Commissioners call New York Times ‘fake news,’ deny library funding for digital subscriptions

Commentary

Florida News You Can Use

The Citrus County commissioners who railed against a request by the local libraries to fund digital subscriptions to the New York Times. From left to right, their names are Jeff Kinnard, Ronald Kitchen, Jimmie Smith, Scott Carnahan and Brian Coleman. [Citrus County Board of Commissioners]

In Florida News You Can Use (not to be confused with News with a Twist, which I guess this might have been), The Washington Post reported today that “librarians of Citrus County, Fla., had what seemed like a modest wish: A digital subscription to the New York Times. For about $2,700 annually, they reasoned, they could offer their roughly 70,000 patrons an easy way to research and catch up on the news.

But when their request came before the Citrus County Commission last month, The Post writes, “local officials literally laughed out loud. One commissioner, Scott Carnahan, declared the paper to be ‘fake news,’ going on to say, ‘I agree with President Trump. I will not be voting for this. I don’t want the New York Times in this county.’”

The Post reported that “all five members of the commission agreed to reject the library’s request.” The discussion took place Oct. 24, the same day the Trump administration announced plans to cancel federal agencies’ subscriptions to the Times and The Washington Post. While the Trump announcement and the Commission’s vote are not linked, “the controversy highlights how politicians nationwide are parroting the president’s disparaging rhetoric about the media.”

Citrus County is located amid the “swamps and springs” north of Tampa and is deeply conservative. It is clearly a “swamp” that Trump forgot to drain.

During the Commission discussion, Carnahan went on to say, “I don’t agree with it (The Times), I don’t like ’em, it’s fake news, and I’m voting no.”

The Citrus County Chronicle, reporting on the issue, inteviewd Jeff Kinnard, the commission’s chairman, who told the paper. “At some point you draw the line. I don’t feel like the county is obligated to subscribe to every major newspaper or every point of view.”

This was echoed by another commissioner, Brian Coleman, who said that his concerns were also political in nature. “I support President Trump. I would say they put stuff in there that’s not necessarily verified.”

In a not so surprising revelation, the Chronicle noted that “the four commissioners who agreed to be interviewed said that they did not read the Times.” So much for informed decision making!

After intense backlash, some commissioners are rethinking their vote. Commissioner Coleman said he had “made a mistake and that the matter should be revisited.”

But not all politicians from this little slice of Florida heaven feel the same way. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican state representative from nearby Lake County, Fla., congratulated the Citrus County commission for their decision. “Lake County Commission should do the same!”

I think a little unpacking of this story is called for.

The Nazi regime’s book burnings targeted books that were viewed as being subversive or as representing ideologies opposed to Nazism. Yes, that’s several steps more serious than banning subscriptions to newspapers you don’t like. But, substitute “Trump” for Nazi, “Trumpism” for Nazism and “Cancelling subscriptions” for Book Burnings and what do you have? Citrus County Fla. Or, more critically, the Trump-led Federal government

OK, if book burning is the epitome of information suppression, how about censorship in general?

Behind the former Iron Curtain, Party-approved censors exercised strict control over newspaper content. In the Stalinist period, even the weather forecasts were changed if they suggested that the sun might not shine on May Day.

During the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, the first Russian televised announcement a day after the accident showed a black-and-white photo of the Chernobyl plant supposedly taken by a worker after the accident. The TV commentator told viewers that Western reports of fires and extensive damage were unfounded, and that cleanup efforts were steadily moving forward. “The trouble has passed,” he said. 

While the Western press provided extensive, and alarming, coverage of the accident, information inside Russia was sparse. Many Russians were left unaware that the accident had even occurred. In the news reports that trickled out, Soviet media stated that nuclear accidents like Chernobyl were “virtually impossible.” Pravda, the official Communist Party daily (kind of like Fox News in the U.S. today), eventually confirmed suspicions by experts around the world: that a fire and explosion spewed radioactive materials into the air. Yet it still said the situation was “under control.” That was blatantly false…how do you say it? Right, a lie! We’re all getting pretty familiar with that, aren’t we?

