Monthly Archives: December 2018

The Apprentice in the White House

Some readers may recall a February 15, 2017 post titled, “The Old Switcheroo,” in which I chronicled the role NBC played in positioning Donald Trump’s run for president.  From the “Too Little, Too Late,” department, many news outlets have devoted their reporting during this final week of 2018 on the unhinged behavior of the oval office occupant.  How hypocritical can one be to talk about Trump revising history, when the media is equally guilty?

For example, MSNBC shared the news first reported by McClatchy News that a mobile phone belonging to Michael Cohen connected to a cell tower near Prague in the summer of 2016.  Cohen claims he has never been to Prague, which is one piece of information Trump’s defenders have used to discredit the Christopher Steele dossier.  (NOTE: Both Cohen and his attorney Lanny Davis continue to deny he was in Prague, but there is a theory the phone, bought in Cohen’s name, may have been given to another campaign official to use while in the Czech Republic.  The New York Post previously reported the FBI seized as many as 16 phones during its raid of Cohen’s office, home and hotel room.  We may soon know if this theory holds water, as Cohen yesterday tweeted, “#Mueller knows everything.”)

While every detail in the Steele dossier has not been corroborated, neither have they been discredited.  Yet, neither NBC nor Chuck Todd, in particular, issued a mea culpa for his accusation that Buzzfeed News, which published the dossier, was trafficking in fake news.  In a January 17, 2016 interview with Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, Todd said:

I know this was not your intent. I’ve known you a long time, but you just published fake news. You made a knowing decision to put out an untruth.

I Googled, “Chuck Todd Apologizes to Ben Smith” before writing the above paragraphs.  Crickets.

Related imageNow the team that brought you “The Apprentice” is trying to revise history.  The January 7, 2019 issue of The New Yorker magazine carries a story titled, “How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success.”  While Patrick Radden Keefe’s reporting  focuses on how the show’s producer Burnett decided to add Trump to his growing stable of reality television programs, he interviewed several members of the show’s production crew.  A video editor Jonathan Braun, who worked on the show’s first six seasons, summed it up this way.

Most of us knew he was a fake.  He had just gone through I don’t know how many bankruptcies. But we made him out to be the most important person in the world. It was like making the court jester the king.

As I read the article, I learned something of more value.  “The Apprentice” saga explains Trump’s approach to policy-making and why it will fail.  During Keefe’s interviews with Burnett, the producer “boasted that, for each televised hour, his crew shot as many as three hundred hours of footage.”  In other words, it’s all in the post-production editing.

Does this sound familiar?  Burnett conceded Trump would often make unexpected, spur of the moment decisions that made little or no sense.  The editors would go back to the hours of video and piece together a story line which somehow justified the decision.

If you recall, during the presidential campaign, especially following release of the “Access Hollywood” tape, questions arose whether “Apprentice” outtakes contained equally damning exhibits of Trump’s character and behavior.  (NOTE:  The raw video now belongs to MGM which purchased rights to the show.  MGM claims they cannot release the video because of contractual restrictions.)  And there lies the rub.  Since announcing he would run for president, there are hours and hours of Trump on video.  Except this time, he does not have the luxury of controlling their use or editing.

For example, MSNBC compiled a montage of campaign video related to the border wall.  Over and over again  he told his supporters Mexico would pay for it, “every penny of it.”  Last night, Chris Hayes played this video for Michael Burgess, a Republican congressman from Texas, who claimed Trump was not reneging on a campaign promise by asking U.S. taxpayers to cover the cost. Burgess reverted to the latest falsehood that the costs would be captured on “month by month installments” as a result of the renegotiated NAFTA provisions.

Congressman Burgess may not get it, but an overwhelming majority of Americans do.  A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted December 21-25, shows only 35 percent support building the wall (Trump’s base), but only 25 percent supported Trump shutting down the government to get his way.  And how will Trump respond?  Again, “The Apprentice” experience provides some guidance.

During the show’s first season (2003-2004), the Nielsen rating for the treasured 18-49 age group was 10.1, which translated into an impressive 20 million plus viewers.  But as we have learned over the past three years, Trump does not wear well over time.  Within four years, his ratings dropped to 3.1 with an audience of 7.5 million.  So much for the master deal-maker tutoring potential proteges.  Pivot to “Celebrity Apprentice,” returning to the days when Trump was more likely to be covered by the tabloids than Fortune magazine.  When Trump doesn’t get his wall, when he becomes mired in lower ratings, get ready for the next pivot.  But from his experience on television, he should know he will NEVER regain his lost audience.  He should, but my money is on he won’t and will point the finger at everyone but himself (maybe even Arnold Schwarzennegger.)

