The Night Before America’s Storm


Word came out late Friday afternoon that a grand jury has filed the first charges in the investigation over Russian interference in the 2016 American election. The charges come after months of investigation, headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

There’s been much speculation since Friday over who’s about to be charged with some fairly serious crimes. Is it Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, who played a key behind-the-scenes role in the 2016 presidential campaign, and was apparently present in key meetings with Russian officials?

Or is it Paul Manafort, who for a time was Trump’s campaign manager last year? Manafort has spent most of his life in the shadows, mainly working former eastern bloc nations, mostly closely perhaps in the Ukraine where his business dealings attracted the attention of the FBI, who have been investigating Manafort for nearly 5 years over possible money laundering crimes.

While Manafort is a strong candidate for indictment (Kushner might be a longshot at this stage), my money is on retired general Michael Flynn, who served a fleeting few weeks as Trump’s National Security Advisor before resigning in disgrace after it was disclosed that Flynn lied about lobbying for the Turkish government and purposefully deceived Vice President Michael Pence over conversations with the Russian Ambassador about U.S. sanctions.

Why Flynn? Mainly because of another story that broke a few hours before the Grand Jury indictments leaked to the media.  Dana Boente (you can be forgiven if you don’t know who that is) was, at least until last Friday, a U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. Boente however, resigned his post with no explanation. Why is that important? Because individuals such as Boente cannot maintain their position as an attorney if they are significant witnesses to significant crimes.

So where’s the connection? Well, according to the previous special investigator James Comey (who you know was fired by Trump earlier in the year), Boente was witness to at least two conversations between Mr. Comey and President Trump where the subject of the conversation was … Michael Flynn.

Still, this is very speculative. We won’t know until the indictments are announced. But whomever it is, it’ll mark the first strike it what will surely be many months of legal, if not Constitutional drama, as Mueller peels back each layer from the onion that will almost certainly lead to the White House.

That is assuming of course, that Trump doesn’t fire Mueller first.

Which might just happen this upcoming week.

Strap on the seat belt, the next part of this ride could get terribly bumpy.

The Human Empathy Bypass Strikes Again


Hoo boy, hold onto something sturdy. This one is a doozy.

President Donald Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson‘s widow Tuesday that “he knew what he signed up for … but when it happens, it hurts anyway,” when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens. 

The president called about 4:45 p.m. and spoke to Johnson’s pregnant widow, Myeshia Johnson, for about five minutes. She is a mother to Johnson’s surviving 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. The conversation happened before Johnson’s remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial Delta Airlines flight. 

Wilson watched as the widow, who is expecting their third baby in January, leaned over the U.S. flag that was draping Johnson’s casket. Her pregnant belly was shaking against the casket as she sobbed uncontrollably. Their daughter stood next to her stoically. Their toddler waited in the arms of a relative.

I mean, where do you even start over something like this? The President of the United States tells the grieving woman carrying child, with her two other born children by her side to paraphrase, “tough shit lady, but your husband was asking for it.”

The problem, as there always seems to be one when it comes to having something, anything sticking to this wretched man who oozes from his mouth on a daily basis a slime of contempt towards the most vulnerable. Once again we’re faced with plausible deniability. While Johnson’s call was witnessed, it was by one of those dastardly Demo-crats. You can just see the vapid wheels already churning amongst The Donald diehard rushing to the President’s defence of this ceaseless sideshow of the grotesque.

God, I wish there was a tape of that conversation, not that it, I suppose, would make much of a goddamn difference.

UPDATE: There are now at least two witnesses to this event. From the Washington Post:DMbQ4GZWsAAs2J5

Also a tell, the White House’s reaction to what is reported to have happened hasn’t been to deny the event, but that the conversation between Trump and the grieving widow should be kept confidential:

On Tuesday night, an administration official, speaking on background, told CNBC that “the president’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private.”

In other words, “the President is an unsympathetic oaf but that’s nothing that should concern you.”

