, Grown-Ups 2, You’re Next, 30 Minutes Or Less, Project X (2012), The Hangover Part III, His Majesty The Scarecrow Of Oz & The Patchwork Girl Of Oz.

38. MuchMusic’s pitiful 30-minute “special” commemorating its 30th Anniversary.  It was hardly worthy of the channel’s important legacy as The Nation’s Music Station.  Then again, these days, it’s only a shell of its former self.  A proper tribute devoted to its glory years would only reinforce that.

39. Suey Park’s #CancelColbert campaign.  An ignorant, hypocritical, self-important “activist” uses the old Fox News excuse (“I was only joking!”) to justify a complete waste of fake, collective online outrage.  I’ve yet to see proof she understands what satire is.  In the end, the only reason The Colbert Report is off the air is because the host got a new job.  He takes over for David Letterman next year.  As for Park, she’s off Twitter now.  Good riddance.

40. The abhorrent mistreatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.  Like the endless human rights violations of the Palestinians, the world continues to look the other way.

41. The Republicans won control of the Senate.

42. The sudden rise of Charles C. Johnson, already the most despised media hack of the new millennium.  Thankfully, he’s making way too many sloppy mistakes & enemies to survive for much longer.

43. Lena Dunham’s stunning revelation that she abused her sister when they were kids, her defensive, embarrassing “rage spiral” in response to the mostly genuine outrage over it, her ultimately bogus “apology” & the predominantly white feminists who gave her a pass for it.  If it was anybody else, they’d be chased out of Hollywood.

44. The murders of Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown & many more people of colour – male & female; young & old – by white, paranoid, racist American police officers.  The brutal, Israel-inspired militarization of law enforcement must be curbed, the sooner the better.  The days of cops getting away with criminal activity have to end right now.  The system is completely rigged in their favour.

45. The WWE Network debacle.  How not to unveil a new venture two years behind schedule.  Vince McMahon ended up losing half his fortune thanks to the company’s plunging stocks.  (Actually, I love that last part.)

46. Howard Stern’s ongoing support for torture, an internationally recognized war crime, & Israel’s decades-long genocide of the Palestinians, especially the horrors unleashed on Gaza in the summer.  I’m done with this asshole.

47. Elliott Rodger, his frightening misogynistic murder spree, that creepy video with the sunlight in his face & that deeply troubled manifesto.  What the hell happened to this kid?

48. James Avery, Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air & Shredder from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, died on New Year’s Eve 2013.

49. The WWE’s ongoing association with serial woman beater Floyd Mayweather.  Chris Jericho, Triple H & Jim Ross, you all sicken me.

50. Rolling Stone’s much criticized report on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia.  Of all the important stories to fuck up, why did it have to be this one?  This better not set back all the tremendous progress made by feminists this year in combating rape culture.  For the record, I still believe the woman at the centre of the UVA story was violated.  Like all victims of sexual assault, she deserves justice & peace of mind.  Unfortunately, Rolling Stone has made that very difficult for her now.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 29, 2014
2:34 a.m.

A Former Obama Aide’s Revealing Rolling Stone Article

Reid Cherlin used to work for The Obama Administration.  After the election of the new President in 2008, he worked in the Press Secretary’s Office as one of its spokespeople.  He left the gig a couple of years later.

In a new piece for Rolling Stone magazine, he recounts his experiences from the inside.  It has to be read to be believed.

You see, Mr. Cherlin, as he readily admits in the middle of paragraph seven, is an unabashed Obama fan:

“I’m biased in that I think Obama is right about most things.  I also believe he’ll be remembered as an excellent president.”

And he thinks his former boss is deeply misunderstood, thanks to those big meanies in the media or “the filter”, as he dismissively describes them:

“It’s always an easy story to point out where the president has failed to deliver on his promises.”

Throughout the article about Obama’s “messy relationship with the press”, Cherlin’s tone is often defensive with regards to press criticism, very much reflecting the feelings of his former boss.