In 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) listed the following 10 countries as the “most censored in the world:” North Korea, Burma, Turkmenistan, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Eritrea, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Syria, and Belarus. By 2019, the list had been updated: Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Belarus and Cuba. (Hurrah! Trump’s great ally MBS’ Saudi Arabia finally made the list. I wonder if Jamil Khashoggi’s murder had anything to do with that.)

And in 2016 (are you listening Donald Trump?), Tanzania passed he Media Services Act, which gives the government the power to restrict and limit the independence of the media, giving much oversight to the director of information services. How do you pronounce Goebbels in Swahili?

Of course, you say the U.S. will never censor or close down media outlets (never is a very long time) because we have a “Constitutional right to freedom of the press.” But with another Trump presidential term we’ll likely have a 7-2 right-wing, activist Supreme Court, so don’t count your proverbial chickens. Just saying.

Look, at the end of the day, Florida is not all bad. The good commissioners of Citrus County have actually done us a favor by reminding us how deep a hole* we’re in. Have we reached the depths of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” or the press suppression of the countries on the lists of shame? Of course not. Are we moving in the “right” (er, wrong) direction? You know where I stand…how about you?

(*Funny about holes. Some people say that Citrus County is the sinkhole capital of Florida. Could be. It just could be.)

Iguanas and Geckos and Frogs, oh my! I don’t think we’re in New York anymore, Morty.

News with a Twist

South Florida has too many critters – but not all are bad

“Iguanas and Geckos and Frogs, oh my! I don’t think we’re in New York anymore, Morty” was originally published in the November 2019 issue of the Valencia Palms magazine, The Breezes.

Visitors to South Florida are probably not aware of this, but the area is inundated with annoying critters. No, I’m not talking about alligators; they’re more than annoying, they’re scary, but are rarely seen. And I’m not talking about the kinds of obnoxious vermin found in other parts of the country like mice, rats and cockroaches. I am talking about giant iguanas, poisonous frogs and little geckos. But while iguanas and frogs have no real redeeming value, don’t shoo away the geckos gathered at your front door; round them up, and help make your speedy* little friends famous.

(*Side note – Forget what you’ve read about cheetahs being the fastest land-based animal. I’ve done the research. Pound for pound, geckos are the fastest creatures on earth.) 

Geico, who’s corporate advertising spokesthing is a Gecko, is going Hollywood, announcing an upcoming major motion picture, The Geico Gecko, A Beginnings Story. 

A Beginnings Story will be filmed in Delray Beach, Florida because, as executive producer Herbie Weinstein (no relation to Harvey) said in an interview with Variety, “not only is it home to millions of geckos, Delray geckos are world-renowned for being the most photogenic geckos in North America.”

Weinstein told Around the Block that the film’s casting director is looking for geckos of all sizes, shapes and colors for co-starring and featured roles, including one lucky gecko who will co-star as the Geico Gecko’s love interest. Weinstein said he wasn’t sure if geckos are male or female, so the co-star role will go to the “most beautiful” gecko regardless of sex. In addition, A Beginnings Story is looking for thousands of geckos to be cast as extras. 

Weinstein indicated that geckos will be paid union scale; co-starring and featured geckos will be paid based on SGG (Screen Gecko Guild) rules while extras will be paid SCEG (Screen Gecko Extra Guild) scale.

As a service to all Valencia Palms residents and their geckos, and to get a head start on your friends at Delray’s Valencia Isles, here’s a preview of the ad that will appear in the Palm Beach Post.

So, start corralling those geckos – who knows, a star may be born right at your doorstep.

