Standout Moments From 2018 – Part Two (The Bad)

1. The murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.  For years, he was a longtime confidant and unapologetic spokesman for the House of Saud.  Then, in 2016, he publicly criticized then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump, a fateful decision that so angered Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman that Khashoggi was effectively censored.  He never appeared in the Saudi Arabian media ever again.  Relocating to America, he began to turn on MBS, writing critical column after critical column.  While visiting the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul, Turkey to obtain a marriage license, he was tortured and cut into pieces by goons hired by MBS to take him out.  His remains have never been found.  Although there was some political fallout and boycotting by numerous major companies and celebrities, MBS was never punished for ordering the hit.

2. Anthony Bourdain, the host of CNN’s Parts Unknown, killed himself.

3. Donald Trump’s horrendously cruel child separation policy for refugee families.  Chaotically implemented, it has already traumatized innocent people desperate to escape the dangers of their own countries, dangers directly caused by successive American governments, not to mention the preventable deaths of 2 young children.  White supremacy and capitalism go hand in hand.

4. The California wildfires.  Climate change is the apocalypse.

5. Steel City Video closed after 30 successful years in business.  The Hamilton, Ontario stable supplied me with so many movies over the decades I lost count.  I wonder who bought all their porn.

6. Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice despite his dishonest, belligerent testimony and numerous accusations of sexual harassment and assault by women, including Christine Blasey Ford, the only victim allowed to appear during a hearing.  We learned nothing from Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill.

7. Gina Haspel became the new CIA Director.  Torture cover-ups get you promotions in the Trump Administration.

8. Hulk Hogan was welcomed back to the WWE three years after being exposed as an anti-Black racist.  He hasn’t changed.

9. The Toronto van attack.

10. Prince Harry’s wedding.  Who gives a shit?

11. Kraftwerk were once again not inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  The band’s massive widespread influence led to the phenomenal rise of EDM and Hip Hop, the top two genres in modern popular music.  So, why do they continue to be disrespected?

12. Life Of The Party.  The worst film of the year.  Melissa McCarthy is the new Chris Farley, wasting her career on dumb, insulting slapstick.

13. Raise Vibration by Lenny Kravitz.  We waited four years for this boring garbage?  The love revolution is putting us to sleep.

14. Roman Reigns announced he was once again diagnosed with leukemia, forcing him to forfeit the Universal Championship.  May he once again recover and live to Superman punch another day.

15. Twitter locked my account for a day because I was retweeting too much about the US midterm elections.  To their credit, they did apologize twice and let me back in.

16. Jian Ghomeshi’s self-serving essay.  He’s not a victim.  He’s a rapist.  He deserves his obscurity.

17. The Kurt Angle/Jason Jordan father/son angle.  Despite this nonsense leading to Jordan winning his first championship (the Raw tag titles with Seth Rollins), it did not get him over with the fans.  Then he got hurt.  Who’s pining for his return?

18. Kanye West’s ignorant statement on TMZ Live where he claimed that “slavery was a choice”.  He also briefly vouched for President Trump (which led to an embarrassing, meandering White House visit) and even wore his stupid Make America Great Again hat.  When he stops making hits, he’ll finally go away.

19. Blade Runner 2049 was not nominated for Best Picture.  One of the best sequels ever made.  The motion picture academy does not understand the importance of science fiction.

20. The Dynamite Kid died.  Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Bret Hart, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and a whole bunch of luchadores owe the British legend a huge debt of gratitude for making the small man larger than life in the squared circle.  If only his personal life was as honourable.

21. Doug Ford’s Conservatives won the Ontario election.  This doesn’t end well.

22. Mark Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for defending Palestinians and opposing Apartheid Israel’s illegal ongoing occupation during a speech at the UN.  Former AIPAC spokesman Wolf Blitzer wrote a whole book demonizing Arabs and Rick Santorum doesn’t believe Palestinians actually exist but their jobs are safe.  Racists are always protected by capitalism and white supremacy.

23. The uselessness of Primus Canada customer service.  Putting you on hold for an hour without talking to you.  Not taking responsibility for their slow-ass dial-up service which wasn’t always this slow and unstable connection that cuts in and out.  Pretending to solve the problem when nothing has changed.  A total waste of time.

24. George A. Romero died.  Night Of The Living Dead is still timely and relevant.

25. The Edmonton Oilers failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Again.

26. The cancellation of Ontario’s updated sex-ed curriculum and guaranteed basic income experiment by Doug Ford’s Conservative government, the latter of which he promised not to do.  He doesn’t care about the poor, LGBT folks, FN or people of colour.

27. Game Night.  Not scary enough to be a thriller.  Not funny enough to be a comedy.

28. Facebook ended its partnership with Twitter to allow users to send tweets to their profile page.  No wonder my hits are way down.

29. Serena Williams’ embarrassing temper tantrum during the US Open Final.  It took away from a historic victory for new champion Naomi Asaka, the first Asian-American woman to ever win the tournament.

30. Aretha Franklin died.

31. The draconian anti-sex trafficking bills FOSTA and SESTA became law.  Sex workers can no longer depend on the Internet to safely screen clients and police are having a much harder time catching actual sex traffickers.  The incoming House Democrats should repeal them both and decriminalize sex work.

32. All the mass shootings in America.  What’s it going to take to end toxic masculinity?

33. The Humboldt Broncos bus crash.  Preventable and horrifying.

34. Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House & Fear: Trump In The White House.  Too much gossip about a complicated idiot, not enough dissection of destructive policies and lifetime judicial appointments which are far more important.

35. Gitmo is still open.

36. The Canadian postal strike.  May it be resolved early in the new year.

37. Whistleblower Reality Winner was pressured into taking a plea deal rather than take her chances in court which could’ve led to a decades-long sentence.  She’ll serve five years for leaking to The Intercept.  Abolish the Espionage Act.

38. The Catholic Church child abuse cover-ups.  Thousands of victims in multiple parishes, not a lot of accountability or convictions.  Why does Pope Francis continue to delay structural reforms?

39. Jair Bolsonaro, the fascist homophobe and misogynist, once an outlier on the extreme right, was elected President of Brazil.  Oh, and he doesn’t believe in climate change so good-bye Amazon rainforest.

40. Nikolai Volkoff died.  No more stirring renditions of the Soviet National Anthem from the Croatian-born grappler and former world tag team champion.

41. The restoration of the Iran sanctions by President Trump.  They’ve always honoured the nuclear deal.  But the neocons in his administration are itching for war.  Bad news for world peace.

