All the Snowflake King’s Men

On Tuesday, January 9, 2018, California US Senator Dianne Feinstein released a full transcript of Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson’s extensive 21-hour testimony before 3 Congressional committees. According to her, “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.” The move follows a decision by Republican Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham, who after months of testimony, issued a criminal referral for Steele, alleging the committee had reason to believe the former spy has lied to the authorities about his conversations with the press regarding the dossier. His spokesman, Taylor Foy called it, “confounding” that Feinstein released the transcript “unilaterally” over the Republican majority’s objections. Well, of course, she did because she knew the Republicans were cover up that testimony to protect Trump’s ass. But according to Foy, “Feinstein’s unilateral decision was made as the committee is still trying to secure testimony from other witnesses, including Jared Kushner. Her action undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses.” By releasing the transcripts against objections from Republican colleagues, Feinstein didn’t cause much harm. She broke no law. Though Simpson testified in a closed session, he wasn’t a government official. Nor did he discuss classified information or anything about anyone’s private life. Besides, Simpson had already called for his testimony’s full release. What Feinstein violated was the normal rules of Senate decorum, which Republicans had been using to cover up a key point that debunks some of their own talking points about this matter.

Simpson’s testimony contains many revelations. He touches upon how the Trump Organization handles taxes saying, Donald Trump’s relationship with gangster Felix Sater, how his country clubs aren’t making any money and that someone might’ve been killed as a result of the dossier. But most importantly, his testimony revealed that the FBI was already investigating potential links between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government before they even heard anything about Christopher Steele’s infamous dossier on the matter. During the hearing, Simpson stated when Steele spoke to the FBI about his findings, the bureau, “believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing, and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump Organization.” That along with a report from the New York Times suggests that Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos who during a night of heavy drinking in May 2016, accidentally kicked off the Trump-Russia investigation by telling an Australian diplomat that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

We must not forget that Feinstein released this transcript over her Republican colleagues’ objections. Recently, conservatives had been pushing a theory that the basis for the FBI investigation was an opposition document compiled at the Clinton campaign’s behest. On January 3, key House conservative Rep. Jim Jordan rolled out a tweetstorm of 18 questions about the FBI and Russia, many of which centered on the Steele dossier. Along with another leading House conservative Rep. Mark Meadows, Jordan is calling for Trump to fire Jeff Sessions and put in a new attorney general to oversee and possibly quash the Russia investigation. This is part of a broader effort to discredit the Robert Mueller investigation which in turn is part of the conservative counternarrative on the whole Russian scandal. The dossier plays a key role in this conspiracy theory. By putting the dossier on trial, they have tried to impeach the basic case that people in Trump’s circle may have coordinated with the Russians who attacked the election. Trump allies have also used the dossier to go on offense against the FBI and the Justice Department, charging that “biased” federal investigators used what Republicans call partisan, Democratic-funded propaganda as the basis for the whole Russian investigation. However, the reality is that while intelligence circles hold Steele in high regard, there’s no evidence that the FBI has ever used his work as the basis of its Russia investigation. Besides, the case for collusion goes beyond the dossier and includes outreach by Russian agents to the Trump campaign as well as meetings between Trump associates and Russians.

Now who is this Glenn Simpson and what is Fusion GPS? Simpson is one of the co-founders of Fusion GPS which is a “strategic influence” firm first hired by the conservative publication called the Washington Free Beacon in 2015 to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee contracted the firm once Trump’s Republican nomination became more imminent. In turn, Fusion hired former MI-6 Russian specialist Christopher Steele to specifically look at Trump and Russia. The former British agent used his Russian contacts to compile a dossier describing efforts by Russian President Vladimir Putin to cultivate a relationship with Trump and his entourage and to gather material to blackmail the candidate if necessary. He did not pay sources for the information. His investigation ended with a several allegations including that Russian security services are blackmailing Trump with a recording of him paying prostitutes to pee on his bed at the Moscow Ritz Carlton presidential suite. And that Trump’s campaign was the beneficiary of a multifaceted Kremlin plot to interfere in the 2016 US election. Obviously, Steele felt his findings went beyond political campaign fodder and made him worry that there was a genuine threat to US national security. So he took the info to the FBI who was already getting tips and reports something was going on. Steele’s information just confirmed the seriousness of the situation. Buzzfeed published Steele’s dossier in January 2017 which set off a firestorm of controversy and intrigue which neither man intended to happen. But in recent months, it had taken new life as the centerpiece of a conservative counter-conspiracy theory that Trump’s political enemies cooked up the whole Trump-Russia investigation. Simpson’s testimony primarily debunks the conservative narrative placing the infamous dossier at the center of the story and confirms the Times account of a drunk Papadopoulos kickstarting the Trump-Russian investigation.

But how could a drunk Papadopoulos be the start of the Trump-Russian investigation? Let’s just say that it all boils Papadopoulos having a drunk conversation with Australia’s ambassador to the UK, Alexander Downer about Russia having dirt on Hillary Clinton. Downer, of course, shared the details with other Australian officials who ultimately passed word of it to their American counterparts once the hacking of Democratic email accounts became a big deal. And thus the FBI investigation ensued that July. All because Papadopoulos said the wrong thing to the wrong guy while under the influence. They listened to Steele because they already had an investigation into the Trump-Russia question underway. While the investigation hasn’t yet proven the existence of anything like the vast conspiracy Steele alleges, it certainly has uncovered a real evidence of wrongdoing. This consists of a Papadopoulos guilty plea along with serious criminal charges against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. We’ve also learned that key Trumpworld figures like Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. were at least eager to potentially collaborate with the Russian government into revealing anti-Clinton “dirt.” Rather than taking a cue from Downer in alerting the authorities to the existence of the of an active Russian intelligence effort aimed at the United States. There also continues to be an ongoing investigation that might yet reveal other criminal activity. Or it might not. Either way, Simpson’s testimony is more evidence that law enforcement took the Trump-Russian collusion question seriously for reasons that had nothing to do with the Steele dossier.

Steele may have overreacted as well as got things wrong. Yet, fundamentally, it doesn’t matter since the investigation doesn’t rise or fall on his credibility. Even so, he turned the dossier to the FBI for no obvious reason other than his allegiance to our closest ally. Despite what the Republicans think, the Steele dossier was not a purely political document paid for by Democrats to hurt Donald Trump. Else Steele wouldn’t have reported such information to the FBI. In fact, the Democrats hardly made a concerted effort to hit Trump where it hurts during the 2016 election and they didn’t need a dossier suggesting treason to do it. For Trump’s history of corruption of dubious business practices is simply mindboggling. Also, he’s a narcissistic sociopath who has consistently abused any position of power he’s had to enrich himself. Besides, allegations of collusion with a foreign power to interfere in an election are far more serious than the traditional political punches.

While Republicans decry that Feinstein’s decision to make the Simpson testimony public undermines the congressional investigations, it was the their own efforts to obstruct inquiries that prompted to her to release the documents in the first place. Because they’d rather stick with Trump for their own selfish interests despite the damage he’s done to this country, how many norms he’s violated, and how he’s enriching himself. In an op-ed Fritsch and Simpson write, “We suggested investigators look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Mr. Trump’s businesses. Congress appears uninterested in that tip: Reportedly, ours are the only bank records the House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed. [We] found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering.” The House committee investigating Trump’s Russian connections was an utter joke while led by Rep. Devin Nunes who was on Trump’s transition team! Last year, the California Republican betrayed his oath of office on behalf of a faction within the Trump administration. Hell, he practically went to and from the White House telling Trump and his allies the House committee’s activities. In siding with Trump, Republicans have put their party over nation and principles. In essence, instead of pursuing what Fusion GPS found out about Trump, they’ve become enablers to a possible traitor who has no love for the country he’s supposed to lead, no respect for the democratic values he’s supposed to protect and promote, and no affinity for the rule of law he’s supposed to abide.

Nevertheless, the fact Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans didn’t want the Simpson testimony released to the public speaks volumes about their motives. As Simpson and Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch wrote in an op-ed that the committees have “known for months” of credible collusion allegations but have chosen instead to “chase rabbits.” And yet, Republicans tried pushing a conspiracy theory that Trump’s political enemies created the dossier to defame him and launch an FBI witch hunt. It’s clear conservatives in Congress have been misleading people about the origins of the FBI investigation into Trump and Russia with hopes in discrediting it. We all know that Republicans want to hold on to their power to enact policy they want no matter how unpopular it is. We know they’re willing to support Donald Trump so they can get their way. It is one thing for a major political party to unite behind a corrupt president. But it’s a very serious concern when the GOP unites behind a campaign of willful disinformation at the country’s expense. As Joshua Marshall wrote in Talking Points Memo, “What’s happened is that we’ve had a year tarnishing the reputation of a man who did right by the United States for no obvious reason other than his allegiance is to our closest ally and creating a comic, degenerate alternate reality in which the people who alerted us to the problems and those who first sought to understand them are the malefactors rather than the people who were at a minimum cozying up to a foreign power. It is actually quite like the cliched story of the whistleblower who speaks up and then becomes the scapegoat in the cover-up of the bad acts he was trying to bring to light. In fact that’s exactly what it is.” Now that Republicans have chosen to protect their Snowflake King, we must remember how their selfishness at Capitol Hill has disgraced the nation.

Advertisements

The Madness of the Snowflake King

In this winter of our discontent, there is a term flying around conservative circles called “snowflake” used to describe liberal extremists who get offended by every statement and/or belief that doesn’t exactly match their own. To them, these individuals think they’re just unique as “snowflakes” when they really just have fragile feelings. To be fair, I do believe there are some liberal snowflakes who do exist. But when it comes to fragile feelings and offense by every statement and/or belief not aligning theirs, I think the “snowflake” label describes conservatives much more. For one, conservatives have an entire media ecosystem to insulate them from uncomfortable mainstream truths and assure them their views are perfectly reasonable. I mean when other networks air rather damning stuff on Donald Trump, Fox News runs stupid shit and peddles conspiracy theories. Secondly, conservatives go absolutely apeshit over race related issues such as Black Lives Matter calling attention to police brutality, NFL players taking a knee, and removing Confederate monuments. Third, those so-called “snowflakes” conservatives refer to have had to deal with all kinds of offenses and systematic injustices against them for perhaps their whole lives.

