Monday, April 23, 2018

Where does Trump find these people?

Who in Hades is Roger Stone?

Many were asking this when they read that Donald Trump's one-time key adviser called newly deceased and widely venerated Barbara Bush a "mean-spirited, vindictive drunk." Said Stone, "She is descending into hell right now."

What a sweetheart of a guy. And what timing.

His comments caused a group of Florida Republicans to disinvite him as featured speaker at a Lincoln-Reagan Day event. The real question: Why would anyone listen to Roger Stone?

He's just one more in a gallery of ghouls who glommed on to Donald Trump and helped him gain his current stature. Stone is certainly up to the job, Slate magazine calls him "Washington's sleaziest political operator."

Stone, like Trump, is a former protégé of Joe McCarthy's right-hand hatchet man, Roy Cohn, a former associate of political attack dog Lee Atwater and of the newly indicted Paul Manafort.

Stone, a former dirty trickster under Richard Nixon – he wears a Nixon tattoo – is the kind of gentleman the New York Times editorial board had in mind in saying this president "has spent his whole career in the company of grifters, cons and crooks."

This is borne out by a tally of indictments of Trump associates that one day looks to resemble the tote board for Jerry Lewis's Labor Day Telethon.

This is not just about the wholly corrupt. It's also about the wholly inept.

Trump attorney Michael Cohen is so over his head he will suffer the bends should he ever return to the water's surface.

Attorney Michael Avenatti, who has Cohen (and Trump?) by the shorts over the Stormy Daniels matter, says, Trump "has surrounded himself in his adult life with those who are incompetent, and the chickens are coming home to roost."

The most alarming thing is that Trump not only has hired incompetents to be his fixers and to guard his secrets, he's also appointed them to serve in some of the most important roles in government.

Who in Hades is Jim Bridenstine?

The 42-year-old Oklahoma congressman has no science experience. Yet he is Trump's choice to run NASA.

His only real qualification, based on the Trump Scale of Bona Fides, is that is he is a proud climate-change denier.

Before shrugging these matters away and voting to confirm Bridenstine, Sen. Marco Rubio said a NASA administrator ought to know something about, oh, NASA or something.

Oh, well. La-dee-da. Trump demeaned the office of surgeon general when he nominated White House physician Jerome Adams. Trump chose the fulsomely corrupt and environmentally adverse Scott Pruitt to wreck the Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump has looked the other way as Pruitt, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have formed what The Atlantic calls "a Cabinet of conspicuous corruption."

Pruitt has spent more than $200,000 on first-class tickets and military flights -- many for specious purposes like heading back to home-sweet Oklahoma -- more than $3 million on a 20-person round-the-clock security detail, and more than $43,000 on a sound-proof phone booth in his office.

And Trump has the gall to propose that we cut back on food stamps.

Back to Roger Stone: He was the youngest individual to testify before the Watergate grand jury regarding his role in dirty tricks under Watergate felons Charles Colson and G. Gordon Liddy.

Now Stone is considered a possible conduit for the stolen emails that are the subject of the lawsuit filed by the Democratic National Committee against Russia and the Trump campaign. Yes, a similar suit was filed after Watergate.

Regardless of his role in this matter, corruption is in the man's blood.

As my mother used to say, Mr. President, "You are the company you keep."

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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