42. The WWE’s despicable association with the House of Saud.  First, there was the Greatest Royal Rumble which took place despite the atrocities in Yemen.  Then came Crown Jewel which went on as scheduled even after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.  The show was hosted by the bigoted Hulk Hogan and featured Shawn Michaels in his first match in eight years.  So much for honouring a retirement storyline.  And so much for caring about human rights.

43. Ryan Seacrest didn’t get fired from his many jobs despite harassing and assaulting his former stylist who was fired for reporting him.  George Takei claimed exoneration after a questionable article written by an author who sang his praises in a book.  Michael Weatherly hasn’t lost his job playing Bull despite being caught on film harassing fired co-star Eliza Dushku and was actually defended by two women who worked with him on NCIS.  There are many other examples too numerous and depressing to mention.  The bottom line is this.  #MeToo hasn’t changed anything.

44. All the other bad films I saw released this year:  Mom And Dad, Unfriended: Dark Web, Day Of The Dead: Bloodline, Upgrade, The Endless, The First Purge, Death Wish, Winchester, Insidious: The Last Key, The Strangers: Prey At Night, Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare, Fifty Shades Freed and Hotel Transylvania 3.

45. All the other awful movies I saw this year: Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul; Goon: Last Of The Enforcers; Failure To Launch; CHIPS; The Boss Baby; Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie; Uncle Buck; Hoodwinked; Blades Of Glory; Rough Night; Hide And Seek; Frankenweenie; The Ant Bully; A Return To Salem’s Lot; The Croods; Snatched; The House; Are We Done Yet; Missing In Action; Hitch; The Emoji Movie; A Million Ways To Die In The West; The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature; Shutter; Red; Red 2.

My Little Pony: The Movie (1986 & 2017); Society; Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie; Kick-Ass; Kick-Ass 2; Despicable Me; Despicable Me 2; Despicable Me 3; Minions; Cocktail; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014); Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows; The Bye Bye Man; The Smurfs; The Smurfs 2; Smurfs: The Lost Village; The Chipmunk Adventure; Alvin & The Chipmunks; Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel; Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked; Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip.

Amityville: The Awakening; Ducktales The Movie: Treasure Of The Lost Map; Sausage Party; The Peanuts Movie; A Boy Named Charlie Brown; Snoopy Come Home; Run For Your Life, Charlie Brown; Jigsaw; Kung Fu Panda; Kung Fu Panda 2; Kung Fu Panda 3; Mr. Peabody & Sherman; G.I. Joe: Retaliation; Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life; The Brothers Grimsby; Keanu; The Interview; Delivery Man; 17 Again; When The Bough Breaks; Father Figures; A Thousand Words; Joe Versus The Volcano; Creepshow; Creepshow 2.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Super-Sized Version); Dead-End Drive-In; Strictly Business; Trailer Park Boys; Trailer Park Boys: Countdown To Liquor Day; Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It; Pete’s Dragon (1977); The Man; Jeepers Creepers 3; #Horror; But I’m A Cheerleader; Razorback; Bad Moon; Crawlspace; Seven Chances; The Garbage Pail Kids Movie; Warlock: The Armageddon; Repossessed; The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie; The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water; White Of The Eye; Summer School.

Hide And Go Shriek; Parents; Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy; The Other Side Of The Door; A Woman’s Torment; Frankenhooker; 47 Meters Down; Children Of The Corn; Children Of The Corn II: The Final Sacrifice; The Car; Bad Words; Pitch Perfect; Pitch Perfect 2; Pitch Perfect 3; The Final Girls; Satanic; Office Christmas Party, The Star; Four Christmases; National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; Red Heat; Zombie Strippers!, XXX: Return Of Xander Cage and Martin.

46. Margot Kidder committed suicide.  The definitive Lois Lane, a Bernie Sanders supporter and an all-round delightful character.  Mental illness is a cancer on our society, especially our creative community.

47. The whitewashing of John McCain and George H.W. Bush’s political record because they died.  War criminals don’t deserve penance or reputational protection from their millionaire friends in the media.  They deserve endless scorn and ridicule for all the innocent people they tortured and murdered.

48. The Twitter purge.  Leftists and sex workers need more protection from white supremacy and corporate censorship.

49. Premier Doug Ford used the Notwithstanding Clause of the Canadian Constitution to reduce Toronto City Council from 47 seats to 25.  Pure pettiness with surely more to come.

50. Dolores O’Riordan, Steven Bochco, Steven Hawking and John Mahoney all died.

51. Monday Night Raw & Smackdown Live.  Bad announcing, pitiful storylines, questionable political associations.  The highly hated Enzo Amore aside, they’re still protecting abusers and creeps that can draw.  I can spend these five hours every week doing something less offensive.

52. The ongoing persecution of Julian Assange and the restriction of his rights in the Ecuadorian Embassy.  Yes, he’s a maddening figure for many reasons but even he doesn’t deserve this torture.  Exposing government crimes is crucial for democracy to function.

53. The CIA torture report has still not been released.

54. Elizabeth Warren falsely claiming she’s part Indigenous.  Nope.  What you really are is cannon fodder for Donald Trump if you win the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020.  Bernie can still win.

55. All the Facebook scandals.  Fuck Zuck.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 31, 2018
8:04 p.m.


Standout Moments From 2018 – Part One (The Good)

1. Daniel Bryan was reinstated as an active professional wrestler and went on to win back the WWE Championship, a title he never lost four years ago.

2. The Clinton Affair, a stellar three-part A&E docuseries on former President Bill Clinton’s awful history of rape, abuse, harassment and imbalanced sexual relationships.  Monica Lewinsky candidly owns up to all the mistakes she made and comes off far better than the man who foolishly risked his legacy for side pussy.

3. A Quiet Place.  Clever and surprisingly poignant, an inventive take on the alien invasion genre.  The best use of silence since Signs.  For once, we get unsentimental characters with disabilities, flawed and temperamental, not inspirational saints.  The upcoming sequel has a lot to live up to.

4. The Democrats won back control of The House of Representatives.

5. Corporations can no longer through arbitration demand countries change laws interfering with their capitalistic ambitions, one of the few good things about the new USMCA trade agreement.

6. Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen were convicted.  Are Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. next?

7. The easing of tensions between North & South Korea.  May it finally lead to the official end of the overlong Korean War.

8. Recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada.  Now stop arresting people for selling it without a license, legalize their shops, fix your supply issues, lower your prices and pardon/release everyone charged and convicted in the pointless Drug War.

9. CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling was quietly released from prison.  He should never have been convicted in the first place.

10. Franz Ferdinand’s Always Ascending.  Still funky, still horny.

11. Croatia’s surprising run in the World Cup.  Despite being throttled by a determined France in the final match, the fact that they even made it this far, their best all-time showing, is inspiration for the next generation.

