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They ran through the bushes where the rabbits couldn’t go

My dad was into battles. He used to drag my sister and me down to Charleston harbor and point to Fort Sumter and tell us all about how the Civil War started as we climbed all over the cannons and stacks of cannonballs. He knew ever American battlefield from Schuylerville to Shiloh and everything in between. I once spent a rainy weekend at Gettysburg with him ticking off every monument and listening to a play by play recitation of Pickett’s Charge.

I feigned disinterest.

It turns out I kinda like battle strategy. But my genre is medieval battles. Fredericksburg? Meh. Hastings, Crécy and Agincourt? Oooo, yeah.

When I read this piece in WaPo about how Trump is handling his obvious displays of guilt, I got the battle vibe of the “Never Trumpers” immediately. They’re being overwhelmed and running for their lives:

Survivors on the Union side of the bloody battle of Shiloh reported witnessing a striking phenomenon moments before thousands of Rebels came charging through the Tennessee woods at dawn. Fauna in great abundance — rabbits and deer and squirrels and birds — made a startled dash through the Yankee camps. Thus the soldiers knew something alarming was headed their way, even before they knew what it was.

That story came to mind as I noticed a ruckus in the conservative media where President Trump finds reliable support. As a regular reader and occasional watcher of right-leaning outlets (left-leaning ones, too), I have been fascinated by the profound split Trump has caused among conservative commentators. So-called Never Trumpers don’t like him because they think he is the opposite of conservative: a radical intent on upending order and smashing tradition, twin pillars of their political philosophy. Among grass-roots partisans, though, the Never Trumpers appear to be losing sway to pro-Trump voices, if the robust ratings at Fox News are any indication.

But what struck me like the Shiloh field suddenly teeming with startled wildlife was this language of setups and entrapment because, where I come from, only guilty people trot out the I-was-stung defense. Indeed, the most infamous use of this jargon in Washington — the late Marion Barry’s “Bitch set me up!” — followed the mayor’s dismayed realization that his crack-smoking had been caught on hidden camera.

How many times have we heard from the president and his defenders that the Mueller investigation is “a witch hunt,” that “there’s nothing there” and it’s time to shut it down? As the inquiry enters its second year, Trump’s forces now appear to be falling back to a new trench. Whatever Team Trump did wrong, the FBI tricked them into doing it.

The never Trumpers tried to hold back the rebels with their voices of reason. It’s not working. But this battle doesn’t remind me of Shiloh so much as a Viking raid lead by a ships full of drug fueled berserkers screaming and biting their shields.

This is how Trump thinks he’s going to win, by feeding his supporters a PCP cocktail of insinuation and finger pointing and “I was set up! They’re trying to overturn the election!”

But it only makes him look even more guilty. The more he protests, the guiltier he looks to the rest of us and the more vigorously he whips up his base into a frenzy.

Now the whole Republican leadership is doing it, which makes me wonder if that party is implicated as well. Where does all that money lead us to?

They’re coming. It’s going to get noisy and violent. They’re looking for a weak spot in our shield wall. The only thing that’s standing between them and us is the justice department and the battle is imminent.

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Avenatti and Farrow

Looking for the next Woodward and Bernstein? It’s hard to beat the wide eyed youthfulness of Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker and the aggressive, chiseled jawline of the “in your face” Michael Avenatti, lawyer to Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels.

They’re telegenic and very well connected with the alarmed whistleblowers in the government.

Don’t be misled about the number of times you might have seen Avenatti on TV. He’s an amazing strategist and lawyer, forcing the Trump team into many disclosures, lies and errors. He has a lot of information that he’s feeding us little by little, tantalizing is with the most amazing, preposterous sounding plot twists. How does he get his hands on all this stuff?? He even has emails from Cohen to Daniels’ first lawyer after the raid trying to set up new untraceable communications. (Give up, Michael.) Avenatti, and the gutsy lady behind him, might just save the Republic. It’s genius to be representing the one woman in America that Trump slept with who has nothing to lose as far as reputation goes.

But it’s Farrow that adds the journalistic edge. He’s one of the few investigative reporters out there who doesn’t seem to be starry eyed about being in the presence of celebrity because he’s the product of celebrity, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. A college graduate at 16, accepted to law school before he was 20, he worked in the State Department in the Obama administration. Winner of a Pulitzer for reporting on the Harvey Weinstein harassment cases. In other words, Farrow is an earnest overachiever.

This week, Avenatti and Farrow are tag teaming. Avenatti recently disclosed a SAR, or Suspicious Activity Report, that was filed against Essential Consultants LLC, the entity that Michael Cohen created to handle payoffs to porn stars and other business activity. That’s how we discovered that Novartis and ATT paid Cohen for what looks like protection money. But there’s more, oh yes, much more.

Because that SAR got filed with the Treasury Department in a department called FinCEN. That stands for Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. FinCEN maintains a database of SARs from banks and other financial institutions. Anyone at a bank who interacts with customers is trained to recognize signs of fraud, money laundering and other crimes.

This is where Farrow comes in.

It turns out that the FinCEN record connected to the SAR that Avenatti revealed last week made reference to two other SARs. The amount of money involved is $3 Million. The problem is that the FinCEN records for those two other SARs are … missing.

The law enforcement official who discovered that the SARs are missing was so alarmed by this that he leaked the first SAR to Avenatti. Farrow followed up on the missing SARs. According to the sources he contacted who have experience in this area, missing SARs are very rare. Says the whistleblower:

“I have never seen something pulled off the system. . . . That system is a safeguard for the bank. It’s a stockpile of information. When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.” The official added, “That’s why I came forward.”

