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Sexual Abusers and Abusive Sexuality (13)

As I “picture” a younger Hair Trompf (aka Donald Trump, aka future President of the United States) chasing Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Gregory Clifford—because yes, she’s a person, aka Stormy Waters, yes!, or just Stormy) around that hotel room, I see him enacting the swim of a sperm until it collides with an egg, or more likely dies. Except that now the sperm has imagination, and an ego that thinks it knows exactly what it is doing, enacting the hunt, chasing an egg for the purpose of linking up with it in personal gratification through excitement, pleasure, domination, achievement of something.

That is to say, T was imaginatively enacting an action that is biological, pre-dates consciousness (and dating), and pre-dates imagination. It evolved as a mechanism in species survival, as that species also was evolving a brain with activity that was pre-conscious, pre-archetypal pattern. Eventually it formed its unconscious archetypal imaginative patterns of what it was doing. Then its consciousness, and its unconscious-driven conscious imagination of what it was doing. Voilà, sexuality.

But as the future Trompf chases Stormy around that room, what he is doing is still biological and unconscious, archetypal, then rompingly imaginative, including the imagination of personal purpose, and all the delusion and goofiness of which we are all capable. Especially if we do not have a well-developed conscious awareness of who we are and what we are doing.

Even now that we have the pill, which seemed to simplify sex and sexuality to a revolutionary degree, sexuality is remarkably complicated. If it weren’t so complicated, the egg would not have renamed herself “Stormy” and she wouldn’t be appearing in the news or in this novel today. And if there were no longer a sperm and an egg involved in our imagination of what we are doing, today’s news would not include the fact that, at that moment, T was the married father of an infant. And in the primordial swamp before imagination, who could care less?

So I’m just thinking that when Beauty (see previous page on The Shape of Water) pantomimes to her friend, beautifully and delicately and pleasurably, that Beast has a penis that he keeps hidden in a pouch until the right time, for her, the full imaginative beauty of that imaginative moment includes the hidden fact (that we knew all along) that in all that water there is the possibility of another life.

Let’s not kid ourselves, we still feel, even those of us who want to leave it behind, that archetypal imaginal drive to create another life.

So when our “Grace” (or “Essence,” see article, and not just the date part [*]) goes to dinner with our Aziz (do we need a Pilgrim’s Progress character name?—we do all live in allegory), if we want to know what we are doing, we had better take along not just our imagination but our full understanding of its psychological and emotional complications (especially in a stereotypically predatory, self-parodying, patriarchal, misogynistic culture of fools).

Or as the novelist, Barbara Kingsolver puts it, “now women need to get ugly” (as in, Uhg-Ly, in defense of Beauty against the shape-shifting, trickster beasts).

[ * ] Embedded video clip is first I’ve seen of Ansari. Guy who is old enough to sit in a bar, but with sense of humor of a 13-yr-old (maybe a frat boy)? Do I really need to see more video? Is that really the pop world of sexuality that Grace experiences? Is this the Pop Life that our 20-somethings are trying to navigate? Treacherous waters, for a cub pilot, in a small boat.

[Wait. Author speaking, on one of the rare occasions when I must intrude. I want to make sure that everyone understands that the narrator is offering his opinion on a subject about which he knows very little. He is, after all, but a disembodied voice (and I am not, myself, the embodiment that I once was). That understood, I am allowing him to stay afloat, because his method is, at least, a way of being engaged with this motif that is vital to the subject of the novel at hand; and he sincerely believes that it is a way of keeping up with the twists and turns of the plot. TK]

Works for me, dear Reader, if it works for you.

[Pages (1) and (12) of this episode.]

The Verdict Is In (2a of X)

Charge: The sitting president of the United States is evil. Verdict: Guilty as Charged.

Not to put too fine a point on it, take for instance “depravity”: “synon corruption, vice, perversion, deviance, degeneracy, immorality, debauchery, dissipation, profligacy, licentiousness, lechery, prurience, obscenity, indecency; More”. Is there one that doesn’t apply? Hey, nobody’s perfect.

