Monday, May 7, 2018

They Still Don’t Have A Fix For Mondays

     Though being retired does help.

     The most recent developments in the Robert Mueller, Prosecutor At Large psychodrama (with certified 100% psychos) have me laboring to restrain a fit of giggles. In the matter of the charges leveled at Paul Manafort, respected federal judge T. S. Ellis III has demanded to see the prosecutors' “hunting license,” and he’s not taking any nonsense:

     Ellis said the indictment appeared to be a way for Mueller to leverage Manafort into providing information about Trump.

     “The vernacular is to sing,” he said.

     “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” the judge said. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead to Mr. Trump” and his eventual prosecution or impeachment.

     This is big-time stuff. Up to that point no one had effectively challenged the ambit of the special prosecutor. Judge Ellis has done appreciably more than that, by demanding to see a key document without any redactions:

     Ellis also complained that the bulk of that August memo he received was highly redacted. He told Mueller’s office to take two weeks to consult with U.S. intelligence agencies to see whether they would sign off so that he can personally review a sealed, unredacted version of the memo.

     [Prosecutor] Dreeben told him the redacted portions did not pertain to the Manafort case.

     “I’ll be the judge,” Ellis said.

     Considering Mueller’s history of attempting to entrap defense attorneys and using the courts to bankrupt his targets into doing what he wants, this is a major development. Will Judge Ellis get the unredacted memo? Will he dismiss the charges against Manafort, possibly with prejudice? We shall see.

     Yesterday’s Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees’ game was notable for several reasons. Of course everyone who follows baseball noted rookie Domingo German’s six innings of no-hit pitching. (Manager Aaron Boone relieved German on the grounds of his pitch count.) Rookie Gleyber Torres’s walk-off three-run homer has received some attention as well. But virtually no one noted the following tidbit: announcer Michael Kay’s disclosure that Indians’ manager Terry Francona chews six pieces of gum every half-inning. That’s 108 pieces of gum per complete nine-inning game.

     But Kay just left it there! With that knowledge he could have brokered a fantastic deal for a chewing gum pitch, and he let it drop! What brand of gum? Why that brand? When did Francona start? Did it have any impact on the Indians’ recent successes? And what about Naomi Francona’s dental history?

     You won’t get rich letting a chance like that slide, Michael. Opperknockity tunes but once, y’know.

     If you missed this Kurt Schlichter column of May 3, it’s not too late to have a bite:

     Maybe Kim Il Whatever won’t denuclearize, but then again the roly-poly dictator has seemed to come around to our way of thinking. Maybe it’s the lingering awesomeness of Barack Obama that led him to acts of unprecedented good behavior. Maybe it’s just that he’s decided to be a nice guy. Or maybe it’s because, under Donald Trump, the United States stopped acting like a simpering wuss.

     Wusses and wimps…why, those are playground words, unfit for a discussion of foreign relations and international diplomacy! Except that’s entirely wrong. Human nature plays out in the playgrounds – the lessons taught by run-ins with bullies and fisticuffs under the jungle gym are, in many ways, far more important than the hoary discourses about “realism” and “soft power” taught in the very best schools and think tanks.

     If someone gets in your face, and you break their nose, they don’t get in your face anymore. You don’t need to go to Georgetown to learn that. In fact, going to Georgetown is more likely to make you unlearn what is the most important lesson of all.

     Power means being able to make other people do things they don’t want to do by hurting them if they refuse. That’s reality.

     That’s important reality. Negotiation of any sort must be a quid pro quo deal. In the most common case: “You give me that and I’ll give you this. Sold? Sold!” But Schlichter has reminded us that between nations, it’s more usually like this: “You give me that and I won’t do this to you. Sold? Sold!”

     President Trump’s advocacy of tariffs brought the Chinese to heel. They realized in short order that 1) they need our markets more than we need their crap; and: 2) Trump does what he’s said he’ll do. That had the spinoff benefit of making China back somewhat away from its decades-long support of the Stalinist North Korean regime. Thus, when Trump implemented his “maximum pressure” strategy against Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un and his coterie of advisors could entertain no illusions about their ability to endure it.

     Prior administrations have foolishly attempted to purchase North Korean cooperation with carrots: thousands of tons of free oil, a light-water nuclear reactor, and so on. What those administrations failed to realize was that once the oil, the reactor, etc. had been delivered, their power to maintain the agreement lapsed. But a credible threat of invasion and regime decapitation has enduring influence over the mind of the satrap of a lesser power...even one with some notional nuclear capability.

     I would venture to guess that few Americans consider Brussels’ sprouts among their favorite foods. I never cared much for them, most of my life...but there’s been a development.

     It turns out that, rather than boil or steam Brussels’ sprouts, it’s far better to halve them, drizzle them with truffle oil – black or white – and roast them. They’re tender, flavorful, and go well with a great many dishes. Last night we had them with baked salmon and potatoes.

     This isn’t a Fortress of Crankitude discovery. I was turned on to it at a restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia last year. Neither is it of earth-shaking importance comparable to the Francona gum consumption story. But I have to pad these “assorted” pieces out somehow!

     That’s all for today, Gentle Reader. I have a doctor’s appointment and some fiction to attend to today. So for today, as they say in Ethopia...Abyssinia.


Col. B. Bunny said...

An especially entertaining post today, Fran. Almost left out "especially" which would have been churlish. I'll have to try the sprouts gambit though I am one of those who love 'em even when they're boiled into a soggy lump. No one ever accused me of having any class.

Maddog said...

Thanks, Francis,

I posted a follow up over on my blog.

Kurt nails why Obama could not get foreign policy right, and why Trump does!!!

Mark Sherman