But in the United States, there is no bigger snowflake in the country than Snowflake King Donald Trump. Even before he ran for president and disastrously ended up in the White House, we all know that this guy has a massively inflated ego and self-delusions of grandeur. He sees himself as a successful and brilliant businessman despite being an outright fraud who’s shamelessly engaged in unethical practices and corruption that have ruined hundreds of people’s lives. His presidency will become legend for his incompetence, his Twitter tantrums, his lack of regard for the law, democratic principles, and norms, and his corrupt administration that’s loaded with sycophants. Still, Trump is known to burst over the slightest insult that he’s referred the mainstream media as “fake news” whenever they run a negative story about him. For a president, to discredit the media over the negative stuff about him whether it be his unethical business practices, his flagrant disregard for democratic norms, his lack of respect of democratic values, openly racist tirades, his Twitter tantrums, his incompetence and mental instability, and pathological dishonesty. Even before he became president, Trump was known to at least threatening to sue those who dare challenge him or at least said stuff about him he didn’t like. Sometimes this has resulted in real life consequences. In 1990, he threatened to sue Janney Montgomery Scott unless they fired their securities analyst Mark Roffman. His crime? Issuing a negative forecast for Trump Taj Mahal which was later proved correct. Nevertheless, Roffman lost his job and spent the next few years in a living hell. A year later, Trump threatened to sue any broadcaster or distributor who’d show an 80 minute documentary about him called Trump: What’s the Deal?, which powerfully and disturbingly portrayed him as the fraud he actually is. His effort to suppress the film proved successful.

Recently, a book has been recently published called Fire and Fury: Inside the White House which has been dominating the political cycle this January. Written by longtime New York columnist Michael Wolff, media outlets have run excerpts from it which has resulted in a furious response from Donald Trump. In fact, his lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to the book’s publisher, demanding to stop publication. Not surprisingly, it has become a bestseller as copies fly off the shelves. Still, while Fire and Fury isn’t the most factually accurate account of Trump in the White House, it nonetheless confirms a lot of the dysfunction and disorganization that has characterized the administration. Specifically, Wolff’s book depicts a deeply unprepared, incurious president surrounded by toadying advisers concerned about his ability to do his job. Knowing how willfully ignorant Trump is about how government works during the 2016 Election campaign, this isn’t surprising at all. His lack of knowledge of the US political system was a source of constant criticism. One big instance of that on display was when he promised to pick a Supreme Court Justice who’d “look very seriously” at Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. However, the Supreme Court tries laws, not people. In a primary debate in Houston, Trump referred to federal judges “signing bills” a task the president does in a federal system. As Wolff recalled in his book on how some of Trump’s closest aides spoke of him behind closed doors: “This—insulting Donald Trump’s intelligence—was both the thing you could not do and the thing—drawing there-but-for-the-grace-of-God guffaws across the senior staff—that everybody was guilty of. Everyone, in his or her own way, struggled to express the baldly obvious fact that the president did not know enough, did not know what he didn’t know, did not particularly care, and, to boot, was confident if not serene in his unquestioned certitudes. There was now a fair amount of back-of-the-classroom giggling about who had called Trump what. For Steve Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, he was an “idiot.” For Gary Cohn, he was “dumb as shit.” For H. R. McMaster he was a “dope.” The list went on.”

Now we all know that Donald Trump doesn’t like to read which is a very terrible sign. Because on any given day, a president is expected to read about as much as a college student cramming for a big exam. Thus, as Cracked reports, intelligence agencies have to keep their reports 25% shorter than Obama’s and allow no space for dissenting opinions. Policy papers are trimmed from 3-6 pages down to a single page with lots of graphics and maps. The National Security Council has taken things a step further by “strategically” including Trump’s name as often as possible since he usually keeps reading if he sees it mentioned. But a bigger problem than these oversimplified briefings is that Trump apparently doesn’t even bother to read them. This can lead Lord Cheetohead to embarrass himself in talks with foreign leaders, drafting woefully inept executive orders, or signing off on documents he doesn’t even understand. As Wolff recalls: “Here was, arguably, the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: he didn’t process information in any conventional sense — or, in a way, he didn’t process it at all. Trump didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. If it was print, it might as well not exist. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semiliterate.” He even quotes Gary Cohn stating, “It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.”

Furthermore, Wolff notes how Donald Trump doesn’t seem to understand the kind of responsibility being a president entails. Most Americans are familiar with the idea as of the president as a political and institutional concept, with an emphasis on ritual and propriety. Well, Trump isn’t most Americans since he’s prone to his ongoing Twitter tantrums over stuff that pisses him off. As Wolff writes, “Here was another peculiar Trump attribute: an inability to see his actions the way most others saw them. Or to fully appreciate how people expected him to behave. The notion of the presidency as an institutional and political concept, with an emphasis on ritual and propriety and semiotic messaging — statesmanship — was quite beyond him.”

Wolff also describes him as anti-intellectual as he noted, “For anything that smacked of a classroom or of being lectured to — “professor” was one of his bad words, and he was proud of never going to class, never buying a textbook, never taking a note — he got up and left the room. This was a problem in multiple respects — indeed, in almost all the prescribed functions of the presidency.” Such conduct is very unbecoming of a vast array of occupations, especially if they require a college degree. But if you’re the President of the United States, it’s incredibly unforgivable. Though we know that Trump’s brand contains a very anti-intellectual streak, eschews the advice of experts, doesn’t sponsor any cultural events, and doesn’t express any form of curiosity in anything. He sees no value in science, history, or education. And his campaign might be responsible for why more Republicans might have more negative opinions about colleges and professors they see as liberal elites in their ivory tower. If Trump should call himself a “stable genius” then he’d probably buckle up in the Oval Office, listen to criticism, and take notes. Despite that academics might seem to be in their own little worlds at times, a politician advocating anti-intellectualism is a very terrible thing since it encourages willful ignorance and disinterest in learning and education. And Trump’s willful ignorance and disinterest in anything but his own vanity and enrichment is rooted into his own narcissism and sociopathy since he worships no god by himself and he has no faith than in the almighty dollar.

Nor does Donald Trump seem to have the proper temperament or understand his role to lead a nation. As Wolff recalls, “What was, to many of the people who knew Trump well, much more confounding was that he had managed to win this election, and arrive at this ultimate accomplishment, wholly lacking what in some obvious sense must be the main requirement of the job, what neuroscientists would call executive function. He had somehow won the race for president, but his brain seemed incapable of performing what would be essential tasks in his new job. He had no ability to plan and organize and pay attention and switch focus; he had never been able to tailor his behavior to what the goals at hand reasonably required. On the most basic level, he simply could not link cause and effect.” Cracked has reported that American agencies are withholding an unusual amount of information from Trump. Though Trump has expressed scorn for the intelligence community (particularly when it comes to Russia). However, a bigger concern for them might be his habit of casually announcing classified information to rival governments. In May 2017, during a meeting with Russian officials, Trump reportedly boasted about the quality of intelligence he received every day. He also revealed details of a terrorist plot he’d recently been informed of. The problem with that is that revealing you know something can let someone guess fairly quickly how much you know it which can compromise the original intelligence source who may not have wanted the Russians to know about it. Though America doesn’t need to be hostile with Russia anymore, we know it has very different goals and ambitions than we do. Meaning that we need to exercise a degree of caution when dealing with them. But Trump’s carelessness with intelligence can be more than a one-time problem since in the wake of this story, an unnamed European country warned that they may stop sharing intelligence with the United States because they don’t like Trump compromising sources while trying to impress people.

Nevertheless, Donald Trump’s bizarre behavior has often compelled about his mental state long before Fire and Fury. Just last week, he unleashed a series of tweets which culminated in a nuclear threat of nuclear war with North Korea. On January 2, 2018, he tweeted, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” In fact, the book’s very title came from a Trump speech back in 2017 over North Korea when he said, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” This at an event that was supposed to focus on opioids. Such statement terrified North Korean experts who worried about Trump provoking a war with another nuclear-armed power. Yet, Wolff noted such words also scared the bejesus out of Trump’s staff as they spent the next week trying to get him to stop talking about it. As Wolff wrote, “North Korea, a situation the president had consistently been advised to downplay, now became the central subject of the rest of the week — with most senior staff occupied not so much by the topic itself but by how to respond to the president, who was threatening to ‘blow’ again. Charlottesville was a mere distraction, and indeed, the staff’s goal was to keep him off North Korea.” To use Charlottesville to distract Trump from North Korea just makes me cringe. This is one of many examples illustrating that Trump is incapable of understanding the consequences of his actions. When Trump does something like fire James Comey, bomb Syria, or threaten North Korea, he does so without any sense of how human beings might be affected. As Wolff writes, “One of Trump’s deficiencies — a constant in the campaign and, so far, in the presidency — was his uncertain grasp of cause and effect. Everyone [in the White House], in his or own way, struggled to express the baldly obvious fact that the president did not know enough, did not know what he didn’t know, did not particularly care and, to boot, was confident if not serene in his unquestioned certitudes.”

But while the White House tries to write off Fire and Fury as “trashy tabloid fiction,” its fallout suggests otherwise. Already, Donald Trump has treated its revelations as gospel truth has launched a blood feud with his former strategist and campaign CEO Steve Bannon. Because on January 3, 2018, the Guardian posted excerpts from Wolff’s quoting Bannon saying some remarkable things about the Trump family. In these excerpts, Bannon called Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower “treasonous,” speculated that Trump might’ve been involved as well, and asserts that Jared Kushner is involved in some “greasy” business that could expose him to money laundering charges. These revelations not only cut into Trump’s denial of wrongdoing in the Russian scandal but also insulted his family members as well. Neither of which will put you in Trump’s good graces. Interestingly, Bannon’s Brietbart website reproduced some quotes sometime later without disputing them, giving a seeming impression of accuracy. Furious at the Bannon revelations, Trump released an infuriating statement reading, “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.” Except that Bannon’s Brietbart website is called “the platform of the Alt-Right” who mostly comprise of white supremacists which number among Trump’s most ardent supporters. Anyway, Trump goes on to minimize Bannon’s role in his 2016 victory and complain that he helped cost Republicans a Senate seat in Alabama by endorsing Roy Moore. Look, we all know that Bannon played a pivotal role in the Trump campaign or otherwise the alt-right wouldn’t be a thing. Furthermore, he also accused Bannon of constantly, leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was” since it “is the only thing he does well.” Now Bannon is even out at Brietbart over the Trump book controversy over his comments.