Yet “evil” is something special. We need that word, so we can name a special category of . . . evil. It’s for when we need to put our verbal finger on what we have here, strange as it may be. (Here is where I hang my heart.)

Evil first appeared in this novel in May 2015, in connection with the debate (can you believe it?) about whether to use torture. That got me thinking about My Man Dick (i.e. Cheney) and his desire to justify torture.

By August of 2016 I was thinking that the candidate, Trompf (aka Drumpf, aka Trump), qualified for membership in this historically exclusive club. So on Aug 8, after hearing Hillary call out the racists, I thought about the Trompf qualities that would nominate him for membership. Quoting myself from that page:

There remains only to consider whether Trump is evil. Yes, he is. He chooses, for the sake of personal self-aggrandizement, to viciously corrupt the imagination, to deny the significance of human suffering, and thus to deny the soul in its pathos, to eliminate the distinction between truth and falsehood, to do great injury to persons, to deny innate human worth, to undermine the possibility of peaceable human community, and to do harm to the body politic, while recklessly inciting others to do the same, equally for his self-aggrandizement.

As H said, the hate burns bright.

Today, after a year of the Hair Trompf presidency, I’ll emphasize his denial of equal universal (innate) human worth and claim to humane treatment; his relish in inflicting pain and injury upon individuals and groups, especially those whom he perceives as threatening his supremacy, or whom he just doesn’t like; his nuclear recklessness (as the world’s most powerful military leader) of, and climatic disregard (as the world’s most influential consumption leader) for, the lives and life of the entire planet.

Personal delight (and yes, thinking of Blake, and thus a sense of the perversion and grotesquery that Trompf visits on the soul) in the pain of others, and in inflicting that pain.  We’ve seen enough.  We’ve heard enough.  Fukkk’m.  Case closed.

[Yet, sitting, back from my reasonable rage, just breathing, my best loving kindness always goes out to him.  May he be well.]

[On (2b) I’ll think a bit more about historical comparisons. Although I no longer feel obliged to include ongoing details of this case—see explanation of this episode at bottom of page (1), I definitely will be thinking more about the psycho-pathologies of American democracy that merge and emerge in the evil ways of this swamp creature (no offense to swamps intended).]

Sexual Abusers and Abusive Sexuality (12)

Viewing the movie, “The Shape of Water,” helped bring this point into focus: In re-imagining sexuality, we must put no limits on anyone’s imagining of their own sexuality; and thus, in practice between persons, we must have no preconceived notions, based on gender stereotyping, about any person’s sexual desire, or about its healthy expression.

[Spoiler alert ! ! ! ]

As I saw it, Guillermo del Toro’s contemporary re-imaginig of the “Beauty and the Beast” archetypal image and motif (wr. del Toro and Vanessa Taylor) shows us a woman who, unlike the stereotype of the feminine, and the pervasive constrictions placed on females in America’s male-dominant society, knows and affirms her own sexuality, goes fearlessly into life with compassion and longing, recognizes another creature (a male Beast, as it happens, with transcendent powers and potential that are, like Beauty’s, locked in its disabled presence) who is in trouble, and treats that creature as a person [as, indeed, we should treat every creature, and thing, within Being—as I’ll explore on another page in another episode], with the result that she perceives its beauty, loves it (by now him), is sexually attracted to him, initiates sexual intimacy, and remains in control of her sexuality, as of her life choices, to the end.

That’s big! In America we must re-imagine sexuality to feature a woman’s/women’s sexuality as being just as humanly full and healthy as any imagination that we have had of a man’s/men’s sexuality—or moreso. We’re talking human sexuality here. And that must include full personal sexual agency for any person, of whatever gender. [Repeat as needed.]

We must not be satisfied with anything less. Then maybe we’ll find out what healthy human sexuality can be, and what healing power it can have. Maybe we’ll perceive, maybe some of us will experience, the power of the union of Beauty with the freed god, Eros, whom we have turned into (imagined as) a Beast. Maybe we can invent a common language and become more complete.