12. Jersey Shore: Family Vacation.  Skinny Vinnie.  Explanation face.  Angelina hasn’t gotten pounded in a long time.  French fry.  The Situation gets engaged.  Deena gets pregnant.  Sammi the love doll.  The missing wedding ring.  Twerking in Vegas.  Uncle Nino returns.  Ronnie’s psycho baby mama.  Ariana Sky. Vinnie’s sweet mother.  Ass cake.  Fighting, brawling, drinking, reconciling, roasting.  A show so action-packed and amusing, it had to be divided into two parts.  Funnier than most sitcoms.

13. The Great Return March.  Desperate Palestinian refugees in Gaza, determined to be recognized for their humanity and fed up with the illegal blockade, courageously protesting in the midst of fierce homicidal violence by Apartheid Israel.  They are heroes who deserve their freedom and dignity.

14. Albert Schultz was ousted by Soulpepper, the Canadian theatre troupe he co-founded after being accused of sexual harassment by multiple actresses who worked for the company.  He settled numerous lawsuits, as a result.

15. The remarkable rescue of a teenage soccer team stranded and trapped in a water-filled cave in Thailand.  Only one of the rescuers died in a tragic accident.  All the kids and their protective coach were safely retrieved and after a brief hospital stay, are now doing fine.

16. Bill Cosby was convicted of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, the only entertainer in the #MeToo era to face any kind of genuine consequences for harming women.

17. Interpol’s Marauder.  Alternative rock isn’t dead yet.

18. CNN’s 1968.  A sprawling, four-part examination of one of the most influential years in American history.  A welcome expansion of the original Sixties episode that felt woefully incomplete.

19. The New York Times investigation into the Trump family’s long history of fraud in New York City.  It would’ve been nice to have done this, what, 20, 30 years ago when it would’ve mattered more.  There won’t be criminal charges because of the statute of limitations but by God, there should be plenty of lawsuits.  Overcharging seniors on fixed incomes is shameful.

20. Ronda Rousey’s electrifying debut at WrestleMania 34, in a mixed-tag match, no less.  Rousey and Kurt Angle defeated Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in a very entertaining 30-minute encounter that launched the former UFC Champion onto the short trek to a WWE World Championship.

21. All the other good & great movies I saw this year:  OJ: Made In America, Blade Runner 2049, Room 237, Akira (both English-language versions), Ghost In The Shell, Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence, Pete’s Dragon (2016), Planet Of The Apes (1968), Night Of The Living Dead (1968), The Transporter, Suburbicon, The Ninth Gate, Before I Fall, Identity, Godzilla (2014), Festival Express, Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage, The Abyss: Special Edition and Jurassic World.

22. John Kelly, Jim Mattis, Scott Pruitt, Jeff Sessions, Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson and Ryan Zinke all exited The Trump Administration, most with tarnished reputations.  None will be missed.

23. Bruce MacArthur was finally arrested.  What took so long?

24. Les Moonves was tossed from CBS after numerous reports of him raping, harassing and retaliating against numerous women in the industry.  He was denied millions in compensation.  He should’ve never been elevated to such a powerful position.  Will he be prosecuted?

25. Virtue, the second CD from Julian Casablancas and The Voidz.  An eclectic mix of funk, punk, rock and soul from the leader of The Strokes.  The best album I heard all year featuring some of the prettiest melodies this decade.

26. Leah Remini – Scientology & The Aftermath.  More disheartening, gutwrenching revelations from former cult members.  When is the end coming for the diabolical Kerry Fraser doppelganger David Miscavige?

27. A suspect in the Golden State Killer case was finally arrested, one of the oldest cold cases in America.  Hopefully, he’s the guy.  We’ll find out soon enough.

28. The Parkland high school student protests against gun violence.  Someone has to challenge the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress.

29. Canada’s Paralympic Wheelchair Curling Team.  Going a brilliant 9 and 2 during the preliminary match-ups, this loveable fivesome of middle-aged athletes endeared an entire country with their touching back stories and Bronze medal victory.  They lost the fewest ends and won more ends than any other nation including the Gold-winning Chinese squad.

30. Roxy Music was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  About goddamn time.

31. Harvey Weinstein was arrested and charged with multiple counts of assault.  Even if he somehow survives, who would ever want to work with him again?

32. The J20 acquittals.  Protesting and journalism are not crimes.

33. Cesar Sayoc, the wannabe serial killer, was arrested after sending mail bombs to numerous high profile, public critics of President Trump.  Thankfully, no one was hurt or killed because they were intercepted in time.

34. The poorly attended Toronto show of the Bill & Hillary Clinton speaking tour.  Hundred dollar seats were slashed to single digits and that still didn’t attract more people.  Bernie would’ve won.

35. The Israel Lobby, the reportedly damning, undercover docuseries unaired by Al Jazeera, was leaked online and posted in full by The Electronic Intifada who did solid summary reporting on its revelations.  Why can’t we see this on Television?

36. The Canadian Olympic Team won 29 medals, the most ever for The Great White North.  If only we were as dominant in the summer games.

37. John Cena and Daniel Bryan refused to work the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia and weren’t punished for taking a moral stand.  They should’ve boycotted The Greatest Royal Rumble, as well.

38. Lana Del Mar cancelled her gig in Apartheid Israel which greatly boosted the already thriving BDS movement, which makes Radiohead’s decision to go ahead with their performance last year even more unconscionable.

39. Alex Jones was kicked off of Facebook and Twitter after years of spreading misinformation and harming innocent people, like the parents of the slain kids in the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre, which he absurdly and repeatedly declared “a hoax”.  Facing a slew of lawsuits, following an acrimonious divorce, his paranoid goose is cooked.

40. Kevin Spacey was arrested for molesting a teenager in 2016.  Not sure that weird Let Me Be Frank video was a good idea.

41. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 34.  A hot start, a very good match and a welcome return for the former American Dragon.

42. Eric Schneiderman was exposed as a violent misogynist and resigned as New York’s Attorney General.

43. Julia Salazar was elected to the New York State Senate.  She’s the only Democrat advocating for sex workers.  May she start a long overdue revolution in feminism.

44. Bad Witch by Nine Inch Nails.  Beneath the typically tuneful, noisy aggression, some surprising experimentation.  Who knew Trent Reznor could croon?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 31, 2018
7:42 p.m.

Twitter Froze My Account For Tweeting & Retweeting Too Much About The 2018 Midterm Elections

Last night, I was tweeting and retweeting about the Midterm Elections in the United States.  Apparently, I was tweeting and retweeting too much for Twitter’s liking.  How do I know this?  They’ve locked me out of my account.