For what it’s worth.


Dangling Modifiers

My mother-in-law was an English teacher who, I know, would be the first to say of Donald Trump, “Forget the spelling errors.  This man cannot speak English!” I can only imagine her response to these recent tweets.

A 115 mile long contract? Wow, that would be something Trump could accurately call an accomplishment unmatched in American history.

I don’t remember Saudi Arabia promising to help rebuild America, unless of course he is referring to Trump and Kushner branded properties.

Wasn’t it bad enough when the Supreme Court declared corporations are people.  Now Trump thinks The Fed is a human being who can’t putt.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal and any former Miss Teenage America.  But wouldn’t it be more accurate to call these cases pre-Presidential Harassment?

Some ≠ one blank piece of paper. Maybe he’s just practicing how to sign the blank checks he promised Turkey, Iran, Syria and Russia.

Deprogramming101 wishes all loyal readers, including the Russian trolls and bots, a happy, healthy and grammatically correct 2019.


I did consider an alternative post titled, “Twas the Day After Christmas.”  Here’s a few excerpts.

Twas the day after Christmas, in the White House,
Only one person stirring, that bitter, orange Grouse;
When what to his white untanned eyes should appear,
But a border patrol with a sign that said, “FEAR!”
It came not for migrants who sought some relief,
It came for the minions who caused him such grief;
Out Tillerson, Kelly, McMaster and Mattis,
And don’t let the door knock you flat on your asses.

Then, into the oval Bob Mueller came with a sense,
To deliver his findings and vast documents.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know my stay here was dead.
He spoke not a word, but instead played a tape,
Of a hotel in Moscow which left me agape.
Then laying his finger aside of his nose,
He couldn’t help saying, “I guess your life blows.”
Then I heard him relate what was on the grapevine,
It’s not my decision, but you ought to resign.

THE END (and not a minute to soon)!

For what it’s worth.

Random Thoughts 12/23/2018

I Hope They Are Not Getting Paid for This

MESSAGE TO RUSSIAN TROLLS AND BOTS: If you’re going to try and hack Americans or influence voters, I strongly suggest you make an effort to translate your correspondence.  Below is one of several comments we received in response to the  December 13 post, “The Putin Principle.” Loosely translated, it is a promotion for casual apparel.

Интернет магазин уникальных футболок. Мы предлагаем Вам только качественные и уникальные товары. На Ваш выбор толстовки, футболки, головные уборы, чехлы, посуда, аксессуары и вещи для интерьера.
Вы с легкостью сможете подобрать рисунок, который Вам нравится или же сделать свой уникальный с помощью конструктора.
Приобретя товр Вы можете воспользоваться услугами доставки на очень выгодных условиях.

Заходи и заказывай:

So if you’re in the market for Russian made t-shirts and don’t mind giving them your contact and credit card information, these are the guys.

Border Security

If ADT can protect my home without surrounding my property with a 30 foot concrete wall and DogWatch, the electronic fence company, can deter my pet from leaving my property without “artistically designed steel slats,” one would think either of these companies would be more than willing to install a 2,000 mile invisible detection system at a fraction of the price of Donald Trump’s vanity wall.

Furthermore, do Trump, Steve Miller, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh really believe an asylum seeker who has traveled 1,505 miles by foot from Guatemala to the Texas border would not walk another 217 from Nuevo Laredo to Matamoros where they could board a boat for a 30 minute ride to Port Isabel, Texas?  When refugees learn this is an option, they will also realize it is only 1,227 miles from Guatemala to Matamoros.  Will the Trump 2020 meme become, “We’ll have the best, most beautiful underwater mines along the Texas coast”?

Why Conservatives Should Join the Resistance

When is the media going to stop referring to the 35 percent of Americans who are giving Trump a pass on everything as “Trump’s conservative base?”  It is giving true conservatives a bad name.  Folks like Bill Kristol, Peggy Noonan and George Will should demand print journalists, talk show hosts and panelists stop using the term.  The only descriptor needed is, “Trump’s base.”