On an earlier page I mentioned that I’m reading Filipovic’s The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness. In her discussion of “Playing in the Dark: Sex, Pleasure, and Pain,” she points out that, contrary to our insistent stereotype, women are very sexual and place high value on good sex. (Who would have guessed?) F says that we should place that aspect of women’s happiness at the center of our social policies that affect women’s lives. Instead, “we” (men) deny that fact and suppress women’s sexuality in myriad ways.

Surely the reason is that too many men, unlike Beast, are afraid of that much power, outside themselves, and its expression as love. They dare not even imagine that.

[Just read A. O. Scott’s sensitive, general review (NYT), and I think he does a good job of appreciating the artistry and contextualizing the core point.]

[Reader TF writes a good point:  that sexuality is difficult because so much of it is inside, in our inner selves, and we don’t know a lot about our inner selves.  We know more when we are older, but even then there is much to discover.]

[Pages (1) and (11) of this episode. Pages 7(a)+ offer thoughts about more mundane things that men can do to help.]

Voter Suppression: Gerrymander

By “voter suppression” I mean systematic efforts (legal and illegal) by one political party (say Republican, since they’re the ones who are doing it big-time) to prohibit, or at least significantly inhibit, voting by citizens who, they believe, as a demographic, are likely to vote for a candidate from the opposing party (say, Democratic).

Here is a page on other methods of voter suppression, especially as practiced by Republicans, because Rs are far and away the major contemporary practitioners.

In recent decades, voter suppression has been a major feature of Republican Party politics.  It is a vital part of solving their problem of how oligarchs can use a minority political party as an instrument for controlling government in a democracy.

Nationally, the Republican Party is our minority party. For instance: in 2016, not only did the Dem pesidential candidate poll almost 3,000,000 more votes than did the R candidate, but 5,000,000 more votes were cast for D House candidates than for Rs. Yet the Rs are the majority in the House and the Senate.  Rs accomplish that by getting out their base of voters, suppressing the D vote, and gerrymandering to create a skewed distribution of voters that favors the R total of House candidates.

The election process is controlled at the state level of government.   A party that controls a state government can manipulate the process in its favor, to stay in power and continue to manipulate the process in its favor.  The R Party caught on to that possibility before the Ds did, and have taken full advantage.

Here’s an explanation of what gerrymandering is, how it works, and how we can do better.  Visuals, because the sheer visual grotesquery makes the manipulation so obvious:  examples from states with current major court cases:   in one article, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas;  North Carolina; Wisconsin.

Updates by state:

1-16-18 An analysis of poss NC redistricting (wth maps). 1-19  Lower cut panel rejected R-drawn map because improper partisan gerry, but US Sup Crt says Rs don’t need to redraw immediately.

1-18  And here’s an interesting take on the possibilities of partisan ‘mandering, using PA as example. / PA 18 (nice article here, with map) is hot in current election news.

The Verdict Is In (1 of X) [ * ]

Charge: The sitting President of the United States is, for all practical purposes, a loon. Verdict: Guilty as charged.

That central fact must be kept in mind (second in importance only to the fascist cruelty of the Republican Party and his base voters).  That’s who we are dealing with every day.

It doesn’t matter, to the wellbeing of the nation or the world, whether he has been clinically certified—as Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the psychopharmacology clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, explains (WaPo).

Josh Marshall (TPM) describes the symptoms that we observe in T’s actions every day (yes, that often; he insists on it):

We see it with our own eyes: in his public actions, his public statements, his tweets. All the diagnosis of a mental illness could tell us is that Trump might be prone to act in ways that we literally see him acting in every day: impulsive, erratic, driven by petty aggressions and paranoia, showing poor impulsive control, an inability to moderate self-destructive behavior. He is frequently either frighteningly out of touch with reality or sufficiently pathological in his lying that it is impossible to tell. Both are very bad.

Or as Richard Wolff put it, in an interview about his hours in the White House: Almost every new thing you heard was astounding, from his John Dean obsession to the way he screamed at people to locking himself in his bedroom. Again and again and again and again it was something you thought, “This is not how it is supposed to be.”

But the most accurate description of the Trompf mental state that I’ve seen is this one on 1/12 by Mark Sumner (Dkos). And it doesn’t even include T’s remarks, the next day, about “shithole countries,” which he was crazy enough to make, in the oval office of the White House, to US Congress persons.