And remember, Geico is an Equal Opportunity Gecko Employer – EOGC

One last tip: show business is tough and every little edge helps. So, after collecting your geckos, and recognizing that preparation is key to a successful audition, you might want to enroll a few of your most promising geckos in the Stella Adler Gecko Conservatory (SAGC) which, in anticipation the film’s Delray shooting location, just opened in downtown Delray Beach and is offering a one-day audition prep course. 

Smugglers are sawing through new sections of Trump’s border wall

News with a Twist

Using $100 cordless saws from Home Depot

Satire from Ted Block

The Washington Post reported today that smuggling gangs in Mexico have repeatedly sawed through new sections of President Trump’s border wall in recent months by using commercially available power tools, opening gaps large enough for people and drug loads to pass through, according to U.S. agents and officials with knowledge of the damage.

According to the Post, the breaches have been made using a popular cordless household tool known as a reciprocating saw that retails at hardware stores for as little as $100. When fitted with specialized blades, the saws can slice through one of the barrier’s steel-and-concrete bollards in a matter of minutes, according to the agents, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the barrier-defeating techniques.

Consulting engineers told the Post, “After cutting through the base of a single bollard, smugglers can push the steel out of the way, allowing an adult to fit through the gap. Because the bollards are so tall — and are attached only to a panel at the very top — their length makes them easier to push aside once they have been cut and are left dangling.”

While Trump’s taxpayer-funded barrier has cost $10 billion so far, and has been described by the president variously as “a big beautiful wall,” “a great wall, because I know how to build,” “virtually impenetrable,” “the Rolls-Royce of walls,” it appears not only not great and beautiful, but “penetrable.”

In an interview with Around the Block, Carlos Diego Garcia y Vega, a noted smuggler using a pseudonym to protect his identity, said, 

“No puedo creer lo fácil que es atravesar este muro. Simplemente compramos las herramientas en Tijuana Home Depot y simplemente cortamos, cortamos, cortamos. Lo único que le digo a mi tripulación es que no compre esa basura estadounidense Black & Decker. Compramos Makita. Ahora los japoneses, saben cómo construir cosas.”

(“I can’t believe how easy it is to cut through this wall. We just buy the tools at the Tijuana Home Depot and just cut, cut, cut. The one thing I tell my crew, don’t buy that American Black & Decker junk, We buy Makita. Now the Japanese, they know how to build things.”) 

Garcia y Vega added:

“Gracias a Dios, México no pagó el muro; si lo hicieran, habrían exigido un muro más fuerte y una garantía de devolución de dinero. Nunca podríamos ver a través de un muro financiado por México..”

(“Thank God Mexico didn’t pay for the wall; if they did, they would have demanded a stronger wall and a money-back guarantee. We would never be able to saw through a Mexican-funded wall.”)  

TODAY discovers the internet

Flashback

What is Internet?

In 1994, the TODAY anchor team of Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric asked an honest question: “What is Internet?”



Way back in 1994, 25 years ago, then Today Show anchors Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric were flummoxed by “internet.”

And, what “@” meant.

Bryant: That little mark, with the “a” and the circle around it. “At?” Katie thought it was “about.”

Katie: Or “around.”

Do you remember? If you do remember, did you know what they were talking about?

But, in the most prescient part of the segment, given what’s going on at NBC now (Matt Lauer, Ronan Farrow’s new book “Catch and Kill”), Bryant exemplified the “@” with this:

Bryant: And then it sounded stupid when I said it, “Violence at NBC. See there it is, violence at NBC GEcom.” I mean, what is internet anyway. 

Bryant, I don’t know where you are now (wait, wait, don’t tell me, HBO’s Real Sports), but you’d be interested in this: today (no pun intended) we have “#NBCcoverup.”

Here’s the link to that 1994 segment: 

https://www.today.com/video/today/56868116

Trump says he’ll attend Game 5 of the World Series at Nationals Park

News with a Twist

Nat’s management working on plans to avoid presidential appearance

Satire from Ted Block

**Alert — This Around the Block contains “Twisted News” that some may consider politically incorrect, insensitive and offensive.**

The Washington Post reported today that President Trump plans to attend Game 5 of the World Series at Nationals Park on Sunday if the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros are still playing.

