Living Large In Carson City: A Scoundrel, A Crook And A Ninny Edition


“Patriotism is a virtue of the vicious” Oscar Wilde

The Donald Trump’s UnMagical Mysterious Tour in an ongoing spectacle of bad taste and effrontery traveled to Japan this past week to the G20 meeting of world leaders. The results were predicable and not unexpected. The tour became more of a chance for Trump to hobnob with the world’s strongmen autocrats  (a group he desperately wants to be included in on the world stage) including his pal Vladmir Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam, and a wild card visit to Eddie Munster grown up look alike, Kim Jong Un. Trump hit a trifecta of sorts by embarrassing himself and/or America in every meeting. With Putin, it was a mocking comment about not meddling in the 2020 election. With MBS, he rudely talked to the Saudi murdering prince while standing on bleachers at the group photo shoot. The biggest surprise came at the end of his trip when  he decided to go to North Korea to further his bromance with the despot Kim Jong Un and the chance to be the first American president to ever visit the North Korea pariah state. It is fair to ask the question does Trump understand why no American president ever visited the rogue empire before?

The prospect of writing a blog post about the G20 meeting is both excruciating and useless because nothing happened at the conference except for Trump’s grandstanding; an all too common act of idiocy this president is wont to engage in wherever he goes. This lull in actual illegal acts committed by Trump allows the nation to stop, contemplate, and reflect on the other members of his party, and their outrageous shenanigans. This week provided more than enough ammunition to highlight the growing band of America’s scoundrels, crooks, and ninnies. Following are some of the more egregious and baffling accounts of how these people see American democracy.

First up, under the crooks category, is Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) from one of Southern California’s reddest districts. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted for misuse of campaign finances for personal gain. In a recent development of the bizarre case, Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty for conspiring to misuse campaign finance money. She is expected to cooperate with the prosecution in her husband’s oncoming trial. Records show the couple used the ill-begotten money for travel, fine dining, gifts, and generally as a “secret” checking account that they dipped into whenever they liked. They then falsely reported the “expenditures” to the Federal Election Commission as legitimate campaign expenses.

Duncan is embroiled in his own trial at the moment and has taken an unusual defense surrounding his actions. While accusing his wife of creating the entire fiasco in the first place, Hunter also used the funds to engage in five affairs over the course of the election campaign. Among the women Hunter had affairs with, three were industry lobbyist, one of his own campaign staffers, and an official of Republican National Committee. This is where it gets weird.

In a new move this week, Hunter’s lawyers have come up with a unique defense for his actions. Laura Clawson, staff writer for the Daily Kos, writes his lawyers are claiming his extra-marital affairs were . . . campaign expenditures. Clawson wrote,

These women were, after all, professional contacts for Hunter. The relationships, the lawyers argue, “often served an overtly political purpose,” so “Unlike intimacy, the fact that an individual’s relationship with Mr. Hunter includes a professional aspect that directly, or indirectly, relates to his campaign or duties as a holder of Federal office, is directly relevant to whether Mr. Hunter could properly use campaign funds for an expense in connection with that individual.” Daily Kos

Certainly, the devoutly Christian Republican Party will no doubt call foul mentioning among other things infidelity, theft, conspiracy, lying to federal officials, and other mundane crimes that Hunter seems to think are inconsequential. In normal times such claims would be laughable, yet, this is Trump’s world now. Anything goes.

The Ninny award this week goes to who else but Ivanka Trump. Trump is fond of taking his daughter with him to various functions like the G20 around the world. Part eye candy, part presidential adviser (?), and part emotional support to the president, what exactly Ivanka’s diplomatic talents are are still up for debate. From fashion maven to international expert adviser is a pretty big leap for anyone, but for Ivanka, surely so.