What matters is whether his degree and kind of irrationality, in the context of public action, are such that just about everybody can see that he is, as Richard Painter, top ethics lawyer for W put it on Jan 6, “off his rocker.”

That is to say, he is so absent of reality that if he holds any influence over others’ lives, he is imminently dangerous.

If he were a father or an uncle in a normal, upper middle class, American family, who threatened the wellbeing of the family as much as Hair Trompf now threatens us, they would set him aside by providing appropriate accommodations. So would any upper middle class American crime family. But not our Republicans.

In an editorial on 1/11/18, the NYT tries to offer an adult analysis of the situation, for posterity. It concludes that we know all we need to know from Hair Trompf’s behavior, and there’s nothing we can do about it except vote in Nov. 2018, or 2020.

Meanwhile, surely things will get worse.  But this case is closed.

[ * ] The narratorial point of this episode of verdicts is that, for the purposes of the novel, it is not necessary to waste additional pages on these facts of the plot, however lurid the spectacle might become. As Aristotle pointed out, the tragic nature and power of the drama, and the issuance of our lives in happiness, or not, lie in the actions that we take. Those actions reveal the significant traits of the characters. Regarding insanity, evil, and irresponsibility, from these Republican characters we’ve seen enough.

[TK: This is not to say that l’Histoire du trompf, himself, is a tragic tale. It is not. What remains to be seen is whether this turns out to be a tragic nonfiction novel, using Mandell’s “definition”: “a protagonist who would command our earnest good will is impelled in a given world by a purpose, or undertakes an action, of a certain seriousness and magnitude; and by that very purpose or action, subject to that same given world, necessarily and inevitably meets with grave spiritual or physical suffering.” Our protagonist is American Democracy. We might yet see that with the intention of strengthening itself, it took actions that led to its own destruction. Or perhaps we can yet avoid inevitability.]

[Next pages of this episode are being drafted.]

Y “I” Still Support Trompf

Because (right up front, in case you don’t have time to read the rest of the page): “I” still affirm myself. “I” want to feel safe and secure in my world again, physically, financially, and socially; “I” want to feel empowered, “I” want to feel that I’m right, “I” want to feel important (“attention must be paid,” as Mrs. Loman put it), to feel like “I” make a difference.

Just like when “I” voted for Trompf, now when “I” voice my continued support, that’s how “I” feel. “I” feel like it’s good to be “me” again.

Here’s the rest of the page: Below are some of the multitudinous statements (slightly but significantly modified—except some didn’t require modification) that were made to reporters by T supporters, from 1/17 to 12/17. In a semi-tongue-in-cheek (as I read the tone), 12/30/17 HuffPost article, Ashley Fineberg offers an anti-scientific sampling from this multitude. If you read the article you’ll quickly see that I’ve substituted “I” “me” for “Trompf,” because I got the cumulative impression that these voters weren’t talking about Trompf, they were talking about themselves (and to a national audience). I’ll explain my archetypal arrival at that idea, after a few examples; then I’ll add the rest of the (modified) statements.

“When you’re my age and you see an African American boy with pants at their knees, you can’t appreciate them,” he said, noting that he would never employ someone who dressed that way. “I’m worried about when a person chooses to dress like that, what kind of effect will that person have on me.” 

“I think that it was just about taking back my country,” C R says, sitting at a meeting of a coffee club at the Gas & Grill. “Democrats reward the lazy and steal from the hardworking like me.”

I want my jobs back,” said Mr. G, who lives in Monessen, Pa., a faded steel town about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh.

“Conservatives were afraid to speak up because of criticism from liberals,” he continued, “and by God, I showed them.”

This isn’t about supporting T, it’s about affirming and supporting themselves—given their attitudes about life as they more-or-less know it. T’s great success as a campaigner was to turn himself into a psychological image (some thoughts about what I mean by “image” in that sense) in the minds of voters who deeply needed that heroic image of themselves (and these are not the stinky rich, who vote R to increase their wealth; these are the emotionally needy). It’s “the magic of drumpf.” When they voted for T, they voted to affirm, empower, and enact that heroically embattled sense of themselves.