Take Politico, for instance.  Founded during the 2008 campaign, “Obama’s advisers detested Politico from the start, accurately recognizing its potential to wreak havoc on their carefully crafted narratives, and to inspire their competitors to indulge in the same bad habits.” In other words, they hated the site for performing the terrible crime of journalism.

And then there are the individual reporters who angered the Administration.  In April of this year, New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler got reamed out in Air Force One’s press cabin in front of his colleagues for co-writing a cover story that declared one of Obama’s foreign trips a flop while it was still in progress.  Because it was an off-the-record moment, “a definitive accounting of what was said is hard to come by…”

So, Cherlin paraphrases:

“…the thrust of the president’s message was this: Foreign policy is hard, you guys are scoring it like a campaign debate, and moreover, you’re doing it inaccurately.”

Foreign policy is hard?  Good Lord.  As for supposed examples of journalistic inaccuracies, none are mentioned.  Huge shocker.

Some journalists who pissed off Obama got punished for leaking information the government expected to be kept secret, albeit until they deemed it ready for public consumption.  Buzzfeed reporter Chris Geidner was “openly snubbed” by the White House for reporting on a “secret strategy meeting” with LGBT activists.  His punishment?  Being purposefully left out of a conference call that involved news of an upcoming executive order.

“Two months before, the White House had levied similar punishment on The New York Times for skirting a restriction called an embargo (information provided in advance on the condition that it can’t be reported before a certain set time). Times writers used their own sourcing to report the story early, and the next time an embargoed document came around, detailing one of the president’s upcoming speeches, Times correspondents found themselves excluded from the party.”

Not only do journalists get punished for disobeying silly restrictions like this that are imposed on them by these paranoid government officials, they can get bypassed completely.  Following the phony controversy surrounding this famous Obama comment about conservatives – “They cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” – made during a private fundraiser in the 2008 Presidential campaign, according to Cherlin, the White House “began exploring ways to re-exert control, ignoring the media altogether.”

Which explains why the announcement of Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate was done via text.

Beyond the grudges the Administration holds against specific journalists, it’s startling to read Cherlin’s comments about the press in general and how the government is supposed to react to their questioning.  Consider the Veteran Affairs scandal that erupted this year.  As a chorus of critics demanded the resignation of General Eric Shinseki, the embattled VA Secretary who Obama selected to run the troubled agency in 2009 after promising to cut ridiculously long wait times for severely injured war veterans, President Obama initially stood by his man.  Then, during a Press Room briefing weeks after the scandal broke, he finally announced Shinseki’s departure.

Cherlin is perplexed by this.  While correctly noting that the VA’s problems are “systemic” and go back decades, he can’t understand why Shinseki had to be removed from his job:

“…vets face long waits and substandard care on a systemic basis, and…firing the head of the agency probably will do nothing to change that.”

Then, he quotes former WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:

“…Washington has these things where in order for a story to stop and the next chapter to be written…there have to be these inflection points…”  Like “ritual firings”, Cherlin adds.

In other words, why do we have to fire these incompetent people?  It’s not their fault!  This isn’t their problem!  They didn’t start the fire!  Blame the other clowns who came before them!

With regards to the persecution of journalists like the widely respected New York Times national security reporter James Risen, Cherlin quotes an anonymous Obama official who absurdly asserts that this is one of those “Bush investigations” that the administration didn’t initiate but merely inherited, as if the President had no choice but to keep it going.  And that Obama “expressed both publicly and privately his frustration with the way they are being handled and has said reporters should never be in trouble for doing their job.”