Given Trump’s dismal approval ratings in the Washington DC area: Approve 21%/Disapprove 76%, Nationals’ management is making contingency plans to help ensure that Trump’s appearance will not occur and spoil the Nationals magical World Series run.

According to our sources, Nationals’ assistant general manager for presidential attendance, Whitey Whitehouse, is working on two potential tracks, both requiring help from Washington’s NFL team, the Redskins.

The Redskins, whose owner, Dan Snyder, has stated that the team will never change its name despite the fact that the name is considered offensive, disparaging and insulting, doubled down recently by hiring Chief Wahoo, the recently fired symbol of baseball’s Cleveland Indians, and a board-certified Medicine Man. Snyder has indicated that he will lend Chief Wahoo to the Nationals this one-time only to allow him to do his Medicine Man magic and help his neighboring team.

The preferred track, both for the team and its fans, is for the Nationals to simply sweep the Astros by winning Games 3 and 4 at Nationals Park, making Game 5 unnecessary. In that regard, prior to Games 3 and 4, Chief Wahoo will perform the Sun Dance and offer prayers for a Nationals win to the Great Spirit of Victory, Wakan Tanka.

Since even Chief Wahoo’s chants and prayers can’t guarantee a Nationals sweep, and if Game 5 becomes necessary, the second track will have Chief Wahoo on Sunday morning go to the War God Spring where the clouds are born and give offerings and request rain. A rainout will move Game 5 from Sunday to Monday when Trump will not be available because he will be spending the whole day in “Executive Time” (aka, watching Fox News).

“One way or another, we’re counting on Chief Wahoo to come through and avert what would be a very unpleasant and unpopular appearance by the President,” Whitehouse said. 

Indicted Giuliani Associate Ties Case to Trump

Commentary

He can’t talk because…you guessed it: EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE!

Lev Parnas leaving Courthouse with 4th Wife Honey (or Bunny)



The New York Times reported today that, “one of the two indicted associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on Wednesday tied the case to the president himself, saying that some of the evidence gathered in the campaign-finance investigation could be subject to executive privilege.”

Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born U.S. “businessman” and Palm Beach County neighbor (Boca Raton), through his lawyer, Ed McMahon (really, I kid you not…wait that was Jack Paar’s line, not Johnny’s) told the judge in the case that “the potential for the White House to invoke executive privilege stemmed from the fact that Mr. Parnas had used Mr. Giuliani as his own lawyer at the same time Mr. Giuliani was working as Mr. Trump’s lawyer.” 

Interestingly, Trump claims he doesn’t know who Parnas is despite the dozens of pictures with Parnas and Donald “Everyone Wants a Picture with Me” Trump.

Our sources have indicated that McMahon’s argument is based on the Kevin Bacon Department of Justice “Six Degrees of Separation” rule recently written by Attorney General and one of Trump’s “Three Toadieteers*,” William “Lower the Bar” Barr. 

To lend more credence to the argument, McMahon has directed his paralegal, Doc Severinsen, to subpoena Bacon and have him appear as a friendly witness.

Bacon, coming off his recent success as Jackie Rohr, the profane, corrupt Boston-based FBI agent in the hit Showtime series, City on a Hill, told Around the Block, “What, are you f-ing kidding? I ain’t testifying for anyone. I’m claiming my own executive privilege – I was in Oliver Stone’s JFK for God’ sake; that qualifies, doesn’t it.”

*The Three Toadieteers: Mike “Can I Stop Standing Behind Trump Looking Like a Toadie?” Pence, Mike “I Don’t Understand Why Everyone in the State Department Hates Me” Pompeo, and, of course, William “Lower the Bar” Barr.

