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Soundtracking the Resistance - The Tightening Net

Robert Mueller's Russia Investigation Intensifies; Plus Tax Reform, Tim Heidecker, and Benjamin Booker

Nov 03, 2017 Benjamin Booker Bookmark and Share

Well something had to happen on this whole Russia scandal business, and so it came to pass. Which means this week we have indictments and what that might mean, alongside terrorism, tax reform, Tim Heidecker, and a hopeful Benjamin Booker note to end on.

The Big Event

The great indictment show is up and running at last. Watching the Russia scandal trundle onwards has been like witnessing a car crash in slow motion. Something was always going to happen, but it was never clear when the cars were going to collide, and how much damage it might cause.

Ultimately on that front, it’s still not clear. Monday brought the news that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner and deputy Rick Gates (Gates stayed on the campaign for a while after Manafort was kicked off in August 2016) were to be charged with 12 counts of money laundering, foreign lobbying, and various other offences. It looks like special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has some teeth.

George Papadopoulos, who worked for the Trump campaign as a foreign policy aide, also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a collection of Russian figures. Just what someone with little to no foreign policy experience was doing in a position involving jetting about meeting people on behalf of the Trump campaign is another question.

Or at the moment, it might be the only question. The indictments this week are not proof Trump engaged in anything illegal himself. They’re not even a suggestion his campaign was up to anything that gets close to the realm of collusion. Instead, they seem to show some of the people the president chose to surround himself with were happy to bend and break laws for personal gain.

Right now, the only thing Trump appears to be guilty of is extremely poor judgment; still a damning conclusion to make about the person left in charge of the world’s most powerful country. After all, while he’s out railing against all and sundry again, tweeting for example that Papadopoulos “has already proven to be a liar,” it should be noted this is the same person he previously referred to as an “excellent guy.”

He’s making something of a habit of bringing onboard people with dubious reputations, or in some instances people who lack the qualifications for the jobs they’ve been given. This week saw another nominee withdraw from the running for a position they’d been put up for. Sam Clovis, for reasons beyond most people, was being lined up for the position of chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This despite the fact Clovis is not actually a scientist, and is best known as a radio talk show host.

He’s been caught up in this week of indictments after it became clear he was one of the officials on the Trump campaign who was aware of efforts by Papadopoulos to broker a relationship with Russian officials. Thus, Clovis has withdrawn from consideration for a position he should never have been in consideration for in the first place.

These are the people Trump chooses to bring into his circle, and these are the people he chooses to give the keys to America to. Meaning we have revelations offering not a hint of collusion while highlighting an awful lot of bad judgment; not a trait anyone really wants to see in the person with access to nuclear launch codes.

The indictments handed down by Mueller are not likely to be the end of this slow-moving car crash either. We don’t know how it will end, but it’s safe to say we haven’t heard the last of this mess.

What’s Going On

Terror came back to the streets of New York this week. Eight people died after Sayfullo Saipov rented a truck and drove into cyclists and pedestrians in lower Manhattan on Tuesday. The Uzbek national who entered the U.S. in 2010 has been charged with the deaths, as well as with providing support and resources to the Islamic State group. Much political hay will be made from it no doubt, by both sides of the equation if past experiences are anything to go by, but for now it’s probably best to reflect on the loss faced by too many again.

Tax reform is here folks, and it’s time to rejoice. Or it’s time to rejoice if you’re a major corporation and/or rich enough for inheritance tax to be the kind of thing you gripe about. If so, hooray, you’re going to save a lot of money. Revising the tax code is no bad thing, because it’s quite frankly a mess, but it seems the Republican plan is set to mainly benefit those who already have the most while raising the deficit. Some good work from the side of the fiscal hawks there if they can make it stick.

It appears Trump has settled on a new Federal Reserve Chairman, and as far as these things go, Jerome Powell seems a rather reasonable choice. He’s still very Trumpian in the sense he’s another extremely rich white man, but he does actually have a lot of experience in his field, not always a given for a Trump nominee, and seems unusually keen on consensus building. So maybe we’re not doomed after all. Depending on how you feel about an exploitative capitalist system of course.

Speak Up!

Oh, the regrets he inspires. Gospel singer Chrisette Michele has apologized for playing at one of Trump’s official inaugural balls earlier in the year. It certainly seems to have stayed on her mind. She went as far as to say “I regret everything that happened. I think that was a bad choice” when asked what she made of her decision to perform.

Comedian and musician Tim Heidecker has announced an entire album full of Trump songs, due out on November 8th. Too Dumb for Suicide comes a year after the election that saw Trump ride unexpectedly to power. One of the tracks, “Sentencing Day,” has already been released to give everyone a taster.

Matt Mondanile’s fall from grace continues as a number of his Ducktails records have been removed from streaming services. This is the latest in a series of repercussions that have followed since allegations surrounding Mondanile’s sexual misconduct first surfaced.

Song of the Week: Benjamin Booker - “Believe”

Sometimes we all need a little something to believe in. This seems truer than ever as the one-year anniversary of Trump’s election comes rapidly into view. With everything that has occurred since, it’s easy to give up hope.

Which is why, when fake news and aggressive partisanship seems to rule society, it’s easy to understand what Benjamin Booker is singing about in his new single, “Believe.” The song opens with the line “I just want to believe in something/I don’t care if right or wrong,” a sentiment likely to resonate with many.

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