A warning popped up that suggested I wasn’t human but rather an “overly aggressive” bot, an automated replicant of some kind that couldn’t possibly be that interested in the American political scene, at least not from an independent, leftist perspective.  Oh no, in the eyes of Twitter, I must be some kind of “suspicious” artificial intelligence for constantly tweeting and retweeting election updates to my near 800 followers (something I’ve done through numerous elections for half a decade) while also offering quick personal commentary regarding the horror of Ted Cruz being re-elected and goofing on Wolf Blitzer’s metaphorical election boner.  (The CNN anchor always seem overly excited when anticipating and delivering results live on the air which sometimes leads to verbal blunders and the unnecessary interruption of colleagues.)

According to Twitter, doing all of this while also tweeting about unrelated political articles, is not acceptable.  White supremacists who threaten fellow users?  Perfectly ok.  Huffington Post Contributors reporting and tweeting about the election?  Freeze that bastard’s account.

Twitter does this annoying thing where they give you a chance to prove you are flesh and blood and then after you prove it they still won’t let you access your account.  It’s a program called reCAPTCHA.  It works like this.  First, they ask you, “Are you a robot?”  Seriously.  If you’re not, and last time I checked I still bleed like every other living thing on this goddamn planet, they ask you to click the box next to, wait for it, “I’m not a robot.”  In other words, if you are a robot, you have to lie in order to proceed.

After you click that, a picture puzzle pops up.  It’s either one shot cut up into nine squares or nine individual ones that collectively make up nine squares.  You’re asked to click specifically requested objects within these frames a varying number of times.  Sometimes you have to find a bus or a car.  Sometimes, it’s traffic lights or crosswalks or fire hydrants.  After you get through this bullshit, you should see a green checkmark declaring yes, you rascal, you’re a human after all.  Our bad.

And then, nothing.  Instead of moving on to the next step to Twitter freedom, whatever the fuck that is, after an eternity of no progress, a message pops up saying your path to verification has “expired”.  Oh, and “Check the checkbox again”.  Maybe next time, impatient one, we’ll let you through.  I must’ve repeated this process dozens of times to no avail.

Now, that’s on a fast library computer.  Using my own slow-ass PC is even more frustrating.  I frequently receive the dreaded “Cannot contact reCAPTCHA.  Check your connection and try again” message.  So I try again.  And again.  And again.  Same deal, although one time clicking the “I’m not a robot” checkbox results in that blue snakey circle endlessly rotating.

Once in a while, I get “lucky”, the puzzle pops up and if I get all the way through, here comes the checkmark followed by the “Verification expired” nonsense.  But usually the “Check your connection” error message returns well before that happens and I’m back to square one again.

As you can imagine, I’m not terribly happy about being unable to communicate on a medium I’ve been using regularly for almost six years.  (I’ve tweeted well over 70000 times.)  Perhaps, I should’ve seen this coming.  Not that long ago, I called Hulk Hogan a “racist” and got an automated warning saying my use of Twitter would be “limited” for 12 hours.  It was weird because 1. Hulk Hogan is a racist and 2. I was able to carry on using my account without any apparent restrictions.

But once they freeze your account, you’re fucked.  Unless you can somehow get past the reCAPTCHA gatekeeper, you’re powerless to do anything except appeal to Twitter directly.  So I tried that and got an automated email in return.  The instructions are useless.  When I go to my account, I’m stuck at the “Are you a robot?” screen so no, I can’t “select” my “country/region” from the nowhere-to-be-seen “drop down menu”, and then enter” my “phone number”, which means I won’t be getting a code sent to my nonexistent cell phone.  So it’s impossible to type in this elusive code and click Submit when the “Your Code” and “Submit” boxes aren’t visible on my screen, which means I won’t be getting a confirmation email informing me that my “account is now unlocked”.

I’ve written them back to inform them of this (along with my irritation, a writer for a high-profile website, of being locked out of my own account in the first place) and have yet to receive a reply.

So, what now?  How long am I going to be in Twitter Jail before someone wakes up and realizes a mistake has been made?  And more importantly, how many other poor saps are going through the exact same annoyance?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
11:24 p.m.

UPDATE:  Well, that was fast.  Unbeknownst to me until this moment, just before midnight tonight, Twitter replied to my emails, told me they had unlocked my account and even apologized.  Twice.  I also got an explanation:

“Twitter has automated systems that find and remove automated spam accounts and it looks like your account got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake. This sometimes happens when an account exhibits automated behavior in violation of the Twitter Rules…”

A few hours after this message was sent, having not yet seen it, I decided to try getting on my account again.  When I was able to see my notifications and news feed as before, I cannot tell you how I relieved I was.  That’s when I checked my email and spotted the above message.

Many thanks to Twitter for resolving this issue swiftly and for the apologies.  It’s good to be back on.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, November 8, 2018
4:12 a.m.

Published in: on November 7, 2018 at 11:25 pm  Comments (1)  

Curious Moments From Fire And Fury: Trump In The White House (Part Four)

34. A proud Trump privately admitted to feeding the media false information.

“If you couldn’t get press directly for yourself, you became a leaker. There was no happenstance news, in Trump’s view. All news was manipulated and designed, planned and planted. All news was to some extent fake–he understood that very well, because he himself had faked it so many times in his career. This was why he had so naturally cottoned to the ‘fake news’ label. ‘I’ve made stuff up forever, and they always print it,’ he bragged.”

35. Trump took credit for MBS becoming the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

From Chapter 17:

“Within weeks of the trip, MBS, detaining MBN quite in the dead of night, would force him to relinquish the Crown Prince title, which MBS would then assume for himself. Trump would tell friends that he and Jared had engineered a Saudi coup: ‘We’ve put our man on top!'”

36. A lot of law firms don’t want to represent Trump.

Also from Chapter 17:

“…it certainly didn’t help that they were unable to hire a law firm with a top-notch white-collar government practice. By the time Bannon and Priebus were back in Washington, three blue-chip firms had said no. All of them were afraid they would face a rebellion among the younger staff if they represented Trump, afraid Trump would publicly humiliate them if the going got tough, and afraid Trump would stiff them for the bill.

In the end, nine top firms turned them down.”

37. Kushner & Ivanka retaliated against two frustrated, outgoing Trump lawyers by leaking dirt about them to the press.

As the media started successfully discrediting the original, false, then shifting assertions regarding the famous Trump Tower meeting that has been a focal point of the Mueller investigation, two of Trump’s attorneys saw the writing on the wall:

“Mark Corallo was instructed not to speak to the press, indeed not to even answer his phone. Later that week, Corallo, seeing no good outcome–and privately confiding that he believed the meeting on Air Force One represented a likely obstruction of justice–quit. (The Jarvanka side would put it out that Corallo was fired.)”