Curiously, this follows a brief summary of the Risen case (the Administration wants him to testify in the Jeffrey Sterling leak case because they believe he was the source for a chapter in his State Of War book involving the secret US cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear facility) where Cherlin correctly notes that “the Supreme Court, at the urging of Obama’s Justice Department, declined to hear Risen’s appeal.”  Despite Obama asserting that “reporters should never be in trouble for doing their job”, he won’t stop hounding Risen to testify when he knows the reporter will never reveal his source and is prepared to go to prison if it comes to that.  (If journalists can’t protect their sources, why would anyone confide in them?)

It’s bad enough Cherlin doesn’t mention the most serious of Obama’s transgressions (drones, Gitmo, Bagram, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, the war on drugs, excessive deportations, the war on whistleblowers, the NSA’s global surveillance state, delays in releasing the CIA torture report, prison torture, racial profiling of Muslims, the militarization of law enforcement) when listing a number of unflattering media stories that have diminished the President’s stature.  It’s even worse when he suggests that the reason the media is so brutal to Obama in the first place is not that he has questionable policies but because the traditional news business is dying and as a result, anybody can be a journalist as long as they can do Buzzfeed listicles and have any kind of political grievance regardless of its factual validity.

Cherlin quotes recently retired WH Press Secretary Jay Carney, previously a 2o-year journalist who worked for Time Magazine, who claims that because “of all the cutting and slashing” of media jobs “everybody’s strung out and incapable of taking a breath and actually thinking about what they’re saying or writing.”

No actual examples are given.  Furthermore, there is much whining about having to respond to any reporter inquiries at all, whether they be serious or otherwise.  The overall sense of powerlessness Cherlin & others convey in the article is striking.  It’s as if they’re not responsible for anything bad that happens.

There’s an interesting section where Cherlin writes about his own interactions with the media.  It turns out he was a screamer, particularly when reporters wouldn’t play ball.  He wasn’t the only one:

“It didn’t take long for the group [of White House press aides] to earn a reputation as overly quick to scream to get their way, or to exact a price for stories they saw as unfair.”

Toddlers are less childish.  At any event, it was a failed tactic:

“…as the years passed and the novelty of an Obama presidency leached away, the atmosphere of presumption and entitlement to good coverage has worn poorly.”

“Presumption” and “entitlement”.  The idea that it’s imperative upon the press to heap constant praise on this federal government or else speaks volumes.  Ironically, considering the lack of skepticism that a number of beltway journalists exhibit when covering this administration, particularly on national security issues, I’d say Obama is still getting his way, despite all his growing scandals.  His persecutions of government whistleblowers and the journalists who employ them as sources are proof of that.  With some notable exceptions, he has scared the media into various fits of self-censorship.  A definite chill is being felt throughout the entire news business.

Cherlin’s Rolling Stone article is accompanied by an illustration of a wounded, bandaged Obama glaring sullenly at a small group of journos reimagined as voracious lions ready to pounce on him repeatedly.

Unfortunately, the reality, despite Cherlin’s often wimpy, unfounded assertions, is quite the opposite.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
7:58 p.m.

 

 

Published in: on August 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm  Comments (3)  

Three Past Examples Of Maureen Dowd Slut Shaming Monica Lewinsky

In her latest New York Times column, Maureen Dowd writes once again about Monica Lewinsky, the only reason she has a Pulitzer Prize.  In the piece, Dowd revisits an incident from 1998 when Lewinsky approached her at a Washington, D.C. restaurant.  President Clinton’s former mistress asked her why she was so mean to her in her columns.

Dowd doesn’t recount her reply.  That’s because it’s too embarrassing.

Back in the summer of 1998 when she first wrote about this moment, she noted that her response was simply, “I don’t know,” as she “shrugged, lamely.”  According to Dowd, Lewinsky “sashayed away, looking triumphant”.

Dowd tells a different story in 2014.

“Monica bristled with confidence when she talked to me, but then she retreated to the ladies’ room and had a meltdown on her cellphone with [crisis manager] Judy Smith…[now] a co-executive producer on Shonda Rhimes’s ‘Scandal,’…”

Did the judgmental Dowd follow her all the way into the can to get that “scoop”?  Smells like revisionist bullshit to me.