To put it bluntly, there are only two possible scenarios other than technical malfunction to explain how this happened: 1.) Robert Mueller or the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of NY sequestered them or 2.) someone at the Treasury Department deliberately erased them. Permanently.

Suddenly, I see the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office in a whole new light. The FBI raid was authorized to prevent destruction of evidence. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that Mueller et al discovered the SARs were missing and pulled the trigger on the raid in order to get any evidence remaining related to the transfer of money through Cohen’s hands.

The whistleblower, our newest DeepThroat, says he was terrified of what it might mean that someone has access and the orders to erase financial documents at the Treasury Department. Just thinking about that gives me the shivers. Think about it. If the documents went missing on Trump’s orders, and let’s not forget that he only appoints loyalists, then what is to stop any of those loyalists in any agency from erasing evidence of bribery and misconduct? Or your bank accounts? Or social security information? The possibilities are endless.

Didn’t Deep Throat advise Woodward and Bernstein to “follow the money” back during the Watergate days? It’s spooky how this is turning out to resemble Watergate.

If you’re not watching anything but Fox News, you are missing a terrifying political thriller of global proportions with an colorful cast of characters, secretive Qatari sheiks, shady presidential lawyers, porn stars, pregnant playmates, abortions, lies, bribes, payoffs, basketball teams, rappers, Russians and global corporations. It’s almost too much. But unlike Fox News generated smoke and mirrors and logical inconsistencies, this is more like peeling an onion or plucking a strand in a spider web and watching the ripples. It’s vast, it’s deep, it’s scary.

The movie is going to be epic – provided the Republic survives.

********************

Found in my Spotify weekly mix: “It’s like someone took a knife, baby, edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley in the middle of my soul…”.

Some lyrics never die, no matter how they’re done.

Holy Moly, Fetterman Won!

Hold on to your seats, sports fans, this story may have meaning.

Yesterday, John Fetterman, 6’10” (I’m guessing) mayor of Braddock, PA, won the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.

Why does this have meaning?

Because John Fetterman is one of those iconoclastic Democratic candidates that we all go gaga about. He is a real community activist. He’s into urban renewal and medical marijuana. He lives the working class

AND

You will never catch him in a suit.

The dude screams laid back.

He’s also got a f*cking hot Brazilian wife, Gisele, and three adorable kids. He lives in an old car dealership.

Yeah, weird, huh?

He’ll be running with our governor, The steadfast, unflinching Tom Wolf. This will be one to watch because the PA state legislature is definitely redder than red hardass Republican. But Fetterman has the appearance of a bouncer, only nicer. And cooler.

I have two candidates to campaign for this fall. Conor Lamb won last night as well.

The good news just keeps on coming. Seven women won their primaries in the newly drawn congressional district maps.

This fall should give the media a whole new perspective on Pennsylvania. 2016 was an brief regression on the way to something else. We are the vanguard.

RD had a little Lamb

Today is the Pennsylvania primary. It’s the first election since the state ordered the districts redrawn to fix the gerrymandering problem.

I was just listening to Nate Silver at the fivethirtyeight podcast who said that 9 out of PA’s 18 congressional districts are competitive, including mine.

Yes, friends, I was redistricted. I was in a district represented by the totally awesome Mike Doyle (D) who is working his butt off to get Net Neutrality back. Now, I’m stuck in Keith Rothfus’ (R) district. The Mighty 17th is just a twinkle in the Democrats’ eyes right now since technically, it won’t exist until January 2019.

And yet, it has not one but TWO incumbents. Wrap your head around that. Keith Rothfus is the rep for the old district 12, which was shaped like a hammerhead shark, and Conor Lamb represents the 18th which is west and south of Pittsburgh. (I’m starting to get confuzzled about all this).

Anyway, I did some limited campaigning for Lamb back in March and he pulled of a squeaker of a victory. But now, his odds of winning the 17th are vastly improved since this district got some pretty big, pretty diverse, heavily Democratic suburbs sucked into it. One of them was mine. {{bwahahahahhhhh!!!}}

Its only a primary and Lamb is running unopposed, which sort of takes the fun out of it. But Lamb is such an ideal candidate to vote for in this district that I’m looking forward to it. Rothfus is a anti-choice, pro-Republican, pro-NRA Republican and the district as a whole moved from something like +11 for Trump to +2.5 for Trump after redistricting. In other words, we have a real shot of turning this district blue.

Shout out to John Fetterman, mayor of beautiful downtown Braddock, PA, champion of urban renewal and medical marijuana. He’s running for Lieutenant Governor.

And let’s not forget Governor Tom Wolf who turns out to have just the right amount of assertiveness and cunning to outmaneuver the Republican legislature.

Maybe I should have titled this post “A Wolf, a Lamb and a Fetterman”.

Let’s do this thing.

If this is your primary day, get out there and vote, even if your candidate is running unopposed.

SURF’S UP!!

Happy Birthday, Ivory Bill Woodpecker!!

Betcha thought I forgot. 😉

Scott Hutchinson

I just read over at Eschaton that Scott Hutchinson of the band Frightened Rabbit has been missing and a body assumed to be his has been found.

From NBC:

LONDON — Police searching for Scott Hutchison, the lead singer of Scottish rock band Frightened Rabbit, confirmed Friday that they had located a body.

The 36-year-old was reported missing by fellow band members early Wednesday.

This was like a gut punch this morning. Frightened Rabbit was like a little hidden gem and Scott’s vocals and guitar playing were inspiring.

Very sad.

Here’s one of my favorite Frightened Rabbit songs recorded in a studio in Seattle:

Maxine does not yield to defenseless, bullied white male mansplainer.

🙄

Damn she’s tenacious. She should give lessons.

and then there’s this tweet about Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer:

She’s right. I want that hat so bad.