“Likewise, the Trump family, no matter its legal exposure, was not going to be run by its lawyers. Jared and Ivanka helped to coordinate a set of lurid leaks–drinking, bad behavior, personal life in disarray–about Marc Kasowitz, who had advised the president to send the couple home. Shortly after the presidential party returned to Washington, Kasowitz was out.”

In Chapter 21, gelatinous salamander Steve Bannon offered his own view:

“Look, Kasowitz has known him for twenty-five years.  Kasowitz has gotten him out of all kinds of jams.  Kasowitz on the campaign–what did we have, a hundred women?  Kasowitz took care of all of them.  And now he lasts, what, four weeks?  He’s in the mumble tank. This is New York’s toughest lawyer, broken.  Mark Corallo, toughest motherfucker I ever met, just can’t do it.”

Wait, did Trump have one of his lawyers pay off “a hundred women” he had affairs with or is that number exaggerated?  Again, author Michael Wolff doesn’t follow up.

38. Anthony Scaramucci helped kill a damaging Kushner story so he could get a job in the White House.

From Chapter 20:

“Scaramucci called a reporter he knew to urge that an upcoming story about Kushner’s Russian contacts be spiked.  He followed up by having another mutual contact call the reporter to say that if the story was spiked it would help the Mooch get into the White House, whereupon the reporter would have special Mooch access.  The Mooch then assured Jared and Ivanka that he had, in this clever way, killed the story.”

39. Bannon’s theory on the true focus of the Mueller investigation:

From Chapter 21:

“This is all about money laundering…Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner…It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit.  The Kushner shit is greasy.  They’re going to go right through that.  They’re going to roll those guys up and say play me or trade me.”


“They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on National TV.  Michael Cohen, cracked like an egg.”

40. Bannon doesn’t think Trump will survive his Presidency.

Also from Chapter 21:

“I’m pretty good at coming up with solutions, I came up with a solution for his broke-dick campaign in about a day, but I don’t see this.  I don’t see a plan for getting through.  Now, I gave him a plan…seal the Oval Office…send [Jared & Ivanka] home…get rid of Hope [Hicks], all these deadbeats…You listen to your [lawyers] and never talk about this stuff again, you just conduct yourself as commander in chief and then you can be president for eight years.  If you don’t, you’re not, simple.  But he’s the president…and he’s clearly choosing to go down another path…you can’t stop him.  The guy is going to call his own plays.  He’s Trump…”

41. Bannon knew Anthony Scaramucci wouldn’t last very long as communications director.

“He’ll be on that podium for two days and he’ll be so chopped he’ll bleed out everywhere.  He’ll literally blow up in a week…Hiring Scaramucci?  He’s not qualified to do anything.  He runs a fund of funds.  Do you know what a fund of funds is?  It’s not a fund.”

42. Trump is in deep denial about the Ku Klux Klan.

From Chapter 22:

“Privately, he kept trying to rationalize why someone would be a member of the KKK–that, they might not actually believe what the KKK believed, and that the KKK probably does not believe what it used to believe, and, anyway, who really know what the KKK believes now?”

43. Maybe this is why Nikki Haley recently resigned as UN Ambassador.

From the Epilogue:

“Haley–‘as ambitious as Lucifer,’ in the characterization of one member of the senior staff–had concluded that Trump’s tenure would last, at best, a single term, and that she, with requisite submission, could be his heir apparent.”


“The president had been spending a notable amount of private time with Haley on Air Force One and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
7:09 p.m.

Published in: on October 31, 2018 at 7:10 pm  Comments (1)  

Curious Moments From Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House (Part Three)

20. Trump has an unnamed source who dishes about the Department of Justice.

From Chapter Eleven:

“…Trump already had good reason to worry about the DOJ. The president had a private source, one of his frequent callers, who, he believed, was keeping him abreast of what was going on in the Justice Department…”


“The source, a longtime friend with his own DOJ sources…fed the president a bleak picture of a Justice Department and an FBI run amok in its efforts to get him. ‘Treason’ was a word that was being used, the president was told.

‘The DOJ,’ the president’s source told him, ‘was filled with women who hated him.’…’They want to make Watergate look like Pissgate,’ the president was told. This comparison confused Trump; he thought his friend was making a reference to the Steele dossier and its tale of the golden showers.”

21. Tony Blair falsely claimed that the British were spying on Trump.

Also from Chapter Eleven:

“In February [2017], Blair visited Kushner in the White House.

On this trip, the now freelance diplomat, seeking to prove his usefulness to this new White House, imparted a juicy nugget of information. There was, he suggested, the possibility that the British had had the Trump campaign staff under surveillance, monitoring its telephone calls and other communications and possibly even Trump himself.


It was unclear whether Blair’s information was rumor, informed conjecture, his own speculation, or solid stuff. But, as it churned and festered in the president’s mind, Kushner and Bannon went out to CIA headquarters in Langley to meet with Mike Pompeo and his deputy director Gina Haspel to check it out. A few days later, the CIA opaquely reported back that the information was not correct; it was a ‘miscommunication.'”

22. Trump doesn’t really care about abolishing the Affordable Care Act.

From Chapter Twelve:

“Trump had little or no interest in the central Republican goal of repealing Obamacare. An overweight seventy-year-old man with various physical phobias (for instance, he lied about his height to keep from having a body mass index that would label him as obese), he personally found health care and medical treatments of all kinds a distasteful subject. The details of the contested legislation were, to him, particularly boring. His attention would begin wandering from the first words of a policy discussion…he certainly could not make any kind of meaningful distinction, positive or negative, between the health care system before Obamacare and the one after.”

23. Jared Kushner privately supports the ACA and has a family member who benefits from it.

“Kushner…privately suggested that he was personally against both repeal alone and repeal and replace. He and his wife took a conventional Democratic view on Obamacare (it was better than the alternative; its problems could be fixed in the future)…(What’s more, Kushner’s brother Josh ran a health insurance company that depended on Obamacare.)”