In individual voters, this particular image is more, or less, racist, sexist, classist, authoritarian, etc.; but it is profoundly psychological and human. The vision may be delusional, greedy, and hateful; but it is profoundly psychological and human. It’s application is ignorant and/or dishonest and/or selfish. It is, indeed, a house built on swamp land, crawling with vermin and soon to decay; but it is profoundly psychological and human.

This psychological stuff is very powerful. It grabs people without their realizing what’s happening in them. It holds them fast to itself, like Ahab holding onto that whale (as in 3:50-4:10 of this clip; don’t miss those last seconds!). Of course a prime historical example is Herr Hitler. He looks like a goofball to us, but in the imaginations of his followers he became an image of their All-Powerful, Unbeatable, National Redeemer.  He was all about them.

As the Trompf image has begun to fade into fact, outside the hyper-excited imagination, he looks more and more like a goofball; but it’s hard for people to give up on themselves.

I am learning, maybe the hard way, that I may not be able to force myself on a lot of people the way I thought I could,” agrees R K, 64, of Seminole, Texas.

“I feel like maybe somebody who has a little more power and has a big mouth can actually get some words across,” she says.

I’ve got to give me some time,” he said of himself. “I’m not Houdini.”

“I didn’t like that it happened, but it did — and I’ve got to move on,” said J L, a retired farmer in the area, of Gen. Michael Flynn’s abrupt Monday night resignation. ”

“It was hilarious to see me give it to the media,” said T L, 28, a car dealer who drove to the rally from Orlando. “The media’s problem is that they keep wanting to make up stories so that I look bad. It doesn’t work. I’m talking right through you guys.”

I’m doing what I said I was going to do, that’s the biggest thing,” said T S, 23, who describes himself as a “progressive Republican” who falls asleep watching Fox News each night. “A lot of people get into the presidency, and they just completely forget what I talked about.”

W S, 74, said he’s skeptical about all the stories of ties between his associates and Russia.

“Is there something there? Probably,” said S, who walks with a cane and stands up about every 10 minutes to relieve the pressure on his back, a lingering reminder of his half-century working as a barber before he retired. “But Judas Priest, don’t go overboard.”

“Look, I know the steel jobs aren’t coming back to the degree they once were, nor the coal jobs,” said G. “Honestly, I never expected that.”

“If I do something wrong, that’s one thing. But give me a chance to lead the country. If it falls apart, it can’t be any worse than it’s been.”

I just need to give myself time,” said J D, a real estate agent in Canton, Ga. “I’m not one to give up, or I might never be a billionaire.”

“If I lose this job,” she said, “I’ll sit home and die.”

Yet she said she might still vote for herself in 2020. And that’s a refrain I heard over and over. 

“It’s really disheartening what they’re putting me through,” said J M, 66, from Langhorne, whose husband, a bonsai artist, affixed a “Hillary for Prison” sticker to his motorcycle during the campaign.

“Unfortunately, some of my advisers and appointees appear to be willful, intractable, and committed to their own unspoken agendas, making their decisions without concern for me, my image or my campaign promises.”

“Do I believe that I’m in bed with the Russians? Oh, hell no,” he said. “Do I think it’s a lie that’s trying to be perpetrated by the left? Absolutely.”

“I think I’m best for our economy, especially here,” said W O, a pastor who has dedicated his life to helping the kids in Kentucky’s forgotten hills where far too many are addicted to drugs and government aid. “I have the same problems here that the inner cities have.”

“A lot of the whirlwinds that surround me are just not true,” said Mansfield resident J C, 74, a self voter who said he would vote for himself again. “I think some of them are generated by Democrats.”

“I believe I’m doing the right thing,” says P V, a general contractor in Luzerne County. V admits it would bother him if he had tried to end the Flynn probe, but says he wouldn’t believe a Comey memo on the issue because that could be political sour grapes from the fired FBI director.

We’re all liars and thieves and slicksters. There is no such thing as the truth in Washington anymore.” 