In Japan this week and in North Korea, the blonde headed stick figure and her equally bland and monochromatic husband, Jared, were seen everywhere. This isn’t a good thing. It seemed as if Ivanka showed up everywhere except the places where she was wanted. In a reception line, she and Jared took center stage effectively blocking out Mike Pomepeo from a place of importance. It wasn’t until he called this to Ivanka’s attention did she and Jared begrudgingly make room for him but not without obvious reluctance. Many experts question her qualifications and why in the world she has become a familiar Trump doppelganger that acts as if she has something of substance to offer. Kaitlan Collins of CNN Tweeted it this way,

CNN Newsroom


Ivanka Trump’s role at the G20 summit is under scrutiny.

CNN’s @kaitlancollins reports: “There are questions about the role she played with these other world leaders. … and whether or not she is qualified to be in those meetings.” 

One particular incident stood out and became the focus of a much ballyhooed speculation on why Ivanka was even there. The incident involved a group of high level European diplomats engaged in an intense conversation including French president Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and International Monetary Fund head, Christine Lagarde. As May makes a point, the hapless Ivanka can be seen trying to wheedle her way into the conversation. Babbling inane bullshit obviously, the leaders, and especially Legarde, cast jaundiced eyes toward the president’s daughter as if wondering, “Where did this ninny come from?” For her part, Ivanka, like her father, seemed unruffled or aware that she was being shunned by her betters.

Finally, the scoundrel award is shared by two equally despicable lawmakers, Mitch McConnell (R Ken) and loopy Louie Gohmert (R Tex). The sins of McConnell are widely known ranging back to Barack Obama’s first administration. There are literally too many incidents to chronicle here. This week, however, he played his role as partisan suck up to the president when he used an underhanded dirty trick to block the Senate from reeling in the president’s ability to go to war with Iran. Not only was his act a selfish partisan hack job, but it surely gives Trump the green light to attack Iran before the 2020 election where upon Trump would do god knows what.  Declare martial law? Suspend the election? 

Leave it to loopy Louie, however, to inject a bit of “country humor” into the national political debate. In an attack on Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Gohmert reacted to Mueller’s subpoena by Democrats in the House of Representatives by attacking his integrity and referring to Mueller with an odd pejorative. Kate Riga of Talking Points Memo put it this way,

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s impending congressional testimony has some House Republicans speaking their mind about the square-jawed lawyer.

“He’s done some irreparable damage to some things and he’s got to answer for them,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told Politico. “It reinforced the anal opening that I believe Mueller to be.” .

“Anal opening”? Leave it to loopy Louie to obfuscate when a simple “asshole” would have worked better and been more clear. Maybe it’s his skewed religious fervor that makes him believe anal opening is less disgusting than asshole. Maybe a lesser sin? Who can say?

Next week will surely be taken up by the obscene Fourth of July “celebration” planned by Trump and his merry band of “anal openings”. The event is shaping up to be a doozy. Tanks, jets, armed personnel carriers, VIP sections, friends, family, and the partisan riff raff that seems to be Trump’s stock and trade. Hold on to your seats. At least we haven’t bombed Iran . . . yet.








Living Large In Carson City: America Ain’t Got Time for That

White House economic adviser: People don’t care about Trump corruption


When asked in an interview hosted by NPR’s Steve Inskeep on May 29 about the seemingly clear case of Donald Trump and his family profiting from doing the business of the country, Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, was both a little perturbed and short with his answer.

I think it’s unfortunate when anybody takes the discussion in that direction,” Navarro said. “I think the American people would rather focus on how to stop China from taking the seed corn of our future prosperity, so that’s what I’m focused on. Can we stay on that, sir?

A little unfortunate? Maybe, but put that aside for the moment. I do agree with Navarro that it is important to focus on getting the best terms when negotiating trade deals with all the countries America does business with around the world. China needs to be held to a standard that benefits all parties as much as feasibly possible. We have a trade deficit with China, and it truly is a bad deal for the United States. It should be a priority to level the playing field where everyone prospers, and in the case of China, stops them for the irksome practice of stealing intellectual property from their trading partners.