At any event, Lewinsky is back in the news because she’s written a piece for Vanity Fair.  Now 40, she is eager to do something positive with her terrible past mistake, namely be an advocate for those who have also been publicly slut shamed on the Internet.  (I would strongly recommend she contact Emily Linden of The UnSlut Project.)

And no one publicly slut shamed Lewinsky more than the awful Dowd.  Slate’s Amanda Hess offers several notable examples here.  Here are three she didn’t mention:

In a June 1999 column entitled The 16th Minute, Dowd snarked over Lewinsky’s plans to launch her own line of purses, totes & lipstick:

“For sheer cringe-worthiness, a Monica lipstick ad, focusing on those shiny pillow lips, would probably top a Bob Dole erectile dysfunction ad.”

Then she writes this:

“Given that Monica still doesn’t seem to appreciate the concept of a private life, much less that she was the occasion for a gross constitutional crisis, I suppose we should be grateful that she isn’t hustling her own line of lingerie ‘Made especially for you by MONICA.”’

Followed by this:

“The former intern would fit perfectly into the TV cosmos created by David E. Kelley, which features neurotic, boy-crazy women who use sexual wiles to get ahead.”

The Victorian snoot mentions Ally McBeal (“the female lawyers’ skirts come up and their hair comes down.”) and Snoops (“One of the detectives dresses like a hooker to blackmail a deadbeat dad into handing over his wallet.”)

In a May 1999 column entitled Leech Women In Love!, Dowd compared Lewinsky (and writer Joyce Maynard who had a secret affair with J.D. Salinger) to a fictional 1950s horror villain:

“Then there is the Gen-X Leech Woman, the indefatigably exhibitionistic Monica Lewinsky, who insists, all her alleged humiliation notwithstanding, on not going away.”

[snip]

“These two highly skilled predators keep trying to extract celebrity from old love affairs that were not only brief and puerile but sexually tortured. They want to gain immortality — and big bucks — by feeding off the detritus of their triste trysts with older, famous men.

If they were microscopic organisms, we would call them parasites. They are worse than social climbers. They are sexual climbers.”

Then she complains about Lewinsky complaining about the media’s sole obsession with her sexualized image:

“Monica got huffy on a recent publicity tour designed to drum up flagging sales of her book when interviewers had the temerity to ask about the book. As she hawked her affair, she took offense at the suggestion that it was all that is interesting about her. It is an essential characteristic of the Leech Woman to believe that she is independent, that she has a self beyond the self that preys. She is a cross between a vamp and a vampire who wants to be treated like a movie star.”

In a January 1998 column entitled Undercover Advisor, back when the affair was first reported, Dowd hoped Clinton “had sex with her.  Because the alternative explanation [regarding their frequent contacts] offered by Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer is far more disturbing.”

That alternative explanation being that Lewinsky was some kind of “policy advisor” who helped the President with important political decisions.  Oh my God.  The horror!

“White House officials must have been secretly relieved when the press assumed the May-December relationship was sexual. They figured Mr. Clinton could survive another sex scandal, but he could never weather a competence scandal.”

“The American people will only put up with so much. They would never stand for a 24-year-old running the country.”

By “They”, she clearly means herself.  In Dowd’s mind, being a mistress is less offensive than having a brain.  And being a mistress who refuses to be shamed into silence and who refuses to leave the spotlight is even more repugnant.

But lest we forget, it wasn’t Lewinsky’s choice to go public with all of this in the first place.  Thank her supposed friend, Linda Tripp, and the bloodthirsty Republicans for that.  And it also wasn’t her choice to be smeared and slandered by media professionals, feminists and politicians, all of whom should hang their heads in shame for their deplorable comments.

As Amanda Hess noted in Slate, Lewinsky hasn’t been able to move on from the affair because we won’t let her, no matter how hard she tries.  Bill Clinton survived his regrettable impeachment proceedings over it to finish his second term and today, like Jimmy Carter, has a better reputation now than he ever did as President.