Republicans Grind Impeachment Inquiry to Halt as Picture Darkens for Trump

Commentary

House Republicans storm secure suite on Capitol Hill where the impeachment inquiry was being held

The New York Times reported today that, “House Republicans ground the impeachment inquiry to a halt on Wednesday, staging an attention-grabbing protest at the Capitol that sowed chaos and derailed a crucial deposition as they sought to insulate President Trump against mounting evidence of misconduct.

“The day after the most damning testimony yet about Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign to enlist Ukraine to smear his political rivals, House Republicans stormed into the secure office suite where impeachment investigators have been conducting private interviews that have painted a damaging picture of the president’s behavior — and refused to leave. 

“Chanting ‘Let us in! Let us in!’ about two dozen Republican lawmakers — most of whom are not on the committees conducting the inquiry and are therefore not entitled to attend their hearings — pushed past Capitol Police officers to enter the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee, which is leading the investigation. Republicans who are on the committees have been in on the hearings from the start and have heard all the witnesses.

“’This is a Soviet-style process,’ declared Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican. ‘It should not be allowed in the United States of America. Every member of Congress ought to be allowed in that room. The press ought to be allowed in that room.’”

Wait, what? 

We’re talking about Trump. Aren’t we the ones who should be storming the barricades?

Yes we should. But truthfully, this is the only thing Republicans have left…attacking the process and diverting attention. They want everything out in the open, even though Republican Congressmen from the appropriate committees are attending the closed-door hearings…and coming out of those meeting lying about what they heard or read (can you say Devin Nunes?). 

What the Dems are doing now, like it or not, is gathering evidence to determine whether to bring charges or not. As has been written many times before, and as Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and Chief of Staff to the Director of the FBI agreed today, impeachment is like a trial and evidence gathering is part of the process. 

It works like this…impeachment in the House is like a grand jury gathering evidence. An important part of that evidence gathering is deposing potential witnesses. Should it be done in private? Debatable, perhaps, but depositions are generally done privately with both sides present, as is happening now. Then, once the decision is made to bring charges, in this case, open impeachment hearings in the House, the people being deposed will testify in public.

So the GOP can storm all they want, but eventually they’ll get what they want: open hearings. I trust they’re smart enough to realize that they should really be careful about what they wish for.

Oh right, Republican Congressmen. Probably not smart enough.

Trump is constantly deriding liberal media bias

Commentary

Wait, what? – Eugene Robinson’s Washington Post column links to four other opinion pieces; 3 are from conservative observers

The other day I turned Around the Block over to the New York Times Frank Bruni whose column, How low will Trump go? suggested that “The president is unabashed, unapologetic and out of control.”

Today, I’ll turn Around the Block over to Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist of the Washington Post. But, unlike my Bruni post, which was very long, I’ll just provide the link to Robinson’s column, “Trump is spinning out of control. We must stop pretending otherwise.”Your choice to read or not.

Of particular note, beyond Robinson’s excellent observations, is the Post’s decision to link his column to four other editorial observers – three of whom are bona fide conservative thinkers and writers. Given that, I think it is appropriate to shamelessly borrow Fox News’ bankrupt tagline, “Fair and Balanced,” to Trump’s prime example of the liberal media, the “Bezos” Washington Post. This is the media at its “Fair and Balanced” best! 

Trump is spinning out of control. We must stop pretending otherwise – by Eugene Robinson.

(I’ll only quote Robinson’s closing paragraph: “Senators, pay attention. You may prefer to let voters judge Trump in next year’s election. But you must realize, at this point, that we may not have that long.”)

Trump is turning American ideology into a sham – by Michael Gerson. (Until 2006, Gerson was a top aide to President George W. Bush as assistant to the president for policy and strategic planning. Prior to that appointment, he served in the White House as deputy assistant to the president and director of presidential speechwriting and assistant to the president for speechwriting and policy adviser.)