It’s not hard to imagine that Donald Trump’s staff never thought he should be president. Nor is it difficult to think that Trump never wanted to be president in the first place. As Wolff frames it, “The Trump campaign had, perhaps less than inadvertently, replicated the scheme from Mel Brooks’s The Producers. In that classic, Brooks’s larcenous and dopey heroes, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, set out to sell more than 100 percent of the ownership stakes in the Broadway show they are producing. Since they will be found out only if the show is a hit, everything about the show is premised on its being a flop. Accordingly, they create a show so outlandish that it actually succeeds, thus dooming our heroes.” Though at least Bialystock and Bloom ended up in prison and didn’t doom a whole country. Still, Wolff believes that the Trump administration’s problems currently lie at the concept that even his staff didn’t think he’d win. Why release your tax returns if he’s going to lose? What’s the harm in sucking up to Russia’s government if he’s likelier to build a hotel in Moscow than occupy the White House? Why bother with educating the candidate on major policy issues or build a real platform when he’ll never govern? Or why worry about conflicts of interests or business entanglements if they’re never going to matter? This might explain so much. Yet, even if he was just running for president, those things will still matter.

Still, Fire and Fury paints a picture of Donald Trump through his own tweets, speeches, comments, and actions as well as the constant on- and off-the record statements from his staff. It’s similar to what reporters have heard from top staff at the White House. And similar to what I and much of the American public have long suspected. Trump is not cognitively up to the job of the presidency. He’s not just someone who doesn’t know much about policy or foreign affairs. It’s that he’s someone who doesn’t want to know about policy or foreign affairs. And he dislikes the methods by which you actually could learn about policy and foreign affairs. Thus, Trump’s ignorance isn’t an absence of knowledge. It’s closer to a personality trait and possibly even an ideology, which is even worse.

Naturally, when a man so unqualified for the presidency that his campaign wants him to lose unexpectedly wins the White House, chaos ensues. Suppose you work for Donald Trump at the White House. How would you please, placate, manage, constrain and inform a raging child king? Though the answer is embarrassing. But it’s one Trump’s staff and any foreign government wanting America’s favor know all too well: flattery and sycophancy. Trump’s staff tries to keep their boss from social media with constant praise and putting lots of media in front of him. Also, his staff worry about leaving him alone for hours at a time because he watches too much TV, gets annoyed with what he sees, and throws a Twitter tantrum. Other techniques for keeping Trump happy include hanging a map displaying his electoral victory in the West Wing, planting supporters and planting supporters in crowds as he gives a speech. One instance of the latter had him being passionately cheered while he gave a speech at the CIA headquarters by non-CIA supporters in the front rows for that specific purpose. This pissed off the CIA who consider themselves apolitical and don’t appreciate being herded into a meeting to listen to someone complain about how hard or unfair their job is. He thinks that no politician has been treated more unfairly than him despite that the TV news media has treated him much better than he deserves to be.

And how do you harness the remarkable opportunity you’ve been given to actually build something of value? The central struggle of Trump’s early months was between chief strategist Steve Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and chief son-in-law Jared Kushner. All of them in their proximity to power, saw the potential to build a presidency they could be proud of or at least less disgraced by. As Wolff recalled: “Each man saw the president as something of a blank page — or a scrambled one. And each, Walsh came to appreciate with increasing incredulity, had a radically different idea of how to fill or remake that page. Bannon was the alt-right militant. Kushner was the New York Democrat. And Priebus was the establishment Republican. “Steve wants to force a million people out of the country and repeal the nation’s health law and lay on a bunch of tariffs that will completely decimate how we trade, and Jared wants to deal with human trafficking and protecting Planned Parenthood.” And Priebus wanted Donald Trump to be another kind of Republican altogether … As Walsh saw it, Steve Bannon was running the Steve Bannon White House, Jared Kushner was running the Michael Bloomberg White House, and Reince Priebus was running the Paul Ryan White House.” This struggle was hardly a civil conflict ideal as Wolff records the tree factions’ endless squabbles comprising of leaks, schemes, backbiting, and the outside heavies brought in to change Trump’s mind at the last minute. But the conflict was so immense because Trump is incapable of and uninterested in resolving. Trump never gave a damn about Trumpism since he’s not sufficiently interested in policy, ideology, or ideas to direct his own presidency’s course. Thus, the course will be directed by the most firmly established interests around him like his family the congressional GOP.

Nonetheless, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury contains a mystery it never resolves. As he wrote, “It was obvious to everyone that if [Trump] had a north star, it was just to be liked. He was ever uncomprehending about why everyone did not like him, or why it should be so difficult to get everyone to like him.” However, it would be easy enough for Donald Trump to run a presidency that left him better-liked. He could work with the Democrats, ease up the culture war, and give some gentler speeches. There has never been a president for whom the bar is lower than for Trump. It would be so easy to clear it and he’d have people around him happily acting as guides and cheerleaders. But he didn’t do any of that and Wolff’s book doesn’t provide a satisfying answer since it’s a portrait of a man undone by the very forces he unleashed. Because Donald Trump doesn’t care about policy, politics, ideology, or coalitions. All he cares about is Trump. He wanted to put his name on buildings and in tabloids. Now he has his name on the most important building on the planet and on the front page of most every newspaper in the world. Yet, outside a few conservative outlets, the coverage he receives is horrible, the worst of any president in memory. He can’t perform his job well enough to be liked or respected. But he only wanted the job in the first place because it would force the whole world to like or respect him (except it people still don’t like or respect him, including me). And he’s driven to rage and paranoia by the resulting dissonance, disappointment, and hurt. Mostly because he doesn’t understand that running for the most powerful office in the land will not get people to like and respect you. You have to do something to earn that adoration and respect. Sure he might be a rich businessman, but his career and life have been marked by unethical business practices, baffling corruption, inflammatory statements, and other dubious deeds. Trump wants the adoration and respect for doing nothing besides being a rich businessman and TV star.

This wasn’t what Donald Trump wanted and it’s not clear whether it’s something he can bear. A more capable, competent, and stable person would by now, have either changed their behavior to receive more of the response they crave or just given up on getting that kind of attention. Yet, Trump exists in an unhappy middle ground, starting his day with morning rage tweets, spending weekends retreating to one of his golf clubs, searching for validation he craves in his Twitter feed and on Fox and Friends but never getting it from the elite taskmasters he’s always sought to impress. The pressures of the presidency are enough to break almost anyone but Trump is less suited for the work and backlash than most. The strain’s already showing as his workday’s reportedly shrunk to 11am to 6pm. Yet, the bulk of his first term remains to the detriment of us all and it can include his financial secrets being revealed to the world, his family being indicted, and a crisis he mishandles exploding into a catastrophe (like that didn’t happen already in Puerto Rico). The question now is whether Trump’s staff can keep governing around him and whether a dysfunctional president can have a semi-functional White House. And so far, I don’t really know if that’s possible with a narcissistic sociopath like Donald Trump. Because he’s a man who cares nothing about America, has no respect for democratic values, and doesn’t think the rule of law applies to him. A man like him only inspires more chaos and internal stripe which won’t end until he’s out.

Touchdown with These Super Bowl Sunday Party Treats (Fourth Edition)

superbowlparty.jpg

Now that we’re in the first days of 2018, it’s now time for NFL playoff season. During this time, the best NFL teams play each other to determine who will compete in the Super Bowl in February. Now for those who don’t live in the United States, the Super Bowl is an incredibly significant time of year in this country. There is no sporting event that receives more buzz or TV ratings than this game. Though I usually don’t watch the Super Bowl unless the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing in it. Mostly because as a resident of the Greater Pittsburgh area, I basically have to since everyone else mostly does where I live. Though if the Steeler face the New England Patriots, let’s hope a bad ref call doesn’t lead to them losing. Anyway, it’s quite common for people to hold Super Bowl parties with all kinds of food which is where I come in. So for your reading pleasure, I give you yet another assortment of Super Bowl treats. Enjoy.

  1. Nothing makes the New Olreans Saints go marching in like these cookies.

Okay, maybe not. But these are certainly professionally made. Consist of a helmet, jersey, fleur de lis, football field, and football.

2. Your Super Bowl guests will delight in these football brownie bites.

Well, these bites are shaped like a football. Or closest thing you can get to a football via brownie bites.

3. Make your tailgate buffet complete with these football French fries.

Surprised why we don’t serve these during the regular season. Then again, regular french fries are usually a football staple anyway.

4. Nobody can resist a peanut butter football.

It’s even covered with sprinkles with icing for the lines. Comes with vanilla wafers and meant for a dessert platter.

5. Care for some football Oreos?

If you’re not into party planning, these are the perfect Super Bowl treats to make. Just put the stitches on the Oreos.

6. These snackadium has all the goodies.

This was for the 2012 Super Bowl XLVI which had the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Giants won by the way.

7. This snackadium contains plenty of buns.

Yes, I put a lot of these snackadiums on my Super Bowl treat posts. And yes, the can be quite elaborate.

8. Instead of an appetizer platter, how about snack tray cookies?

There basically tailgate snacks in sugar cookie form. But unlike the real items, they all taste the same.

9. Spice up your big game party with these jalepeno cornbread footballs.

Not sure if I’d want to eat one of these. Might set my mouth on fire.

10. No Packers party can do without some guacamole.

This one has multiple layers. And in true Green Bay fashion, it’s covered with cheese.

11. Celebrate the Carolina Panthers with a Cam Newton cake.

Yes, this was for a birthday. Still, we all know that last time they were in the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos beat them.

12. Chocolate football pretzels make a great game day treat.

Yes, they’re supposed to resemble little footballs. But they all have a chocolate frame and white stitches.

13. Treat yourself to some Dallas Cowboys strawberries.

Hey, they beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl during the 1990s. And they tend to be contenders in the playoffs. So it’s only fair.

14. Packers fans would surely want a cheese cake on their dessert platter.

Well, a cake that resembles cheese. Since Packers fans call themselves Cheeseheads.

15. You’ll find these brownies on the 50 yard line.

Since they’re 50 Yard Line brownies. And yes, they’re covered in green sprinkles.

