|credit: R. Matson|
Perhaps tired of dealing with an uncontrollable enfant terrible in the White House, Rep. Paul Ryan announced this week that he is retiring from politics. As one Democrat congressman observed, Hair Further is not above using military engagements overseas to ward off an increasingly disastrous criminal investigation at home.
Trump, without consulting Congress¹, ordered cruise missile and aircraft strikes on Syrian facilities associated with chemical weapons production in retaliation for an alleged Syrian gas attack on the rebel held suburb of Douma, east of Damascus. At least forty-two people died in the gas attack. It was apparently intended to break the will to resist of rebels in control of a group of suburban towns known as East Ghouta. The US missile attack immerses the United States ever deeper into the multi-sided proxy conflict that began as a domestic uprising against the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad. The strikes were limited so as not to affect Russian forces in Syria. However, the chlorine gas attack worked, as Russian military police moved in to secure Ghouta for the regime soon afterwards.
Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump's Russian Connection is now reaching a climax. According to McClatchy DC Bureau the Special Counsel can prove Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen made a secret trip to Prague during Trump's 2016 campaign for office. The reason for the trip is not clear, but Cohen has denied in a post on Twitter ever visiting the Czech capital. The Steele Dossier alleges Cohen made the trip to meet Vladimir Putin's ally, Konstantin Kosachev. He chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of a body of the Russian legislature, the Federation Council. Kosachev was also one of the Russian oligarchs recently hit with financial sanctions issued by the US Treasury.
Steele's dossier goes on to allege that Cohen was deeply involved in a “cover up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of Trump’s relationship with Russia being exposed.” US attorneys confirm that they are investigating possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations in connection with Cohen's efforts to tamp down damaging stories about Trump during the 2016 campaign. Earlier, FBI agents raided Cohen's Manhattan office looking for evidence. Revealed late this week is the fact that Cohen made a $1.6 million payment to a Playboy "playmate" for silence about a sexual relationship with a major Repugnant donor that ended in an abortion. The donor, venture capitalist Elliott Broidy, was deputy finance chair for the party of the rich. He resigned when his story surfaced. The sleaze mounts².
1. Field Marshall Hermann Goering made these remarks during the Nuremberg trials: "It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."
2. Why do Evangelicals give Trump a free pass on his numerous infidelities? Read this opinion piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer from history and religion professors about the patriarchal nature of Christian evangelicalism.