How is this fair?  How can a married man who took advantage of a younger employee during a government shutdown and encouraged her to be fed to vindictive wolves like Maureen Dowd come out looking better than ever?  Why is it that the other woman is forever the other woman?

In her recent column, Dowd writes that she’s willing to take up Lewinsky’s offer to have a drink together.  If I was the former intern, I’d throw my drink in her face without saying a word and sashay away, feeling triumphant.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, May 8, 2014
3:44 a.m.

Published in: on May 8, 2014 at 3:45 am  Comments (1)  

Damaging Woody Allen Details From A 1997 Connecticut Magazine Article

In the November 1997 issue of Connecticut Magazine, journalist Andy Thibault profiled Frank Maco.  In the summer of 1992, Maco, the state prosecutor, was investigating the Woody Allen molestation scandal.  Allen’s then-seven-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, accused her father of fingering her vagina on multiple occasions.

Although Maco ultimately dropped his investigation (he worried about putting Dylan through a potentially traumatizing trial despite the fact that she was more that willing to testify in front of her assailant), Allen’s behaviour throughout it was suspicious.  Here are the most damaging details noted in the article:

1. Contrary to what 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft asserted in his 1992 TV interview with Allen, the filmmaker was initially quite uncooperative with both Connecticut and New York police.  He spent several months refusing to submit to interviews.  At one point, he “tried to set preconditions” before sitting down with the Connecticut side.  “One of the preconditions was that any statements made by Allen could not be used to impeach him.  The state police did not comply.”

Another precondition involved having Maco witness Allen making his statement in front of law enforcement.  Worried that this would needlessly complicate his possible prosecution of the case (the defense could potentially put him on the stand during a trial), Maco refused.

2. When Allen finally sat down for an interview with Connecticut police in January 1993, the session lasted almost four hours.  One of the focal points was the incident in the attic.  (Dylan:  “He put his finger in my vagina.  He made me lay on the floor all ways, on my back, on my side, my front.  He kissed me all over.  I didn’t like it…Daddy told me not to tell and he’d take me to Paris, but I did tell.”)

Despite first claiming he had never been up there, “[p]olice found hair fibers in the crawl space consistent with Allen’s” and even fingerprints, physical evidence that placed him at the scene of the crime but didn’t necessarily prove culpability, as one CSI expert noted in the article.  Allen later conceded that not only was it possible that “he might have reached into the crawl space on occasion, either to grab one of the children or to give them a soda… it was” also “possible that [his] prints would be found there.”  That said, because he kept going back and forth with his answers, the “police characterized Allen’s statements as inconsistent.”

3. At least 10 private investigators were “hired by different lawyers and subcontractors”, all of them on Allen’s payroll, to dig up dirt on Maco and the Connecticut police in order to discredit their investigation.  “The private detectives included former FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration agents” who were particularly focused on “Sgt. John Mucherino, a primary investigator for Maco.  They wanted to know if Mucherino was a drinker or a gambler, if he had any marital problems.”  Ironically, some of the PIs were “former state cops who were friends with Mucherino.”  The article doesn’t mention if they found anything useful.

4. Several Connecticut police officers believed that it was Allen’s team who started “the false rumor” that someone in law enforcement “was trying to sell a videotape of Dylan” making her accusations directly to her mother, Mia, “to the tabloid media.”  A trooper was investigated by Internal Affairs over this but was cleared of any wrongdoing.  However, if it’s true that the defense was responsible for this wild goose chase, the dirty tactic proved effective.  As a result of the IA affair, the investigation into the abuse claims was suspended for 10 days before being reactivated.  Maco told Connecticut Magazine, “About this time, I was told there was a campaign to disrupt the investigators, being orchestrated out of New York.”