16. It’s no New Orleans Saints party without these cookies.

Yes, these are another batch of Saints cookies. But they did win a Super Bowl sometime in the 2000s. So it’s fair.

17. A big Steeler football game should always have a cake like this.

It’s a Steeler football cake. And yes, it’s decked in black and gold.

18. For healthy options, you might want this helmet fruit salad.

The fruit is stored in these watermelon helmets and a tray. Perfect for any Super Bowl party.

19. Perhaps you might want a stadium with sandwiches.

Well, this is a small scale snackadium as you see. Yet, the field is made out of guacamole.

20. You’ll score a touchdown with this fruit salad.

This is a fruit salad with a watermelon field. Consists of a football and goal posts, by the way.

21. There’s no better Super Bowl snack than chocolate football potato chips.

Okay, I think cover potato chips covered in chocolate is disgusting. But, hey, to each his own.

22. Nobody could resist these Rice Krispie treats in Arizona.

Well, these are undoubtedly professionally made. But Cardinals fans will sure chirp for them.

23. This Denver Broncos cake is a Super Bowl sensation.

Well, if Denver does make the Super Bowl. But this cake is quite spectacular.

24. No Super Bowl party is complete without a Pepsi snackadium.

Though I never drink Pepsi or any kind of pop. Still, you’ll find all the goodies in the stands.

25. Use these football buns for your game day burger.

Surprised that you don’t see these buns too often. Then again, regular buns work just as well.

26. This Saints cake makes a fine addition to any New Orleans dessert platter.

And if they don’t make the Super Bowl, you can use this cake for Mardi Gras. Since it’s a huge thing in that area.

27. Help yourself to these football hoagies.

These all have cheese for the stitches on top. But they contain whatever you expect for a sandwich.

28. A San Francisco 49ers snackadium should always contain gummy bears.

Though these contain vodka. so they’re definitely not for anyone under 21. Just warning you.

29. Care for a ref shirt cake on your game day dessert platter?

Not sure if this is a popular choice giving refs’ reputations. But yes, this does exist.

30. No one in Washington state should go without these Seattle Seahawks cookies.

All these depict the green Seahawk eyes. However, we all know the team ripped off their logo from Pacific Northwest Coast Native American totem art.

31. A football crepe cake should always be a seven layer dip.

Though how people eat this, I have no idea. Cause this is between a dip, a cake, and a sandwich.

32. A football snack platter should always include pretzels.

Well, flattened pretzel chips, anyway. But you still have the pepperoni pigskin and cheese.

33. Sit back for the big game with these Atlanta Falcons jello shots.

Because if they contain alcohol, then these will come in handy if your team loses to the Patriots within the final moments of the Super Bowl game. Like last year.

34. Support your Pittsburgh Steelers with this black and gold cake.

This is kind of shaped like a football. But it’s decked in black and gold stripes.

35. Care for some Seattle Seahawks jello shots?

Well, these are in Seahawks colors. Though always ask the host whether they contain alcohol before your kids get a hold of them.

36. You’d have to be mad not to like these football brownies.

The footballs are chocolate while the turf is icing. So I guess the brownie is dirt.

37. These football potatoes come stuffed with guacamole and veggies.

Not necessarily potatoes I’d eat. But they’ll probably be a hit at most Super Bowl parties.

38. Feel free to try some carrots on this football veggie tree.

This one has pea pods for football stitching. Yet, go ahead to try some baby carrots on this pigskin.

39. This snackadium comes with paper plates on the side.

Well, at least they come with stuff you can put the food on and wipe your face. Still, the stands have plenty of food.

40. These football pizzas can always use a bit more pizzazz.

So that’s why they have veggies on them. Make sense. Still, at least the stitching is made of cheese.

41. Might want to know how the game’s going between the baby carrots and cherry tomatoes.

Well, this is a stadium veggie tray. It’s like a snackadium but with healthier food.

42. These football brownies contain a Reese’s pieces surprise.

Not sure how they can be cooked into the brownies intact. But they sure look delicious.

43. Perhaps an empty guacamole field may suit you.

This one mostly consists of a guac dip field and Cheez-Its. Perfect for any platter at the big game.

44. I’m sure no one in San Francisco can resist these cupcakes.

Since these are 49ers football cupcakes. All have red icing and a gold football on top. Though the chocolate ones may take a knee against police brutality(okay, that turned out wrong).

45. These helmet taco treats come bite size.

Not sure how they make these. But if I wanted a taco, I’ll just take a taco.

46. Cowboys fans would adore this Dallas star cake.

Though a Patriot-Cowboy Super Bowl would fill my dad with dread. Since he hates both of these teams the most.

47. You’ll find plenty of cupcakes inside this snackadium.

This one was for the Steelers-Packers game back in 2011. Sure the Steelers lost, but whatever. Wasn’t like they were against Dallas.

48. There are no bad calls from these ref peanut cookies.

Well, at least they’re filled with peanut buttery goodness. So even if they rule out a game winning touchdown, you can eat them.

49. Try these cheeseburger cupcakes on any game day dessert platter.

These contain a chocolate cookie as a burger. The other toppings are pure icing.

50. A Seahawks cake like this can be a Super Bowl spectacle.

Yes, it has the Vince Lombardi trophy on top. Still, save it for the after party if the Seahawks make it that far.

51. Bet you didn’t expect a chocolate surprise from this football cake.

These have egg candies in them since they resemble footballs. Not sure how they pull that off.

52. Perhaps you might want to serve food in a wooden stadium.

Well, at least you can resuse this every year and on multiple occasions. Still, you have to wonder how much of the food gets wasted.

53. You can’t have a Super Bowl party without these pizzas.

These are from DiGiorno by the way. And each has a football theme for your party.

54. Care for some football toast?

This just consists of pumpernickel footballs with cheese and pepper slices on it. Simple as that.

55. You’d find a cheesy pigskin on this snack platter.

These are all arranged on layers in a football with the cheese stitches on top. The goal post is the dip tray, by the way.

56. Check out the plays on these brownies.

Well, they sure look like plays. Yet, you can’t really tell that these are food save by the Hungry Happenings caption.

57. Nothing makes a Super Bowl lunch like these pigskn paninis.

It’s just a sandwich on football shaped pumpernickel bread. Not my cup of tea, but I’m sure someone would enjoy it.

58. No snack tray should be complete without some toasted footballs.

Because they always go well with veggies and ranch dip. And your guests would love them, too.

59. Your guests will be impressed with these small hotdog rolls.

Well, these are rather small rolls with more bread on them than hotdog. But that’s beside the point. Still, the middle has mustard stitching.

60. Feel the Pittsburgh steel with these Steelers lemon bars.

Not a fan of lemon, thank you very much. But these still have the Steeler spirit on them.

61. Get a load of these slider cakes.

Yes, these are cheeseburger cakes. But they nonetheless look as tasty as the real things.

62. Always use green and yellow bell peppers for Green Bay.

I bet this is a supermarket display. But it’s nonetheless quite clever. Someone must be starving for customers.

63. Apparently, this cake doesn’t have much air.

Yes, it’s another deflate cake. Nevertheless, as long as Tom Brady’s a Patriot, I always have to include one of these.

64. Treat yourself to the big game with these football Rice Krispie Treats.

These have chocolate and icing on top to resemble footballs. Guaranteed to melt in your mouth.

65. You can’t go wrong with a Baltimore Ravens cake for the big game.

Though while the Ravens have one 2 Super Bowls, they’re not known for their players’ upstanding conduct. In fact, Ray Lewis has as many Super Bowl rings and murder indictments.

66. A Packers fan would certainly rave about this helmet cake.

Sure it doesn’t exactly resemble a helmet. But if it’s tastes good, it shouldn’t matter much.

67. Your guests would adore these Baltimore Ravens jersey cookies.

Includes jerseys of Ray Rice and Ray Lewis. You know the guy who was caught on camera beating his wife and the guy accused of killing two people.

68. This Dallas Cowboy star cake comes with plenty of football strawberries.

Still, the Dallas Cowboys are as beloved in the US as they are hated. But America’s football team, they are not.

69. You can feel the black and gold with this Steeler snackadium.

Well, this doesn’t seem to take much time and effort. Great a smaller party.

70. These New England Patriot cookies come well stamped.

Well, I had to put the Patriots in somewhere. Still, they’re a bunch of cheaters and shouldn’t have one against the Steelers. I mean it was a touchdown.

A Plea for Saving the Children’s Health Insurance Program

In 1993, the late Governor Robert P. Casey Sr. signed the first Children’s Health Insurance Program into law in Pennsylvania, which later served as a model for the federal program Congress would enact a few years later. Westmoreland County’s then State Senator Allen Kukovich was instrumental in enacting this state program that he’s considered its founding father. Since 1997, the Children’s Health Insurance Program has provided matching funds to states for health insurance to children from families who can’t afford marketplace or employer insurance but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Sponsored by the late Senator Ted Kennedy in partnership with Senator Orrin Hatch and supported by then First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, it was the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage for children in the United States President Lyndon B. Johnson established Medicaid in 1968. Today CHIP is a critical government program providing health insurance for nearly 9 million low-income kids as well as remains one of our nation’s most vitally important and widely supported programs. Thanks to CHIP, the United States enjoys has the highest rate of insured children in our nation’s history at over 95%.

On September 30, 2017, CHIP expired when lawmakers couldn’t agree on a 5-year reauthorization of the program. This puts millions of kids at risk of becoming uninsured, and in some cases, being denied the critical care they need to survive and thrive. Though states have remaining funds to keep their programs running for varying lengths of time, it’s an administrative nightmare for states that can’t plan ahead. But they may have to prepare for a possible shutdown of their CHIP programs well before they run out of money. As Alabama CHIP director noted, “This whole situation is causing chaos. We are causing confusion to families, stress and turmoil.” On December 15, Alabama officials were forced to announce that they’d stop taking new enrollees on New Year’s Day and the 84,000 kids (1/8 of the state’s children) currently in the program could lose coverage February 1. In my home state of Pennsylvania, the families of 174,000 children currently enrolled in CHIP are about to receive notices informing them that their insurance may be canceled while Colorado already has sent a letter back in September that their CHIP coverage will be canceled by the end of January. Utah has already submitted a request to the federal government to freeze their program’s enrollment. Some states such as Nevada, already have laws that force officials to freeze enrollment if federal funds decrease at all. By the start of 2018, more than half the states are projected to have used up their available funding. Across the country, families depending on CHIP are running out of time.

