Writer’s Lounge 10-23-19, “Joker”, William Taylor, Mick Mulvaney, Lindsey Graham

photo of a room that has old, comfortable Leather upholstered couches, a fireplace, wood paneled walls, an Irish Whiskey advertisement, a wall mounted television and a vintage coffee table. The photo is dubbed, "Writer's Lounge".

 

Thanks for visiting us here once again, in the lounge. Oddly enough, we do get a lot of work done here and much of it involves thinking.

And on the subject of thinking, we just published a long form essay on the intense film from writer, director and producer, Todd Phillips“Joker”.

It is a film that makes a lot of people uncomfortable because it provokes thought and provoking thought in American society can often breed resentment. We do a fair piece of that at National Compass.

alley scene from the film "Joker" where the main character Arthur Fleck, is seen lying on the pavement after being brutally beaten by a street gang.

The article linked below and published yesterday, is not solely a film review. It also examines how many socio-political debates are woven into “Joker”, as well as assessing the worth, role and competence of the “movie critic” within the entertainment industry’s architecture of movie promotion and distribution.

Not a short read, but I think you will find it engaging. Plus, if you have not yet seen “Joker”, you need to and non spoiler alert – we do not include any “spoilers” here:   

Todd Phillips’ “Joker” Is Something To See, But No Laughing Matter


 

The accumulation of evidence that is supporting and exceeding the original whistleblower complaint against Donald Trump, his sidekick, Rudy Giuliani and now, other key members of the Trump administration, is accelerating at a speed that we have not even anticipated.

Yesterday, Ambassador Bill Taylor, testified on the Hill that it was a known fact that Trump was intent on mining damaging information on the Bidens, employing a tactical campaign of extortion on the Ukrainian government and its newly elected president. 

You can read Taylor’s entire opening statement, here

And, it is being reported today, by the New York Times, that documents and communications, clearly demonstrate that within less than a week of Donald Trump’s July 25th coercive phone call with Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelenskyy (that is the Ukrainian spelling, by the way) – that the Ukrainians were made aware that the arms shipments and other assistance was being held up by Trump and his cohorts.

White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, of “sure we did it, so what?”, fame, is now even further implicated in the machinery of the operation, according to the report.  NYT reporters Andrew E. Kramer and Kenneth P. Vogel, detail that:

“word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by the Times. The problem was not a bureaucratic glitch, the Ukrainians were told, then. To address it, they were advised that they should reach out to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, according to the interviews and records.”

Documents confirm that Mulvaney personally participated in the approach to Ukrainian officials, requesting they contact him directly to discuss the ways and means to break the log jam in the assistance supply line.

Ambassador Taylor’s written and verbal testimony before the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry, also reveals that former U.S. Ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, withheld some key information during his interview with those congressional panels. 

To get a sense of how critical all this is, it is helpful to rewind back to the original catalyst of this now wide-ranging investigation and that is the initial release of the first whistleblower complaint, in which that individual wrote in the complaint that he had discovered the order to put a freeze on the assistance, “had come directly from the president” and further that, “it might have a connection with the overall effort to pressure Ukrainian leadership.”

At that time, Trump branded the whistleblower and his contacts, “close to a spy”, accused them of lying and implied that some violent act of retribution, likely extra-judicial, would be a remedy American governments of a previous era in our history, would apply. The whistleblower, in the face of much defamatory rhetoric from the GOP and Trump media flaks, has been fully vindicated by the fact patterns that have emerged. 

With reference to Ambassador William B. Taylor’s credibility as contrasted with that of Donald J. Trump’s, consider that Taylor:     

  • graduated from West Point 
  • served as an infantry officer
  • was part of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam
  • had career posts with NATO, the State Department (Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Ukraine)
  • served both Republican and Democrat administrations with distinction, honor and a reputation for ethics.