5. It was Maco who “commissioned” professional experts at Yale University to put together a report examining the credibility of Dylan’s abuse claims.  Furthermore, the county prosecutor specifically wanted the group “to determine whether Dylan was a viable witness who could stand up in court.”  Unfortunately, they concluded that no sexual violation of Allen’s adopted daughter had taken place.  However, there were several, notable problems with their findings:

i) “The Yale team used psychologists on Allen’s payroll to make mental health conclusions.”

ii) “Custody recommendations were made even though the team never saw Allen and any of the children together.”

iii) “The team refused to interview witnesses who could have corroborated the molestation claims.”

iv) “The team destroyed its notes.”

v) Dr. John Leventhal, “the only medical doctor on the team, did not interview Dylan.”

vi) “The night before Leventhal gave a statement to Farrow’s attorney, he discussed the scenario with Abramowitz, the head of Allen’s legal team, for about 30 minutes.”

vii) Leventhal aside, other members of the Yale team did interview Dylan a grand total of “nine times”, which an outside expert said was “excessive”.  (“The danger is the child feels like she’s not believed if she’s asked the same question over and over.”)  “For three consecutive weeks” of questioning, Dylan said Allen “violated her sexually.  In several of the other sessions, she mentioned a similar type of abuse.  When Dylan did not repeat the precise allegation in some of the sessions, the team reported this as an inconsistency.”

viii) “Leventhal himself later admitted” while under oath during the custody battle that among the “several mistakes” he made “was his false characterization of Dylan’s active imagination as a thought disorder” or “a fantasy problem”.  He initially found her “loose associations” troubling.  When Dylan talked about seeing “dead heads” in the attic, it was just a harmless reference to “a trunk” in the family “attic” where Mia “kept wigs from her movies on wig blocks”.  “The magic hour” was nothing more than Mia’s fanciful way of “describ[ing] the dark sky upon leaving New Haven in the evening…”  It wasn’t an example of “magical thinking” which Leventhal ultimately confessed, in sworn testimony, was a faulty conclusion.

ix) Leventhal never did determine Dylan’s fitness as a trial witness.  “Regardless of what the Connecticut police wanted from us…we weren’t necessarily beholden to them.  We did not assess whether she’d be a good witness in court.  That’s what Mr. Maco may have been interested in, but that’s not necessarily what we were interested in.”

Is it any wonder Maco noted in the article “that enlisting Yale’s assistance was the biggest mistake he made in the case”?

“I gave their report very little weight,” he told Connecticut Magazine.

6. After announcing in September 1993 that he was dropping the investigation against Allen to spare Dylan while simultaneously asserting that the filmmaker wasn’t exactly innocent, an infuriated Allen responded with two “ethics complaint[s] against Maco with both the Statewide Grievance Committee—a lawyers’ disciplinary group—and the state Criminal Justice Commission, which hires and fires prosecutors.”

The CJC cleared Maco at the end of 1993, two months after Allen’s desperate filing.  But a close SGC vote (6-5 “with two abstentions”) determined that an investigation was necessary into Maco’s actions.  “The vote overturned a ruling by Maco’s local committee, which had found in his favor.”  A Superior Court Judge ridiculed the overruling calling it “star-driven, sloppy and careless.”  There was suspicion that the committee might have “just wanted to see Woody Allen”.  Maco was offered a chance to apologize and settle with Allen but refused.  “I did nothing illegal, unethical or immoral,” he told Connecticut Magazine.  “I’ll go anywhere to defend that.”

In the end, according to a brief 2013 blog update published with the reposting of the original 1997 article on the official CM website, it took four years for the SGC to realize that the CJC was right all along.  As a result, Rico was cleared a second time in 2001.  Allen had lost both attempts to punish him for his aborted prosecution.  Two years later, after more than 30 years on the job, Rico retired.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, February 12, 2014
8:22 p.m.

Published in: on February 11, 2014 at 8:23 pm  Comments (12)