“I tuned it out,” said 44-year-old M V, a mother of three sons, during a break from her job at a Staten Island hair salon. “I didn’t want to be depressed. I don’t want to feel that I’m not doing what I said, so I just choose to not listen.”

I’m here to clean up this country and keep me safe and make me financially stable,” said 77-year-old M H in Three Rivers, south of Kalamazoo. “I’m the president of the United States. I should be able to say whatever I want to say….Leave me alone, let me do my job.”

“It’s a waste of time and energy for me out here in the hinterlands for me to worry about what’s going on in the cesspool in Washington,” said N S, Argentine’s treasurer who has been on the board for more than 20 years. “And it’s a swamp. It really is a swamp.”

“I probably am a bigger supporter of myself. I have a greater respect and admiration for me and my office,” Pearson said.

“I think some of it is funny, how I don’t let people push me around,” R R said. 

I’m taking back the American initiative,” he said. “I’m a force for good in the world, a force to be reckoned with. You can’t beat me.” 

I’m doing more than anyone else has. There’s some people trying to stop me or slow me down, but I’m trying.”

“I think I’m figuring it out,” said Y, who established Kewanee Real Estate in 2002. She was on her way to a Kiwanis luncheon. “I’m happy that I went to the United Nations and I’m glad I was forceful with them. I think the U.S. has been too pussyfoot in the past with them.”

“I think when I have worked at being more civil, I appreciate it,” she said.

“Everybody I talk to,” he said, “realizes it’s not me who’s dragging my feet. I’m probably the most diligent, hardest-working president I’ve ever had in my lifetime. It’s not like I sleep in till noon and go golfing every weekend, like the last president did.”

“No matter what my behavior is, I’m the president. Sorry guys! Suck it up,” she said.

I have voted with my principle and my conscience for all these years, and where has it gotten me? It’s time to vote to shake things up.”

“I personally like that I’m a no-nonsense sort of person. Do I wish I would use my words in a better way sometimes? Absolutely. But it takes a person with strength and gumption to not care sometimes about what I say or how I say it,” T said. “But the ‘Merry Christmas’ part, I think, is amazing and should have been done a long time ago.”

I’ve already done enough to get my vote again, without a doubt, no question,” W L, a retired pipefitter and one of Whitt’s regulars, declares as he deals the day’s first hand of cards.

We understand that one of the great things about democracy is that it gives every citizen an opportunity to try to draw attention to his or her needs, and to influence government. They can’t be blamed for that. As the Rs give government to fewer and fewer people, all of them well off, the people quoted above will have to figure out how they can get their voices back. I hope the Ds will offer a huge, Progressive megaphone, and soon. Power to the people.

[The narrator has borrowed quite a lot from somebody else’s work (and distorted it, besides); but since nobody profits from this novel, I’m hoping that the originating author and publisher will generously agree to fair use. TK]

The Shearing of Hair Trompf (20)

I’m beginning this new page of this episode simply upon the occasion of the passing of time. I needed that. It’s simply the next day, the next number; but 2017 was so bad that 2018 feels to me like the end of something deeply troubling, and the beginning of something that is likely to become much worse, if the Republicans work their will, or much better if we stop them and begin to turn the country around.

In that regard, 2017’s last entry (at the bottom of the previous page) seems appropriate for this opening of a crucial new year:

12-31-17  Bernstein:  The President’s lawyers are trying to control “an out of control client,” so that he won’t fire people or pardon people (be sure to watch the CNN clip). / A New Year’s Eve prediction by Senator Blumenthal (D-CT):  “Trump denial of Russian collusion rotten at core and doomed to unravel. Expect more serious convictions and indictments early in 2018 as Special Counsel climbs ladder of criminal culpability – and more panicky, preemptive attacks from Republicans.”

1-1-18  Could be a big year.  Onward!

1-2 Yep.  In a (very well written) Op-Ed in NYT, the founders of Fusion GPS explain the history of the “Steele dossier” and its role in the FBI and Meuller investigations of Trompf/Russia. They point out that the House investigative committee [actually its chair, Rep Nunes (R-CA)] is refusing to release their testimony to the public.