The McConnell Rule

Remember when Mitch McConnell blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court.  His justification?  With an upcoming election, the majority leader justified this violation of Article II of the Constitution by declaring, “We should let the people decide.”  Mitch, doesn’t this apply to Trump’s wall.  Trump stumped (or is it Stump trumped?) all over the country saying the 2018 mid-terms was all about border security.  And the voters decided.  By a margin of nine million votes, Americans rejected the Trump agenda.  Mitch, how could you in good conscience ask a lame duck Congress to support a policy that the electorate rejected by one of the largest margins ever in a mid-term election?


On Friday morning, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) said:

There are a lot of us who want to avoid a shutdown.  I’ve been through about five of them in my career. None of them have worked in terms of their intent.

That same afternoon, Roberts voted “Yea” on a procedural measure to consider the House version of a continuing resolution which included $5 billion for Trump’s wall.  The final vote was 47-47 with Mike Pence breaking the tie.  That vote guaranteed a government shutdown.  This Congressional update comes from the “It doesn’t work, but let’s do it anyway” department.

Huh? Part II

On Saturday’s edition of Politics Nation with Al Sharpton, Republican strategist and columnist for the Washington Examiner Jennifer Kerns claimed Americans did not care  federal employees might not get paid over the holidays.

I may sound like the Grinch saying it, but look, the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., did not suffer as the rest of America did in the last 10 years with the Obama recession.

So much for conservative intellectual integrity. Of course, the easiest target is “the Obama recession.”  Unemployment does not fall from over 10 percent to 4.3 percent during a recession.  Equally important, between 2009 and 2012, public employment declined by over 580,000 jobs.  At the same time, private sector employment, helped by the federal bailouts, increased by nearly 2 million jobs.  I don’t remember Ms. Kerns complaining about that.

And this is only one example of the wrongly labeled, “Trump conservative base.”

For what it’s worth.


Justice Is Blind; Judges Are Not

NOTE:  I drafted this post at 2:00 p.m. yesterday, immediately following the initial reports out of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C.  This morning many of the sentiments expressed below were raised by legal analysts, especially Joyce Vance, former federal district attorney in Alabama, and Chuck Rosenberg, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

They call it Occam’s Razor because, among other things, it cuts through the bull**it!  Too bad journalists and pundits cannot do the same.

With all the coverage of Judge Emmet Sullivan’s sentencing hearing for Michael Flynn, the media once again missed the obvious.  Clearly, Sullivan was angry for the last minute crapola offered by Flynn’s attorneys that a three-star general would not know lying to the FBI was a crime unless he had been explicitly reminded of it by his interviewers.  But that hardly justifies Sullivan’s characterization of Flynn’s behavior.

All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the National Security Adviser* to the President of the United States. That undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out…I am not hiding my disgust, my disdain for your criminal offense.

And even though Judge Sullivan has warned no one should read too much into it, he asked prosecutors, “Could he have been charged with treason?”

On MSNBC and CNN, pundits and legal analysts seemed shocked that a judge would stray so far from a joint recommendation that the defendant’s guilty plea and subsequent cooperation be rewarded with no jail time.  But here’s the obvious point every one of them missed.  Judge Sullivan has seen an un-redacted version of all the filings and supporting documentation.  You don’t tell someone “you sold out your country” simply for lying to the FBI.  While he backed off the term “treason,” he did not yield on his assessment that Flynn had betrayed the United States.

Semantics aside, there is only one reason Judge Sullivan would raise the points he did.  Even if Flynn’s actions do not meet the formal definition of “treason,” when faced with the choice of supporting sanctions against Russia imposed by the sitting president–Barack Obama–or sending a message to Vladimir Putin they would be lifted, he chose the latter.  He sided with a foreign adversary who had interfered in the 2016 presidential election.  Call it what you will, but it was both wrong and unprecedented.

Emmet G. Sullivan 2012.jpgThe bigger question is whether Judge Sullivan is setting the stage for the Mueller report.  One of the  things we know from Flynn’s guilty plea is he placed several calls to Mar-a-Lago on or about December 29, 2016, the day he told Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to advise Putin not to overreact to newly imposed sanctions.  If and when we find out which members of the transition team were on the other end of those calls, from Sullivan’s perspective, we might be looking at a conspiracy to sell out the country.

Justice may be blind, but judges are neither blind nor deaf.  More importantly, they are human.  And it does not take a rocket scientist to realize officers of the court can only tolerate attacks on their domain for so long without fighting back.  I am willing to bet the farm, any member of the transition team who talked to Flynn during this period is hoping they never have to face Emmet Sullivan in court.