Then there is Donald Trump, who is now protesting that his civil rights are being denied and that he is the subject of a “lynching”.  Do I really need to detail the entire litany of that hot mess with debilitating bone spurs? I didn’t think so.

– Richard Cameron


 

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham Doesn’t Disappoint Detractors

 

Having spent a week displaying a level of testicular fortitude the South Carolina Republican hadn’t exhibited since the death of his friend and guardian Sen. John McCain (R-AR), Lindsey Graham restored the confidence of his most passionate detractors, who believe, no matter the depth to which President Trump is willing to sink, his favorite senator will always, ultimately, be there to cheer him on.

President Trump is thinking outside the box, gushed Sen. Graham on Fox News“The big thing for me is the oil fields,” he added, ignoring the growing evidence the Turks, given a green light to attack the Kurds, are committing horrendous war crimes including summary executions and deliberately targeting civilians, including children.

“The Turkish military offensive into northeast Syria has wreaked havoc on the lives of Syrian civilians who once again have been forced to flee their homes and are living in constant fear of indiscriminate bombardment, abductions and summary killings. Turkish military forces and their allies have displayed an utterly callous disregard for civilian lives, launching unlawful deadly attacks in residential areas that have killed and injured civilians,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International, apparently unaware the “big thing” is the oil fields, not the lives of innocent human beings caught in the midst of an unnecessary war caused by Trump.

In a Axios interview, Sen. Graham also defended Pres. Trump’s call with Ukraine Pres. Volodymyr Zelensky where the American asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to see if there was any dirt that could be used by the Trump campaign in the upcoming 2020 election.

Despite the confession of Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitting there was a quid pro quo – the retention of vital military aid to Ukraine necessary for its defense against Russia – Sen. Graham said, “I’ve read the transcript of the Ukrainian phone call. That’s not a quid pro quo to me.”

The so-called “transcript” of Mr. Trump’s call was not a verbatim rendition of the call, according to official White House documents.  That didn’t dissuade Sen. Graham, however, of seeing the president in the best light possible.

photo of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in an interview.

“I’ve got to know him, and I find him to be a handful,” Sen. Graham told Axios . “I find him to be an equal opportunity abuser of people. But at the end of the day, he can be very charming and be very gracious, and I’m judging him by his conduct.”  

Graham also added that, “and the Orange Kool Aid they always serve over at the West Wing when I visit is super refreshing.”  He didn’t actually say that last part, but he might as well have.

– Tony Wyman


 

Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, on his regular feature, “This Modern World”, illustrates the various ingenious talking points and strategies the Republicans and the White House are pursuing to derail an impeachment of Trump. Well, most people whose brains are actually properly functioning in the regions that control reasoning and perception, don’t think they are ingenious, but they are not Trump’s base. 

Part Two of this series will appear in the next edition of Writer’s Lounge.

Tom Tomorrow's "This Modern World" comic strip on the GOP strategy to derail impeachment


 

Matt Gaetz and motley crew of GOP Congressmen and Senators issuing a statement of their plans to crash a closed impeachment inquiry hearing on the Hill.
Matt Gaetz and motley crew of GOP Congressmen and Senators issuing a statement of their plans to crash a closed impeachment inquiry hearing on the Hill.

And wrapping things up for today, a contingent of Trump loyalist lawmakers (breakers?) from both houses of Congress, with Florida GOP House Member Matt Gaetz as ringleader, attempted to stage an insurrection during the closed door hearings today of the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry where Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper was scheduled to be interviewed.

They were denied admittance, which is in keeping with established Congressional rules that only committee members are allowed to enter unless the session is designated as open. 

Gaetz, had a snowflake eruption, making a public statement before his entourage were rejected by congressional bouncers.  “Behind those doors, they intend to overturn the results of an American presidential election. We’re going to try to go in there … on behalf of the millions of Americans that we represent that want to see this Congress working for them, and not obsessed with attacking a president who we believe has not done anything to deserve impeachment.”

-Richard Cameron  

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