They tasked Mr. Steele, a highly regarded Russia intelligence expert, with gathering information re. this Q:  Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun? What came back shocked us. Mr. Steele’s sources in Russia (who were not paid) reported on an extensive — and now confirmed — effort by the Kremlin to help elect Mr. Trump president. Mr. Steele saw this as a crime in progress and decided he needed to report it to the F.B.I. . . .The public still has much to learn about a man with the most troubling business past of any United States president. Congress should release transcripts of our firm’s testimony, so that the American people can learn the truth about our work and most important, what happened to our democracy.

1-3  All the crazy people.  Where do they all come from?  Hell, perchance?   Bannon says the President’s name-sake son committed treason with his Trump Tower meeting, and undoubtedly walked the results directly up to his dad’s office, and that the T doings included money laundering.  Pres. “Big Button” Trompf says B has lost his mind and has no relationship with the presidency.  And btw, Manafort is suing Meuller, Rosenstein, and the DOJ.  Feels like the toboggan of the mind has left the hill top of sanity.  Or, given global warming, we my just say that things are heating up. / Here’s JM’s take on where we are in this episode’s part of the plot line: what has brought us to the end of the beginning. We know there was campaign collusion with Russia. Next Qs include:  what were T’s earlier contacts with Russian organized crime and money laundering? How high did the campaign collusion go?

1-4  T’s real estate company has given docs to M:  The bulk of the information is focused on the period between June 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy, and his January 2017 inauguration. . . The Trump Organization produced records that include information related to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, the billionaire Agalarov family of Russia, head of the US-based Russian American Chamber of Commerce Sergei Millian, a paid speech Donald Trump Jr. gave in October 2016 to a Russia-friendly policy think tank in Paris, Trump’s foreign policy address in April 2016 at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel and communications regarding WikiLeaks, two of the sources said. / Schmidt at NYT with new evidence of how hard the WH has tried to get control of the investigation, and WH has obstructed justice.  1-5 Sargent (WaPo) on that new evidence revealed NYT article.  

1-8  TPM:  Marshall points out that we know T had financial ties to Russians going far back, and we know that the campaign had contact with Russians.  How are those related?  My best guess is that people around Putin knew Trump was crooked and dependent on Russian money and that he was likely to be friendly and up for … well, up for anything. So they went to work trying to make friends and found willing partners. . . But that isn’t so much an explanation based on specific facts as it is the simplest explanation, the cleanest theory that accounts for all the facts we know.  This requires a lot more sleuthing and explanation. / WaPo:  Sargent explains that the Rs are trying to scuttle the M investigation by claiming that it began with politically motivated collusion with Russia, by HC, specifically by producing the Steele dossier.  This narrative took a major blow last week when the two co-founders of Fusion GPS published a New York Times op-ed detailing their own testimony to Congress on these matters. They said they told Congress — mainly the Judiciary Committee — that the original funding for their research was a conservative publication; that they don’t believe the dossier triggered the probe; and that their sources told them that the FBI took the dossier seriously because it corroborated reports of collusion [by the T campaign] coming in from many other sources, something that has been confirmed by deep investigative reporting. / Appears that M will interview (in some form) Trompf soon.  

1-10 T says it’s unlikely he’ll be asked to be interviewed by M; but WaPo columnist says, “The president is wrong. What is unlikely — unimaginable, in my assessment — is that Mueller would conclude his investigation without seeking to interview the president.”  1-11 Bannon will be interviewd by M act campaign. /  Rs in all-out attack to try to discredit M.  1-12 M asks court to set May 14 trial date for Manafort and Gates [1-19 but judge says Sept or Oct, during election season]. 1-16 Bannon has been subpoenaed (grand jury) by M. 1-17 Reports that Bannon will be interviewed directly by M, avoiding grand jury appearance, and that he is ready to sing (and not the praises). / (Btw, In the Beginning, Trompf called Wolff.) / Kislyak – Flynn payment, or something? 1-18  M investigating whether a Russian banker funneled money through the NRA to the T campaign. / Paul Waldman explains how this is one more way in which we are weakened by Citizens United:  501(c)4 nonprofits can recv money from foreign sources, not report the source, and spend it to influence elections.