Getting back to the “a little unfortunate” allusion, it is mind boggling how Trump sycophants sidestep questions about obvious greed-fueled corruption in the way these people do business. The article covering the NPR interview by Aaron Rupar of goes on to examine the controversy of the Chinese company ZTE that was hit with severe penalties for doing business with Iran and North Korea contrary to America’s sanctions on those countries.

When a Chinese state-owned construction company invested $500 million in a Trump- branded property in Indonesia, the Orange One suddenly became concerned with the high unemployment that the penalties on ZTE would create for the Chinese economy. In a bizarre turn the other cheek moment, Trump found it in his heart to forgive ZTE, despite a warning from one of his own newly installed cabinet members and the military that ZTE was a national security threat, but wait, it gets better.


PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 25: Ivanka Trump attends the 4-man Boblseigh on day sixteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre on February 25, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Ivanka Trump is on a four-day visit to South Korea to attend the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Photo by Eric Gaillard-Pool/Getty Images)Getty Images

Tied into the mix is Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. Shortly, before Trump found it in his heart to forgive ZTE their transgressions, Ivanka secured seven trademark deals from the Chinese government that will undoubtedly line her pockets for years to come. She had already been awarded three trademarks after dining with the Chinese president last year. All toll, the young Ms. Trump has received 34 trademark deals since her dad took office. Now, maybe, just maybe, Ivanka is a skilled business woman and made these deals on her own. While she has supposedly put her business dealings on hold, it seems a little odd that the Chinese government is singling her out of all the businesses in the world to heap these golden eggs on her without regard to her father’s vaunted position in Chinese and America’s relationship.

But I digress . . .

My issue is with Navarro and his dismissal of concerns that the Trump clan is not acting on the up and up despite the appearance of something underhanded going on in the Trump administration. He may believe people really don’t care what the president does in his private businesses dealings, or as Rupar put it,

Navarro did not try and reassure people that Trump is actually acting in the national interest. Instead, he suggested that the question itself is offensive, and argued that people have more important things to worry about.

When I read that comment the first time, I actually gasped, and I am normally not a gasper. The sheer audacity of someone in Navarro’s position trying to turn the table on the American people and imply it is “offensive” to question, not just the Trumps, but any public official dealing in corrupt acts is anathema to all that is right and holy in this country.

Is this the new reality in America today where a cabal of rich white people are above the law? The list is endless from Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, an oxymoronic title under Pruitt’s watch, to Ryan Zinke at the Department of Interior, to Tom Price at Health and Human Services (fired), to Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development, to Steven Mnuchin at Treasury (think solar eclipse escapade), to Mike Mulvaney director of Office and Budget (he’s the one who told lobbyists to pay to play), and on and on. These people don’t even reflect the worst of the worst (Okay maybe Pruitt does), but this leaves out Betsy DeVos and Wilbur Ross who have their own ethical challenges.

People don’t care about Trump’s corruption? I think they do. The only real issue of import to the American people, our democracy, and the integrity of the United States depends on driving these criminals out of office at the first chance the voting booths offers. What is offensive is that a member of the president’s entourage would have the balls to say something this offensive in public and think it was okay.

It’s not.

Living Large in Carson City: The Sky Really Is Falling . . . “Did I say that?” Edition

I was all set to write about the depth of corruption that has taken root in the White House beyond the obvious shenanigans of Trump senior by looking at an article in the L.A. Times regarding Ivanka’s tawdry actions as first daughter and as a senior political adviser to her father on topics well above her pay grade. Not to mention, her ties with the Russian mafia, money laundering and the general bilking of potential and current clients. The other topic came from a Washington Post opinion piece about Hope Hicks and her abrupt exit from her White House communications position.