On December 21, 2017, Congress passed short-term legislation to fund CHIP until the end of March, which is said to cover an estimated 1.9 million children across 24 states and Washington D.C. which stood to lose coverage care like doctor visits and hospitalizations in January. But this temporary relief still leaves CHIP and the families who rely on it in uncertainty since as of December of 2017, there is no long-term fix in sight. As George Washington University professor Sara Rosenbaum told Bloomberg, “You can’t run an insurance program this way.” Essentially, lawmakers are forcing health officials running the program, “to go month-to-month.” Still, even with these short-term fixes, “there will be relief that the funding has been extended, but it will be combined with a lot of anxiety,” as Kaiser Family Foundation executive vice president Diane Rowland claimed.

Health coverage is critical for children to get a healthy start in life and high coverage rates mean more children have an opportunity to meet their potential. It is well understood that covering kids is an investment in our future since a child’s health, school performance, and future success are all linked. So it goes without saying that unhealthy children are at higher risk for school problems, failing, or dropping out. Children who have health insurance through CHIP or Medicaid have better access to healthcare and do better in school than their uninsured counterparts. And better school performance provides a foundation for future success in life. Thus, investing in children’s coverage programs means investing in not only children’s health, but also academic success and success later in life. CHIP is especially important to children with special health needs, children of color, children in working families, and children in rural communities. Without CHIP, there would be more uninsured children, increased healthcare costs and less access for kids with insurance, and great financial devastation for families with special needs kids. At any rate, losing CHIP will devastating to millions of families, which will mean uncertainty surrounding their children’s health, much higher healthcare costs and added financial burdens, for some, a complete loss in their children’s coverage.

There is no question that Congress must vote to continue funding CHIP or else coverage for the 9 million kids whose families depend on CHIP will be in jeopardy. Should federal CHIP funding end, states would need to adjust their budgets, either ending or significantly cutting back on existing CHIP programs. Options available to a state may depend on whether it operates a separate CHIP program or has CHIP as an expanded Medicaid one. Either way, children’s health coverage will suffer. Nevertheless, failing to fund CHIP will undo 20 years of progress as well as undermine our nation’s values. If we want our children to live and succeed in this country, then funding CHIP should be a top priority. As Americans, we have a moral, ethical obligation to take care of our children. But if we can’t protect children’s health insurance, what does it say about our values?

NCAA Championship Worthy College Sports Treats (Second Edition)

College-Football-Shortbread-Cookies

Now that the festivities are over, it’s time we await the Bowl season which takes place around New Years. If you’re an American, you know very well that the NCAA Div. I football playoffs usually consist of 4 teams competing for a championship. How they’re selected, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not fair that Ohio State didn’t get a spot despite winning their conference while Alabama did despite not winning theirs. Yes, we know it should be a playoff style with conference champs playing each other. But I’m not sure why the NCAA ever does this. However, if a Div. I college football team wins it conference, they should have a shot at the championship. Hey, it’s only fair. Anyway, for your reading pleasure, I give you another assortment of college sports treats. Sure some of them might be cookies and cakes but hey, I have to deal with what I can find. Enjoy.

  1. Wolverine fans might want to get a load of this cake.

This one is covered with yellow icing and has the Michigan logo. Seems spectacular as a DIY.

2. Gator cookies always make a tasty Florida treat.

Well, University of Florida treats that is. Includes the logo, gators, footballs, and more.

3. Bet no Volunteers can resist this cake.

And it seems to have the cream orange and white polka dot patterns on the tiers. Yeah, I know it’s a horrifying color combination.

4. Care for some Oregon hoodie cookies?

Because Oregon Duck cookies wouldn’t look badass enough. Okay, I’m probably kidding on that one.

5. Bet this stadium cake is a dream for a Texas A&M fan.

Well, if your college mascot is an Aggie, then this is probably a better option. Still, you have to marvel at the detail

6. I’m sure anyone from BYU might get a load of this cake.

Yes, I know this is a Mormon school founded by the leader responsible for founding Utah. But still Brigham Young had a bunch of wives which doesn’t do him any favors.

7. Ohio State cupcakes should always match a cake of Brutus Buckeye.

Though to be honest, Brutus Buckeye is kind of creepy. But at least some of these cupcakes don’t have his likeness.

8. A Georgia cake should be on the gridiron.

This one has the logo on top of the gridiron sheet. Their mascot may be a bulldog, but the large G stands out.

9. Texas Christian fans would adore these cookies.

This one includes footballs and the state of Texas. Because we all know how much Texans love their football.

10. How about a cake from Oregon?

Notice how they don’t have a duck on it. But yes, the logo is rather stellar.

11. Coyote fans will adore this Arizona cake.

Yes, I know I have a lot of college sports cakes on this post. But I have to deal with what I have.

12. For those rolling the tide, you’ll surely go for these sweet Alabama cupcakes.

Though many aren’t happy with Alabama making the playoffs. But the houndsooth is a nice touch.

13. If you’re a Seminoles fan, you’d probably enjoy these Florida State cake pops.

These are covered in white icing and red and gold sprinkles. Only the plain white ones have the “FSU” on them.

14. For Baylor Bears, get a load of these cookies.

Yes, these are for women’s basketball. But as far as college sports go, I usually don’t specify.

15. No tailgate party should go without these Texas A&M cake pops.

Well, these seem professionally made. Yet, appear easy and not too flashy.

16. You can be rather cavalier about this Virginia cake.

This is from the first public university founded by Thomas Jefferson himself. And yet, their mascot is a term used for royalist supporters of the English King Charles I.

17. Mountaineers can never resist a cake like this.

This one is decorated with blue stars along the base. A stellar cake for any graduation.

18. This Mississippi State cake really rings a bell.

And it’s certainly a cake of a bell as far as I see it. Not sure what’s the significance.

19. Anyone from Auburn will roar over a cake like this.

This cake just depicts Aubie lounging on some brick wall. It’s probably not a cake most Tigers fans will get anytime soon.

20. For cause of celebration, this Nittany Lion cake might come in handy.

This one has 2 tiers and depicts the Nittany Lion. And it’s decorations are quite festive.

21. You’d almost think these Razorback cupcakes are high on the hog.

After all, these are from Arkansas while razorbacks are hogs. And yes, they have a rather vicious reputation.

22. I’m sure Oklahomans would want these cookies sooners.

Since their team’s the Sooners. And I guess these cookies have a lot to do with football.

23. This football cake has the classic Tar Heel touch.

This comes from the University of North Carolina in case you’re wondering. And yes, the football is on the turf.

24. This Nebraska stadium cake is a Husker’s dream.

No, I am not familiar with Nebraska in any sense of the state. But this cake is quite spectacular to see.

25. You can always dessert like a champion with these Notre Dame cookies.

And I guess this one pertains to football which the college is best known for. That along with Catholicism and Irish stereotypes.

26. Perhaps an Ohio State cake with Brutus’s face may suit you?

Well, one without Brutus Buckeye’s face on it. But here it serves as a tier.

27. You can’t guess the matter with these Kansas Jayhawks cookies.

Includes the Jayhawk, a stadium scene, and a football. Perfect for any Kansas plate.

28. Try chomping on this beaver cake from Oregon State.

Includes a beaver on the front. And let’s just leave it at that. Because beavers don’t always refer to these rodents.

29. A Volunteer cake should always have a bow on top.

Once again, it’s another creamcicle cake of two tiers. And no, orange and white don’t go well together.

30. Penn State cookies are always a Nittany treat.

Consists of 2 Nittany Lions and the Penn State logos. Available in the University Park region.

31. You can really sink your claws in this Cincinnati cake.

Well, their team is the Bearcats. So the claws on the C is only fitting.

32. Perhaps a sheet cake from Ohio State may suit you.

Too bad this school didn’t make the Div. I playoffs despite winning its conference. I know it’s not fair.

33. Always need a few buckeye nuts on a OSU stadium.

Well, the nuts on this one are made of peanut butter and chocolate. But it nonetheless seems tasty.

34. Care for a helmet cake from Central Florida.

You don’t hear much about this school but it’s in Orlando. So there’s a strong chance many of its students work at Disney World.

35. You can’t do wrong with an M cake for Michigan.

This is undoubtedly a wedding cake. As you can see with the bride and groom helmets.

36. May I suggest this Wolverine stadium?

This one uses yellow and blue candy for the crowds. And yes, it’s Wolverine supreme.

37. You’d be insane not to miss this Louisville Cardinal cake.

Of course, you hear more about Louisville during March Madness. But this cardinal is rather fierce.

38. A toilet paper tree should be on every Auburn cake.

Not sure what the significance of that is. Maybe toilet papered trees in Auburn is to couch burnings in West Virginia.

39. No Auburn grad could resist these cookies.

Well, they’re blue graduation caps with orange tassles and AU on them. And they come in a dozen.

40. Perhaps this Purdue sheet gridiron cake will certainly be a Boilermaker’s special.

This one has gold and black on the edges as well as black goal posts. I’m sure fans would want it.

41. How about rebelling on a cake this Ole Miss stadium?

This is mostly in blue and red with the white stadium walls. Yet, it’s quite a treat.

42. Perhaps your Texas cake should receive the chocolate treatment.

Yes, I know plenty love their Longhorns. But I kind of think this is ridiculous.

43. This Michigan tower cake is truly epic.

This one has a tower, a football, and the Michigan logo. Definitely the envy for any Wolverine fan.

44. Nothing makes a big game dessert like these TCU cupcakes.

This one has a lot of purple decorations including a couple of cowboy boots and flowers. Love these.

45. Any Ohio State mom would want these cookies.

Yes, I know this is for Mother’s day. But yes, there are plenty of moms who love sports.

46. You’d put a ring on this Texas A&M cake.

Yes, they have to have fancy cakes like these. People in Texas must really love their college sports.

47. This WVU football helmet cake will certainly score.

Great for any tailgate or couch burning party. Okay, maybe not the couch burning one.

48. Michigan cookies make a fine addition to any Wolverine dessert platter.

Includes ones of khaki pants, footballs, and jerseys. The outfit is the craziest one of all.

