|THE DANGEROUS GLOBE|
I have a confession to make: My experimentation with psychedelic drugs as a young man has unexpectedly prepared me for The Age of Trump. This is because ingesting LSD altered perceptions of the "straight" world in strange, insightful and sometimes incredible ways that are helping me to better understand and survive the hallucinatory times in which we live.
But lest we confuse what Trump says with what the dormouse said, to riff off the lyrics of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit," which is perhaps the ultimate tripping song, strains the analogy. What I mean is that Trump's statements and actions regarding the bummer known as the Russia scandal -- as well as those of his Republican congressional sycophancy -- aren't merely obfuscations and lies in the face of the now widely accepted wisdom that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help elect him. They are utterly psychedelic.
Go ask Alice, I think she'll know.
AS IT WAS, IN THE FIFTH WEEK OF THE SECOND YEAR of the Trump presidency, the man with the small hands and peculiar hair inched over so slightly away from his oft-stated claim that the Russia scandal is a "hoax" as members of his own administration and even a few dues-paying members of the congressional sycophancy acknowledged that the Kremlin not only interfered in the election, but did so with the goal of sabotaging Hillary Clinton to get Trump elected. And is actively plotting new cyberattacks on the U.S.
Trump's baby steps toward reality actually were a quantum leap when you consider his fawning allegiance to Mother Russia and his favorite autocrat, Vladimir Putin, who was reelected handily on Sunday after stifling all opposition and barring his only serious opponent from running.
Belatedly responding to the news that a Russian-made nerve agent had felled a former Kremlin double agent and his daughter nine days earlier in Salisbury, England, Trump mumbled that "As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be."
Then 48 hours later, under growing pressure from members of his own Cabinet and others to grow a pair, Trump allowed that "It looks like [it was Russia] . . . and we are taking it very seriously, as I think are many others." That still was a far cry from the condemnations issued by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the latter only hours before Trump fired him by Tweet for yet again crossing swords with the boss.
Then a day later, Trump was "studiously silent," as The New York Times chose to describe it, when the Treasury Department finally was moved to impose the sanctions Congress had approved over his objections in nearly unanimous votes a year earlier.
But those blown-deadline sanctions are as pathetic as Trump's mumble words. They target 19 Russians and five Russian organizations for spreading disinformation and propaganda to disrupt the election, but all with two exceptions are the very individuals and entities identified by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller in a recent indictment and in some cases were targeted in 2016 sanctions imposed by the Obama administration.
Is this the best the Trump administration can do?
Yes, because to do any more -- as in impose penalties with real teeth on Putin's inner circle of cronies with travel bans and asset freezes -- would only serve to amplify the president's disconnect with reality.
AS SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS GO, the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee has displayed a masochism that would make the Marquis de Sade proud.
Not content with having bombed with the so-called Nunes memo, a piece of fiction cobbled together by Devin Nunes, the recused but not recused committee chairman and Trump poodle caught out last year concocting phony intelligence to embarrass former President Obama, the committee gave new meaning to the word "oversight" in solemnly announcing the other day that it had concluded there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, nor did Russia try to get Trump elected, and therefore its job was done.
Contradicting U.S. intelligence agencies, intel committee Republicans stated in a draft report that there merely poor judgment by campaign team members in some instances. But it turns out the poor judgment was epidemic, because the Republicans refused to subpoena witnesses and documents that would have told a very different story, committee Democrats were not allowed to contribute to the report and they had no interest in Mueller first concluding his investigation before they wrapped up theirs.
The central irony of the hijinks of intel committee Republicans is that they tried to deceive in precisely the same way they (falsely) accused the FBI of deceiving the FISA Court. This glittering example of democracy in action was timed -- and these Repubs have done nothing without first getting instructions from the big guy's handlers -- to be a prologue to another flurry of White House garment rending.
This took the form of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe being fired for telling the truth 26 hours before he could retire and Trump criminal defense lawyer John Dowd insisting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller after Trump axed McCabe's boss for refusing to shut down the Russia probe, should end the special counsel's inquiry immediately. This, he explained, is because collusion allegations were "manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier."
This was reinforced in a Trump sieg heil tweet to his base on Sunday morning in which he lashed out at Mueller, McCabe and Comey in terms that called to mind a wild animal caught in a trap as his pursuers close in on him.
The result of all this is that we have reached yet another tipping point in a slo-mo constitutional crisis. Perhaps we should call this chapter the saga of McCabe and Mr. Mueller.
And so Nunes has put another nail in Trump's coffin, Dowd made a fool of himself, Paul Ryan suffered further whiplash looking the other way, Saturday Night Live continued to struggle to be more absurd than what actually is going on, and with the energized Democrats' electoral fortunes running high, the intel committee will order a redo when (and if) the party recaptures the House, and the business of impeaching Trump finally can be addressed.
Then perhaps America's bad trip can finally begin to end.
Click HERE for a comprehensive timeline of the Russia scandal
and related events.