24. Gary Cohn allegedly sent a scathing email that got forwarded throughout the Administration.

From Chapter Fourteen:

“In April, an email originally copied to more than a dozen people went into far wider circulation when it was forwarded and reforwarded. Purporting to represent the views of Gary Cohn [Trump’s Economic Advisor] and quite succinctly summarizing the appalled sense in much of the White House, the email read:

It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything–not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers, nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better. Kushner is an entitled baby who knows nothing. Bannon is an arrogant prick who thinks he’s smarter than he is. Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits. No one will survive the first year but his family. I hate the work, but feel I need to stay because I’m the only person there with a clue what he’s doing. The reason so few jobs have been filled is that they only accept people who pass ridiculous purity tests, even for midlevel policy-making jobs where the people will never see the light of day. I am in a constant state of shock and horror.”

25. Steve Bannon was kicked off the National Security Council after being the only Trump official to oppose a military response against the Syrian government.

Also from Chapter Fourteen:

“By midmorning on April 4 [2017], a full briefing had been assembled at the White House for the president about the chemical attacks.”


“Bannon, at perhaps his lowest moment of influence in the White House–many still felt that his departure was imminent–was the only voice arguing against a military response. It was a purist’s rationale: keep the United States out of intractable problems, and certainly don’t increase our involvement in them. He was holding the line against the rising business-as-usual faction, making decisions based on the same set of assumptions, Bannon believed, that has resulted in the Middle East quagmire.”


“The president had already agreed to McMaster’s demand that Bannon be removed from the National Security Council, though the change wouldn’t be announced until the following day.”


“The announcement of Bannon’s removal was made the day after the attack.”

26. Even Roger Ailes got fed up with Trump.

From Chapter Fifteen:

“In the past month, Ailes, a frequent Trump caller and after-dinner adviser, had all but stopped speaking to the president, piqued by the constant reports that Trump was bad-mouthing him as he praised a newly attentive [Rupert] Murdoch, who had, before the election, only ever ridiculed Trump.

‘Men who demand the most loyalty tend to be the least loyal pricks,’ noted a sardonic Ailes (a man who himself demanded lots of loyalty).”


“…noted Ailes…’Donald and I were really quite good friends for more than 25 years, but he would have preferred to be friends with Murdoch, who thought he was a moron–at least until he became president.'”

27. Kellyanne Conway is more honest about Trump in private.

Also from Chapter Fifteen:

“In private…she seemed to regard Trump as a figure of exhausting exaggeration or even absurdity–or, at least, if you regarded him that way, she seemed to suggest that she might, too. She illustrated her opinion of her boss with a whole series of facial expressions: eyes rolling, mouth agape, head snapping back.”

28. Before he became an outspoken critic, Kellyanne’s husband George, originally an early Trump booster, nearly worked for him.

“After the election,” according to author Michael Wolff, there was “a scramble to get her husband an administration job…” What that job would’ve been is not divulged.

29. Even Trump government insiders, including his own daughter, thought Kellyanne’s “defend-at-all-costs shtick” was ridiculous.

“Loyalty was Trump’s most valued attribute, and in Conway’s view her kamikaze-like media defense of the president had earned her a position of utmost primacy in the White House. But in her public persona, she had pushed the boundaries of loyalty too far; she was so hyperbolic that even Trump loyalists found her behaviour extreme and were repelled. None were more put off than Jared and Ivanka…appalled at the shamelessness of her television appearances…”

They were so appalled, according to Wolff, they started leaking “about how she had been sidelined…reduced to second-rate media, to being a designated emissary to right-wing groups, and left out of any meaningful decision making.”

She almost resigned but Trump insisted she keep defending him on-air. (“You will always have a place in my administration…You will be here for eight years.”)

30. Before aligning with Trump, Hope Hicks once worked for the PR firm that protected Harvey Weinstein. So did Jared Kushner spokesman Josh Raffel.

“She first went to work for Matthew Hiltzik, who ran a small New York-based PR firm and was noted for his ability to work with high-maintenance clients, including the movie producer Harvey Weinstein (later pilloried for years of sexual harassment and abuse–accusations that Hiltzik and his staff had long helped protect him from)…”


“Kushner’s Office of American Innovation employed, as its spokesperson, Josh Raffel, who, like Hicks, came out of Matthew Hiltzik’s PR shop.”

31. Trump didn’t understand why Hicks wanted to protect ex-boyfriend Corey Lewandowski from bad press after he was fired for “clashing with Trump family members.”

“…Hicks sat in Trump Tower with Trump and his sons, worrying about Lewandowski’s treatment in the press and wondering aloud how she might help him. Trump, who otherwise seemed to treat Hicks in a protective and even paternal way, looked up and said, ‘Why? You’ve already done enough for him. You’re the best piece of tail he’ll ever have,’ sending Hicks running from the room.

32. Why Trump thinks his son-in-law can solve the Middle East crisis.

From Chapter Sixteen:

“…the president had been gleefully telling multiple people that Jared could solve the Middle East problem because the Kushners knew all the crooks in [Apartheid] Israel…”

33. Trump despised Sally Yates.

Also from Chapter Sixteen:

“To Trump, he was just up against Sally Yates, who was, he steamed, ‘such a cunt.'”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
6:50 p.m.

Published in: on October 31, 2018 at 6:51 pm  Comments (1)  

Curious Moments From Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House (Part Two)

11. Supposed Trump critic Joe Scarborough keeps privately advising him over the phone.

One of Trump’s earliest public supporters was the host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, one of the President’s must-see morning cable news shows, until he eventually and inevitably started to turn on him.  However, in chapter two, Scarborough “privately told Trump ‘Washington will go up in flames’ if Bannon became chief of staff, and beginning a running theme, publicly denigrated Bannon on the show.'”

In chapter three, he’s urged to call Trump by worried staffers wanting the former Republican Congressman and others, it should be noted, to “call him and say Simmer down,’ with regards to attacking his growing band of critics, a similar sentiment another Trump friend, radio broadcaster Howard Stern, expressed publicly recently on his Sirius/XM satellite radio program.

“‘Who do you have in there?’ said Joe Scarborough in a frantic call. ‘Who’s the person you trust?  Jared?  Who can talk you through this stuff before you decided to act on it?’

‘Well,’ said the president, ‘you won’t like the answer, but the answer is me.  Me.  I talk to myself.'”

12. There is nothing to like about Stephen Miller.

From Chapter Three:

“Bannon got Stephen Miller to write the immigration EO.  Miller, a fifty-five-year-old trapped in a thirty-two-year-old’s body, was a former Jeff Sessions staffer brought on to the Trump campaign for his political expertise.  Except, other than being a dedicated far-right conservative, it was unclear what particular abilities accompanied Miller’s political views.  He was supposed to be a speechwriter, but if so, he seemed restricted to bullet points and unable to construct sentences.  He was supposed to be a policy adviser but knew little about policy.  He was supposed to be the house intellectual but was militantly unread.  He was supposed to be a communications specialist, but he antagonized almost everyone.  Bannon, during the transition, sent him to the Internet to learn about and to try to draft the EO.”

13. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski visited Trump in the White House shortly after he first attempted to ban Muslims in his infamous Executive Order.

From Chapter Five:

“On the Sunday after the immigration order was issued, Joe Scarborough and his cohost on the MSNBC show Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski, came for lunch at the White House.


“‘So how do you think the first week has gone?’ Trump asked the couple, in a buoyant mood, seeking flattery.

Scarborough, puzzled by Trump’s jauntiness in the face of the protests spreading across the nation, demurred and then said, ‘Well, I love what you did with U.S. Steel and that you had the union guys come into the Oval Office.’ Trump had pledged to use U.S.-made steel in U.S. pipelines…”


Scarborough then ventured his opinion that the immigration order might have been handled better and that, all in all, it seemed like a rough period.”

After “plung[ing] into a long monologue about how well things had gone”, Trump told him, “I could have invited Hannity!”

“…Jared and Ivanka joined the president and Scarborough and Brzezinski.  Jared had become quite a Scarborough confidant and would continue to supply Scarborough with an inside view of the White House–that is, leaking to him.  Scarborough, in turn, would become a defender of Kushner’s White House position and view.


“Trump continued to cast for positive impressions of his first week and Scarborough again reverted to his praise of Trump’s handling of the steel union leadership.”

14. Ivanka Trump wants to run for President.

Also from Chapter Five:

“Jared and Ivanka had made an earnest deal between themselves:  if sometime in the future the time came, she’d be the one to run for president (or the first one of them to take the shot).  The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton, it would be Ivanka Trump.”

15. Is Ivanka an enabler of her father’s extramarital affairs?

“She was a helper not just in his business dealings, but in his marital realignments.  She facilitated entrances and exits.  If you have a douchebag dad, and if everyone is open about it, then maybe it becomes fun and life a romantic comedy–sort of.”

16. Trump is paranoid about being assassinated by germs.

From Chapter Six:

“…he imposed a set of new rules:  nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush.  (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat a McDonald’s–nobody knew he was coming and the food was premade.)”

17. Rudy Guiliani was offered numerous jobs within the administration.  He wanted to be Secretary of State.  Trump staffers thought he would also hold out for a spot on the Supreme Court.

The longtime Trump apologist “was offered attorney general”, an undetermined job within the “Department of Homeland Security” (I’m presuming it was Director) “and director of national intelligence, but he turned them all down, continuing to hold out for State.  Or, in what staffers took to be the ultimate presumption, or grand triangulation, the Supreme Court.”

When Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s eventual first appointee for the highest bench in America, “took public exception to Trump’s disparagement of the courts”, Trump, “in a moment of pique, decided to pull his nomination and, during conversations with his after-dinner callers, went back to discussing how he should have given the nod to Rudy.  He was the only loyal guy.”  After much pushback from deteriorating skunk beetle Steve Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Trump ultimately relented and stuck with Gorsuch after all.  Wolff reports, “…Trump would shortly not remember when he had ever wanted anyone but Gorsuch.”

18. Michael Flynn initially denied any Russian collusion to a Washington Post reporter off the record.

February 8, 2017 would prove to be the beginning of the end for Donald Trump’s soon-to-be embattled National Security Advisor.  In “the same room where Japanese diplomats waited to meet with Secretary of State Cordell Hull as he learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor” in December 1941, Michael Flynn sat for an interview with Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post “in the most ornate room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building…”

“To all outward appearances, it was an uneventful background interview, and DeYoung, Columbo-like in her affect, aroused no suspicions when she broached the de rigueur question:  ‘My colleagues asked me to ask you this:  Did you talk to the Russians about sanctions?'”

Flynn made an unequivocal denial twice (“no such conversations”, according to Wolff).

“But later that day, DeYoung called [National Security Council official and spokesman Michael] Anton” who attended the off-the-record interview to inquire “if she could use Flynn’s denial on the record.  Anton said he saw no problem–after all, the White House wanted Flynn’s denial to be clear–and notified Flynn.

Suddenly, Flynn had “some worries about the statement.”

After Anton asked him, “If you knew that there might be a tape of this conversation that could surface, would you still be a hundred percent sure?”, “Flynn equivocated, and Anton, suddenly concerned, advised him that if he couldn’t be sure they ought to ‘walk it back.'”

In the eventual WaPo article that “contained new leaked details of the [Russian Ambassador] Kislyak phone call…Flynn, through his spokesman, backed away from the denial.  The spokesman said Flynn ‘indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.'”

Trump refused to fire him “after just twenty-four days” on the job.  “And he was adamant about not wanting to blame Flynn for talking to the Russians, even about sanctions.  In Trump’s view, condemning his advisor would connect him to a plot where there was no plot.  His fury wasn’t directed toward Flynn but to the ‘incidental’ wiretap that had surveilled him.”

Trump finally agreed to dismiss him after he was convinced that Flynn shouldn’t have misled Vice President Pence even though, as Wolff notes, “Flynn did not report to Vice President Pence, and he was arguably a good deal more powerful than Pence.”

That said, Trump, to this day, still thinks Flynn got railroaded:

“…the president did not waiver in his belief in Flynn.  Rather, Flynn’s enemies were his enemies.  And Russia was a gun to his head.  He might, however ruefully, have had to fire Flynn, but Flynn was still his guy.”

19. Trump told friends in private, “rambling” phone conversations what he really thought of his underlings.

From Chapter Eight:

“In paranoid or sadistic fashion, he’d speculate on the flaws and weaknesses of each member of his staff.  Bannon was disloyal (not mention he always looks like shit)”, the origin of the eventual “Sloppy Steve” epithet.  “Priebus was weak (not to mention he was short–a midget).  Kushner” his own son-in-law “was a suck-up.  Spicer was stupid (and looks terrible too).  Conway was a crybaby.  Jared and Ivanka should never have come to Washington.”

In the Epilogue, “the president had also stopped defending his own family, wondering when they would ‘take the hint and go home.'”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
6:37 p.m.

Published in: on October 31, 2018 at 6:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Curious Moments From Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House (Part One)

In the first week of 2018, Michael Wolff released Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House.  Like Bob Woodward’s book, Fear: Trump In The White House, which came out eight months later, it’s far less interested in consistently reporting and analyzing the GOP’s destructive political policies that will have ramifications and deadly consequences for years to come and way more fascinated with the ongoing, less substantial topic of civil war happening within the administration’s executive branch.