49. You’d almost think these desserts were kind of hokey.

That’s because the Hokey is the mascot for Virginia Tech. And yes, it’s a chicken while the cupcakes have chicken prints.

50. Support your LSU Tigers with this purple and gold cake.

Includes purple stripes and gold paw prints. And all in LSU Tiger glory.

51. No one can miss these Baylor cookies.

These consist of the logo, Texas, the bear paw, hearts, and some expressions. And all covered in white, gold, and green icing.

52. Grace these Auburn cookies on your dessert platter.

Yes, these cookies are probably for a graduation. Yes, they’re professionally made. And yes, they include the logo.

53. TCU fans will adore this horned frog cake.

And yes, it’s purple per TCU colors. Still, this is quite interesting to look at.

54. The O in Oregon always looks good on the gridiron.

Well, that’s a clever way to use the O. And yes, this is for birthday.

55. With Ohio State, you have the O’s for tiers.

Includes the chocolate buckeyes and leaf on top. Too bad this will only be used for a Bowl game for 2018.

56. Bulldog fans would drool over these Georgia cookies.

All they have is just a black G on white with red edging. And yes, they’re perfect for any Georgia dessert platter.

57. Speaking of Georgia, care for this ferocious cake?

Yes, it looks quite mean like a junkyard dog. But that’s pretty much intentional.

58. These TCU treats come bite sizes.

These are all purple with the TCU letters on them. And yes, they come in wraps.

59. You’ll need plenty of nuts for this Ohio State cake.

As I said before these nuts are made from peanut butter and chocolate. But in this case, they surround the cake.

60. This Louisville Cardinal cake shows its cardinal pride.

Yes, this is professionally made. But you have to admire the intricate design on this one.

61. Alabama fans prefer a cake as mighty as the Crimson Tide.

And yes, it has a football on top. This cake was probably used for the NCAA for putting them in the Division I playoffs, hypothetically speaking.

62. At North Carolina, nobody can resist this Tar Heel gridiron cake.

I know I have shown a lot of these stadium cakes for this post. Yet, some of these are about as unique as they are incredible.

63. Redwolves fans may want these Arkansas State cookies.

Indeed, these are for volleyball. But they nevertheless count. Even if college volleyball games aren’t televised outside cable and public access.

64. You’d find that both sides of this cake form a U.

Well, this is from the University of Miami. Yet, this one seems rather simple to assemble.

65. For March Madness, you might enjoy this cake for Louisville.

This one has the Cardinal smack dab in the center. After all, as I said, basketball is what Louisville is best known for.

66. Illini fans might enjoy a bite out of this cake.

This is a cake of Chief Illiniwek who served as the school’s mascot until recently for obvious reasons. Though it’s quite the design which will be devoured.

67. This Osceola cake is perfect for the Seminole fan.

Yes, this is a Florida State cake depicting Osceola on a horse. Because Osceola was the head of the Seminole and fought whites trying to take over their land and send them to Oklahoma. Or kill them.

68. For a Blue Devils basketball games, these cookies will do nicely.

Duke is another big basketball school. Includes jerseys and hearts in blue and white.

69. This Ohio State cake is in pure Buckeye glory.

Has a helmet on top of a patch of turf. Great for winning your conference but not making the playoffs.

70. Bearcats fans will rave on this cookie cake.

Well, a Cincinnati Bearcats fan. Though this more or less resembles a cat getting electrocuted in my opinion.

SantaCon Costumes Are Coming to Town (Third Edition)

d6ba204d90051db9cf4812f45ac58e20.jpg

Around this time of year, people from across the country put on their yuletide duds to paint the town red and green for the SantaCon pub crawl. Now while its participants call it a time of revelry and fun, those in New York City particularly see it as a boozefest full of drunken brawling, vandalism, public urination and disorder. This has resulted in fierce community resistance save from those who make money off it as well as the disavowal of those who originated it. Though to be fair, plenty of fun events have devolved into an excuse for drunk partying like Cinco de Mayo and Saint Patrick’s Day. Hell, you can even say the same for Christmas and New Years, which in that case, had been filled with drunken incidents centuries before SantaCon was a thing. Anyway, a 2011 article from Gothamist called the Santa celebration an “annual drunken shitshow” that “has steadily devolved from cleverly subversive to barely tolerable to ‘time to lock yourself in your apartment for the day.’ ” And a 2017 report from the New York Daily News stated the event, “endures an annual backlash from New Yorkers repulsed by the sight of Santas vomiting or urinating in the street in years past.” Let’s just say Wikipedia has leaves a section of New York City incidents over SantaCon with many hilarious reports of this yuletide debauchery. This doesn’t mean we can’t get any fun out of it. For we totally can since you find plenty of creative costumes in their midst, which is where I come in. So for your reading pleasure, please enjoy these SantaCon-type costumes.

  1. Nothing makes winter like an enchanting snow globe.

Well, at least she has “North Pole” on the base. And she has a Santa coat and striped tights.

2. “Frag-gil-lee. Must be Italian.”

Yes, she’s dressed up as the infamous leg lamp from Christmas Story. Still, tights don’t provide adequate insulation in freezing weather.

3. Guess the birthday boy isn’t all too impressed.

Well, Christmas is supposedly Jesus’s birthday. Still, he doesn’t seem like he’s about to chase moneychangers at some temple anytime soon.

4. Perhaps you’d like a couple of gingerbread?

Though the outfits seem kind of short. Yet, both these women hold candy canes to match.

5. How about a Santa mascot for size?

Yes, it’s a cartoonish costume with an eye space at the hat. It’s also kind of creepy.

6. Tulle is always great for a costume Christmas tree.

Both of them also have lights on their trees as well as a star on their heads. Both women can surely stand out.

7. Watch out for this red suited gangster.

He has a candy cane and he’s not afraid to use it. Also, the suit is in pinstripes.

8. A Christmas tree dress will certainly stun.

This is a strapless dress with a skirt consisting of tinsel, snowflakes, and baubles. Not sure if anyone should wear it to SantaCon. But it’s surely stunning.

9. For once, Santa would just like to relax.

Guess this is what Santa would wear when he’s at some golf course in an exotic location. Let’s hope it’s not Mar-a-Lago.

10. Don’t look now, but I think there’s an Abominable Snowman creeping up on the candy cane guy.

You know the Abominable Snowman from the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer special. And yes, I have a very bad feeling about this.

11. These Christmas presents tastefully wrap themselves.

Both wear tutus and shiny tops. And they even come with large gold tags.

12. What could Christmas ever be without the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who?

Though I don’t think the Grinch costume is incredibly flattering. But Cindy Lou is quite lovely.

13. Apparently, even reptilians enjoy the SantaCon celebrations.

One of them even wears shorts. Then there’s some Santas with white fros.

14. If you want to dress as a snow queen, there’s always a costume of Elsa.

Yes, I know so many girls want to be her for Halloween. But at Christmas, Elsa won’t be in high demand. So you can just let it go.

15. Sometimes with Christmas trees, less can be more.

Well, these two wear short green dresses. But they also include the stars, tinsel, and lights.

16. Don your red and green apparel for this year’s SanatCon.

This is a pretty original costume. She has green hair, a hula hoop, and an outlandish outfit. Is either an elf or a resident from Whoville.

17. Santa comes in riding on Rudolph.

I don’t know about you. But considering that Santa is overweight, he shouldn’t be riding on a moose, let alone a reindeer.

18. In this Santa getup, you can be a darling of the holiday pub crawl.

Yes, it’s a sexy Santa girl costume. Not sure if Mrs. Claus would wear this though.

19. Apparently, the Grinch decided to go casual.

Though a green T-shirt is better than makeup. Still, you have to like what they did to their dog.

20. Who thought that Santa could rock in a fedora.

Okay, maybe not. But he certainly seems like he’s straight from a rock group like ZZ Top.

21. Make sure your presents are carefully wrapped.

She’s wearing a dress of gift bows. The guy’s wearing a gift box with a giant bow.

22. This snowman costume can make SantaCon extra frosty.

Yes, it’s a sexy Frosty the Snowman costume. And yes, it comes with a short skirt that’s not good for freezing weather.

23. Perhaps you might want to be a rather saucy Mrs. Claus.

Comes with candy cane striped tights. Still, Mrs. Claus shouldn’t be sexy.

24. Toy soldiers come in all shapes and sizes.

Though the women have the high hats, the men have the fuzzy ones. But they’re all dressed in the traditional uniform.

25. Apparently, Santa has come out of his grave.

Of course, you’ll probably have an undead Santa among ranks. Mostly consists of a Santa suit with a zombie face.

26. If you can’t wrap, you can always gift bag.

Those must be pretty large gift bags. And you can even use tissue paper.

27. Santa Claus isn’t the only Christmas figure to don a long beard.

Yes, this is the Ghost of Christmas present from the Dickens story. So he’d be perfect for SantaCon.

28. My, he sure has a long candy cane.

Okay, I know this is quite risque. But SantaCon isn’t known for its wholesomeness anyway. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

29. You don’t need much to dress as a toy soldier.

They mostly used T-shirts to decorate here. Add the fake hair, mustache, and hat.

30. For a cold day, why not dress as a Christmas caroler?

Okay, this isn’t a conventional caroler costume. Mostly because it has a short skirt.

31. You can always let it snow in your little globe.

Well, that’s kind of cute. Like the “North Pole” base. Though a globe doesn’t really make tasks easier for this Santa’s little helper.

32. A reindeer should always come in a red skirt.

Well, a red tutu of tulle. She’s also wearing red antlers to match.

33. A Christmas tree always needs to sparkle with tinsel.

She’s even wearing presents as shoes. Still, she can’t shake off that shine.

34. Santa and his missus can always stand out in furry, white robes.

Okay, this is probably the Russian Dede Moroz and his wife. But both are in furs and wield long staffs.

35. You haven’t seen nothing from this super Santa.

Though I can’t see how Santa could be Superman. Because both men have totally different body types.

36. Ice queens always love it when it snows.

Well, I suppose they work for some winter park. But they have lovely blue hair and dresses to imitate ice.

37. You might want to bundle up in this candy cane coat.

Well, it’s a flashy candy cane coat and boots. But there’s barely anything in between.

38. Didn’t know Cindy Lou Who was dating Buddy the Elf.

Well, they’re not given age gaps and the different universes they live in. But these two are quite cute together.