The Times piece is summed up in the title of the article: Ivanka Trump: Born to legitimize corruption and make the shoddy look cute. Most Americans only see the aging debutante as a glamorous beauty that sweeps in and out of the news cycle flashing her pretty smile and flaunting her runway beauty that most American women never have a chance of attaining. Only now are her actions as a Trump, Inc. surrogate coming under scrutiny.  Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller over the past few weeks turned his focus on both her and her husband, Jared Kushner.  Kushner for his suspect dealings with countries who refused him loans to help bail out his family’s failing international real estate enterprises. Jared may have dealt in a reverse game of quid pro quo when the tiny Middle-Eastern country, Qatar, refused to support his request for a loan.

Ivanka’s woes (among others) come in the form of an FBI counterintelligence probe as highlighted in a CNN article looking into her dealings with the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. The Trump’s don’t own the hotel but lease their name and provide some amenities like Ivanka’s trademarked spa like they often do. Dealings of this sort have caused the Trump organization problems in the past, especially for Ivanka (see the Times article above).

The Post’s View opinion column deals with the breakup between Trump and Hope Hicks in a rather unique manner. The gist of the article is,

THE CAPITAL last week was seized by the news that White House communications director Hope Hicks was leaving President Trump’s side, the latest senior aide to depart a tumultuous West Wing. But as a symbol of what is wrong in Mr. Trump’s Washington, Ms. Hicks’s activities just before her announcement were more potent.  (my emphasis)

America now knows that Hicks admitted telling “white lies” to the American public over the tenure of here service. These lies, presumably, were meant to aid the Trump narrative when the truth didn’t comport with reality or when the Trump family’s questionable actions became public.

Additionally, and more damning, she refused to answer any questions concerning what has transpired in the White House since Trump took office. Remember, recently, Steve Bannon notoriously refused to cooperate or answer some of the questions asked of him when he faced federal investigators including the House Intelligence Committee.  Hick’s refusal is more problematic in that she seemed to evoke some form of executive privilege, which does not in any way apply to her or her testimony. While the opinion piece makes a lot of great points, the one that is by far the most important is the precedent that its sets for future special investigations into criminal wrongs committed by this or future White Houses.

Those were the two topics of privilege that caught my eye in the less obscure headlines in the world of Washington politics. Then Sam Nunberg happened.

One time in the late 1970s at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, TX, I saw a performer make the biggest fool of himself than anyone in my life. That title held until yesterday.  The Kerrville show was continually held up due to heavy rain that made performing a suicidal endeavor at best. Finally, a gospel group came out and did a quick set and moved off stage. The next performer, who will remain unnamed, had had a lot of time on his hands backstage. After several unheeded intros by his band, the singer/song writer came out to scattered applause.

It was immediately evident that the performer had spent his down time backstage with a large bottle of alcohol. Not quite falling down drunk, but close, he began the first song but stopped the band and began to rag on the gospel group that preceded him in what became a drunken harangue. He wasn’t very nice to say the least. Finally, after what seemed an eternity (really only about five minutes), the venerable, late Rod Kennedy who promoted the festival back then came out and led the drunken singer backstage. Up until yesterday, no one in my experience ever came close to embarrassing themselves publicly like that performer.

Until yesterday.

Nunberg was like an out of control car brawling its way down Lombard Street in San Francisco.  I saw his performance (or rather heard his phone call) on Jake Tapper where he vehemently proclaimed he would not submit to a Robert Mueller subpoena to surrender emails Mueller wants for his Russian probe into Trump’s possible collusion.

Over the course of the conversation he pledged his loyalty to Steve Bannon and Roger Stone while taking potshots at others, Trump included, in a wide-ranging rant of just about everything to do with the Mueller investigation and Trump’s White House. It was just the thing that Americans love to see: Someone making a fool out of themselves for no good reason to their own detriment. He was that unhinged. At several points in the discussion, Trump’s culpability came up,

Nunberg said multiple times that he thinks Mueller, who is leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, “may” have information that President Trump did something illegal. The White House rejected that claim, saying Nunberg has no knowledge on the subject.

This morning America awoke to the headlines that Nunberg recanted and will probably work with Mueller despite his odd behavior yesterday.

Pity, he was on a roll.