Instead of focusing on Trump’s shameless attempts at destroying the environment, for instance, there’s way too much attention paid to living dead ghoul Steve Bannon’s ongoing feud with Jarvanka, the racist’s derisive amalgamated nickname for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and the well established idiocy of the commander in chief.

Wolff also uses the phrase “joie de guerre” way too many times but I digress.

That said, like the Woodword book, there are still numerous moments worth highlighting, some of which deserve greater, prolonged scrutiny.  Let’s go through them:

1. Did John Bolton sexually harass a woman in a hotel?

In the book’s prologue, Wolff recounts a conversation between decomposing Nazi Steve Bannon and now dead serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes, the former Fox News wunderkind, during a private dinner at Trump’s Mar-A-Logo resort in Florida on January 3, 2017.  During a discussion about who the President-elect should pick to become his National Security Advisor, John Bolton’s name comes up.

It’s well known that Trump didn’t like him because he hated his moustache.  “Trump doesn’t think he looks the part,” observes Bannon.  But after further asserting that he’s “an acquired taste”, Ailes responds thusly:

“Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight one night and chased some woman.”

To which Bannon replies, “If I told Trump that, he might have the job.”

Although Trump selected H.R. McMaster as his NSA, the married Bolton would ultimately replace him, moustache and all, a year later.

So, who was the woman and what the hell happened?  Disappointingly, Wolff never follows up.

2. Bannon suggested illegally divvying up Occupied Palestine to other countries besides Apartheid Israel.

At that same dinner, after announcing to Ailes that the eventual decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv will happen on “[d]ay one” of Trump’s presidency (it actually took place in May of this year, fourteen months after the Mar-A-Lago dinner, to much international outrage), he also suggested that Palestine, illegally occupied by the white supremacist Apartheid Israel regime for decades, be split up thusly by other autocratic dictatorships:

“Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza.  Let them deal with it.  Or sink trying.”

3. Bannon compared Obama’s heartless drone wars to LBJ’s mishandling of The Vietnam War.

While conversing with Ailes at Mar-A-Lago, Trump’s then-chief campaign strategist got into a rant about Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice.  In the midst of this, he commented on the way the Obama Administration conducted the war against ISIS:

“They’re picking the targets, she’s picking the drone strikes.  I mean, they’re running the war with just as much effectiveness as Johnson in sixty-eight.  The Pentagon is totally disengaged from the whole thing.  Intel services are disengaged from the whole thing.  The media has let Obama off the hook.  Take the ideology away from it, this is complete amateur hour.”

4. Kellyanne Conway was so certain Trump would lose the election she secretly courted TV news media to secure a future on-air gig.

From Chapter 1:

“Donald Trump would lose the election–of this she was sure–but he would quite possibly hold the defeat to under 6 points.


Now she briefed some of the television producers and anchors with whom she’d built strong relationships–and with whom, actively interviewing in the last few weeks, she was hoping to land a permanent on-air job after the election.  She’d carefully courted many of them since joining the Trump campaign in mid-August…”

5. A revealing Trump anecdote that illustrates how he was able to connect with his supporters.

From Chapter Two:

“Trump’s understanding of his own essential nature was even more precise.  Once, coming back on his plane with a billionaire friend who had brought along a foreign model.  Trump, trying to move in on his friend’s date, urged a stop in Atlantic City.  He would provide a tour of his casino.  His friend assured the model that there was nothing to recommend Atlantic City.  It was a place run by white trash.

‘What is this ‘white trash’?’ asked the model.

‘They’re people just like me,’ said Trump, ‘only they’re poor.'”

6. Tom Barrack’s connection to Trump and other wealthy sex offenders.

“Barrack, the grandson of Lebanese immigrants, is a starstruck real estate investor of legendary acumen who owns Michael Jackson’s former oddball paradise, Neverland Ranch.  With Jeffrey Epstein–the New York financier who would become a tabloid regular after accusations of sex with underage girls and a guilty plea to one count of soliciting prostitution that sent him to jail in 2008 in Palm Beach for thirteen months–Trump and Barrack were a 1980s and ’90s set of nightlife Musketeers.”

7. Trump didn’t think Chris Christie’s shady closing of the George Washington Bridge was that big of a deal.

“Early in the campaign, Trump said he wouldn’t have run against Christie but for the Bridgegate scandal (which erupted when Christie’s associates closed traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge to undermine the mayor of a nearby town who was a Christie opponent, and which Trump privately justified as ‘just New Jersey hardball’).”

8. Anna Wintour wanted Trump to name her UK ambassador since Obama passed and Hillary Clinton lost the election.

“Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor and fashion industry queen, had hoped to be named America’s ambassador to the UK under Obama and, when that didn’t happen, closely aligned herself with Hillary Clinton.  Now Wintour arrived at Trump Tower (but haughtily refused to do the perp walk) and, with quite some remarkable chutzpah, pitched herself to Trump to be his ambassador to the Court of St. James’s.  And Trump was inclined to entertain the idea.  (‘Fortunately,’ said Bannon, ‘there was no chemistry.’)”

9. Even Trump supporter Rupert Murdoch thinks lowly of Trump’s intelligence.

As Trump was transitioning from public citizen to President of the United States in late 2016, he entertained numerous high profile visitors.  In mid-December, he was visited by “a[n unnamed] high-level delegation from Silicon Valley…though Trump had repeatedly criticized the tech industry throughout the campaign.”

After the meeting, Trump called News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch who “asked him how the meeting had gone.”

“Oh, great, just great,’ said Trump. ‘Really, really good.  These guys really need my help.  Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation.  [What about their collusion in online mass surveillance?]  This is really an opportunity for me to help them.’

‘Donald,’ said Murdoch, ‘ for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket.  They practically ran the administration.  They don’t need your help.’

‘Take this H-1B visa issue.  They really need these H-1B visas.'”

Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas might be hard to square with his immigration promises.  But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, ‘We’ll figure it out.’

‘What a fucking idiot,’ said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.”

10. An unnamed Republican gave a prescient warning to Jared Kushner about Trump’s future.

From Chapter Three:

“‘Don’t let him piss off the press, don’t let him piss off the Republican Party, don’t threaten congressmen because they will fuck you if you do, and most of all don’t let him piss off the intel community,’ said one national Republican figure to Kushner.  ‘If you fuck with the intel community they will figure out a way to get back at you and you’ll have two or three years of a Russian investigation, and every day something else will leak out.'”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
3:36 a.m.

Published in: on October 31, 2018 at 3:37 am  Comments (1)  

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.’


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.”


“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.”


“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.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 8:37 pm  Comments (1)  

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  Comments (1)  

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.


“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.”


“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  Comments (1)