Trump’s puerile letter to Erdogan should give every American the chills – by Henry Olson. (Henry Olson joined the think tank world where he spent eighteen years as an executive at a variety of institutions, serving as the President of the Commonwealth Foundation, a Vice President at the Manhattan Institute, and as Vice President and Director, National Research Initiative, at the American Enterprise Institute.)

Trump and lost Syria – And his mind – by Max Boot. (Max Boot was a senior foreign policy adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2007-2008, Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2011–2012, and Marco Rubio’s campaign in 2015-2016. He served as an adviser to U.S. commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

What to expect when you’re expecting impeachment – by Doug Sosnik. (Doug Sosnik, a Democratic political strategist, was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000.)

How Low Will Trump Go?

Commentary

Frank Bruni of the New York Times

I have had long and interesting debates about a Trump impeachment. Many people believe that impeachment is a non-starter. Yes, he will be impeached — the votes are already there. But it is still questionable whether he will be removed from office by the Senate. And, without removal, my anti-impeachment friends say, Trump will do a “witch hunt” victory dance which will embolden him and his pack.Today removal advocates were dealt a significant blow if you believe some GOP senators might come around and vote for removal; the two GOP senators from Florida opined on the Trump’s announcement that the the 2020 G7 will be held at Trump Doral:

Sen. Rick Scott:“There’s no conflict of interest in holding anything in the great state of Florida.”

Sen. Marco Rubio : “I understand the arguments others are going to make about whether it’s lining his pocket at this event and so forth, but as a Floridian, you know, I think it’s good for Florida to have that event.”

After reading Scott’s and Rubio’s statements (and one more by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart whose district includes Doral), I wrote to my own Florida Representative, Democratic Congresswoman Lois Frankel:

“I’m aware that you’re busy this week what with impeachment hearings, Syria, Kurds, Executive Branch scandal after scandal…, but perhaps you might carve out a little time to give your incredulous Congressional ‘friends’ (Scott, Rubio and Diaz-Balart) a lesson in the Constitution. Do you think they’ve actually read the document they’ve sworn to uphold? Can they say Emoluments? Can they spell Emoluments?”

The answer to our current Trump dilemma my non-impeachment friends suggest is to “let the voters decide.” Yes, let them decide — in the face of voter suppression, foreign influence, an anachronistic Electoral College system and who knows what else. And, while we wait for the voters to decide, we’ll have to endure 18 more months of Trump wreaking havoc on the country and the world. 

So, with those 18 months in mind, I turn Around the Block today over to Frank Bruni of the New York Times.

How Low Will Trump Go?By Frank BruniOct. 19, 2019
The wonder of the Trump administration — the jaw-dropping, brain-exploding phantasmagoria of it — is that it doesn’t bury its rottenness under layers of counterfeit virtue or use a honeyed voice to mask the vinegar inside. The rottenness is out in the open. The sourness is right there on the surface for all to see.

It’s at the president’s rallies, where he plays a bigot for laughs, a bully for applause.

It’s in the ballrooms and beds at Mar-a-Loco, where he mingles official government business with free marketing for his gilded club.

It’s in the transcript of his phone call with the president of Ukraine, for whom the quid, the pro and the Biden-ravaging quo couldn’t have been clearer.

It’s at the microphone in the White House briefing room, where his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, showed up on Thursday, announced that President Trump would host the next G7 meeting at one of his own golf resorts, and conceded that, yes, aid to Ukraine had been tied to that country’s indulgence of the president’s political obsessions.

“Get over it,” Mulvaney told the assembled journalists.

“Elections have consequences,” he also said.

Allow me to translate: American voters gave Trump the presidency, so it’s his to use and abuse as he wants. If you’re looking for an apology, you might as well be looking for the yeti. What you should really be doing is looking the other way.

Mere hours later, Mulvaney changed his tune, whining that the media had “decided to misconstrue” his words as some kind of confession. Um, no.