EVEN MORE UPDATE: Trump was just asked about the conversation. His response appears to be a non-denial denial:

The President is Not Well

I mean, really? Supposedly this man shot a 73 (or maybe it was a 74) at Trump’s golf club in Washington last week, and yet he needs assistance climbing three lousy steps?

The President is a verified junk-food addict and is also known to have bragged that he purposefully avoids any and all physical activities because of a long-held belief that exercise leads to premature death.

Trump is the oldest person to have ever been elected the office of the Presidency, and at 71, when you’re having trouble climbing stairs, you’ve got a big problem.

What Happens if a President has had an Empathy Bypass?

You get breathtaking scenes like this:


Or this:

Or this:

How can you have a man lead a country when he can’t understand or even relate to people who are suffering?

The answer is of course, he can’t.


Colin Kapernick: His Protest and the Tale of Two Countries with Law Enforcement

Mike McCarn, Associated Press

By now you’re probably familiar with the situation surrounding Colin Kapernick, the NFL quarterback who’s been protesting policy brutality toward visible minorities in America. It seems like distant history, but Karpernick’s protest began just over a year ago, when he sat during the national anthem during a preseason game in San Francisco.

After getting released by the 49ers in the weeks following his sit-down, Kapernick, who had decent career numbers, can’t buy a job in the League, which has only cast more coverage of his protest, leading to other NFL players symbolically joining in. Media coverage was cranked up to a near frenzy last week when President Trump referred to kneeling players as, to paraphrase slightly, “sons of bitches”.

Let’s not lose focus here. This is about how the police are supposed to do their job.

What is happening with American law enforcement contrasts with how Canadian police handle high stress situations. A couple of days ago, in my own Canadian city, a man was walking through downtown in broad daylight carrying in improvised shotgun. Here’s how my local police force handled what could only be described as a very dangerous situation:

It’s intense stuff, but this is how a trained police force is supposed to react – attempt to diffuse conflict, and use force only as last resort. The video ends with the suspect running away – and from what we know, gunfire was exchanged with the police, and the suspect was shot, but not killed. In the days following that incident, the officers at the scene rightly received praise for their restraint.Contrast how my local law enforcement handled that situation with how police officers in Minnesota handled this situation after pulling a car over in St. Paul with a broken brake light, with two African American passengers:

On the passenger side sat Philando Castile. After being asked to produce his driver’s licence,  Castile was shot and fatally wounded while reaching inside his glove box. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was eventually charged with manslaughter and brought to trial.

This June, a jury found Yanez not guilty.

And so it goes in America.

The Castile case is not an aberration. Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Akiel Denkins in Raleigh, South Carolina. Freddy Gray of Baltimore. Gregory Gunn of Montgomery, Alabama. Laquan McDonald of Chicago. Walter Scott of North Chraleston, North Carolina. Akai Gurly of New York City. Samuel DuBose of Cincinnati. The list is nearly endless – but all are connected by an important thread: All were black, and all were shot and killed under suspicious circumstances.

While the vast majority of American officers are decent people who do their job with integrity and restraint, a significant minority of police have repeatedly demonstrated the lack of ability to diffuse situations, or in the case of the Castile killing, using a level of force grotesquely out of proportion. The unjustified killing of civilians in the United States is born out of local police forces that are poorly trained, unqualified recruits, many of whom seemingly carry a prejudicial attitude while fulfilling their duties.

That’s the essence of the Kapernick protest – too many people of colour – men, women and children, are being assaulted or killed by people who are supposedly there to protect them. And so while Kapernick, still unemployed, continues to push for equality, his movement now finds itself struggling to overcome Trump’s SOB remarks. Since the President undignified criticism, other NFL players have “joined the movement”, although their protest has become more of a cause célebère for their own personal grievances. The NFL and its owners, predictably and hideously, have also highjacked Kapernick’s sacrifice into its own PR campaign.

It’s a shame. What Kapernick did was important in highlighting yet another example of fundamental inequality and injustice in America. Whether his country is willing to return its focus to the purpose of his protest, or perhaps even better, are willing to look at how law enforcement functions north of their border, is yet to be seen.