Trump distracts while Pence panders to special interests

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In case anybody missed it, the latest news cycle is focused on what Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker think of Donald Trump. In short, they think he is a skunk.

Donald Trump, true to form, is blasting back from his fortress deep in the bowels of the White House, using his new Twitter Rail Gun account.

And while all eyes were on the musketry action, Republicans skulking late in the night on Tuesday ripped off Americans by denying them the right to jointly sue the big financial institutions that inflict financial harm on them. Mike Pence, freshly groomed and spruce as always, voted the tie-breaker to kill the inconvenient (to the financial companies) consumer protection right.

As if to celebrate Pence’s power to undermine the rights of the American people, a radio station called Radio Aryan published what it considers to be an anti-gay poster of Pence in leather with lightning coming from his hands. It’s frankly kinky — got to wonder what those crazy right-wing boys got going on!

Once again, a major distraction is sucking all the oxygen out of the news cycle, while late in the night Republicans pander to special interests, this time the big financial institutions. The story is no longer about the Niger imbroglio, the 24-year-old widow Myeshia Johnson and her family mentor Rep. Frederica Wilson — or the three other brave American Green Berets killed in that ambush.

That ambush has become a focal point for America’s involvement in Africa and the ongoing efforts to destroy ISIS on new battlefields. CNN reported the Green Berets were chasing an ISIS recruiter known to inhabit a mud hut in the area. Other residents snitched on the Americans’ intentions in time for their terrorist-neighbors to assemble an overwhelming force to oppose them. Johnson had volunteered to drive the truck.

Implicit in the evolving story is the suggestion that the wily enemy belongs to a worldwide web of intrigue. But a thousand Americans with guns and French air support can save Niger. Really! Niger is a big task, a place as big as Texas. Not even a cast-off McDonald’s double-cheeseburger can withstand the ravages of one of the nastiest places on Earth.

Our military is not saying if the convoy was a fire team of stud warriors alone and unsupervised, freelancing in the Niger countryside. Could be. Low-level combat is intoxicating. Boredom and terror. A shot of adrenaline, life on the edge. War offers few other diversions.

Meanwhile, nobody important is asking, “Why Niger?” Sen. John McCain was ready to battle with the Warrior Monk, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis,  but he went away apparently mollified when Mattis said the answers are forthcoming. Either that or McCain has started so many skirmishes lately he is out of energy. The old salty sea dog is not ready to quit, however. He remains a “trump” card in the Great Play in D.C.

Perhaps soon it will become apparent why the French president and Mr. Trump agreed to provide more American material support to Niger, according to a White House press release. The French have been the dominant military presence in West Africa since colonial times.

Our story begins in 2014 when then President Barack Obama sent temporary troops to Niger for Flintlock 2014. A “joint training exercise” is how it was sold. We’re still there.

How do indigenous tribal, religious zealots in trackless nowhere threaten America in some real way? No mention by talking heads of Niger’s humongous contribution of uranium ore to the world stage. Can’t have a new arms race without yellowcake. The fact that Western concerns own 66 percent of Niger’s total output of one-fifth of the world’s uranium supply is a lot of ore. Two U.S. firms under a French corporate aegis are charged with mining, processing and enhancing the mother lode for currently peaceful purposes. The mining company’s own literature says it provides fuel to power 36 million American homes — roughly a third of the population.

At the White House, Mr. Trump is having a love fest with the Republican-dominated Congress. He says yesterday’s vitriol from Flake was a day of midterm politics that held no special import. We did a Google search for other instances of body-slammed presidents without running across a better double team take down. That chump got creamed!

Perhaps Mr. Trump can’t take guys named Corker and Flake seriously. In American lexicon, both names are attached to ribaldry. Trump grew up in places where pranks and cruelties are often portrayed as part of the diet. It is imaginable to visualize a young Mr. Trump poking his doughy buddy while yukking, “Corker and Flake. Get it?” It is hard to stay angry enough for all the time required to demonstrate the rage Mr. Trump engenders in his witless Daily Mussolini Show that that passes for governance.

Included in Tuesday’s daily fair of administration horrors was the news that the 52nd Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke awarded a $300 million contract to his buddy, the owner of a two-man electrical engineering firm Zinke’s hometown in rural Montana.

Vanity Fair was on it like a hawk on a mouse. Zinke used to be a Navy SEAL, an honorable pursuit that has absolutely nothing to do with this disgrace. The two-man, small potatoes firm he blessed was on a eleven-month, $1.3 million job in Arizona. Biggest job they ever landed. For Puerto Rico, they intend to use sub-contractors. Long way from Montana to Puerto Rico. Even with $300 million and a new Dodge Ram 2500 with every doodad known to man, they can’t drive there.

And last, the Harvey Weinstein disgrace story has turned into a competition to crown who was the most viciously sexually abused. So sad using exploited wannabes to exploit a sexually charged situation about sexual abuse. Saw one clickbait story today about some guy vaguely familiar from the distant seventies claiming some other contemporary guy treated him badly in a forbidden relationship. I clicked it and got a story about sticking lemons on my feet.

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