39. You can always decorate your own tree dress for the holidays.

She’s wearing tinsel and baubles along with a star on top. Doesn’t light, but she’ll go on the post.

40. While Christmas as Santa Claus, Hanukah has it’s own chicken.

Not sure what the chicken has to do with this Jewish tradition. But I have an inkling suspicion this guy was made up.

41. These toy soldiers are always on duty.

Since they’re wearing pale green over their red pants. They also use candy canes as guns.

42. Of course, everyone could use some shade.

This is a rather clever leg lamp costume. Just need a black coat, stockings, and a lampshade hat.

43. It’s MC Santa time.

Yes, this is Santa as MC Hammer. Though note the other Santa with the chimney hat in the background.

44. Sometimes Santa enjoys delivering presents to those under the sea.

Actually, I don’t think he’s even in the water. But he has a Christmas tree in tow.

45. Wrapping paper can be an excellent substitute for fabric.

Technically, no. But since it’s Christmas, it’s best to let it slide since they’re dressed as presents.

46. Santa’s sleigh team is all assembled.

Well, these ladies are all in a sexy reindeer costume. Though to be fair, female reindeer do have antlers this time of year.

47. This Who girl always loves to dress in pink.

Though to be fair, Whos always have a unique style to them. You especially see this with women’s hairstyles.

48. When in doubt, you can always go to SantaCon in your pajamas.

So they actually have Christmas onesies for adults? Not sure if I’d even wear that.

49. To scare the kids, may I suggest a Krampus costume?

Even comes with a sack for the kiddies. Yes, this a really messed up outfit you can buy.

50. Don’t forget to wear your best stockings.

And I suppose this guy took it literally. Though he doesn’t necessarily make a bad stocking stuffer.

51. You can always shimmer in a pink Santa dress.

At least this one comes with tights. But you have to wear a coat with this on.

52. Hipster Santa will always give you what you want.

Don’t forget he puts roaches inside bad kids’ stockings. Because coal is just too mainstream.

53. Sometimes you get more with less on a Christmas tree dress.

Includes bows and baubles on the skirt along with gold tinsel. Comes with red transparent stockings.

54. Seems we have Rudolph pulling Santa’s sleigh.

Don’t worry, they’re just two friends playing around. Though the woman playing Rudolph must be freezing her butt off.

55. An oblong box is a perfect way to present yourself.

It’s a present costume, possibly consisting of mostly foam inside. Yet, it’s in red with a green ribbon.

56. Though you can easily make your own presents with a box.

These boxes just have wrapping paper, ribbons and tags. And they only cover their upper bodies.

57. You should always go all out as a Christmas tree.

He’s even wearing lights and tinsel. Though I hope he doesn’t step into mud since it would totally ruin it.

58. Let these Santas guide you on the 4 stages of life.

And yes, they seem to revolve around Santa Claus. Yet, you have to love their hats.

59. Seems like a couple of Na’vi are basking into the holiday cheer.

Too bad their blue paint costume hasn’t been relevant since 2009. Though James Cameron vows to make sequels.

60. Perhaps you’d like to dress as a couple of driedels.

Finally, a costume depicting an actual Hanukah symbol. But don’t try to spin these two.

61. These Santas just came from the deep.

Well, they’re diving helmets. Though you wonder if they can see through the windows.

62. The mighty Santathor will always be there to save Christmas.

And he comes wiht his hammer Mjingle to vanquish the Grinch stealing it. Wait a minute, Thor’s a Norse god, isn’t he?

63. Seems like everyone wants to follow that one reindeer.

Though one of these is Ralphie who just shot his eye out. Still, the Santa seems a bit sketchy.

64. You can always keep warm with a cup of Starbucks.

Well, she’s dressed as a Starbucks holiday cup. Guaranteed to infuriate conservatives and Fox News.

65. Christmas trees should always dress alike.

And all these ladies wear stars and bright green hair. Dresses are decorated with baubles and tinsel.

66. This soldier is a real nutcracker.

You can tell because she’s holding a bag of nuts. Though she seems quite pretty compared to the regular ones.

67. You can never have enough tulle for a Christmas tree costume.

Wonder how she sits down. Outfit even lights up. Lovely.

68. You could always go as an elf from Santa’s workshop.

Makes you wonder what the North Pole’s dress code is. Still, sexy elves belong in Lord of the Rings, not Christmas.

69. Seems like Santa has gone Steampunk.

So does he ride on a mechanical sleigh with automaton reindeer? Still, this is great.

70. If you like gingerbread, you might adore this dress.

Yes, I know it’s another sexy costume. But at least it has a candy cane blouse and tights.

71. Now this snowman looks really frosted.

Okay, that’s pretty creepy. Yet, it’s a great use of cotton stuffing.

72. Looks like that’s someone from Santa’s pit crew.

Well, someone has to repair Santa’s sleigh. And yes, that person’s wearing a mechanic’s suit.

73. Sorry, but on Christmas the guy has to wear the pink bunny suit.

Yes, this is A Christmas Story couple. And yes, the woman is a leg lamp. Still, the pink bunny costume cracks me up.

74. Looks like Santa Claus has gone evil.

And he wears horns and a long red robe with a hood. He’s even got a lady assistant with him.

75. These people wish you a merry Kiss-mas

Think of it as KISS dressed up in Santa suits. And you basically get this.

76. Seems like Jack Skellington is passing on his own Christmas cheer.

I have to admit this is just so cute in its own way. Just hope this little Santa doesn’t give away shrunken heads to the kids.

77. No, Ghost of Christmas Present, please don’t go open robe.

And yes, he has his dick in a box. Jesus Christ, this is just messed up.

78. You can always don a couple of advent calendars.

Well, that’s a rather simple idea for SantaCon. Very original to say the least.

79. Now you have a Santa in grayscale.

Because a grayscale always goes in a black and white photo. Though we live in a world of color.

80. Looks like Clark Griswold’s had trouble with the lights.

Yes, this is from the cover of Christmas Vacation. And yes, you can actually get electroshock if you’re not took careful.

General Ripper Sings Like a Canary

 

In the biggest development yet in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors on Friday, December 1, 2017. The legal move poses the most direct threat to the Trump presidency itself so far. Flynn pleaded guilty to a single count of lying to the FBI on or around January 24 about conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016. However, Flynn did not admit to colluding with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Nevertheless, Flynn’s plea deal will strengthen Mueller’s sprawling probe into the Trump team’s possible criminal acts and Russian ties.

Of course, once Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted while George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty, it was only a matter of time when Michael Flynn would flip. In fact, it’s been speculated for weeks that Flynn wanted to protect himself from a more serious criminal indictment. As with Manafort, Mueller had a solid case against the retired general. Earlier this year, Flynn offered to testify in exchange for full immunity from prosecution but Mueller refused. On November 23, The New York Times reported that Flynn’s lawyers told Trump’s lawyers they could no longer share information. Four days later, ABC News reported that Flynn’s lawyers met with Mueller’s team, a strong sign a plea deal was imminent.

Michael Flynn’s plea deal is the most significant moment in Mueller’s probe to date since he is the first person who had actually served in the Trump White House to admit breaking the law. Nor was he just any old official either since Flynn’s role as national security adviser is one of the highest-level and most powerful posts in Washington. The retired three-star general temporarily had enormous influence over Donald Trump’s early policy and personnel choices. And due to his unique ties to both the Trump campaign and Trump White House, he’s particularly well-suited to answering the Mueller probe’s central questions on whether the Trump campaign knowingly colluded with Russia and if Trump obstructed justice by trying to derail the FBI’s investigation. Flynn’s plea deal gets Mueller closer to finding that out. Now Mueller gets Flynn to talk along with an admission of guilt. Obviously, this is bad news for Michael Flynn but it could be even worse news for Donald Trump. As legal expert Asha Rangappa noted, “When you flip somebody, you’re using them to go up the chain. This suggests that Mueller’s investigation is going to go into the even-tighter inner circle of the campaign and possibly the administration.”

A retired lieutenant general who served in the Army for over 30 years, Michael Flynn is a quintessential General Ripper. Hell, take General Jack D. Ripper’s line “I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids,” and replace each mention of “Communist” with “Islamic” and you basically have Flynn. And let’s just say if it weren’t for his soft spot for Russia, he’d feel right at home among the trigger happy military brass in Dr. Strangelove. Anyway, in 2012, he was named head of the Pentagon’s intelligence arm, the Defense Intelligence Agency. During this time, he clashed with other Obama administration officials who viewed him as sloppy with facts and incompetent with management. Soon he was pushed out and resigned from his post in 2014. Technically, President Barack Obama fired him but you know how they do things in Washington. Furious, Flynn began his post government public life commenting on foreign policy and military issues in the media, becoming infamous for his extreme Islamophobic rhetoric. For example in February 2016, he tweeted, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” Such language combined with his poor DIA track record made Flynn a pariah in the mainstream foreign policy community. For the Trump campaign that championed a Muslim ban, he was a perfect fit.

In fall 2015, Michael Flynn began occasionally briefing Donald Trump on foreign affairs and his involvement in the campaign gradually deepened. By late May 2016, he was mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick for Trump. In July of that year, Flynn gave a now ironic speech at the Republican National Convention in which he riled the crowd with “Lock her up.” But while Flynn advised the Trump campaign, he operated a lobbying and consulting firm called the Flynn Intel Group which importantly, also employed his son. He was also a frequent guest on the Russian government’s English-language propaganda outlet RT, where he’d often espouse the idea that Russia and the US should team up against Islamic extremism. And it’s Flynn’s lobbying and work for the Russian government which first led into dangerous legal territory. In December 2015, Flynn traveled to Moscow for a gala celebrating RT’s 10th anniversary. He sat next to Vladimir Putin and delivered a speech about his foreign policy vision. For his services, RT paid Flynn a $45,000 speaker’s fee while Russian companies him $22,500 for speeches during the same trip. Now that in itself isn’t necessary illegal. However, Flynn reportedly lied about the source of the payments in his security clearance renewal form, claiming they came from “US companies.” Lying on this form is equivalent to lying to federal investigators which is a felony and perhaps one of the reasons why Flynn took the plead deal. In August 2016, an entity called Inovo BV hired Flynn’s consulting firm. Though it claimed to be Dutch company, Inovo BV turned out to be a shell corporation for a wealthy member from the Turkish government. Flynn seems to have continued working for Turkey until November at the earliest while Ankara paid him at least $530,000. Under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, Flynn had to publicly disclose any lobbying work for the Turkish government when he started. His FARA paperwork said he worked for a Dutch company, not the Turkish government. In March 2017, Flynn filed paperwork correcting the error, admitting that Inovo really paid him to work on behalf of Turkish interests. If that’s all he did, then Michael Flynn would’ve been fine. After all, the US government typically doesn’t arrest people for filing incorrect FARA paperwork after they correct it. But if there’s more undisclosed lobbying for foreign governments like more Turkey payments or undisclosed Russian activity than he revealed in March, then he’d be in deep shit.

