The news today was big — first, the government shutdown has ended. That statement comes with an important caveat — for three weeks. Trump agreed to a plan to reopen the government and pay federal employees; after that, I guess we’re all hoping legislators can somehow come up with a plan to move things forward. If the word “hoping” in that sentence seems devoid of meaning, empty of value, or simply outright oxymoronic, then congratulations — you made it to Friday and are still alive.
By my count, three weeks is 21 days, which is a full 14 days less than the government was recently shut down. If you couldn’t find a solution in 35 days, why the hell would anyone think you’ll find one in 21? Suffice it to say — expectations should be low. Very, very low.
I did enjoy the following quote from Senator Ben Cardin, (D), of Maryland: “What we have put on the table is our reputation as legislators, that given three weeks, we’ll come up with a successful conclusion on the border security issue.” Your reputation? As legislators? Oh Ben. Ben Ben Ben. If sentiments like that are what members of Congress have taken away from these past 35 days, then let me find a shovel, return to the previous paragraph, and dig a hole in which to sink those expectations ever lower.
The other big news item was the indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Roger Stone. Stone is accused of lying to and falsely misleading investigators, obstructing an official proceeding, and witness tampering. Yikes. Stone, who is the sixth Trump advisor or campaign official to be charged by the special counsel, insists upon his innocence and looks “forward to being fully and completely vindicated.” I bet he does.
Out of all the things we’ve learned about Stone —his contacts with WikiLeaks, his attempts to channel Russian hacking to aid the Trump campaign — perhaps the most curious is this: the man has a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back.
( That is not fake. It was also not inked there under duress. So, I guess — cool?)
For context, Stone started his career working for Tricky Dick in the early 70’s, and has spent the majority of his time since supporting Republican officials and causes, typically through devious, dirty, back-handed means. In theory this also explains his Nixonian, Victorious Vee finger bang outside court today; in reality, the Vee should be referencing his future, which at this stage is looking Very Fucked. All of it adds up to yet another WTF moment in Trumpland.
I’m fairly late to the game on Stone but fear I’ve missed little of import. There’s a documentary, Get Me Roger Stone, that came out on Netflix last year. I watched the trailer, but having seen farm animals shit before it didn’t look like a whole lot of new information. Also, one upside of my religious background is that I’m fully capable of recognizing the devil when he takes on human form.
What’s most concerning isn’t the tattoo — although Yes, that’s really fucking weird — but the fact that Trump hired Stone in the first place. I suppose it’s naive to be surprised by this, for Trump’s specific brand of diarrhea draws other shit to it forcefully as an electromagnet, but it’s important to remember that Trump was supposed to get “the best” employees to run the country. If you’d like examples of Stone’s “bestness,” cruise through his Wikipedia page, excerpts of which are posted below (Stone has been in politics since ’72, but I’ve only chosen occurrences from the past 3 years):
- During the course of the 2016 campaign, Stone was banned from appearing on CNN and MSNBC after making a series of offensive Twitter posts disparaging television personalities. Stone specifically referred to a CNN commentator as an “entitled diva bitch” and imagined her “killing herself”, and called another CNN personality a “stupid negro” and a “fat negro.”
- In March 2016, an article in the tabloid magazine National Enquirer stated that Ted Cruz, Trump’s Republican primary rival, had extramarital affairs with five women. The article quoted Stone as saying, “These stories have been swirling about Cruz for some time. I believe where there is smoke there is fire.”
- After Trump had been criticized at the Democratic National Convention for his comments on Muslims by Khizr Khan, a Pakistani American whose son received a posthumous Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, Stone made headlines defending Trump’s criticism by accusing Khan of sympathizing with the enemy.
- During the campaign, Stone frequently promoted conspiracy theories, including the false claim that Clinton aide Huma Abedin was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Not since Trump Steaks has the best tasted this good.
Also, with that suck-in-your-breath-for-the-photo pose, the shaved, siliconized chest, the inflated lats that require a 90-degree sideways adjustment simply to pass through a standard door frame, and the cigar just begging for Freud to be exhumed, Stone looks a lot like a sun shined, photoshopped version of another one of Trump’s favorite friends. (Might that explain why Stone got hired in the first place?)
Lastly, a bit of good news, for such things do still occur. Major League Baseball has elected its next class of Hall of Famers, and former Seattle Mariners star Edgar Martinez has made the cut. Martinez played nearly 20 years in the bigs, where he was a lifetime .312 hitter, 7x All Star, 2x AL batting champion, and inarguably one of the worst runners in baseball history. There’s no debate that Edgar deserved this, so congrats, big guy. 2019 is going to suck for the M’s, but at least something that happened long ago is worthy of note.
(Dear Mariners Front Office — if you’re looking for a new marketing strategy for the impending season, I will sell you the rights to that sentence for the cost of my never having to attend a single game this entire year.)