Footnote:  It is just a matter of time before Donald Trump tweets something about Judge Sullivan.  After all he is an African-American appointed to the federal bench in 1994 by Bill Clinton.  In the spirit of the holiday season, even I am willing to do whatever I can to stop Twitter-Man from making a fool of himself.  Psst, Donald, he was first appointed to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 1984 by Ronald Reagan and elevated to the D.C. Court of Appeals in 1992 by George H. W. Bush.  Not holding my breath he will make the connection.

*Sullivan later corrected himself.  Flynn was not yet national security advisor when he talked to Kislyak about U.S. sanctions.  However, Trump had publicly announced Flynn was his choice for the position.

POSTSCRIPT: The Company You Keep

How did some Trump supporters respond to Judge Sullivan’s rebuke.  Here is today’s headline in the neo-Nazi publication The Daily Stormer, whose editor Andrew Anglin celebrated Trump’s election victory with, “Our Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor.”

MSNBC and CNN have done a pretty good job in the last 24 hours exposing Fox News for what it is, delusion thinking Sullivan would crush Mueller, not Flynn.  If only they would occasionally share coverage like this and ask viewers if they really want to be associated with these “patriots.”

For what it’s worth.


Moscow Dick

Yesterday, Donald Trump’s other “rat,” the one he pays NOT to blow the whistle on him did what no one expected he could do.  Rudy Guliani one-upped Michael Cohen who had previously testified his attempts on behalf of the Trump Organization to close a deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow continued through June 2016.  On yesterday’s edition of  ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulis, Guliani announced the efforts had continued right up to election day.  This is a saga of which great moments in literature emerge.  The muse calls.

Chapter 1. Loomings

Call me Ish-michael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me in the pursuit of law, I thought I would stray a little and see the underside parts of the world. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the path with me.

There now is your insular city of  Washington, DC, belted round by twelve-lane thoroughfares—power and fame surrounds it. Right and left, the streets take you downward. Its extreme downtown is the federal enclave and K Street, where that noble cause of public service is washed away by money, and cooled by Starbucks’ iced coffee, which a few hours previous were out of sight. Look at the crowds of power seekers there.

Thus begins the tale of Moscow Dick, the story of a young, restless and ambitious lawyer who, in pursuit of wealth and celebrity hitches his star to a captain of real estate, not knowing his benefactor was obsessed, driven by a whale of a real estate deal he would pursue for 30 years.  To truly understand the tale I would need to take you through each day and every event which leads to the climax.  But, I am supposed to be on holiday break.  So I will skip the detail and share with you the culmination of Ish-michael and his master’s fascination of putting his name on an edifice in the shadow of the Kremlin.

Chapter 135.  The Chase.–Third Decade

The morning of the third decade dawned fair and fresh, and once more I was called to Mr. Trump’s chamber. .

“D’ye ink it, Ish-michael?” cried Mr. Trump; but the deal was not yet in sight.

Suddenly a low rumbling sound was heard; a subterraneous hum; and then all held their breaths; as bedraggled with promises of lifted sanctions and a penthouse, a vast form shot lengthwise, but obliquely from the Kremlin. Shrouded in a thin drooping veil of mist, Putin hovered for a moment in the rainbowed air. Crushed thirty feet upwards, the waters flashed for an instant like heaps of fountains, leaving only the image of marble stairways, gold-fixtured rooms.

“Give way!” cried Mr. Trump to me, Ivanka and Junior, as we darted forward to the attack.

An offer was proffered; but the negotiations ran foul.  Mr. Trump stooped to save it; but he could not and was eventually dragged from the ship of state, and the House and Senate knew he was gone. Next instant, the dreams of Moscow Dick and his captain disappeared into the depths.

Epilogue.  “And I Only Am Escaped Alone to Tell Thee.” JOB

The drama’s done. Why then here does any one step forth?—Because one did survive the wreck. I was he whom the Fates ordained to take the place of Mr. Trump’s bowsman, Mr. Pence, when that bowsman assumed the vacant post; the same, who, when on the last day was also tossed from out of the rocking boat, was dropped astern. I floated on a soft and dirgelike main. On the second day, a sail drew near, nearer, and picked me up at last. It was the devious-cruising SS Pelosi, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.

For what it’s worth.