Our hearing was just fine, our construing was just right and our sole arguable failure was that we didn’t instantly grasp and immediately communicate the overarching import of his remarks: He was telling us that in the minds of the president and his unscrupulous minions, he from now on possessed and planned to revel in carte blanche. And the White House has a new public relations strategy, much evolved since the days of Robert Mueller.

Those revelations of rottenness that I mentioned before? They’re no longer an inadvertent tic. They’re an advertent tactic. Done with denials of wrongdoing, administration officials are reframing it as right-doing — as a president’s prerogative, even his entitlement, pre-emptively authorized by voters themselves.

Get over it, media. Get over it, America. This is Trump’s country. You’re just squatting in it.

Trump’s presidency was scary from the very start, when he summoned “American carnage” and hallucinated inauguration throngs. But the past several days have been something else: a clarifying, terrifying descent.

How low will Trump go? Leagues lower than you ever imagined, and probably several hundred feet below your current nightmares. Officials with Trump’s re-election campaign apparently plan to use “get over it” as a slogan on merchandise, but I think that the White House’s real new motto comes from Tacitus, a celebrated historian in ancient Rome: “Crime, once exposed, has no refuge but in audacity.”

That audacity animated Mulvaney. It was manifest when Trump publicly beseeched China to get in on the action and do its own investigation of Hunter and Joe Biden. It helps explain the planned convening of the G7 at Trump National Doral Miami, a gesture of such perverse defiance, such profound contempt, that it takes the breath away.

With the gaslighting logic that is his greatest gift, Trump is asserting that no real crook would be this nakedly, flamboyantly criminal, and he’s giving anyone in America who isn’t aboard the Trump train the middle finger. It, not his brain, is the body part with which he governs.

This is all about impeachment, to which he has responded — predictably — with a puerile rage. The first, second and third laws of Trumpian psychology are that for every action, there’s an unequal and hysterical overreaction, and ever since impeachment took on an air of probability, he has been overreacting all over the place.

He’s at his most dangerous when he’s most vulnerable and impotent, because he’s compelled to project command and potency. He has to convince everyone that he’s unflustered and unafraid.

That, as much as any promise to voters, motivated the disastrous pullout from Syria and abandonment of Kurdish allies. Precisely because it was what might undermine the loyalty of his Republican saviors and leave him exposed, he did it. It was a pantomime of fearlessness, a pretense of invincibility.

Ditto the Doral decision, which Mulvaney, saying goodbye to any shreds of credibility and integrity that he was still clinging to, insisted would not turn much if any profit for Trump. Whatever the actual revenues from the G7 meeting itself, it would amount to the kind of advertising that money can’t buy. Doral would be better known afterward, just as Mar-a-Loco, Bedminster and other Trump properties have skyrocketed in visibility since he took office. He has made sure of it, by visiting them in a constant rotation that repurposes the presidency as a promotional tool and branding exercise.

The G7 at Doral is just the cherry on a rancid sundae. But the timing of it: That’s what’s so chilling. It comes as the sword dangles ever sharper and more threatening over his head, and it makes clear that he won’t be answering the accelerating revelations about him with good behavior that coaxes Americans to wonder if he could really have been that bad.

No, he’ll ratchet up the badness, intensify the insolence and lash out more provocatively and ruinously than ever before. He’ll be worse. Virtue is for suckers, who don’t have the nerve for vice. Look, Ma, no morals!

The miserable Mikes, Pence and Pompeo, will race around the world trying to forestall or clean up his messes, because “get over it” doesn’t really translate to geopolitics, where the “it” can be terrorism, slaughter and an American image soiled beyond repair.

Ivanka and Jared Kushner will lay low, as they’re doing now, unable to peddle the pretty fiction that they’re keeping a lid on the combustible patriarch, who keeps setting himself on fire.

He has finally arrived on the Fifth Avenue that he conjured long ago. Remember that — when he said that he could shoot someone there, in view of all the passers-by, and not lose any of his loyal supporters?

Metaphorically speaking, he’s now striding down that busy thoroughfare, gun in hand. Take cover, America.