Still, you’d think Flynn’s legally questionable shenanigans would’ve ended in November 2016, when Donald Trump made him his national security adviser in his new administration. Though outgoing Obama officials warned the Trump transition team about appointing the guy. But if anything, it got worse. Throughout the transition, Flynn had several contacts with Kislyak. In one early December meeting at Trump Tower, he and Jared Kushner talked to the Russian ambassador about setting up a secret channel through which they can communicate. On December 29, 2016, the day Obama announced sanctions on Russia in response to the country’s hacking efforts, Flynn and Kislyak reportedly exchanged 5 phone calls. One of the discussion topics was sanctions. But Flynn reportedly told Vice President-elect Mike Pence and others on the Trump team that sanctions never came up in his calls with the Russian ambassador, spurring them to make false statements to that effect in public. This conversation between Flynn and Kislyak is part of the just-released document Mueller had sent to court.

On Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day, Michael Flynn’s former business partner allegedly bragged that he told him that Trump would quickly lift US sanctions on Russia, which would pave way for a controversial plan to build nuclear plants across the Middle East with Russian help. While this is an explosive but unverified allegation coming from a whistleblower cooperating with House Democrats, there have been reports over the last few months that Flynn continued to promote this Middle East nuclear project after the election and even as national security adviser. In the Trump presidency’s first week, Flynn was questioned by the FBI in which he denied contact with Kislyak during the transition. That same week, then acting-Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House that intelligence showed Flynn had lied about his conversations with Kislyak and he was vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Unsurprisingly, the Trump White House did nothing about this until it leaked to the press a few weeks later, when they were spurred to fire Flynn on February 13, 2017. Then there’s an entirely separate matter of whether Flynn improperly acted on Turkey’s behalf during the transition or while in office. According to the Wall Street Journal, Mueller is investigating an “alleged plan” in which Flynn and his son would be paid as much as $15 million for forcibly removing Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania, from the United States and delivering him to Turkey. Flynn discussed this possibility with Turkish government representatives at a December meeting during the transition as incoming national security adviser.

Altogether, there’s plenty of circumstantial evidence that Michael Flynn broke the law. The plea deal where he’ll admit to lying to federal investigators confirms he did and he’s trying to get a lighter punishment. The best Flynn can do is tell Mueller everything he knows abut Trump and Russia. The next important question is whether other Trump officials aided Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential campaign. If there was collusion, Flynn most likely knows about it. This is why Mueller wanted Flynn to strike a deal. Particularly, one where Flynn agreed to a lesser sentence in exchange for giving an honest accounting of what he knows about Trump-Russia ties. Sure getting Papadopoulos to agree to cooperate with Mueller’s team was pretty awesome. But getting Flynn to flip is a much bigger prize.

And it’s possible that Flynn has more Russia ties than known since there’s already some reporting suggesting we don’t have the full Flynn and Russia story. In June, The Wall Street Journal reported that a Trump supporting GOP operative and private equity executive Peter Smith embarked on an effort to track down Hillary Clinton’s infamous 30,000 or so deleted emails during the fall of 2016 and contacted Russian hackers to ask if they had them. Smith wasn’t part of the Trump campaign. But according to sources, he told people working with him that he was coordinating with Flynn. While trying to recruit for the effort, Smith also distributed a document naming the Trump campaign as one of the 4 groups involved. Another piece of information pointing to Flynn was that US officials were aware of some intelligence that Russian hackers had at least discussed sending leaked emails to Flynn through a third party. As Shane Harris wrote for the Wall Street Journal: “Investigators have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the intelligence.” Smith died this year, reportedly by his own hand and Flynn hasn’t said anything about the Journal report. Nevertheless, all this is enough to raise serious questions about just what Flynn knew about this or any other attempted outreach to Russian hackers or other Russian entities. However, we don’t know yet if this led to actual collusion implicating Flynn or anyone else on the Trump team. Perhaps Smith made his effort seem important by name dropping Flynn, rather than working closely with him. In addition, Smith’s efforts to find Clinton’s deleted emails have failed since they never surfaced.

Michael Flynn’s is also central to determine whether Donald Trump obstructed justice as president, essentially by unlawfully interfering with former FBI Director James Comey’s inquiry. Since Flynn is a central character in this entire drama and fate could shape Trump’s. As Rangappa told Vox, “I think Flynn’s value to Mueller is less on the collusion part and has more to do with obstruction of justice. If Trump had any knowledge of any kind of criminal liability that Flynn may have had — and he was trying to get Comey to drop the investigation — that essentially seals Mueller’s obstruction case.” After Flynn was fired, Trump held a counterterrorism meeting with his national security officials which ended when he ordered everyone except then-Director Comey to clear the room. According to Comey’s written notes, Trump asked him to lay off the investigation into Flynn’s Russia statements. He said that Flynn “is a good guy” and urged the then-FBI director “to see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.” Comey refused so Trump eventually fired him a few months later.

Flynn’s testimony could help answer if Trump wanted to protect him out of fear on what he might know. It’s not enough to show that Trump didn’t like where the Russia investigation was going. A prosecutor or member of Congress pushing for impeachment would need to show that Trump actually tried to cover up some kind of wrongdoing on his part to establish an obstruction case. As federal prosecutor Alex Whiting explained the specifics of Trump’s relationship with Flynn matter a great deal, noting: “Did [Trump] know that Flynn’s story was an important piece in the larger picture, one that he did not want revealed? Or did he know that the FBI’s pressure on Flynn could force him to give up other incriminating evidence? Far from simply acting to shield a former subordinate and ally, was Trump actually just trying to protect himself, and those close to him? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then Trump’s actions will have a very different feel to them, and his potential defenses much harder, if not impossible, to swallow.” Flynn may know the answer to Whiting’s questions which Mueller will likely hear soon.

Still, former US attorney Preet Bharara isn’t convinced that Michael Flynn received “a sweetheart deal of a lifetime” in exchange for hugely important cooperation. On the latest podcast episode, the former New York prosecutor disputed that the relatively light charge against the former 3-star general clearly showed he must’ve agreed to provide especially valuable information to Mueller’s investigation. Bharara refers to his own experience supervising similar high-profile cases.  He claimed, “When we had evidence against somebody and wanted them to flip, we made them plead guilty to every bad act that they had ever done. Especially if we were later gonna be alleging other people had engaged in that activity as well.” Such actions, the former prosecutor argues makes a witness like Flynn more credible in court if he has to testify against someone else. “Otherwise, the only thing the jury will know for a fact about your witness is that he is an admitted, convicted liar,” he said. What he suspects is that Mueller doesn’t’ have anything else on Flynn that might stand in court. But he also suggests that Mueller is “holding back on other charges to which Michael Flynn will plead guilty if and when they form the basis of charging some other folks.” In other words, certain potential charges against Flynn could implicate others in Trump’s team as well and that Mueller’s team just isn’t ready to make those charges yet (and may never be). Yet, this case could be different than Bharara’s own past prosecutions. For one, Mueller’s potential endgame might be impeachment referral rather than a high-profile court trial. In addition, Mueller could be concerned about Trump’s pardon power, possibly holding off some potential charges against Flynn so he could bring them later, in case of a pardon. And seeing how quickly Trump pardoned infamous former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Mueller might’ve taken a cue.

On Saturday December 2, 2017, Donald Trump tweeted that he fired his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn because he lied to the vice president and the FBI. If that’s the case, Trump knew that Flynn lied to the FBI when he asked then FBI Director James Comey to drop his inquiry into Flynn and then fired him when he failed to do so. This could play into an obstruction of justice case against him. Looking into Trump’s history which shows unparalleled disrespect for the rule of law, committing obstruction of justice shouldn’t come as a surprise. Donald Trump’s corruption is mindboggling beyond any measure that anyone could imagine. He has already abused his power as president in order to enrich himself as well as constantly lies about everything whenever he opens his mouth. But should Mueller’s team find compelling evidence if the Trump team engaged in a criminal conspiracy to help hack Hillary Clinton’s email (since stealing documents is illegal), violated campaign finance laws through soliciting foreign help like from the Russian government, or committing crimes against the investigation itself like witness intimidation, perjury, obstruction of justice, and the like, Mueller can convene a federal jury and seek a criminal indictment against the person. If the grand jury signs off, that person is then arrested and charged. Eventually Trump can be forced to make a terrible choice. He could risk a close associate or family member going to jail or possibly making a deal with federal prosecutors in return for testimony that could incriminate others. Or he could use his pardon power to shield his cronies from federal charges. Should he go the second route, expect a massive political conflict with Congress because of the obvious impropriety of President Pussygrabber pardoning family members or close associates for crimes committed to help him win the presidency in the first place.

Then there’s the question of what happens if Mueller finds evidence of criminal behavior by Donald Trump himself. Granted that Trump is a narcissistic sociopath with a history of abusing his power for his own enrichment, disrespecting the rule of law, and getting away with egregious corruption practices, this is extremely likely. As special prosecutor, Mueller has the legal authority to file charges against any Trump associates or family members. But there’s another legal debate as to whether it’s constitutional for prosecutors to indict a president on criminal charges. Because no state or federal attorney has ever indicted a president on serious criminal charges and we have no Supreme Court precedent to answer that question. Mueller would likely sidestep that whole minefield and simply make a report to the House of Representatives documenting evidence of Trump’s “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the constitutional standard of impeachment. Should Mueller’s report contain damning evidence, it would put a lot of pressure on the House to begin impeachment proceedings. In short, Mueller could take the first step toward ending Trump’s presidency. So Trump really needs to be afraid. Especially since Mueller is currently looking into his business practices and finances which contain plenty of shady stuff less wealthy people have been arrested for.