Yes, take cover America — unless 25 or so GOP senators show some courage, we are potentially facing the worst, most unendurable 18 months in our history.  

After moving troops from Syria and into Saudi Arabia, Trump plans more re-deployments

News with a Twist

Sources: Trump thrilled by idea of moving troops like “so many toy soldiers”  

Satire from Ted Block

While critics on both sides of the aisle continue to criticize President Trump’s withdrawal of American troops from Syria, putting our ISIS-fighting Syrian Kurd allies at risk of annihilation at the hands of Turkey’s armed forces, he simultaneously redeployed 1,200 American soldiers to Saudi Arabia to “help the Saudis defend themselves from Iranian attacks.” This, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia doesn’t seem to need the help as it has the third largest defense budget in the world (after the United States and China) and spends a whopping 8.8% of its GDP on defense (U.S.: 3.3%; China: 1.9%).

Why would Trump do this. Well perhaps this tweet from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, procured exclusively by Around the Block before it was taken down, reveals the answer: 


Translation: My wish is Trump’s command. He’ll do whatever I want because he owes us so much money!

After his Middle East redployments, and despite widespread condemnation of the moves, sources in the White House say he is emboldened by his actions. 

Speaking on the condition of anonymity prior to filing a whistle blower complaint, our White House source told Around the Block that “the president is thrilled that he has the ability to move troops around like so many toy soldiers. He even told the National Security Council staff that  he hasn’t had so much fun since the War Games 101 class at his prep school, the New York Military Academy – which, incidentally is another Trump lie since he paid a classmate to take the class for him because his bone spurs were acting up that year.”

Our source went on to tell us there are more moves on the way including:

Moving the U.S. Naval base from Yokosuka, Japan to Vladivostok, Russia in order to protect President Vladimir Putin from enemy attacks on Russia’s east coast. “Our Navy has been protecting Japan for many years…they owe us billions of dollars. It’s horrible what the Japanese are doing; disgraceful. And Vlad called and told me he needed the help,” Trump told his staff.

Redeploying 26,000 Army and Marine Corps personnel from South Korea to North Korea. Trump told his advisors, “I received a ‘beautiful’ letter from Kim Jong Un. Not only did he tell me he how much he loves me, he asked me if I could do him a favor – move all those U.S. forces that he believes are a constant threat to his regime up to North Korea to help him defend his beloved country from all those really bad neighbors like Japan and South Korea. I sent a terrific letter back telling him I loved him too and that not only would I move the troops, I will also schedule joint operations with our Army and Navy and his really terrific Korean People’s Army, Navy and Air Forces.” 

Moving 35,000 American troops from Germany to Belarus. Our source reported, in perhaps the most audacious move of all, “In that call from Putin about protecting Russia’s Pacific coast, Putin also mentioned that he was really tired of having to deploy some many troops to the west to defend against NATO. So, Trump told Putin that NATO was ‘a disgrace, none of them pay their bills and they owe us hundreds of billions of dollars, a real pain in the ass if you know what I mean.’ As they talked some more, Trump told him, ‘Look, Vlad, we have 35,000 U.S. troops in Germany. How about this, I’ll move them to Belarus and western Ukraine to protect you from NATO which will be very weak without the U.S. troops. And by the way, those U.S. troops in Ukraine working with your army will really get that corrupt country on your side – a win-win if you understand. But I just need one favor – you’ve got to get that Trump Tower Moscow back on track. You know, a quid pro quo. To be honest, Vlad, I don’t know what a quid pro quo is but everyone seems to be using it now, so I thought I’d give it a try.’”

Due to the controversy over the super-secret filing of the “transcript’ of Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president, our source reports that transcripts of all these calls and internal discussions, as well as the letters to and from Kim Jong Un, will be filed in the White House basement in a file cabinet labeled “Donald Trump’s Reading List,” which no one would ever look into for, well, obvious reasons.